Big Island Vacation And Travel Guide
Going on Big Island vacation? These tips are for you! The youngest and the largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago in the Central Pacific, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Hawaii. This island measures 10,432 sq. km (4,028 sq. miles), so big that all the islands in the Hawaiian chain could all fit into this one. According to a 2016 census, the population of the Big Island in 2016 was close to 186,738 residents. Although this is the biggest Hawaiian island of all according to its size, the population level is much lover than in the neighbouring Oahu.
What to see and do on The Big Island vacation
With 6 main climate zones, namely Hamakua Coast, Hilo, Puna, Kau, Kona and Kohala and incredibly different landscapes, the Big Island is known as the Land of Fire and Ice. One of the most popular regions on the Big Island is Hilo Hawaiian Region, located on the east side of the Island. The island's largest city population-wise, Hilo Town, is one of the most beautiful spots on the planet with luscious orchid gardens, museums, gorgeous parks with extensive paths leading to the most precious flowerbeds and museums, a history waiting to be discovered. Today Hilo Town, although with a lot of rain, is the thriving and relaxing historical center for many tourists that come here annually. Volcano Region is another regional climate zone and a beautiful destination for tourists and locals alike. The volcano Kilauea that began erupting in January 1983, has became the world's most active volcano. It is independent of any other volcanos on the island with its own magma chamber. This region gets thousands of visitors every year making it one of the island's hottest spots. North Hamakua Region is another northern paradise making the Big Island vacation so special. Rainwater from the northern rivers along with snow streaming down the slopes of the mountains flows down in countless streams. This is where the most beautiful valleys, the breathtaking waterfall Akaka Falls and the surrounding State Park are located. There are many other regions on the Big Island that are waiting to be seen. And if you've got a couple of spare weeks to dedicate to exploring, get ready to be on the most astounding journey you have ever been.
Kailua-Kona is a town that is visited by the tourists frequently. It is packed with fun watersport activities, gorgeous stretches of beaches, amazing restaurants, quality shops and temples and museums for history lovers. The Kona Coast is located slightly north of Kailua-Kona and is the ideal place to sample the world-famous Kona coffee.Kailua-Kona
Photo by Steve Boland
South Kona offers the long-stretched coffee plantations at several different farms. So if you plan your Big Island vacation here, take all your swimming gear with you. After a local farm tour of the coffee fields together with picking up and pulping your own coffee beans and watching a roasting demonstration, hit the beach and the pristine waters of Kealakekua Beach. Remember, it always gets busy in the afternoon, so if you want to beat the crowds and in relax in your own privacy, visit this beach early in the morning.
Puna is another inviting spot needed to be checked out. Here you can witness the volcanic hot springs as well as lava flows. Snorkelers will be awed at the wide marine life Hawaii has in store. Kapoho Tide Pools also located in Puna, have an abundance of the most spectacular coral reefs and the fish that feed of them. Some of these pools are volcanically heated, a perfect spot to soak in and enjoy the moment during your Big Island vacation.
Kau and Ka Lae located on the southern part of the Big Island possess the most unusual beaches. Papakolea beach has green sand all throughout and Punaluu Beach has something you have never seen before - black sand gorgeously sparkling in the sun. Although the surf at times can become somewhat rough to swim, you can still enjoy the surrounding nature and the endangered Hawaiian turtles nesting in the sands of this beach, a perfect time to snap a few photographs. There are an abundance of Hawaiian wonders to be explored on your Big Island vacation, select the ones that add up to your preference and taste and be on your way to discovering the real paradise of Hawaii.Papakolea beach
Photo by Harry Chen
Hilo, a gorgeous town survived a lot of tsunamis where a large number of people were tragically killed. That is why you will notice, that most businesses are situated far from the bayfront area. Pacific Tsunami Museum here is a perfect place to learn how tsunamis affected Hawaii with informative, educative and scientific findings.
Big Island vacation is not only great for shopping, dining and staying at the first-class resorts. It is also ideal for discovering the true hidden beauty of this paradise. Hidden valleys, luscious rain forests, eye-catching waterfalls, dramatic cliffs and spectacular ocean views are just a few treats available to the visitors to see.
There are so many reasons to visit the Big Island, you will need a lot of time to discover the beauty of this magical place. Here, you will find countless hidden beaches, not so popular among the tourists but great in their untouched and unexplored natural beauty. Waipio Valley located on the Hamakua Coast is definitely worth a look as well. From being the boyhood home of King Kamehameha I, it became an important center for political and religious life of Hawaii. No wonder it received its nickname of "Valley of the Kings". The Kohala Coast on the Big Island is home to endless most mesmerizing coastlines with white sands, crystal clear waters and expensive resorts . Tourists favour the sunny Kohala Coast and if you are in a hurry, two days is a perfect amount of time to experience the unique sides of this coast.
Big Island vacation is packed with the most amazing activities, so you sure will be occupied during your trip. A variety of water sports activities is available to choose from. Cruising, sailing, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, parasailing and surfing and of course fishing trips is what draws many visitors to come to the Big Island. For marine life fans take a trip to see whales and dolphins splash in the waters of the ocean or for a close-up experience swim with the dolphins yourself. These incredibly smart animals will amaze you with their gentle touch and affectionate personality. For those that love exploring the land or the sea, many historical and submarine tours are available for booking. You may also try ATV and off-road adventures as well as hiking, camping and day trips to other popular destinations within Hawaii. And if you are up for an electrifying outing, try either the thrilling zipline and airline adventures or exploring the local areas on a bike or a segway.
To experience the authentic side of the Hawaiian traditions, visit one of the Luaus. You will be able to experience the most of the life of Hawaiian people, learn how to hula dance, enjoy the best local culinary creations prepared right in front of your eyes and watch numerous shows throughout the evening where the performers do breathtaking fire dances, tell interesting stories and entertain everyone to the fullest with the most gorgeous nature scenery in the background.
Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano, is another wonderful site waiting to be explored. Whether you want to climb or drive up the 13,796 foot (4 km) mountain for stargazing at one of the observatories, you will be able to see one of the world's best wonders out there. A gorgeous sight tourists cannot resist.Mauna Kea Observatory
Photo by Markus Jöbstl
Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens offer the surreal beauty of a 4-mile long jungle, ponds, waterfalls and over 2,000 species of plants and flowers including orchids, palm trees, heliconia and ginger. Panaewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens is classified as the only natural tropical rainforest zoo in the entire United States. Here you will find nene goose, the state bird and other rare birds, monkeys, sloths and even lemurs. Kids will love attending here, as the petting zoo hours allow for 1 full hour to pet and interact with the inhabitants of the zoo.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the World Heritage Site and is a must-see place to visit during your Hawaiian vacation. The land around this beautiful park is always extending as the lava from the active Kilauea volcano often spills into the ocean. Once you are inside the park, explore the Thurston Lava Tube that was formed by red hot lava that flowed out of the earth nearly 400 years ago. The lava then hardened and a tube of 183 meters long (600 feet) was created making this one of the most popular family attractions.Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Photo by Neal Wellons
Get ready to celebrate, because Hawaii blasts with many different festivals. Kona Brewers Festival, a local fundraiser, has 70 types of ales and lagers showcased by Hawaiian craft brewers. During this festival expect to see fashion shows, brewers' competition, live music and a lot of delicious treats. Merrie Monarch Festival, the most grand festival of all on the Big Island honors the legacy of King David Kalakaua, the great man who was responsible for bringing back to life the fading Hawaiian cultural traditions as well as hula. A fun and vibrant festival with a three-day hula competition will leave you speechless the way it is organized and performed in front of the audience.
The Big Island in Hawaii has a lot to offer. Explore one side of this paradise or all, but remember, no matter which region you stroll into, it has its own history, colours and the most exciting activities and attractions available. Have fun discovering the marvelous beauty on the Big Island vacation.
How to Get to The Big Island
It's very easy to get to the Big Island. Two of the locally located airports on the west and the east sides of the island welcome all international and domestic aircrafts. Kona International Airport, that is located on the west side of the Big Island, is a short 10-minute drive from Kailua-Kona. But if you would like to travel further to Kohala Coast, plan an additional 30 minutes for your trip. Hilo International Airport is located only 2 miles from the downtown core of town of Hilo and a longer 40-minute drive from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, a real local wonder. Since the island has a variety of different climates, weather changes are a normal occurrence, so expect a diverse weather and pack your suitcases accordingly. Most international visitors arrive at the Kona International Airport and use other means of transportation to get to their destinations within the island. You may also take a flight to Honolulu International Airport on the island of Oahu and get to the Big Island by taking a short 30-40 minute domestic flight. There are no nonstop flights to Hawaii for tourists arriving from Canada or Europe. Canadian and European passengers coming to Hawaii must make one or several transit stops in the United States depending on their airline. Domestic flights between all of the major islands of Hawaii are also available if you are interested in doing inter-island trips on your Big Island vacation.
Public transportation on The Big Island
Big Island's public transportation system is reliable and prompt, but since the island is so big, it takes a long time to get from one point to the other. Renting a car is a great option if you would like to do some exploring on your own time and at your own pace. A number of car rental companies are available for any budget; however, you would have to book your rental before you arrive here. It gets busy, especially in the winter months, so in order to get the vehicle of your choice for your Big Island vacation, reserve your rental a couple of months prior to travelling to Hawaii.
Where to stay during the Big Island vacation
If you long for luxurious accommodation options, the Big Island vacation offers just that. A series of family-friendly hotels and resorts offer a wide range of many activities, mouthwatering dining choices and superb amenities for any taste and preference. Their great service and entertainment is by far the best! If you want a more budget-friendly place to stay, you can always opt out for a B&B inn surrounded by spectacular nature or vacation rentals that provide seclusion most guests love.
Where to eat during the Big Island vacation
Restaurants on the Big Island offer anything and everything for any taste and budget to please even the pickiest customers. You can expect to see a variety of freshly cooked Italian dishes with home-made tomato sauce and freshly grilled veal and chicken parm, or the most fresh sushi delicacies garnished with that perfect Japanese touch. When you are on a journey of trying the mouthwatering cuisine, care to stop at the local Hawaiian dining establishments where they offer the locally grown Waimea tomatoes, handmade Hamakua goat cheese, locally raised beef or even the purest and the most organic locally-made wine. So if you are on a hunt of a perfect snack on your Big Island vacation, lunch or a multi-course dinner, rest assured, you will find the best tasting food whether you go to a full-size restaurant, a café or a simple farmer's market.