Big Island Sights

Nicknamed "The Big Island," Hawaii Island is a microcosm of Hawaii the state. From long white-sand beaches and crystal-clear bays to rain forests, waterfalls, valleys, exotic flowers, and birds, all things quintessentially Hawaii are well represented here.

An assortment of happy surprises also distinguishes the Big Island from the rest of Hawaii—an active volcano (Kilauea) oozing red lava

and creating new earth every day, the clearest place in the world to view stars in the night sky (Maunakea), and some seriously good coffee from the famous Kona district, and also from neighboring Kau.

Home to eight of the world’s 13 sub-climate zones, this is the land of fire (thanks to active Kilauea volcano) and ice (compliments of not-so-active Maunakea, topped with snow and expensive telescopes). At just under a million years old, Hawaii is the youngest of the main Hawaiian Islands. Three of its five volcanoes are considered active: Mauna Loa, Hualalai, and Kilauea. The Southeast Rift Zone of Kilauea has been spewing lava regularly since January 3, 1983; another eruption began at Kilauea's summit caldera in March 2008, the first since 1982. Back in 1984, Mauna Loa's eruptions crept almost to Hilo, and it could fire up again any minute—or not for years. Hualalai last erupted in 1801, and geologists say it will definitely do so again within 100 years. Maunakea is currently considered dormant but may very well erupt again. Kohala, which last erupted some 120,000 years ago, is inactive, but on volatile Hawaii Island, you can never be sure.

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Fodor's Choice

Area

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Hilo 23

The Kona Coast 21

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North Kona 3

South Kona and Kealakekua Bay 18

The Kohala Coast 16

Kailua-Kona 13

The Hamakua Coast 11

Kau and Ka Lae 7

Puna 7

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Vicinity 5

Waimea 4

Mauna Kea 1

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Archaeological Site/ Ruins 8

Bath/ Hot Spring 1

Beach–Sight 30

Body Of Water/ Waterfall 4

Building/ Architectural Site 3

Castle/ Palace/ Chateau 1

Cave 2

Cemetery 1

Farm/ Ranch 7

Forest 1

Garden/ Arboretum 6

Historic District/ Site 6

Industrial Site/ Mill/ Factory 2

Information Center 1

Island 1

Local Interest–Sight 1

Marina/ Pier/ Dock 2

Market/ Bazaar 1

Memorial/ Monument/ Tomb 4

Military Site 1

Mountain–Sight 1

Museum/ Gallery 11

Nature Preserve/ Wildlife Refuge 1

Neighborhood/ Street 2

Observatory/ Planetarium 3

Park (National/ State/ Provincial) 23

Park/ Playground 2

Pedestrian Mall 1

Pool 1

Public Art (Mural/ Sculpture/ Statue) 1

Reef 1

Religious Building/ Site/ Shrine 9

Scenic Drive/ Tour 2

Store/ Shop/ Mall 2

Tour–Sight 2

Town/ Village 8

Trail/ Path 9

Viewpoint/ Scenic Overlook 3

Volcano 1

Winery/ Brewery/ Distillery 1

Zoo/ Aquarium 2

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Family 21

Historical 5

Big Island Sights

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  • Fodor's Choice

Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden

  • Garden/Arboretum

Eight miles north of Hilo, stunning coastline views appear around each curve of the 4-mile scenic jungle drive that accesses this privately...

Liliuokalani Gardens

  • Garden/Arboretum

Designed to honor Hawaii's first Japanese immigrants and named after Hawaii's last reigning monarch, Liliuokalani Gardens' 30 acres of...

Nani Mau Gardens

  • Garden/Arboretum

The name means "forever beautiful" in Hawaiian, and that's a good description of this 2-acre botanical garden filled with several varieties...

Volcano Garden Arts

  • Museum/Gallery

This delightful gallery and garden lend credence to Volcano's reputation as an artists' haven. Located on beautifully landscaped grounds...

World Botanical Gardens & Zip Line

  • Garden/Arboretum

Just off the highway, this garden park is on more than 300 acres of former sugarcane land. With wide views of the countryside and the...

Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden

  • Garden/Arboretum

Exhibiting a wealth of Hawaiian ethnobotanical traditions and some rare plants found only in cultivation, this 12-acre garden contains...

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