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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Hawi and Kapaau

  • Town/Village

Near the birthplace of King Kamehameha, these North Kohala towns thrived during the plantation days, once bustling with hotels, saloons,...

Holualoa Town

  • Town/Village

Hugging the hillside along the Kona Coast, the artsy village of Holualoa is 3 miles up winding Hualalai Road from Kailua-Kona. Galleries...

Honokaa Town

  • Town/Village

This quaint, cliff-top village fronting the ocean was built in the 1920s and 1930s by Japanese and Chinese workers who quit the nearby...

Honomu Town

  • Town/Village

This tiny town, which borders Akaka Falls State Park, did not die when sugar did. Its sugar-plantation past is reflected in its wooden...

Kainaliu Town

  • Town/Village

This is the first town you encounter to the south heading upcountry from Kailua town. In addition to a ribbon of funky old stores, clothing...

Lapakahi State Historical Park

  • Historic District/Site

A self-guided, 1-mile walking tour leads through the ruins of the once-prosperous fishing village Koaie, which dates as far back as the...

Pahala

  • Town/Village

About 16 miles east of Naalehu, beyond Punaluu Beach Park, Highway 11 passes directly by this little town. You'll miss it if you blink.

Pahoa Town

  • Town/Village

This eclectic little town is reminiscent of the Wild West, with its wooden boardwalks and vintage buildings—not to mention a reputation...

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