Enthusiasts from beachgoers, snorkelers, divers, hikers, golfers, big-game fishers, stargazers and nature lovers all can satisfy their cravings for the best of the best all on one Big Island. The Island of Hawai`i is home to world-class golf, beaches, diving and stargazing sites. Two of the most common adjectives to describe the Island of Adventure are contrast and diversity. You can ski the snow-capped Mauna Kea, trek across a desolate desert, and walk through a verdant tropical rainforest all in one day. Kilauea, one of the planet’s most active and most visited volcanoes, brings both destruction and creation. Four out of the five main climate zones exist here from near desert to sub-arctic tundra. The Big Island is home to the world’s largest volcano—Mauna Loa, the most active volcano—Kilauea, and according to the Guinness Book of Records, the tallest mountain—Mauna Kea when measured from its base on the ocean floor to its highest peak.
The Island of Hawai’i was born from five separate shield volcanoes, from oldest to youngest, Kohala (extinct), Mauna Kea (dormant), Hualalai (dormant), Mauna Loa (active, last erupted 1984) and Kilauea (very active). Kilauea means “spewing” or “much spreading” and it lives up to its name. The volcano has been erupting non-stop since January 3, 1983 and has added more than 543 acres of land. The youngest Hawaiian volcano is an active submerged volcano that lies 3,200 feet below sea level, 18 miles southeast of Hawaii Island and has been erupting since 1996.
With continued volcanic activity, it is believed that Lo`ihi will eventually breach sea level and later attach at the surface onto Kilauea. Presently, this event is predicted to happen about 100,000 years in the future. The Big Island has 266 miles of breathtaking coastline with some of the most beautiful, unique beaches found anywhere. You will find yourself enjoying the best of water recreation on sands from white to black, and gold to green.
Hawai’i Island has a landmass of approximately 4,028 square miles and represents 62 percent of the total land area of the Hawaiian Islands. Because it is nearly twice the size of all the other Hawaiian Islands combined, and to avoid confusion of the state’s name, Hawai’i Island is often referred to as the Big Island. It is said that King Kamehameha the Great named the unified islands after his birthplace, the island of Hawai’i. Not only is the land amazingly diverse, so are its residents. According to the 2000 U.S. Census Bureau, Hawaii County is the most ethnically diverse county in the United States with more than 28 percent of its residents claiming two or more races in their heritage.
You will find the evidence of various influences from Asia to Europe most apparent in the delicious island cuisine. Blending favorite ingredients brought by multiple ethnic immigrants, modern Hawaiian cuisine is truly a fusion of many favorites from Polynesia, Japan, Korea, Portugal, China, Philippines and America. Try some local favorites such as plate lunch, loco moco, `ahi poke, galbi and, of course, kalua pig.
Hawaii Island is also home for diversified agriculture worth over $300 million annually, including a beef industry that generates revenues of nearly $20 million, producing over five million pounds of beef annually on approximately 650,000 acres of grass. It’s probably difficult for some people to fathom that a magnificent tropical paradise is home for paniolo (cowboys), ranches and rodeos. Parker Ranch is one of the largest and oldest privately owned ranches in the United States and owns about 175,000 acres on the Big Island.
Other agriculture includes macadamia nuts, papaya, avocados, tropical and temperate vegetables, Kona coffee, and flowers. Because of Hawai`i Island’s reputation of growing copious beautiful orchids, it has earned the nickname “the Orchid Isle.”
Science and technology have also found a place on the Big Island. There are 13 telescopes including four of the biggest and most advanced on top of Mauna Kea, the world’s premier location for observing the sky with exceptionally clear images and clear nights for stargazing. The Natural Energy Lab of Hawaii (NELHA) operates an innovative ocean science and technology park where they are exploring the deep sea for discovery of natural organisms that can be used as drugs and cures for the improvement of human health. NELHA has already completed numerous groundbreaking projects creating major commercial development such as turning desalinated deep seawater into ultra-pure bottled drinking water.
Along with the beauty of the land, rich traditions, history and culture are seen throughout the island. The world-famous spirit of Aloha is the central beauty that engulfs the island welcoming visitors with warm smiles. So, after you explore the very diverse, very awe-inspiring Big Island, take home and share the spirit of Aloha.