About Hawaii Island
It’s easy to feel awed on Hawaii Island. From the molten magma flowing from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to the snow-capped heights of Maunakea; from the green rainforests of the Hamakua Coast to the jet-black sands of Punaluu Beach; Hawaii Island is an unrivaled expression of the power of nature.
To avoid confusion with the name of the entire state, the Island of Hawaii is often called the “Big Island,” and what an appropriate name it is. Nearly twice as big as all of the other Hawaiian Islands combined, its sheer size can be inspiring. You can travel through ten* of the world’s 14* different climate zones on Hawaii ranging from Wet Tropical to Polar Tundra, a result of the shielding effect and elevations of the massive volcanoes Maunakea and Maunaloa.
Hawaii Island Adventures
Is that sound you hear the helicopter or the beating of your heart? As you hover above Kilauea Volcano’s steaming Puu Oo vent it’s hard to tell. Taking a helicopter tour for a bird’s-eye view of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the rest of the island’s hidden waterfalls, lush valleys and balmy beaches is just the beginning of an exhilarating Hawaii Island expedition.
With surroundings ranging from lava-strewn deserts to tropical plantations and gardens, you can engage in every imaginable outdoor activity here. Snorkel or scuba with manta rays off the Kona Coast. Horseback ride in the grassy plains of paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) country in Waimea. Discover the 442-foot Akaka Falls and the 80-foot Waianuenue, also known as Rainbow Falls in Wailuku River State Park. Hike along the 150 miles of volcanic desert and tropical trails at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Hawaii Island Arts & Culture
The Merrie Monarch Festival (follows Easter Sunday in March - April) is the world’s premier hula event held in Hilo. This weeklong celebration of the native art of the hula happens every Easter with halau (hula schools) from every island and the mainland practicing year-round for the event. This moving expression of music, dance and storytelling is part of how the people of Hawaii Island continue to perpetuate and interpret the Hawaiian culture and its uniquely affirmative spirit of aloha.
Hilo town is also home to an array of museums, galleries, and performance venues where you can admire the work of local painters, sculptors, musicians, storytellers, and crafts people.
The Merrie Monarch Festival is just one example of how the people of Hawaii Island locals live comfortably in the present but with great respect for the past. The mana (spiritual power) is still strong at important historical places like Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park and Puukohola Heiau Historic Site. Today, with an active volcano still shaping the land at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the people of Hawaii Island continue to forge their own history.
Hawaii Island Ecotourism
Hawaii Island and all the Hawaiian Islands are complex but fragile ecosystems that are easily affected by outside influences. This is partly why, in today’s small jet-connected world, Hawaii has the highest number of endangered and threatened native plant and animal species of any place on the planet. Though the Hawaiian Islands are some of the most remote in the world, they are by no means isolated, hosting more than seven million visitors each year--nearly seven times more than the resident population.
The model for sustainability in Hawaii was already in place and practiced here for more than a millennium by Native Hawaiians. Their fishing, farming, planting, aquaculture and methods of food sustainability and use of ahupuaa (contiguous land divisions which extended from the uplands to the sea) are widely regarded as the most efficient in the Pacific.
You can learn about these ancient methods at museums and historic places like Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, and see modern practices of sustainability in the efforts of Hawaii Regional Cuisine as well as the ranches of Waimea, the coffee farms of Kona and Holualoa, as well as the botanical gardens and farmers’ markets located throughout the island.
Relaxation on Hawaii, the Big Island
Hawaii Island Relaxation
Where else can you take a leisurely stroll on an active volcano? Whether it’s getting back to nature on a hike in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park or taking a dip at Hapuna Beach, Hawaii Island has its own unique activities and environments that will help you slow down and relax.
Spend the day window-shopping and sightseeing in Historic Kailua Village (Kailua-Kona), the coffee and art town of Holualoa or beautiful Hawi. Take a road trip along the Hamakua Heritage Corridor then wander the historic streets of Downtown Hilo. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, set up a tee time at a spectacular golf course on the Kohala Coast then hit the spa in one of the island’s luxurious resorts. Wherever you go, you’ll notice the locals here are incredibly laid back. A few days on Hawaii Island and you’ll see why the feeling is contagious.
Hawaii Island Golf
Just try to concentrate. Focus on your swing and not the pristine, black lava-lined fairways and palm tree-speckled greens. Block out the crystal blue waters and the rhythmic crash of waves just beyond the bunker. Try your best to forget that you’re playing on one of the most beautiful golf courses you’ve ever seen. It may take a few holes, but you’ll get used to it.
With some of Hawaii’s most magnificent courses to choose from, some crafted by the biggest names in course design, Hawaii Island is known as the “Golf Capital of Hawaii.” Discover courses along the Kohala Coast, such as the Jack Nicklaus designed Hualalai Golf Course, the championship Francis H. Ii Brown courses of the Mauna Lani Resort and the Robert Trent Jones Sr. designed courses at Mauna Kea Resort. Not to be outdone, play the two courses of the Waikoloa Beach Resort designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. Discover a variety of other hidden gems throughout Hawaii Island and play amongst the striking contrasts of lush green fairways, pure white bunkers, jet-black lava flows and turquoise Pacific waters. Hit a bad shot and you can always blame it on Hawaii Island. Views like this justify a mulligan.