The island of Hawaii, also known as The Big Island, is the largest (93 miles long, 76 miles wide with 266 miles of coastline) hawaiian island and home of Pele, Hawaii's goddess of fire. The Big Island is also the least populated per square mile and the most enchanting of the seven Hawaiian Islands. The 'windward' side (the 'Hilo' side, which is tropical) and the 'leeward' side (the 'Kona' side, which is hotter and drier) are extraordinarily different from each other. To visit both sides of this island is highly recommended.
The fishing fleets of Hilo bring their catch to the dockside market while cowhands on the other side of the island watch the sunrise from horseback. The famous Parker Ranch was founded in 1847. This 225,000 acre cattle ranch is the largest private ranch under single ownership in the US. It has been owned and run by the Parker family for 6 generations.
The Island of Hawaii is the only Hawaiian Island that is still growing. Kilauea, the world's most active volcano (last erupted in 1984), continues its periodic spurts of lava that creep down hillsides into the roaring sea, occasionally burning houses and burying roads en route, as well as creating new rivers of solid land in its wake. Flower nurseries, macadamia nut orchards, and coffee plantations thrive in this rich volcanic soil.
Volcanoes National Park is one of the only places in the world to see an active volcano. You can also see some of the world's most interesting landscape and vegetation. The Park includes the summit caldera, lava tubes, odd mineral formations, cinder cones and wonderful tropical plants.
Because of the extensive volcanic activity, there are very few good beaches on The Big Island. If beaches are important to you, another Hawaiian island is a better choice.
There are a variety of land and water activities here on the Big Island. Visit quaint towns, large ranches, black sand beaches, an active volcano, explore magnificent waterfalls, miles of lava rock fields and beautiful green landscapes. Good fishing, upscale resort communities and diversity of cultures are all what makes Hawaii a popular unforgettable destination.
This is an island of striking natural beauty and many climates .. from desert lavascapes and tropical rain forests to snow on the tops of 13,800 foot volcanoes (Mauna Kea). Eleven of the world's thirteen climate zones can be found on the Big Island!
Visit the Pu'ukohola Visitor Center, which is the site of 2 stone temples built by King Kamehameha I in 1790. Stroll through the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden ... with over 2,000 unique species of plants and flowers. Explore Akaka Falls State Park. After a 20 minute walk, gaze upon two spectacular waterfalls. First enjoy the 400 ft Kahuna Falls and then the 420 ft Akaka falls....where part of 'Jurassic Park' was filmed. Discover one of only 3 royal palaces in America, the Hulihe'e Palace.
Approximate driving times on the Big Island:
- Kona to Hilo - 2 hrs 30 min
- Kona to Volcano - 2 hrs 30 min
- Kona to Waimea - 50 min
- Keahole Airport to Kona - 20 min
- Keahole Airport to Kohala - 20 min
- Kohala to Kona - 40 min
- Hilo to Volcano - 45 min
- Hilo to Waimea - 1 hr 15 min
- Hilo to Kohala - 1 hr 45 min
- Around the entire island in 10 hrs