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Welcome to paradise. "The Big Island," also known as the "Orchid Isle" is the youngest, tallest and by far the largest of the Hawaiian Islands. The Big Island, the least populated of the entire Hawaiian island chain, is the only island in the state where residents live in the shadow of active volcanoes. All across the island, wild orchids bloom in abundant profusion; as common as daisies in a mainland meadow.
More than twice the size of all the other Hawaiian Islands combined, the Big Island encompasses 4,028 square miles of some of the most spectacular and diverse terrain on the planet. The Big Island exhibits 11 uniquely different climate zones. The scenery unfolds, and the temperature cools with changes in altitude.
Only 800,000 years old, the Big Island is a cornucopia of happy surprises. With 266 miles of dramatic coastline, exotic green jungles, black-sand beaches, cattle ranches, 5-star luxury resorts, and jaw-dropping panoramic views, the Big Island prides itself on being “the best of the best” of the seven islands that comprise the 50th state.
With two of the mighty volcanoes that created the Orchid Isle presently active, the Big Island continues to get “bigger” with current lava flows from Kilauea threatening to overtake rural homesteads, farms and horse ranches in the Puna District. Visitors to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park can witness Pele’s power through the remarkable beauty of Kilauea; the world’s most active volcano.
The tor or snow-topped summit of Mauna Kea reaches 13,792 feet above sea level while its ocean base rests an incredible 33,500 feet below the pounding ocean waves that assault the rugged coastline. Mauna Kea and Kohala are extinct. Hualalai, now considered dormant, last erupted in 1801. Last active in 1984 when it flowed lava within site of Hilo Town, Mauna Kea, the island’s second active volcano, recently produced seismic activity prompting scientists to predict another eruption is likely.
Important Hawaiian Historical, Cultural, and Sacred Sites
The Orchid Isle is home to an array of important Hawaiian historical, sacred, and culturally significant sites including Puukohola Heiau, the formidable stronghold built by King Kamehameha on the Kohala Coast_a place integral to his ambitious goal of uniting all of Hawaiian Island under his rule.
A Mecca for Lovers of Extreme Adventure
Recreational opportunities on the Big Island are seemingly endless. Ocean-orientated activities include surfing, snorkeling, swimming, canoeing, sailing, scuba diving, whale watching, underwater photography, parasailing, kayaking, canoeing and deep-sea or reef fishing.
- The Kona Coast provides ideal conditions for some of the best deep-sea sports fishing worldwide.
- Ride a giant zip-line through the forest canopy and across the jaw-dropping face of a 250-foot waterfall.
- Land-based activities include hiking, climbing, beach combing, cycling, motorcycle riding, tennis, polo, horseback riding, geocaching, golf, tennis, fine dining, and world-class shopping.
- Take to the skies with a “fire and falls” helicopter tour.
Although much of the Big Island of Hawaii exhibits a rocky coastline, the sun-blessed sandy beaches scattered along the way are memorable. Sink your toes into soft black sand beaches, or beach comb along a green sand beach made up of tiny particles of crystal olivine, or bask in the powdery white sand of crystal blue lagoon.
On the Big Island of Hawaii, all of the shorelines are owned by the state with public access available. Even though luxury homes and resorts own the property right up to the beach, they must provide public access. Some of the best beaches may require a bit of a hike. However, visitors appreciate the isolation. You may be the only person on the beach. Serene and secluded, the shores of the Big Island are considered some of the best beaches in the world.