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Big Island Destination

Hawaii Island, more commonly known as the Big Island, is a truly unique and unforgettable destination for that quintessential white sand vacation. Or, was it a black sand adventure? You can walk through its lush rainforests. Wait, actually, its lunar-esque lava fields. Hm. You can start your day at a serene waterfall and a few hours later be standing atop a 14,000-foot volcano, peering into the heavens from an internationally acclaimed observatory. So, where is this again!?

This is the Big Island of Hawaii, renowned for its astonishing range of microclimates, natural wonders, and diverse cultural richness. It’s vast and much less densely populated than the other Hawaiian Islands. And, incredibly it represents 11 of the Earth’s 13 microclimates!

Because of that, the Big Island is becoming more popular than ever before. It’s one of the best places to craft a vacation filled with all the classics – toes-in-sand lounging, hip hotels, and culinary exploration – plus adventures high and low, and epic natural wonders that will be the highlight of your photo album (and make your friends jealous) for years to come.

And, even though it feels a world away, Hawaii benefits from the easy and safe travel within the US.

BIG ISLAND VS THE REST

First, how does the Big Island compare to the other major destinations within Hawaii like Maui, Oahu, and Kauai? They’ve certainly all got something special about them, so let’s take a quick look at what differentiates each one.

 

 

____ OAHU IS THE URBAN HEART OF HAWAII

Here, the modern cityscape of Honolulu meets the iconic Waikiki Beach. Oahu is a tapestry of cultural diversity, encompassing historic Pearl Harbor and the world-renowned surfing beaches of the North Shore. However, amidst its urban allure, Oahu grapples with the realities of crowded beaches and the hustle of city life. The island’s popularity often leads to packed tourist spots and the familiar buzz of traffic, particularly around Honolulu.

 
 

____ MAUI WHISPERS THE LANGUAGE OF ROMANCE AND LUXURY

It’s an island where honeymooners and beach enthusiasts find sun-kissed sands and opulent resorts. Maui’s charm lies in its postcard-perfect vistas and aquatic wonders. Yet, the island’s beauty comes at a price, often reflected in the cost of its indulgences and the crowded hotspots frequented by tourists seeking a slice of paradise where travelers can feel it’s been too commercialized.

 

 

____ KAUAI IS THE GARDEN ISLAND

The dramatic cliffs of the Na Pali Coast, the expansive vistas of Waimea Canyon, and the serene trails winding through lush forests epitomize the island’s untouched beauty. Kauai is a sanctuary for those seeking solace in the embrace of nature, away from the clamor of more developed locales. However, its very seclusion means fewer amenities and a certain remoteness from the conveniences of more developed islands.

 
 

____ THE BIG ISLAND OF HAWAII IS A UNIQUE BLEND OF ADVENTURE AND RAW BEAUTY.

Is a fantastic culmination for those seeking a retreat from city life, while balancing between a dreamy beach vacation and the desire for diversity and adventure. Its expansive landscapes promise a journey rich in breathtaking contrasts. Consider, though, to achieve that diversity, the island is vast, requiring visitors to navigate longer trips between experiences. It’s not untypical to drive 30 minutes or more to reach your next adventure. Of course, these beautiful drives are often peering into the island’s splendor and often become a trip highlight unto themselves as you weave through lava fields, rain forests, and volcanoes!

Additionally, the island’s tourism infrastructure, while charming and evolving, is less developed in certain remote areas, offering a more rugged and authentic experience at the expense of typical tourist conveniences. The Big Island, therefore, appeals to those who relish the journey as much as the destination, offering a unique blend of adventure and raw beauty.

Each of these islands tells its own story, resonating with the unique desires and dreams of every traveler. For those seeking a narrative that encompasses the full spectrum of Hawaii’s beauty and adventure, the Big Island weaves a tale like no other, inviting explorers to its vast and varied shores.

MICRO-CLIMATES

The Big Island of Hawaii is renowned for its astonishing range of microclimates, a phenomenon resulting from the island’s unique topography and geographical diversity. While you’ll most likely interested in staying near the beach, these microclimates can vary dramatically over short distances, making the Big Island a fascinating destination to experience a wide range of environments. Here’s an overview:

 

____ TROPICAL RAINFORESTS

On the windward side, particularly in areas like Hilo and Puna, the climate is wet and lush, characterized by abundant rainfall. This creates dense tropical rainforests, home to a rich variety of flora and fauna.

____ TEMPERATE ZONES

Certain areas, such as Waimea, are known for their temperate climate. These regions are cooler and receive moderate rainfall, making them ideal for agriculture, including the famous Kona coffee plantations.

____ SNOW-CAPPED MOUNTAINS

The summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, two of the tallest mountains in the world, often experience snowfall during the winter months. The climate here is alpine

____ DRY AND ARID DESERTS

In contrast, the leeward side of the island, especially regions like Kona and Kohala, receives much less rainfall. These areas feature dry, arid climates with sparse vegetation, resembling desert conditions.

____ VOLCANIC LANDSCAPES

Parts of the island, especially near the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, have unique volcanic landscapes. These areas can have a mix of climate conditions, from lush rainforests to stark, lava-covered fields.

____ SUNNY BEACHES

The coastal areas, particularly on the west side of the island, enjoy warm, sunny weather year-round, perfect for beach-goers and ocean activities.

 

This diversity in microclimates contributes significantly to the Big Island’s appeal, offering visitors a rich variety of experiences within a relatively small geographic area. Whether it’s exploring tropical forests, relaxing on sunny beaches, or witnessing the stark beauty of volcanic landscapes, the Big Island presents an array of climates that cater to a wide range of interests and activities.

POPULAR ACTIVITIES

The Big Island’s unique blend of natural diversity, cultural richness, and less commercialized environment, coupled with its unique attractions like active volcanoes, incredible beaches and snorkeling, and world-class stargazing, make it an increasingly popular choice for travelers seeking a more varied and authentic Hawaiian experience.

 

But, what we really think sets the Big Island of Hawaii apart is its adventure offerings a wealth of activities and natural features that cater to a spirit of exploration and excitement, making it an adventure enthusiast’s paradise. Here are some of the island’s most famous activities and features:

 

____ HAWAII VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to two of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Visitors can explore volcanic craters, walk through old lava tubes, and witness the primal process of creation and destruction. The park offers unique hiking opportunities, with landscapes ranging from rainforests to volcanic deserts.

____ SNORKELING AND DIVING

With clear waters and abundant marine life, the Big Island is perfect for snorkeling and diving. Kealakekua Bay, for example, is a marine sanctuary with a vibrant coral reef ecosystem. You can kayak across the bay and snorkel in the sanctuary with Kona Boys.

____ BLACK SAND BEACHES

The island is known for its unique black sand beaches, such as Kiholo Bay. These beaches offer great opportunities for relaxation, swimming, and turtle spotting.

____ ADVENTURE SPORTS

For those seeking more adrenaline, there are opportunities like zip-lining and helicopter tours over the island’s dramatic landscapes.

____ HIKING AND TREKKING

The diversity of the terrain offers a unique hiking experience, whether it’s through lava fields, tropical forests, or along coastal paths. There are many self-guided options, and if you’re looking for unique expert-led hikes to get away from the crowds, check out Hidden Craters Hike or a more spiritual journey through the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary.

____ WATERFALL ADVENTURES

The Big Island boasts some spectacular waterfalls. Akaka Falls and Rainbow Falls are just a couple of the famous ones located on the Hilo side of the island. Some falls can be reached via scenic hikes, providing both adventure and stunning photo opportunities such as the Kohala Waterfalls Hike and Swim with Hawaii Forest and Trail.

____ MAUNA KEA SUMMIT AND OBSERVATORY

Mauna Kea is the tallest sea mountain in the world and a premier site for astronomy. Adventurers can drive up to the summit to enjoy breathtaking views and stargazing opportunities. The visitor center also offers stargazing programs.

____ MANTA RAY NIGHT DIVING AND SNORKELING

The Kona Coast is famous for offering this truly unique experience, where you can swim with these gentle giants as they feed on plankton attracted by underwater lights.

____ CULTURAL EXPERIENCES

Engage in cultural activities like lei making, hula dancing, and visiting historical sites to understand and appreciate the rich Hawaiian culture.

 

The Big Island of Hawaii

 

____ BEACHES

01 Kamakahonu Beach
02 Old Kona Airport
03 Magic Sands Beach
04 Kekaha Kai State Park
05 Two Step Beach
06 Hapuna Beach
0.4 mi
1.0 mi
4.2 mi
13.7 mi
22.8 mi
31.7 mi

___ DESTINATIONS

07 Kona Town
08 Waimea Town
09 Hawi Town
10 Hilo Town
11 Volcanos National Park
0.0 mi
39.1 mi
52.4 mi
77.4 mi
83.2 mi

___ HIKES

12 Kealakekua Bay
13 Kiholo Bay
14 Pololū Valley
15 Green Sand Beach
16 Kīlauea Iki
17 Napau Trail
17.0 mi
28.7 mi
60.2 mi
64.0 mi
96.5 mi
101.0 mi

Distances measured with P_19 as ground zero

 

WHY KONA?

Kailua-Kona, often simply referred to as “Kona,” is a popular destination on the Big Island of Hawaii, and there are several compelling reasons we recommend staying here:

___ Ideal Climate
___ Convenient Location
___ Rich History and Culture
___ World-Famous Coffee
___ Vibrant Marine Life
___ Dining and Shopping
___ Accommodation Variety
___ Recreational Activities
___ Festivals and Events
___ Relaxed Atmosphere

Overall, Kailua-Kona is an excellent choice for visitors to the Big Island who are looking for a balance of beautiful weather, cultural richness, recreational activities, and the convenience of modern amenities, all set against the backdrop of Hawaii’s stunning natural beauty.