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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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

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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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Haili Congressional Church

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

Constructed in 1859 by New England missionaries, this church is known for its services in Hawaiian and for the choir, which sings hymns...

Hikiau Heiau

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

This stone platform was once an impressive temple dedicated to the god Lono. When Captain Cook arrived in 1778, ceremonies in his honor...

Imiola Congregational Church

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

Highlights of this church, which was established in 1832 and rebuilt in 1857, are a gleaming, restored koa interior and unusual wooden...

Mokuaikaua Church

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

Site of the first Christian church in the Hawaiian Islands, this solid lava-rock structure, built in 1836, is mortared with burned lime,...

Mookini Heiau

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

This isolated National Historic Landmark within Kohala Historical Sites State Monument is so impressive in size and atmosphere that it's...

St. Benedict's Painted Church

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

In the late 1800s, Belgian-born priest and self-taught artist Father John Velge painted the walls, columns, and ceiling of this Roman...

St. Peter's by the Sea Chapel

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

This tiny oceanfront chapel by Kahaluu Beach Park, with its crisp white-and-blue trim and old-fashioned steeple, sits next to the site...

Star of the Sea Painted Church

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

This historic church, now a community center, was moved to its present location in 1990 just ahead of the advancing lava flow that destroyed...

Wood Valley Temple

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

Behind the remote town of Pahala, this serene and beautiful Tibetan Buddhist temple, established in 1973, has hosted more than 50 well-known...

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