The Big Island
Your vacation on Hawaii Island will offer an unrivaled expression of the power of nature.
If you’re lucky, you may see the work of Pele, the mythical volcano goddess, sending molten lava flowing into the sea. A few miles away, you can stroll in solitude on beautiful black sand beaches. You can also drive or hike the slopes of the state’s highest peak, snow-capped Mauna Kea. Then explore lush rainforests filled with tropical blooms. And save time to snorkel or dive, perhaps with Kona’s resident manta rays.
Nearly twice the size of all the other Hawaiian Islands combined, the Island of Hawaii is referred to as “The Big Island,” and includes seven main regions: Kau, Puna, Hilo, Hamakua Coast, North Kohala, Kohala Coast and Kona.
Your Big Island vacation is likely to begin in the sunny region of Kona, which is home to Kona International Airport. Visitors will find historic Hawaiian landmarks, luxury resorts, coffee farms and diverse water activities. What’s your pleasure? You can play above or underwater, with snorkeling, diving, whale watching and manta ray boat tours, or deep-sea fishing.
Two superior hotel choices in Kona are the Outrigger Keauhou Beach Resort and Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort and Spa, both beautifully integrated into the natural environment near historic cultural sites and sun-kissed beaches. Among standard hotels, two stand out for amenities, value and views: the Courtyard King Kamehameha on Kona’s finest white-sand beach and Outrigger Royal Sea Cliff Resort, located on a dramatic lava rock bluff.
Kau, Big Island’s southernmost region, is home to the beautiful Punaluu black sand beach and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Kilauea volcano, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, is the highlight, where visitors can witness the growth of the island right before their eyes. With an extraordinary natural diversity, this park is one of the most popular visitor attractions in Hawaii and a sacred place for Native Hawaiians.
The Kohala area features some of the island’s finest resorts, beaches and magnificent golf courses. Vacation in classic, luxurious Hawaiian style at the upscale Mauna Kea Beach Hotel or The Fairmont Orchid, both renowned for prime locations on the golden Kohala Coast. You’ll also love the amenities, pools, beaches and spectacular setting of these superior resorts: Hilton Waikoloa Village, Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel and the Waikoloa Beach Marriott. The Aston Shores at Waikoloa offers outstanding value and amenities in a standard hotel price range.
For a glimpse into another way of Hawaiian life, swing upcountry in North Kohala to the high, green pastures of Waimea and explore paniolo (cowboy) country.
Hamakua, the island windward coast, is known for the Hamakua Heritage Corridor drive, a road trip along the scenic coastline with specific points of interest like botanical gardens, the famous Akaka waterfalls and the Waipio Valley Lookout.
The Hilo region, the wetter side of the island, is blessed with many natural wonders including waterfalls, lush rainforests, orchid farms and blooming gardens. Home to Hilo International Airport, the town of Hilo has a relaxed atmosphere with local attractions like museums, art galleries, and the Hilo Farmers’ Market. South of Hilo, a drive through the Puna district brings you to the other side of Volcanoes National Park, and also to Lava Tree State Park. The historic town of Pahoa welcomes you with a row of appealing shops and eateries. Next, linger along a 12-mile string of beach parks, each with unique treasures – from a lava-warmed pond to connected tide pools perfect for snorkeling.
Whichever direction you turn, your vacation on Hawaii Island will offer fun and adventure on a grand scale.