1. Travel
Send to a Friend via Email

Hawaii, the Big Island - Hawaii's Island of Adventure

By

Hawaii, the Big Island - Hawaii's Island of Adventure

Waipio Valley, Hawaii's Big Island

Photo by Eileen Fischer

Size of the Big Island:

Hawaii's Big Island is the largest of the Hawaiian Islands with a land mass of 4,028 square miles - twice the combined size of the other islands. It is 92 miles long and 76 miles wide. Significantly, the island is still growing as long as lava continues to pour out of Kīlauea, the world's most active volcano.

Big Island Population:

As of the 2000 U.S. Census: 162,971 (2004 est.) Ethnic Mix: 30% Hawaiian, 23% Caucasian, followed by Japanese (14%) and Filipino (10%).

Big Island Nickname

Officially known as Hawaii Island, most people call it the "Big Island." It is also known as "Hawaii's Island of Adventure."

Biggest Towns on Hawaii Island:

  1. Hilo
  2. Kailua-Kona
  3. Hawaiian Paradise Park

Big Island Airports

Kona International Airport at Keahole is about 7 miles northwest of Kailua-Kona. The airport handles domestic overseas, international, interisland, commuter/air taxi, and general aviation activities.

Hilo International Airport is about 2 miles east of Hilo. Upolu Airport is a general aviation airport at the northern tip of the island of Hawaii, 3 miles from the town of Hawi.

Waimea-Kohala Airport is a small passenger and general aviation facility located 1 mile south of the town of Kamuela.

Major Industries of the Big Island:

  1. Kona Coffee
  2. Astronomy
  3. Tourism
  4. Ranching
  5. Diversified Agriculture - flowers, fruits, vegetables and other crops including cocoa and macadamia nuts
  6. Aquaculture

Climate of the Big Island:

Average temperatures range from 71°F-77°F with cooler climates of 57°F-63°F at the 4,000-foot Hawaii Volcanoes National Park headquarters, and 62°F-66°F at 2,760-foot Waimea.

Temperatures at the summit of Mauna Kea can go below freezing and snowfall occurs most winters.

Rainfall is variable depending on area of the island. The most rain falls on the eastern side of the island, especially near the town of Hilo.

Geography of the Big Island:

Miles of Shoreline - 266 linear miles.

Number of Beaches - The Big Island has over 100 beaches, many of which have public facilities. Sands may be black, green or white.

Parks - There are 15 state parks, 137 county parks, one national park (Hawaii Volcanoes National Park), and two national historical parks, and one national historic site.

Highest Peaks - The dormant volcano Mauna Kea (13,796 feet) and active volcano Mauna Loa (13,677 feet) are the highest mountains in the Pacific.

Big Island Visitors and Lodging:

Number of Visitors Annually - Approximately 1.5 million people visit the Big Island each year. Of these 1.15 million are from the USA. The next largest number is from Japan.

Principal Resort Areas - The Kohala Coast is on the island's dry and sunny west side. Other hotels are located in Hilo and near Kailua-Kona.

Number of Hotels - Approximately 31, with 6,513 rooms.

Number of Vacation Condominiums - Approximately 38, with 1,147 units.

Number of Bed And Breakfast Inns - 90 with 448 rooms.

Popular Attractions on the Big Island:

Most Popular Visitor Attractions - The attractions and places consistently drawing the most visitors are Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (2.6 million visitors), Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park (800,000 visitors), Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo (161,000 visitors) and the Volcano Art Center (104,000 visitors).

Big Island Recreational Activities:

On the Big Island of Hawaii you'll find deep sea fishing, golfing, hiking, horseback riding, ocean kayaking, sailing, scuba diving, shopping, sightseeing, snorkeling, stargazing, tennis, and agricultural tourism including Kona Coffee tours, botanical garden tours and family-run farm tours...and that's just he start.

Major Annual Events on the Big Island:

Here is just a sample of the annual events on Hawaii's Big Island

  • MasterCard Championship at Hualalai (Jan)
  • Hilo Chinese New Year Festival (Feb)
  • Kona Chocolate Festival (March)
  • Merrie Monarch Festival (April)
  • Big Island Film Festival (May)
  • Waikii Music Festival (June)
  • Parker Ranch 4th of July Rodeo (July)
  • Big Island Hawaiian Music Festival (July)
  • Aloha Festivals (Aug)
  • Queen Liliʻuokalani Canoe Races (Sept)
  • Ironman Triathlon (Oct)
  • Kona Coffee Cultural Festival (Nov)
  • Hawaii's Big Island Festival (Nov)
  • Christmas in the Country (Dec)

Interesting Facts About the Big Island:

  • Hawaii's Big Island is a worldwide leader in harvesting macadamia nuts and orchids and is the only place in the United States where vanilla and cacao beans (the raw material used to make chocolate) are grown. Kona is also the only place in the United States where gourmet coffee is grown.
  • Hawaii's Big Island is Hawaii's most ecologically diverse with natural environments ranging from the desert plains of Kaʻu to the rain forests above Hilo, to snowcapped Mauna Kea. There are said to be 13 climactic regions on earth and the Big Island has all but two, the Arctic and the Saharan.
  • Hawaii's Big Island is known as the Golf Capital of Hawaii with 20 golf courses and several more scheduled for completion.
  • Ka Lae is the southernmost point in the United States.
  • Kīlauea is the world's most active volcano and has been continually erupting since 1983.
  • The Merrie Monarch Hula Festival, held annually in Hilo, is the largest gathering of hula in the world.
  • Miloliʻi, on the southern Kona Coast, is Hawaii's last authentic native fishing village.
  • Parker Ranch is one of the largest privately held ranches in the United States.
  • You can see 90% of all the stars visible from earth from Mauna Kea, the world's tallest mountain when measured from its base below sea level. Thirteen world-class telescopes, representing nine countries and 30 years of astronomy research are found here.

More About Hawaii, the Big Island

Overview of Hilo on Hawaii's Big Island

Overview of Kailua-Kona on Hawaii's Big Island

Overview of Waimea / Kamuela on Hawaii's Big Island

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.