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Big Island Hawaii
Visitor Information, Vacation Planning, and Travel Guide

Welcome to Hawaii,
"The Big Island"

Information about The Big Island

Island Color: Red
Island Flower: The Red Ohia

The Big Island of Hawaii offers spectacular visual contrasts: From lush tropical rainforests to lunar like deserts, rolling green pastures to blackened lava fields, snow-capped mountains to white, black and green sand beaches. (Check out our links to over 30 Webcams to view some of the scenery right now!)

Hawaii Island Map Big Island Maui Island Moloka'i Island Lana'i Island Kaua'i Island O'ahu Island
Hawaii is the largest and youngest of the major Hawaiian Islands.  With an area of 4,028 square miles, the Big Island is twice as large as all of the other islands combined. The Big Island is believed to be the first Hawaiian Island on which the Polynesian explorers of the past made landfall.

Big Island Lava Flow Photo

Hawaii Island was formed by five shield volcanoes: Kohala (extinct), Hualalai (dormant), Mauna Kea (dormant), Mauna Loa (active), and Kilauea (active). (An extinct volcano will never erupt again, a dormant  volcano is resting and will possibly erupt again.)

Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes on earth, continues to increase the size of the Big Island, in constant eruption since 1983.  Black sand beaches are very common on the Island of Hawaii as lava from Kilauea meets the sea, cools, transforms into rock and is crushed by ocean waves. Mauna Kea, "White Mountain", is the tallest mountain in the world (about 33,500 feet), measured from its base at the sea floor, taller than Mount Everest according to the Guinness Book of Records. 

Stargazing atop Mauna Kea’s 13,796 foot summit (from sea level) is an experience hard to match anywhere else on earth!  But the must-see for any first-time visitor to the Big Island is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Visit the Kilauea Visitor Center and the Jaggar Museum. Explore the summit of Kilauea on Crater Rim Drive; passing through tropical rain forest, the caldera floor, and desert. Discover the East Rift and coastal area of the Park on the Chain of Craters Road; 20 miles, descending 3,700 feet to its end where lava flows crossed in 2003. 

Hike a number of trails and depending on volcanic activity, you may have the opportunity to witness active lava flow! Camping is free. Please visit the official Hawaii Volcanoes National Park site for more information.

There are many other adventures awaiting you on the Big Island: Swim with wild dolphins, do a night snorkel or dive with majestic manta rays. Ski the slopes of Mauna Kea. Be in awe at the view of the magnificent, volcanic landscape from a thrilling helicopter ride. Take part in cultural activities and learn about Hawaiian customs and way of life. Experience the beautiful pasturelands of Hawaii on horseback or ATV at Parker Ranch, settled under the great Mauna Kea. Dine in world class restaurants or visit the many ethnic eating stops. These are just a few examples of the many activities the Big Island of Hawaii offers!

Most of the Big Island’s economy is, not surprisingly, rooted in tourism, mainly on the Kona (Western) Coast.  Sugarcane was the primary contributor to Hawaii’s economy in days gone by. In the mid-twentieth century, sugar plantations began to diminish and by 1996 the final sugar cane plantation closed. Various other types of agriculture now contribute to Hawaii's economy. Kona coffee, vegetables, macadamia nuts, and flowers are all important crops. Hawaii has earned the nickname "The Orchid Isle" from the many, gorgeous orchids it produces. Parker Ranch, one of the largest cattle ranches in the U.S., is also a major player in the Big Island's economy.

Top Destinations on the Big Island:

Black Sand Beach

Kealakekua Bay

Mauna Kea

Place of Refuge

Volcanoes National Park

Waipio Valley

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