The Big Island

 

The largest and youngest island in the Hawaiian Island Chain lies the island of Hawaii, or as often called by the locals, “The Big Island”. This island is the only island where you can experience rain, winter cold, snow, and sun on the same day. It is not highly industrialized, does not have high rises, and there are no freeways. The Big Island is a rural island that encompasses desert and green land together. Its beauty is magnified by Mauna Kea Mountain, which is the largest in the world measured from sea level.

This is a welcoming island, with Hawaiian historical sites and locals who practice preserving the Hawaiian culture and language. It is home to many cultural events that attract visitors from all over the world. The pace of the island is slow to match its “laid back” culture. Most towns are located near the ocean, where you can always smell the fresh breeze of the Pacific Ocean. The Big Island is the perfect place to escape the large city or busy lifestyle, as everything naturally slows down on this island.

This island is still growing with the continued eruption of the Kilauea Volcano since 1983. It has closed roads and taken homes, but has also left beautiful black sand beaches to enjoy along the coast. Covered with so much greenery, natural rainforests, beautiful waterfalls, and native species, The Big Island has a nice balance of nature and modernism. But don’t let the slow pace fool you – there are many activities to keep you relaxed and entertained on this island.

Regions

The Big Island has seven regions – Hilo, Puna, Hamakua, Kohala Coast, North Kohala, Kona, and Kau. About 15 years ago, Hilo was the main hub for the island, but now Kona has also become very popular with its fast and continuous commercial growth. These two regions are the most visited, because they are the only major towns on The Big Island. Hilo is the rainy town and still home to county government, and Kona is the dry, sunny town, home of more hotels and resorts. Right outside of Hilo lay the Puna and Kau regions, which are very rural and hold strong to the old ways of Hawaii.

The Hamakua area is largely a farming and country area that is passed on the way from Hilo to Kona. Passing the town of Waimea, you enter the North Kohala region, which is very historical as it was the birthplace of King Kamehameha. The Kohala Coast, or “South Kohala” is sunny and dry and home to luxury resorts and white sand beaches.

Themes

The Big Island is a great place for both family vacations and romantic getaways. There are many outdoor adventures on this island to keep everyone entertained on an island that is not crowded with people or traffic. The island provides its visitors with helicopter rides, natural beauty, and a deep involvement in ecotourism to preserve the resources of the island. It is also known as the “golf capital of the world”, so an enjoyable round of golf can be played in the coolness of the Volcano’s National Park or at one of the luxury resorts on the Kohala Coast.

Preserving the Native Hawaiian culture is very important to the Hawaiian people on the Big Island, and they enjoy sharing this warmth with visitors through their art galleries and historical museums. The Kohala Coast is the most popular for weddings and honeymoons as it receives the most sun than any other part of the island. The different beaches of the areas provide natural relaxation to visitors. If looking for a little more pampering, the luxury hotels on the Kohala Coast have beautiful day spas specializing in local Hawaiian therapies and massages.

Things to Do

The most popular area to visit is the Hawaii Volcano National Park where you can see a bit of history of previous lava flows, current volcanic vents, lava tubes, and take a hike to see the beautiful active Kilauea lava flow. As this is the youngest island, the black sand beaches of The Big Island are great ways to enjoy something different and take a swim in the warm Pacific Ocean. In these areas, turtles always make a common appearance to visitors

There are many outdoor activities to enjoy the beauty of the island, such as hiking, horseback riding, ziplines, kayaking, snorkeling, swimming, surfing, and boat tours. If traveling as a family, there is a zoo a few miles out of Hilo, as well as an ocean aquarium in Downtown Hilo. There are few shopping centers mainly in Hilo, Kohala Coast, and Kona where you can find souvenirs or even luxury items. When hunger strikes, The Big Island is a melting pot of cultures offering the opportunity to try the most popular dining places that include Mexican, Japanese, Chinese, and Hawaiian food. But if you are looking for nightlife, the only place it can be found is in Kona. All other towns usually close in the early evening.

Places to Stay

Hotels are found in all towns, some being more upbeat than others. The Kohala Coast is the only region that is home to luxury resorts. If traveling around the island and deciding to experience certain places longer, renting a condo or vacation home, staying at a Bed-and-Breakfast establishment are great options.

The Kona area has many hotels and beach home rentals to choose from, all oceanside. As the Big Island is very “laid back”, some of the places to stay may not always be a 5 star hotel, but it is a place to rest your head for another big adventurous day on the island. There are small hotels and Bed-and-Breakfast establishments in the smaller towns that allow you the experience of “simple” Hawaii.