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Are you searching for the perfect place for your honeymoon or a family trip? Well, if pleasant temperatures, fair wind, beautiful beaches, and a bucket-load of adventure activities are what you are looking for, then going to the Island of Hawaii might just be your best bid!
With abundant natural beauty and a breathtaking view of the volcanoes and the ocean, bring a snorkel or golf club, and the Big Island of Hawaii is ready to cater to all your demands!
If you are visiting Hawaii sometime soon, then this article is definitely for you.
1. A Brief Introduction to the Big Island
The youngest and the largest island of the Hawaiian chain, the Island of Hawaii is the biggest island in the whole United States, with a total surface area of 4,029 square miles!
It is the southeasternmost island in the Hawaiian chain of islands and is twice as big as all the other Hawaiian islands combined (thereby earning its nickname “The Big Island“).
One is bound to get lost amongst the green forests, the black lava fields, the ocean, and the rain. Ranging from the lush valleys of the Hilo and Hamakua Coasts to the jet-black sands of Punaluu Beach, from the many land features at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to as far as the snow-capped heights of Mauna Kea, the Big Island offers an array of natural wonders for you to discover. The diversity here is simply awe-inspiring!
It is said to be easier to find a black sand beach than a white one, but that is not all. Hawaii Island also has one of the world’s only few green sand beaches! How amazing is that, huh?
The Big Island consists of 8 / 13 of the climate zones in the world, ranging from Wet Tropical to Polar Tundra, as a result of the shielding effect and elevations of the massive volcanoes Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.
The Island of Hawaii is also the most volcanically active of all Hawaiian islands due to the Kilauea volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in the world!
2. When should you visit the island of Hawaii?
Wondering when to plan your trip to Hawaii? You can pick the best months to visit the Big Island, the cheapest ones, and the least busy months, whichever you prefer, whether it is a romantic getaway, a honeymoon, or just a friendly office retreat.
Below is the information to help you decide the optimum dates for your trip!
2.1 Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit the Big Island of Hawaii is probably during December to March. Although it is also peak tourism season when most visitors come to the island, and the prices are slightly higher (yet affordable), the best time of year to go is still the winter months.
During this time of the year, the weather is ideal, especially compared to your town’s cold, dreary winter weather.
There’s no better time to visit the Big Island than in “winter.” The weather is sunny, 80 degrees on average, with daily temperatures lows around 64 degrees, little rainfall, and the island’s lush rain forests in full bloom.
2.2 Cheapest Time to Visit
If you are looking to plan the most affordable and pocket-friendly trip possible to the Big Island, the ideal time of the year to visit is during the “fall season dip” from September to November. In these fall months, the prices tumble due to a major decrease in visitors.
Prices on the Big Island already tend to be lower than on the other Hawaiian islands, to begin with, and with fewer tourists, you will be able to get flights and hotels at cheaper prices.
Also, car rentals and tickets to attractions offer many discounts during the low season. You can have a perfect trip to the Big Island for a fraction expense of the peak season price during the fall.
When you go to the Big Island at this time of year, you could pay as much as 50% less for rooms, rentals, and flights. With little rainfall, the weather is nice in September and October, the temperature having highs in the low 80 degrees and lows in the upper 60 degrees.
2.3 Least Busy Time to Visit
If you want a trip with relative solitude and fewer crowds, the best time of the year to visit the Big Island is during May and September to November.
The month of September sees the lowest number of visitors of the entire year, which means more hotel, flight, and rental car availabilities, not to mention shorter lines and wait times at restaurants and food places.
Right after December to March, the peak winter season, tourism dwindles to one of its lowest points by May. With very little rainfall to ruin your plans or mood, this month is a great time to go if you want to experience highs in the 80 degrees and lows in the mid-60 degrees.
Book your trip during May or September, and you can simply pretend it is your private island. Did we mention the prices are also low during this time of the year?
3. Different Regions of the Big Island: Tourist Attractions
The islands of Hawaii are vast and comprise many different regions, so it can get confusing to tour the Big Island.
If you know the kind of places you want to visit (or not, that’s okay too), you can easily plan your trip itinerary by consulting the following list of attractions; it’s organized by region!
The largest settlement on the Big Island, Hilo, is the seat of Hawaii County. When traveling to the Big Island by air, this town is the first place you will land.
If you want to explore the wilder, untamed side of the Big Island’s natural beauties, Hilo is the place for you.
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, including the famous Mauna Loa volcano, is only a short drive from Hilo.
- In terms of geographical features, Hilo offers inland rainforests and amazing waterfalls. You can visit the Akaka Falls State Park for the most famous waterfalls on the island.
- If you want to go on a shopping spree, visit the local shops selling artisanal products and buy some local produce at the Hilo Farmers Market.
- If you are looking for various beverages to drink, you can go to Hilo Brewing Co. and sample some local craft brews.
- Situated in Hilo is the United States’ only rainforest zoo, Panaewa Rainforest Zoo.
- For history enthusiasts, Hilo has attractions such as the Lyman Museum, which tells the story of the history and culture of Hawaii in a real mission house. The Eastern Hawaii Cultural Center is another excellent museum in Hilo.
- Hilo also has the Imiloa Astronomy Center, a must for science buffs.
However, Hilo might not be your best option to stay if you are looking for a more tropical vacation. The weather on the island’s east side usually tends to be foggy and very rainy.
3.2 Kailua Kona Coast
The region on the west side of the Big Island is called Kailua-Kona. The second largest settlement on the island of Hawaii, this region is the closest you can get to an archetypal tropical paradise.
Kona is the name for the whole district on the west coast of the Big Island, whereas Kailua is the name given to the main village that serves as a base for most tourists exploring this island region.
- If swimming, snorkeling, diving, and other such beach activities are what interest you, then Kailua-Kona is your go-to place. Be on the lookout for special packages, such as the opportunity to dive with manta rays!
- Ready for exploration are beaches such as the fabulous King Kam Beach. It is very easy to find prime beach real estate, whether in a luxurious resort or a smaller budget accommodation.
- You can take a walk or cruise down the coastal main street of the town, facing the Bay of Kailua, Ali’I Drive.
- This region is home to the world-famous Kona coffee. For tourists interested in seeing where the coffee beans come from, many coffee plantations offer opportunities for visitation!
- Kailua-Kona is a lively beach town that is ripe with tourist amenities, like restaurants with exquisite cuisine, shops, and bars serving the town’s famous Mai Tai cocktails.
- Kailua-Kona is the ideal destination for excellent history, culture, and, of course, natural beauty. A visit to the Waikoloa Petroglyph Field is a must for history buffs! This town was the capital during King Kamehameha’s reign and, therefore, is a place of great historical significance to Hawaii.
However, Kailua-Kona might not be the best place for you if you want a budget-friendly trip because it is one of the pricier areas of the Big Island.
3.3 Kohala Coast
Stretching north from Kailua-Kona on the Big Island lies the region of Kohala. Nicknamed the “Gold Coast,” this region is divided into two parts: North Kohala, which includes the towns of Halaula, Hawi, and Kapaau, and South Kohala.
- The luxurious resort towns of Waimea and Puako and their gorgeous stretches of beach in Southern Kohala make for a great tropical experience.
- Go for a swim in the waters of Hapuna Beach State Park. Since the shores of Kohala are lined with resorts and beaches, this is the perfect place to have a relaxing time away from all stress.
- Looking for something more physically rejuvenating to do? Take a hike in the breathtaking volcanic landscape and explore the famous black sand beach of Pololu Valley.
- For animal lovers and children, whale-watching in the Hawaiian Humpback Whale Marine Sanctuary is a definite must! You are sure to love these gentle giants.
- Speaking of the history of the Big Island (and Hawaii as a whole), Kohala is a vital location. King Kamehameha I, one of Hawaii’s greatest kings and the person responsible for uniting the archipelago into one kingdom was born here in Kohala.
- The center of Hawaiian society and cultural life for hundreds of years, Kohala is ripe with a historical legacy. Take a trip to the Puukohola Heiau temple, which was built by King Kamehameha I himself. The Kohala mountains are home to everything ranging from the great king’s birthplace to temples and historical sites.
- If you are looking for something unique, visit North Kohala, and you will have the opportunity to witness the Paniolos, an aspect of Hawaiian life that most tourists skip. When the lush hills of Kohala were full of ranches, paniolos functioned as Hawaiin cowboys and played an important role.
- You can also check out the legacy of industrial ranching at the Paniolo Heritage Center in Waimea.
However, Kohala might not be the best choice for people looking for a more pocket-friendly trip.
Although it is technically a part of the Kohala Coast, the resort town of Waikoloa deserves its mention. Waikoloa is one of the pristine resort towns that have earned Kohala its nickname of “Gold Coast.”
Most of the resorts, activities, and amenities along the Kohala Coast are centered in and around this town, making it the ideal destination for first-time visitors.
- Out of all the other areas of the Big Island, Waikoloa has the most kid-friendly activities, which is arguably the best thing about it, as the other regions are often too dowdy for children. Waikoloa offers more than enough to entertain your young ones, including gorgeous beaches, forest spaces, fun activities such as swimming with dolphins on a Dolphin Quest, and more.
- If you are itching to get out of town, Waikoloa lies close enough to Hamakua for you to be able to plan an adventurous road trip and explore the remainder of the Gold Coast!
- To catch a glimpse of the Hawaiin floras and fauna, you should visit the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative, which is a local nature preserve protecting wiliwili trees and other indigenous Hawaiian plants.
- Waikoloa boasts one of the best gold courses in the state, the Mauna Lani Golf. Spend a nice, slow evening of bonding, golfing away at the course with your friends or family!
- You can shop at the many Shops at Mauna Lani and buy various Hawaiian goods and souvenirs.
- But you might wonder what the best thing to do in Waikoloa is. Well, we could say the best thing to do in Waikoloa is to do nothing! This town is your all-in-one destination to relax and spend your time leisurely. You can lounge by the beach or wander through the farmer’s market while eating local produce. Just let the waves simply wash your worries and stress away!
Full of activities and enticing adventures, Waikoloa is also one of the priciest places on Kohala’s Gold Coast, so if traveling to the Big Island on a tight budget, try avoiding planning a trip there, as it probably will make a good fit for your trip.
3.5 Volcano Village
Volcano Village on the Big Island offers easy access to numerous volcanoes. Yes, actual lava-filled volcanoes!
Although an unsophisticated village, Volcano Village, with its small size, possesses a considerable charm, which is why it is a popular destination among artists contributing to its quirky culture.
- Be sure to shop in the local farmer’s market, and you will get a glimpse into life at Volcano Village. Despite its small size, the village consists of a small winery close by, which sells beverages made from grapes grown in the fertile volcanic soil.
- The main vantage point of Volcano Village is probably situated right by Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. Did you know Hawaii is one of the only places in the United States where you can catch active volcanic activity? This national park is the optimum location to do that!
- Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park is so vast that for some tourists, it takes two full days to finish exploring everything the park has to offer! The most prominent sight in the National Park is undoubtedly the Kilauea volcano. The Kilauea is an active volcano that exhibits numerous signs of volcanic activity (slow flows of red hot lava, hot steam vents, and a mesmerizing caldera).
- The Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park also has hundreds of miles of hiking trails. The town of Volcano can serve as an excellent base for hiking and camping on the Big Island’s rugged and expansive south shore. You can also go hiking in the rich green rainforest around Volcano Village.
- For art lovers, the Volcano Village houses its art gallery, the Volcano Art Center, made especially to provide a space for the local artists inspired by the majesty of Kilauea volcano to showcase their artworks.
- Did all of this make you wonder if volcanic dust and steaming lava are all that Volcano Village has to offer? Well, you will surely be proven wrong on your visit to the Akatsuka Orchid Gardens in Ola’a Rainforest Reserve!
- You might want to kick back and relax after a long day of touring by tasting wine at the Volcano Winery.
Volcano Village is great for adventure and outdoor activities, but if you prefer to be on the more comfortable side of things, then this might not be the place for you. Although laden with mesmerizing natural beauty, this rugged little area does not have much to offer in terms of luxurious hotels or vast shopping markets.