Big Island Vacation Guide

Thinking about a Big Island Vacation? Ah...The Big Island. At 4,028 square miles, it is over twice the size of the other major islands combined. Yet, it is one of the most sparsely populated with just over 120,000 residents.

It is also the youngest of the Hawaiian islands. In fact, it is still growing due to volcanic activity!


Your Perfect Trip to the Big Island of Hawaii

Allow me to first clear up something that confuses many people. Hawaii, the state, is also the name of one of its islands...The Big Island is also known as Hawaii. When people refer to Hawaii, they are usually talking about the state. When referring to the island, most people call it The Big Island...and it is a Big Island.


The island is made up of five volcanoes, one of which, Kilauea, is the most active volcano in the world. Kilauea has been erupting since 1983, and its magnificent displays of lava have been the island's main attraction since then...and you can see why from the video below...

Mauna Loa (13,677 ft), is the world's largest volcano and makes up half of the entire island. Mauna Loa has erupted 33 times since 1843, the most recent being in 1984. Experts believe "she" will erupt again.

Kilauea and Mauna Loa are accesible from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, another amazing member of the National Park System.

Mauna Kea, at 13,796 ft., is the tallest mountain in the world when measured from its base on the ocean floor to its summit. Mauna Kea, having last erupted around 4,500 years ago, is considered dormant. Dormant means it has erupted sometime during the last several thousand years, but has not erupted during the last few hundred years.

Its summit is often covered in snow and is considered one of the world's premiere sites for astronomy. There are thirteen different telescopes from eleven countries on top of Mauna Kea. If you enjoy star-gazing like me, this is the place to do it.

Hualalai is not quite considered dormant, having last erupted in the 18th century.

Kohala Volcano, the fifth and oldest one on the Big Island, is considered extinct, meaning it has not erupted in the last several thousand years.

Go to the summit of Mauna Kea on  your trip to the Big Island of Hawaii. The snow-capped summit of Mauna Kea is a stark contrast to the other parts of The Big Island, and that is what a Big Island Vacation is all about...incredible contrasts. From the dry, sunny leeward (west) side where Kona is, to the windward (east) side and the wettest city in the U.S., Hilo, this island has it all. In fact, eleven of the world's thirteen climate zones can be found on The Big Island.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is definitely the main attraction here, but there is so much more to expereience in your Big Island Vacation.

  • Hilo is a picture-perfect small town with friendly people. There is a great farmer's market and many stores and restaurants. You can't get any more "local" than Hilo. This town is also host to the annual Merrie Monarch Hula Festival which is the equivalent of the Oscar's or Grammy's.
  • Waipio Valley (pictured below) is the birthplace of King Kamehameha I. This incredibly beautiful valley is six miles long and a mile wide. The only way into the valley is by four-wheel drive or on a guided tour.
  • Explore Waipio Valley in Hawaii

  • I'm not an equestrian by any means but the Big Island has many great spots to get on horseback. One place is Waipio Valley. There are also several ranches where you can learn the ways of the Paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy). I know what you're thinking...City Slickers!
  • One of the cool things that those huge volcanoes do is shelter the leeward (west) coastline from wind...especially in the morning when it often looks like a sheet of glass. With no permanent streams to bring runoff, this side of the island is almost always calm and clear (like Honaunau Bay pictured below)...making it perfect for fishing, snorkeling, diving, kayaking, and basically any other water activity.

    It's no coincidence that Kona on the leeward coast is one of the best fishing spots in the world. A few friends of mine take their boat over to Kona every year to participate in one of the many big game fishing tournaments held there.

Personally, I've always loved The Big Island. It was my second favorite island next to Kauai to visit. Being from Oahu, I enjoyed going to islands that were different from the hustle and bustle of Oahu. And a Big Island Vacation offers exactly that...peace and quiet, laid back people, and oh yes...beautiful scenery.

Here are some appropriate lyrics from the band "Ehukai"... When will you come down to Hilo?...to hear that beautiful sound...smiling faces, cheerful places...there's no other place around...

Ready to plan Your Perfect Big Island Vacation?




Looking for a hotel? Check out my Hawaii Hotel Guide.

Looking for a condo? Check out my Hawaii Condo Guide.

If you are looking for a Big Island vacation home, check this site for a great selection and prices.

If you are looking for a Big Island Bed & Breakfast, talk to Brigitte at Be Back Hawaii.


Click here for my Big Island Vacation Activity Guide.


Need some suggestions on the best places to eat on the island? Check out my Hawaii Restaurant Guide.


Wondering what the best beaches are? Check out my Hawaii Beach Guide.


Big Island Golf Courses | Where to Play


Click here for Big Island guidebooks.


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