Moving from Scottsdale, Arizona to the Big Island: Essential Preparations and Top Resorts

Moving from Scottsdale, Arizona to the Big Island: Essential Preparations and Top Resorts

The Arizona desert is known to inspire daydreams of Hawaiian paradise. For Scottsdale residents looking to beat the heat, the Big Island of Hawaii has become a beacon thanks to its low-key vibe and excellent access to the rest of Hawaii. The island offers the ideal balance of outdoor activities and relaxing places, making it the perfect escape for anyone ready to move.

But how do you figure out where to find your new home on the Big Island? While the entire island has dazzling sights, the Gold Coast is a natural hub thanks to its impeccable views and legendary weather. The top resorts in Kukio and Hualalai provide some of the best accommodations for new residents, making them a great place to start the search.

Consider these tips to help you leave Scottsdale for the Big Island.

Understand the Big Island's geography

The Kailua-Kona area on the western tip is where you can find much of the commercial activity on the west side of Hawaii Island, better known as the Big Island. Only a very short drive north from Kailua-Kona sit the exclusive neighborhoods of Kukio and Hualalai, which lie at the beating heart of the Gold Coast.

Nestled in the shadow of the Hualalai volcano, the area offers black-lava landscapes that give way to white-sand beaches and sprawling green forests. On clear days, residents can see the tip of Maui from several spots in the Hualalai district, which is also known for its majestic sunsets thanks to its pitch on the northwestern point of the island.

Getting around from Kukio and Hualalai

From Kukio and Hualalai, you can quickly get to the main population centers on the Big Island while being pulled back from the most touristy areas. You can also effortlessly skip over to the other islands or get back to the mainland, thanks to the area's proximity to Kona International Airport. Nonstop flights from Phoenix and Los Angeles to Kona make it easy to attract friends and family.

Moving about the Big Island is also much different than traveling around Scottsdale. Instead of busy multi-lane roads, you will have to get used to simple two-lane highways that take you around the island. It can also help to get a sense of the local lingo. A resident saying "mauka" means they're traveling toward the mountains, while "makai" means they're heading for the ocean. To get a good sense of the island's size, roundtrip around the island. It should take about six hours by car if you miss the heaviest traffic.

Some (non-peak) estimated travel times from Kukio and Hualalai to some of the most prominent spots on the Big Island include:

  • 10 to 15 minutes to Kona International Airport.
  • 20 to 25 minutes to central Kailua-Kona.
  • 90 minutes to Hilo.
  • Less than 10 minutes to Kekaha Kai State Beach.
  • 30 minutes to Mauna Kea Golf Course.

Preparing for the Big Island's diverse climate

Scottsdale and the west coast of the Big Island have more in common than you might think. While the Hilo (east) side gets about 10 inches of rain monthly, the Kailua-Kona region averages less than two inches per month — barely more than Scottsdale. The island's central mountains and volcanoes shield against the winds that would otherwise carry precipitation to the west coast. The Big Island's unique topography creates four major climate zones and eight sub-zones.

Similar to Kailua-Kona, the Hualalai and Kukio neighborhoods enjoy regular cloud coverage in the afternoon while rarely pushing above the mid-80s, making it a haven for outdoor activities. Sunshine typically comes in during the cooler mornings, especially in the summertime. Residents can also expect the sunniest days during winter peak when average highs are just a shade above 80 degrees.

Here are some other Kona side weather trends to keep in mind:

  • September is the rainiest month in the region.
  • June has the most cloud coverage.
  • August is the hottest month, with an average high of 87.
  • The average low in mid-winter is about 66 degrees.

Top resorts and communities in the Hualalai and Kukio area

The Big Island is famous for having some of Hawaii's best residential resorts, with Kukio and Hualalai offering unparalleled lifestyles. Access to the beaches and awe-inspiring landscapes is always a feature, but each resort also provides its unique vision of paradise. We recommend the following communities if you're considering the area:

Hualalai Resort

More than 600 pristine acres of oceanfront property form the base of one of the top-rated resorts on the Big Island. The planned community includes the Hualalai Golf Club, oceanfront lounges, and innumerable activities to keep you busy. Residents can also tap all the features of the connecting Four Seasons Hualalai Resort, which is regularly acclaimed as one of the best places to stay in Hawaii.

Real estate opportunities within the Hualalai Resort range from single-family homes and townhouses to sprawling estates overlooking the ocean.


Kukio is as exclusive as it gets in Hawaii thanks to its remarkable collection of estates, cottages, and homesites. It's also home to the Kukio Golf and Beach Club, where residents enjoy world-class amenities on the doorstep of Kukio Bay. In addition to its championship 18-hole golf course and 10-hole short course, Kukio is known for its refreshing blend of architecture and local culture. Kukio's sister neighborhoods of Maniniowali and Kaupulehu also provide entry points to one of the best-regarded communities in the Hawaiian Islands.

Waikoloa Beach Resort

Hugging the Anaehoomalu Bay, the Waikoloa Bay Resort is ideal for anyone hoping to maximize their time by the water. Beyond the beaches, the community is known for its restaurants, shopping outlets, and renowned 27-hole golf experience. Golfers can choose rounds featuring oceanfront views or stunning interior vistas, including the looming Mauna Kea volcano. Just up the road from Hualalai, Waikoloa is only a short drive to Kailua-Kona but is also on the threshold of the beautiful north shore.

Kohanaiki Resort

As the newest planned community in the area, the Kohanaiki Resort features a variety of custom homes and thoughtful accommodations. It's also situated only a mile from Kona International Airport, making it an ideal spot for anyone who travels regularly. The typical home in the community comes with views of the ocean as well as Maui's iconic volcano, Haleakala. With a first-rate clubhouse for residents and more than a mile of beach access, Kohanaiki has quickly become one of the most desirable residential resorts on the Kona Coast.

Finding an experienced real estate expert on the Big Island

When you're ready to leave Scottsdale behind for the countless opportunities of the Big Island, Frank Schenk has the experience and connections to ensure you find that perfect home. Contact him today to start turning your Big Island dream into a reality.

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Frank & Nicolaas are dedicated to helping you find your dream home and assisting with any selling needs you may have. Start your next property journey with them, today!

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