Hawaii Island Vacations & Hotel Information
Hawaii - aka the Big Island - is nearly twice the size of all the other Hawaiian islands combined. Geographically it's the most diverse island of the archipelago, with deserts, rainforests, volcanoes and, surprisingly, snow-capped mountains.
The mountains create a barrier that blocks the northeasterly trade winds, making the western side of the island the driest region in the archipelago. This coast has the best beaches and water conditions. The eastern coast is rugged, with pounding surf, tropical rainforests and majestic waterfalls.
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Tourism is arguably the biggest industry on Hawaiʻi; Hawaiʻi has the southernmost point of the US at Ka Lae and it also has the world's largest volcano, Mauna Loa. The Big Island has become famous for its hosting of the Ironman Triathlon World Championship in October, watched by millions around the world each year.
What To Do
Big Island; big list of things to do, including surfing (obviously...), swimming, snorkeling, diving, kayaking, windsurfing, kiteboarding, fishing, snuba (cross between scuba diving and snorkeling) hiking, golf, tennis, horseback riding and mountain biking. Whew
Christmas is big on the island (Hawaiʻians really get into the spirit of things), and New Years Eve offers a fireworks spectacular. If you're around in March, there's the Kona Brewers Festival and the Kona Chocolate Festival; can you believe it? Beer and chocolate!
There's a plethora of festivals between May and August but in late August the big daddy kicks off: the Aloha Festival, a celebration of Hawaiian culture that runs for about a month.
Some of the many other festivals include the Hawaii International Film Festival in late October, which features films from Asia, North America and the Pacific.
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What To See
Mauna Kea (White Mountain) is Hawaii's highest peak, and its 4140m (13,796ft) summit has a cluster of observatory domes, containing what is considered the greatest collection of astronomical telescopes in the world. The Onizuka Center offers displays and stargazing, while a rugged 9.7km (6mi) hiking trail leads from here to the summit.
See Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park
Beautiful, historical Kealakekua Bay is the big draw on the south coast. Local organizations and businesses are working hard to keep it that way, as more people communing with the wildlife increases pressure on this marine-life conservation district famous for its rich variety of sea life, including spinner dolphins. To this end, new kayak regulations have been issued.
To reach the park, take Napoʻopoʻo Rd, off Mamalahoa Hwy, for 4.5 miles, passing a couple of ice cream shops and cafes en route. At the bottom of the road you'll turn right for Hikiʻau Heiau, a broad stone platform temple dedicated to war god Ku that was Kealakekua's religious center, or left for the wharf and kayak launch. There are bathrooms and showers near the heiau.
Puʻuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park
The awesome Puʻuhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park is an ancient place of refuge - or puʻuhonua, a sanctuary where kapu-breakers could have their lives spared.
Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park
Even among Hawaii's many wonders, this national park stands out: its two active volcanoes testify to the ongoing birth of the islands. Majestic Mauna Loa (13,677ft) looms like a sleeping giant, while young Kilauea - the world's most active volcano - has been erupting almost continually since 1983. With luck, you'll witness the primal event of molten lava tumbling into the sea. But the park contains much more - overwhelming lava deserts, steaming craters, lava tubes and ancient rainforests. For hikers, it's heaven.