Hawaii's Big Island
Hawaii’s Big Island, or officially Hawaii Island, certainly lives up to its name. It is nearly twice the size of all of the rest of the Hawaiian Islands combined. The island consists of five volcanoes that rise up from the Pacific Ocean, creating stunningly beautiful landscapes and picture-perfect beaches, complemented by a rich and fascinating history and culture.
Hawaii Island has many resort regions with top-notch facilities, including gourmet restaurants, luxury spas and superb golf courses, as well as the two main towns Hilo and Kailua-Kona. Car rental companies operate out of these two towns, as well as out of both international airports, as public transport is limited. Driving is the best option if you are planning to spend some time exploring the island.
Head to Kohala Coast to discover some of Hawaii Island’s most popular beaches, such as Mauna Kea Beach and Hapuna Beach State Park. Relax on the pristine sands, or dive into the crystal blue water to swim with the dolphins, turtles and tropical fish native to these waters.
Inland, there are many natural wonders to discover. Hike through the tropical rainforests, see and hear stunning waterfalls, or take in the awe-inspiring spectacle of the island’s two active volcanoes at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. You will also be able to climb to the peak of Maunakea, Hawaii Island’s tallest peak which, when measured from the sea bed, is taller than Mount Everest. Don’t miss the spectacular views from the remote Pololū Valley Outlook at the north of the island.
As it was once home to the Hawaiian royal family, the island has many sites of strong cultural and historical interest. Visit the 72 hectare Pu'uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, once the site of royal grounds, as well as a place of refuge for those who broke the Kapu, or sacred laws. The Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park is home to fascinating archaeological sites where you’ll discover petroglyphs, or kii pohaku, native Hawaiian carvings into lava rock which date back hundreds of years.
Hawaii Island’s tropical climate, with over 300 days’ sunshine per year on the west coast, ensures that it is a popular destination all year round. The busiest time falls between December and March, so if travelling in the period it is recommended to book accommodation well in advance. Many surfers head to the island in winter, as the rough winds cause large sea swells, but temperatures remain warm. Hawaii lies in the North Pacific Ocean, 3,219 kilometres from the US mainland.