The Island of Hawaii for Big Island Fun
BY Emma Lovell
Hawaii is the epitome of tropical getaways. From active volcanoes to a range of colourful beaches, snow-capped mountains to lush rainforests with dazzling waterfalls; Big Island (The Island of Hawaii) is a holiday destination with something for everyone.
Big Island is so named as it’s the largest of the six major islands that make up the US state we know as Hawaii. Situated in the middle of the Pacific, this natural treasure trove contains an extensive range of ecosystems that somehow work harmoniously together. You will love exploring this beautiful and diverse island.
Your first stop must be the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where you can stand on the great summit crater of one of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kilauea. Visit the Jaggar Museum to learn all about how crucial volcanoes are to the formation of islands such as Hawaii and how they continue to support the ecosystem. You’ll enjoy the beautiful story of Pele, the fire goddess; the legend tells she is the creator of Hawaii. Explore more of this enormous park and enjoy the thrill of standing next to a geyser, walking through a lava tube cave and standing on the blackened lava fields that stretch for miles towards the ocean.
Of course, you must allow time for the beach. Head to the stunning Hapuna Beach, covered in bright white sand leading into the crystal blue, sparkling waters. Explore some of the more unique beaches on the island such as Punalu’u, a long stretching black sand beach. Here you can spot huge sea turtles leisurely soaking up some of that delicious sunshine. Enjoy the rate and beautiful site of green sand glistening beneath your toes at Papakolea beach. The sand is actually mixed with olivine crystals which arrived thousands of years ago through the flowing lava.
Hawaii is rich in natural life and the ocean is full of beautiful creatures for you to admire. Book yourself into a half day boat tour and enjoy snorkeling with green sea turtles, watching the spinner dolphins showing off and taking in magnificent views of the volcano from the water. You could also be daring and take a magical night dive with the manta rays. Kona is famous for its community of these elegant sea creatures who love putting on a majestic sea dance for visitors.
When driving around Big Island, always take the coastal road. You’ll be delighted with breathtaking ocean views and wonderful little cafes and eateries along the way. Spend some time talking to locals and pick up some of their amazing baked goods, such as the moreish lilikoi (passionfruit) bread. You must also sample the popular dessert, shaved ice. In the hot, tropical weather of Hawaii nothing tastes better than an ice cold, sweet treat! They have syrups of every colour and flavour, as well as a list of toppings as long as your arm, including gummi bears!
When it comes to dinner, mahi mahi is the local fish and must be eaten at a seaside restaurant. Partner this with a colourful cocktail, such as the local flavours mixed into a lilikoi mimosa. If possible, time your meal with sunset, it’s the quintessential Hawaiian dining experience. Huggos in Kona serve delicious food and their prime real estate by the sea always delivers an exceptional view.
If you’re a thrill seeker, the helicopter ride is for you. Head to Hilo, home of the international airport and some of the most beautiful gardens on the island. Feel the joy as you rise up into the sky over dazzling blue waters, heading inland over lush rainforests and passing by magnificent waterfalls that can only be seen from this bird’s eye view. You’ll also fly above the ash fields where you could even see volcano lava flowing directly into the ocean.
As Hawaii is in the middle of the Pacific, the observatory on the summit of Mauna Kea (the dormant volcano) provides spectacular views of the night sky from some of the best telescopes in the world. Fun fact about this 4,205m peak: in winter people ski in Hawaii! They receive snow fall, although there are no groomed runs or lifts. What an amazing bucket list item to tick off, skiing in a tropical paradise.
Finally, the number one experience that a visitor to Hawaii must have, is the luau. It invovles traditional dances, fire breathing and a historic introduction to the Island of Hawaii and its Polynesian neighbours. Experience island hospitality with a huge buffet of exotic foods including kalua pig and plenty of cocktails. You must book in advance — being one of the most popular attractions, they will fill up.
Whether you’re a thrill seeker searching for endless activities or simply wanting to relax and indulge in the exotic environment, Big Island is your true tropical paradise holiday.