Pearl Harbor is a Must See Attraction to Enhance Your Hawaii Big Island Vacation
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Dialing Code: +1 (area code is 808)
Time Zone: Hawaiian Standard Time (HST)
Get ready for epic adventures on Hawaii’s youngest and biggest island. Hawaii Big Island is enormous. In fact, it’s nearly twice as large as all the other Hawaiian Islands combined and still growing due to the lava flows of Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano. Hawaii Big Island boasts two other massive volcanoes. Maunakea is the tallest sea mountain in the world while Maunaloa is the most massive mountain on the planet, covering half the island. Hawaii Big Island also possesses ten of the planet’s 14 different climate zones. During your vacation, you can visit the tropical rainforest, lava desert, chilly tundra, green pastures, and green, gold, and black beaches. With such size and diversity, there are so many things to do. Experience fiery lava flowing to the sea in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Visit the birthplace of King Kamehameha I who united the Hawaiian Islands under his rule. You can also snorkel with gentle manta rays, go whale watching, and visit a ranch to learn how Hawaiian paniolo (cowboys) got their start in the islands. And that’s just the beginning. Hawaii Big Island is an adventure waiting to happen.
Hawaii Big Island is grand in scale and it can take several days to explore the island and its distinct regions. There are two airports: Hilo on the east side and Kona on the west side of the island. While you can take cabs to the resort areas from the airports, a rental car is the most efficient way to visit the island. Hawaii Big Island has over 480 miles of roads. The Hawaii Belt Road encircles the island. When traveling from the west to the east side and vice versa, the newly rerouted and repaved Saddle Road provides a great shortcut through the center of the island. Make sure to obtain a map as GPS does not work well in all parts of Hawaii Big Island. While there is an island wide bus system, it’s not an efficient way for visitors to tour the island. Certain parts of the island like Hawaii Volcanoes National Park are best seen with a licensed tour operator. We offer both land and helicopter tours that include Kilauea and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park plus sites in around Hilo.
You’re going to find plenty of “‘ono grindz”—good eats—on Hawaii Big Island. Creative chefs at exceptional resort restaurants, independent gourmet eateries, and local down home spots take advantage of local fruits, vegetables, and beef raised in the Waimea area and seafood caught in local island waters. The resorts along the Kohala Coast are known for the world-class restaurants while Kailua-Kona offers loads of dining options for a variety of budgets. Hilo, a former plantation town, has a variety of options, from trendy restaurants to local, unpretentious Japanese and ethnic spots. Head up to Waimea for some agritourism adventures and visit the farms and ranches where they raise the delicious produce and make wonderful food products. You’ll also find some gourmet dining spots up in Waimea. Hawaii Big Island also boasts wonderful food festivals including those celebrating beer, coffee, and chocolate. In fact, Hawaii is the only state in the U.S. that grows the cacao bean. Of course, don’t miss an opportunity to attend a traditional luau and enjoy beloved island specialties.
The Hawaiian Islands are the result of massive volcanic activity and Kilauea’s lava flows demonstrate how powerful these forces still are. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is home to two active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa, and seven ecological zones. A culturally significant place, the Park is also a World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Preserve. Learn all about Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire on our Big Island Hawaii Volcano Eco-Adventure. Starting in Hilo, we take you along beautiful Banyan Drive, up to famed Rainbow Falls, and to splendid Liliuokalani Gardens. Once at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, experience the forces of nature at Halemaumau Crater Overlook and Kilauea Caldera, and walk through Thurston Lava Tube. You’ll see active lava flows, extinct lava fields, and billowing steam vents. And you’ll learn about the different types of lava and see lava flows from the 19th century through the present. This adventure is a truly once in a lifetime experience.
Head to the North Kohala Coast, the North Shore, and Waimea for completely different experiences. If you continue driving north along the Kohala Coast, you’ll come to the Lapahaki State Historical Park, a partially restored fishing settlement dating back 600 years. Venture inland to the lush upcountry around Waimea to learn about Hawaii Big Island’s rich legacy of cattle ranching and Hawaiian paniolo (cowboys). You can pay a visit to Kahua Ranch for horseback riding or ATV adventures. The thriving town of Waimea is home to wonderful dining and Kahilu Theatre. Spend some in the peaceful, historic town of Hawi, on the northern tip of the island, with lovely galleries, boutiques, and restaurants. Nearby Kapaau boasts the original statue of King Kamehameha I. Beyond Kapaau is the Pololu Valley Overlook which affords stunning views of the northeastern coastline.
The sunny shores of the Kona District await with splendid beaches, bays, historic sites, and outdoor adventures. Seaside Kailua-Kona, in the heart of Kona beckons with shopping, dining, and important historic sites. Travel back in time at Hulihee Palace, Mokuaikaua Church, and the Ahuena Heiau, an ancient Hawaiian temple. Heading south, the Kona Coast is a lovely coastline with rural towns while the upcountry road goes straight into coffee plantations and offers incredible views. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit a plantation and taste Kona coffee right at the source. South of Kailua-Kona is scenic Kealakekua Bay, the site where Captain James Cook arrived in 1778 and perished one year later. Our Big Island Sunset Cruise, departing from Kona Pier, travels down the coast to this historic bay. Kailua-Kona is the departure point for many ocean excursions. Our Manta Ray Night Dive is a must do activity while on Hawaii Big Island. You’ll see these friendly and gentle creatures feeding underwater while illuminated by underwater lights. North of Kona, the Kohala Coast offers some of Hawaii Big Island’s finest resorts at Waikaloa with exceptional luxury accommodations, spas, golf, and dining. Amidst these verdant oases, you’ll also note black and rust red lava fields, resulting from long ago lava flows. The region is rich in glorious beaches, ancient valleys and temples, waterfalls and artists’ enclaves. Relax under the sun at Hapuna Beach State Park, one of the largest white sand beaches on the island, and discover history at Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site and Puako Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve.