The Big Island of Hawaii is legendary for its volcanoes, parks, and beaches. Covering an area of 4,028 square miles (10,430 square kilometers), it is the biggest island in the Hawaiian archipelago. It comprises 62.7 % of the land area of the entire state.
Big Island is also known as the Island of Hawaii to avoid confusion. Hawaii is the state, and it is also the name of one of the islands there. Are you planning to have a once in a lifetime vacation in Hawaii? This article will help you choose the natural attractions to visit on the Big Island.
Tourist Spots on the Big Island of Hawaii
The Big Island of Hawaii features amazing landscapes and natural attractions to explore. Tourists have a wide variety of choices – from volcanoes to beaches to waterfalls. Here are some of the reasons why this island is one of the most popular tourist spots in Hawaii.
HAWAII VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK
See some of the most famous volcanoes, the Mauna Loa, the largest volcano (when it comes to mass and volume) on Earth, and Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes in the world. People who like nature, hiking and adventure will surely enjoy this place.
Go on a hiking expedition on the Kilauea Iki Trail or the Crater Rim Trail, and experience how it is like to walk on the “steaming” landscape. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a World Heritage Site that attracts 2.6 million tourists each year. The park is probably one of the most visited tourist spots in Hawaii.
- Nahuku – Thurston Lava Tube
Explore this awesome 500-year old lava cave. The entrance to this magnificent wonder of nature is well-lit, but as you go along further into the tube, there is total darkness. Bring a powerful flashlight so you can explore the inner sections.
- Volcano House
The Volcano House is the only hotel located inside the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. It offers some spectacular views of the volcano’s crater. And of course, you can get a taste of delicious Hawaiian food at the in-house restaurant.
- Thomas A. Jaggar Museum
This museum is devoted to the science of volcanology. Some of the things that you will see are seismographs (an instrument which measures earthquakes), and equipment used by scientists. It also offers a view of the Halema’uma’u crater of the Kilauea volcano.
One of Big Island’s five volcanoes, Mauna Kea’s high elevation (13,796 feet) gives visitors a spectacular view of the sunset. The Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station is a spot where you can get more info about the volcano. You can buy hot chocolate and purchase some souvenirs there.
If you plan to go up the volcano, it is better to use a 4-wheel drive vehicle for more grip especially during the ascent towards the summit. During the night, it will become much cooler as the temperatures drop, so bring clothes that will keep you warm.
Mauna Kea is among the most important astronomy sites in the world, home to the Mauna Kea Observatories. Countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Canada have telescopes and research facilities at the summit of this dormant volcano.
Another well-known tourist destination on the island of Hawaii is the town of Hilo. Some of the famous beaches there are the James Kealoha Beach and the Honoli’i Beach Park.
There are many places you can visit including the Wailuku River State Park, where you can find the Rainbow Falls, a waterfall with a vibrant display of colorful mist. You can also see the basalt lava rock pools of the Boiling Pots.
The Liliuokalani Gardens is a 30-acre park which features Edo-style Japanese gardens. The Merrie Monarch Festival, a week-long celebration of both ancient and modern hula, takes place every year after Easter.
If you are “crazy about nuts,” you can visit the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation, one of the world’s leading producers of macadamia nuts.
RICHARDSON BEACH PARK
The shallow bay of this beach is one of the most popular snorkeling sites on the island of Hawaii. See if you can find sea turtles and dolphins, they can often be seen at the Hilo Bay. Amenities of the center include picnic pavilions, parking, restrooms, and showers.
The Waipi’o Valley has nice landscapes, beaches, and waterfalls. It was the residence of past Hawaiian kings; the place is considered sacred by many Native Hawaiians. If you want a relaxing and nature-inspired vacation, you can choose this place as one of your destinations.
Plants, flowers, and trees grow in the valley such as bananas, avocados, mangoes, papayas, hibiscus, and orchids. A bit of trivia – Waipi’o Valley was one of the locations used in filming the movie Waterworld starring Kevin Costner.
PU’UHONOA O HONAUNAU NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK
The Pu’uhonoa O Honaunau National Park is a good destination if you want to learn more about Hawaiian culture and traditions. This sacred site features royal gardens, burial grounds, royal fish ponds, and carved wooden images.
This park has a colorful history. Up until the 19th century, Hawaiians used it as a place of refuge to avoid punishment for breaking ancient laws. A priest will forgive the offender, and after that, the person will be free to leave. In ancient times, defeated warriors and ordinary citizens sought refuge here during times of battle.
HILTON WAIKOLOA VILLAGE
This beautiful resort has 1,240 rooms and suites, so it’s a great place for families or large groups. The Hilton Waikoloa Village features waterfalls, tropical gardens, lagoons, and waterways. Tourists can ride boats to experience a relaxing “cruise” along the waters of the resort.
Good news kids! Within the resort, you can find the Dolphin Quest Village. This area allows people, especially children, to interact and play with the dolphins. Surely, it will be a fun experience for nature lovers and those who are young at heart.
History of the Island of Hawaii
It is believed that the island of Hawaii got its name from
, the Polynesian navigator who first discovered it. Captain James Cook, an English explorer, was the captain of the European expedition that discovered the islands of Hawaii.
He called them the Sandwich Islands, after the name of his patron Earl of Sandwich. Unfortunately, Cook was killed at Kealakekua Bay in 1779, after a melee broke out following the theft of a boat.
Hawaii was the home of Pai’ea Kamehameha, also known as Kamehameha the Great. Under his rule, Kamehameha united most of the islands in Hawaii after several years of war. He gave the island and his kingdom the name of his native island.
Does it Snow in the Big Island of Hawaii?
Snow falls during the winter in Hawaii, but only at the summits of the three tallest volcanoes. These are the Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea in the Big Island, and Haleakala in Maui.
In June 2016, residents of the Big Island were amazed to find the summit of Mauna Kea dusted with a layer of summer snow. The National Weather Service said that the snow was a result of the combination of cold upper-level temperatures and passing precipitation.
The Big Island of Hawaii can be the perfect destination for couples, families, and friends. See the beaches, volcanoes, national parks, and breathtaking landscapes. Discover for yourself why this island is one of the most famous tourist spots in Hawaii.