The Hawaiian Islands – The Big Island

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The Big Island

Hawai’i is the largest of the islands, hence its nickname “The Big Island”. It is also the youngest and it’s still expanding, due to the ongoing activity of the volcano Kilauea. The Big Island can feel like several islands in one. It contains 11 of the 13 officially recognized climate zones and has been named a World Biosphere site by UNESCO. Major areas include Kona (West), Ka’u (South), Hilo (East) and Kohala (North).

Kona is probably best known for its coffee. The high elevation, constant cloud cover and rich volcanic soil create the ideal environment for growing coffee beans. Many coffee farms offer tours to the public. Learn about the coffee orchards, the meticulous harvesting process and see the coffee mills.

Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park also in the Kona District is a historical park that provides a look into early Hawaiian culture. Restored to its early 1700s appearance, explore the many archeological sites like the royal canoe landing, the place where these early Hawaiian’s worshipped, the long house for canoes and fishponds.

On the north side of the island, in the Kohala District, you’ll find Hapuna Beach. This is the largest of Hawaii Island’s white sand beaches, and has consistently been rated on numerous international Top Ten lists. Hapuna also offers consistently good conditions for swimming, bodyboarding, sunbathing and snorkeling. You’ll find ample parking, along with food vendors, picnic areas, restrooms and showers.

Traveling East towards Hilo, take the Mamalahoa Hwy into scenic splendor. This drive takes you along sea cliffs, through lush valleys and tropical rainforests. Along the way you’ll explore old plantation towns, see amazing waterfalls and discover scenic detours along the way. Make a short detour on the Akaka Falls road to discover Akaka Falls State Park, home to Hawaii Island’s most famous waterfall, the 442-foot Akaka Falls, and the 100-foot Kahuna Falls.

In the southern part of the island within the Ka’u District is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is one of the planet’s most geologically active areas and home to two of the five volcanoes found on the island – Kilauea and Maunaloa. Since 1983 Kilauea has been erupting, adding more than 500 acres to the island’s south coast. Maunaloa is the most massive volcano on the planet and last erupted in 1984. Take the Crater Rim Drive – an 11-mile loop around Kilauea Caldera – past the park’s main attractions: Jagger Museum, Devastation Trail, rain forests and craters. A special stop is the Thurston Lava Tube. This is a 500 year old lava cave with a tropical rainforest at the end of the tube.

The volcanic activity has created Hawaii’s black sand beaches. Southwest of the National Park is Punalu’u Black Sand Beach. This unique black sand lures many beachgoers, but more for beachcombing than swimming. This beach is part of the habitat for honu, Hawaiian Green sea turtles and you can often see them basking in the sun onshore.


Learn about all the Hawaiian Islands! Hawaii – the Big Island | Kauai | Maui | Lanai & Molokai | Oahu | Practical Hawaii


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AAA can help you plan an unforgettable Hawaiian vacation. Visit a nearby AAA Travel Office, give us a call at 800-444-8691 or Request a Quote Online.

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