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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Courtyard King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel

  • Museum/Gallery

Stroll through the expansive lobby of this Kailua-Kona fixture to view impressive displays of Hawaiian artifacts, including feathered...

Firehouse Gallery

  • Museum/Gallery

Local Big Island artwork is featured at this historical gallery, an 80-year-old fire station at the intersection of Lindsey Road and...

H.N. Greenwell Store Museum

  • Museum/Gallery

Established in 1850, the homestead of Henry N. Greenwell served as cattle ranch, sheep station, store, post office, and family home all...

Kona Coffee Living History Farm (D. Uchida Farm)

  • Museum/Gallery

On the National Register of Historic Places, this perfectly preserved farm was completely restored by the Kona Historical Society. It...

Laupahoehoe Train Museum

  • Museum/Gallery

Behind a stone loading platform of the once-famous Hawaii Consolidated Railway, constructed about 1900, the former manager's house is...

Lyman Museum & Mission House

  • Museum/Gallery

Built in 1839 by a missionary couple from New England, Sarah and David Lyman, the beautifully restored Lyman Mission House is the oldest...

Pacific Tsunami Museum

  • Museum/Gallery

In downtown Hilo, it may seem odd that businesses tend to be far from the scenic bay front, but there's a reason for this. Tsunamis have...

Royal Kona Coffee Museum & Coffee Mill

  • Museum/Gallery

Take an easy, self-guided tour by following the descriptive plaques located around the coffee mill. Then stop off at the small museum...

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...

Wailoa Center

  • Museum/Gallery

In Wailoa State Recreation Area, a beautiful park setting in downtown Hilo, this circular exhibition center mounts monthly shows featuring...

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