Imagine piloting kayak, cruising along, enjoying the serenity of water surrounding you. You are in paradise, and the late afternoon sun warms your skin. To your right is the Big Island of Hawaii, and to your left is the endless span of the Pacific Ocean. After half an hour, or it could have been 2 hours, you reach your destination…a hidden alcove with some of the best snorkeling in the world. Or so you’ve heard. Swimming in the warm ocean water is one experience, but to peer under the water and actually see what is below—to gaze at this other world that exists below the surface—this is when the magic happens. Everywhere you look, there is movement and life! Schools of fish flow in and out of the coral and you are immediately transfixed. The snorkel allows you to stay under water as long as you wish…so you enjoy the swim in the warm, clear waters, becoming one with the fishes. They have no reaction at all, assuming you are some clumsy cousin of sort. (The fins on your feet do help you keep up and navigate the waters more quickly).
As the sun gets lower on the horizon, you realize that you should probably kayak back to the mainland! So you commence a peaceful cruise back along the empty cove, remembering the life underneath you. A deep sense of zen sets in as you pick up the pace slightly.
Gazing toward the sun setting, you slow for a drink. You see an island in the distance that you don’t remember. It could be off in the horizon, but then your eyes realize the depth accurately and you see that it is only a stone’s throw from you. How curious, you think…then a deep, lusty ujaii breath inward fills the air—and it lasts longer than you could ever manage in yoga class…then, a volcano of water and air plooms upward from the island—SPLOOSH!—as the behemoth humpback whale exhales and shifts forward, logging, and then giving you a full roll and fluke before disappearing into the world beneath the surface.
Did that just happen? Full-bore adrenaline and yet a deep sense of peacefulness overtake you. Yes, that did just happen. The smile doesn’t disappear the rest of the night, and the awe and disbelief at how grandiose this wonderful world we live in only continues to grow. And that’s just one afternoon in Hawaii.
THE BIG ISLAND, HAWAII
Larger than all of the other islands combined, the island of Hawaii, or Hawaii’s Big Island, is vast enough to hold 11 of the world’s 13 climactic zones—from sandy beaches to snowcapped mountains. Seewaterfalls, rainforests and botanical gardens in Hilo, explore the calm and clear water off of Kona, or view Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Hawaii’s Big Island isn’t just big, it’s still growing. The Island of Hawaii is the youngest island in the Hawaiian chain and is also by far the biggest, providing a vast canvas of environments to discover a variety of unrivaled natural wonders. This is the home of one of the world’s most active volcanoes (Kilauea), the tallest sea mountain in the world at more than 33,000 feet (Maunakea), the most massive mountain in the world (Maunaloa) and the largest park in the state (Hawaii Volcanoes National Park). All but two of the world’s climate zones generate everything from lush rain forests to volcanic deserts, snow-capped mountaintops to beautiful black sand beaches. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a journey off the beaten path, you’ll discover it all on Hawaii’s Island of Adventure.
It’s easy to feel small on Hawaii’s Big Island. From the molten magma flowing from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to the snow-capped heights of Maunakea; from the green rainforests of the Hamakua Coast to the jet-black sands of Punaluu Beach; Hawaii’s Big Island is an unrivaled expression of the power of nature.
To avoid confusion with the name of the entire state, the Island of Hawaii is often called the “Big Island,” and what an appropriate name it is. Nearly twice as big as all of the other Hawaiian Islands combined, its sheer size can be intimidating. You’ll find all but two of the world’s climatic zones within this island’s shores.
The dramatic size and scope of the largest Hawaiian Island create a microcosm of environments and activities. On this island’s vast tableau, you’ll find everything from extravagant resorts and incredible golf courses to modest local towns and sacred Hawaiian historical sites, from the birthplace of King Kamehameha I to Hawaii’s first missionary church in Historic Kailua Village (Kailua-Kona). With so much to see, it’s best to experience the island in small pieces. There’s plenty of room on Hawaii’s Big Island for your return.
REGIONS OF THE BIG ISLAND: