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Hawaii - Big Island - Trip Report

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Hawaii - The Big Island May 2005

Read about our trip there, and where to stay and what to do.
(Thank you to the Hawai'i Tourist Authority for providing the information
provided in this article. The HTA is your first souce for accurate facts.)

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During your vacation here on Hawai'i, the Big Island, you'll find yourself renewed, refreshed, amazed, informed and deeply touched by abundant, spectacular and unspoiled nature, by the warmth of an authentic Aloha spirit uniquely nourished by our contact with this living land (itself constantly in rebirth) - and by the sheer variety of all there is to see, to do and to feel. The Big Island is famous as a magnet for the peoples of the world. When you feel the presence of this special place, you'll find out why - and you'll redefine your expectations of the word "vacation."

We just returned from 17 days on the Big Island. About half of our stay was spent with friends on the Hilo side and the other half on the Kona side. We found some great beach house rentals on a web site called On the Beach.

The Big Island Hawaii is the youngest island in the Hawaiian chain of islands. It was formed by five volcanoes, two of which are still active (Mauna Loa and Kilauea). It is known as the "Big Island" and as the "Orchid Isle". With a land area of 4,028 square miles, it is almost twice the combined size of the other islands. Ka Lae, also know as South Point, is the southern most point in the United States. Mauna Kea, which rises 13,796 feet above sea level, is the world's tallest mountain when measured from the ocean floor. It is often snowcapped in winter.

The Golden Kohala Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii has for years been the tropical playground of not only ancient Hawaiian royalty but contemporary vacationers from around the world. The Kohala coast which hosts many important historical sights is also home to one of America's most highly rated public beaches, Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area.

Hapuna's long white sand beach, rolling surf, clear skies, and accessibility make it a popular destination for many island guests. Among the ebony lava fields that comprise the Kohala Coast landscape are several world renown championship golf courses. From the air or from a distance the green fairways that blanket this rugged terrain soften its landscape. And, because of the Kohala coast's perfect sunny weather the courses are rarely closed... maybe once every five years.

Wild goat, donkeys and other four legged creatures roam the land freely and occasionally the Hawaiian short eared owl, the pueo, can be seen in flight.

We get asked about: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park:

Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, established in 1916, displays the results of 70 million years of volcanism, migration, and evolution -- processes that thrust a bare land from the sea and clothed it with complex and unique ecosystems and a distinct human culture.

The park encompasses diverse environments that range from sea level to the summit of the earth's most massive volcano, Mauna Loa at 13,677 feet. Kilauea, the world's most active volcano, offers scientists insights on the birth of the Hawaiian Islands and visitors views of dramatic volcanic landscapes. Over half of the park is designated wilderness and provides unusual hiking and camping opportunities. In recognition of its outstanding natural values, Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park has been honored as an International Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site.

How can I find out about the volcano?
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Headquarters and Eruption Update info - 808/985-6000 or visit their website


Merrie Monarch - April

A week-long festival of cultural events including Hawaii's most prestigious hula competition at Edith Kanaka`ole Stadium. The festival begins with a Ho`olaule'a on Moku Ola (Coconut Island) Thursday is the solo Miss Aloha Hula competition, Friday & Saturday are the group Kahiko (ancient) and Auana (modern) hula competitions. A grand parade winds through Hilo-town on Saturday morning.
Phone:(808) 935-9168 Website - Merrie Monarch

Big Island Festival - Late October

Authentic islandwide Hawaiian experiences connect with gastronomical pleasures, ancient cultural and healing practices, sporting events, insightful culinary seminars, spa treatments, tropical melodies and an abundance of activities to fire your imagination. Gain access to cutting-edge culinary trends at notable evening events in paradise. Hawaii's Big Island Festival is A Celebration of Diversity.

Hawaiian Weddings

Hawaii's Big Island simply spells romance. Getting married here guarantees a great beginning for many wonderful memories. Settings for your all-important celebration abound. Showcase your wedding on the beach beneath a lingering tropical sunset, with palm trees gently rustling in the trade winds. Or choose a traditional Hawaiian luau wedding, complete with sumptuous Island music and food. The Big Island also offers you abundant churches and temples of many faiths, often set in incredibly beautiful and peaceful rural locales. And what better place can you imagine to honeymoon afterwards than on the Big Island. Let this special place - the heart of Hawaii - start your life together with her gentle blessings of Aloha.


FAQ about Hawaii - the Big Island

What is the annual rainfall?
With variations in altitude, wind and moisture, all of the earth's major climatic zones and seasons exist on the single island of Hawai`i. Rainfall varies greatly depending on location, with almost no rainfall in certain leeward areas (southwest), and more in the windward areas (northeast).
Average annual rainfall: 131 inches at Hilo Airport; 10 inches near Kawaihae.

What is the island flower?
The island flower is a red blossom called Pua Lehua.

What are the average daily temperatures?
Average daily temperatures: Hilo (71.2° F.); Kailua-Kona (73.1° F.) Mauna Kea summit temperatures range from 31° to 43° F.

Is there bus service?
There is a rural bus service, however, it is recommended to rent a car to get around.

Is there bus service from the airports to hotels?
No, however taxis are available. Some hotels offer service, check with your hotel.

Can I tour the island in one day?
Yes, but it is recommended you take several days and spend time enjoying all the diversity the Big Island has to offer. We were there for 17 days, and still felt that we could have stayed longer. If your time is limeited, a good plan is to spend several nights on the east side of the island and several more on the west side. Remember, the Big Island is twice the size of all the other islands combined. Take some time to enjoy it!

What is there to do on the Big Island?
Visit the volcano, snorkel, scuba, shop, go deep sea fishing, golf, view the heavens from Mauna Kea, hike lush valleys and waterfalls, bike through pastures, ride horses, visit beautiful gardens and parks, experience history, relax on a sandy beach.

Where are the main shopping areas?
Shopping is available throughout the island. The large shopping centers are in the major population areas of Hilo, Kona and Waikoloa/Waimea. But don't forget to check out the small towns, which offer unique shopping experiences from antiques to art to Kona coffee.

Can I really snow ski?
Snow frequents Mauna Kea during the winter months and you can ski there, however there are no ski rentals or facilities available. Behave like a local and bring a boogie board to sail down Mauna Kea!

When can I see whales?
The Humpback whales visit from December through April. Other types of whales live in our waters all year long.

When is the best time for big game fishing?
During the summer months.

When is the best time of year to visit?
Because our average temperature varies only 6 degrees through the year, any time is a great time.

Are there any white, sandy beaches on the island?
There are many beautiful, white, sandy beaches. Also black and green sand beaches. Kauna'oa Beach and Hapuna Beach have won the Number One Beach in America award several times in the past few years.

Are there many golf courses?
There are 18 spectacular golf courses located throughout the island.

Where are the best places to see the flowers?
Liliuokalani Gardens and Nani Mau Gardens in Hilo
Akatsuka Orchid Gardens in Volcano
Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens in Onomea
Amy H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Gardens in Capt. Cook.

When is the Ironman Triathlon World Championship?
Mid October - For information call: (808) 329-0063.

Drive Times: Kona International Airport to:
Kailua-Kona 7 miles - 10 minutes
Keauhou 15 miles - 20 minutes
Kohala Coast Resorts 20 miles - 30 minutes

Kailua-Kona to:
Hilo 99 miles - 2.5 hours
Kohala Coast Resorts 27 miles - 40 minutes
Volcano 110 Miles - 2.5 hours
Waimea 40 miles - 50 minutes
Volcano to Hilo 28 miles - 40 minutes
Waimea to Hilo 54 miles - 1.25 hours

For the best oceanfront home rental on the Big Island of Hawai'i click on Swim with the Sea Turtles.

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