Featured Photo - Kiholo Bay Scenic Overlook - Big Island, Hawaii, USA

Introduction to the Big Island of Hawaii

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Locals and visitors to the state of Hawaii can attest that Hawaii encapsulates tropical serenity. The views of paradise stretch from lush green hills to white sandy beaches and warm ocean waters. Hawaii’s main islands for tourists are Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and the Island of Hawaii. The Island of Hawaii, referred to as the Big Island, is the largest of the islands. Visitors to the Big Island will be in for a topographical shock. Other Hawaiian islands are awash in swaths of greenery. Upon landing on the Big Island you will notice lava rock stretching for miles. The lava rock throughout the island reminds you of the surface of the moon. Yet the entire island is not just visible lava rock. There are lush hills and green trees aplenty. The Island of Hawaii is diverse not only in its topography but in its climate. One could start their day at the top of Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano, and on this the tallest peak on the Big Island see snow. In the afternoon you can warm up by flying over an active volcano or sunbathe at a black sand beach with turtles. Regardless how one spends their time on the Big Island the best way to end the day is by watching a sunset at one of the soft white sand beaches.

The Big Island: Hilo and Kona

To reach this island paradise visitors will arrive at either of the two main cities, Hilo on the eastern side of the island and Kona on the west. The fastest way between the two cities cuts through the island and is a 77-mile drive taking an hour and forty minutes. Another route includes more time by the coast but is over 90-miles and takes closer to two hours to drive. As the two cities aren’t close most visitors will choose to stay in one city their entire time. Others will decide to begin their trip in one city and then end up in the other. Hilo and Kona have their own airports. If you wish to see both cities the most time economical approach is to fly into one city and fly out from the other city. Hilo leans more towards the local scene with bed and breakfasts. It is the city to stay in for those wishing to explore the Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park. The Volcanoes National Park is an hour away from Hilo versus two and a half hours from Kona. Kona has big hotel resorts and is within driving distance of many coffee farms. Most tourists stay on the Kona side of the island. With a rental car staying in Kona affords you the luxury to visit coffee farms, beaches, scenic overlooks, and petroglyphs. Not to mention go shopping and explore the historic districts of Kailua Village and Kainaliu.

Kona International Airport - Big Island, Hawaii, USA

Kona International Airport

Kona International Airport

Kona International Airport is a tiny outdoor airport. Exiting your plane and feeling the warm island breeze is a great Hawaiian welcome. It’s not a perfect greeting when it’s raining so whether you are landing or waiting to leave keep an umbrella handy just in case. If you are renting a car follow the signs to the rental car van pick up location. You’ll be on your way to the rental car agency in no time. The airport has minimal shopping or dining options. When flying out if you plan on arriving early and want to eat at the airport consider bringing a lunch plate with you from a local restaurant.

Kiholo Bay Scenic Overlook - Big Island, Hawaii, USA

Kiholo Bay Scenic Overlook

Kona Scenic Overlooks

Routes 19 and 11 will be your primary highway arteries as you navigate the Kona coast. Each route has a scenic overlook worth the stop. On Route 19 the Kiholo Bay Scenic Overlook Point is a great place to view Kiholo Bay and the surrounding lava fields. On Route 11 is the Kona Coast Scenic Overlook. Besides the ocean view you will find the Ohi’a Lava Tube Caves. This historic preserve of lava tubes run underneath the ground from the spot of the overlook to the ocean. Although access to the tubes is off-limits the lava rock and ocean in the distance make for striking photos.

Waikoloa Petroglyph Preserve - Big Island, Hawaii, USA

Waikoloa Petroglyph Preserve

Kona Sights and Shopping

Close to the Waikoloa Beach Resorts is part of the Ala Loa Trail, or Kings Trail. This trail, once used for horse travel, leads travelers to the Waikoloa Petroglyph Preserve. At the Waikoloa Petroglyph Preserve you will find ancient rock carvings on sacred land. Visitors must stay on the well-marked trails, as tourists may not walk or climb on the sacred rocks. The trails are not paved so wear comfortable and sturdy shoes. Besides petroglyphs you will see cave shelters and rock shelters. For those staying at the Waikoloa Beach Resorts you will access the Kings Trail and Waikoloa Petroglyph Preserve by foot. Visitors from other hotels may park at the nearby Queens’ Market Place or Kings’ Shops. Shoppers will want to spend time exploring the stores and restaurants offered at both the Queens’ Market Place and Kings’ Shops.

Mokuaikaua Church - Big Island, Hawaii, USA

Mokuaikaua Church

Kona Historic Districts

The historic district of Kailua Village Kona is off Ali’I Drive. Ali’I Drive is where the Ironman Triathlon competition starts and finishes.   Kailua Village and Ali’I Drive have two historical buildings. Visitors will pass by the Huliheʻe Palace, a museum that was once a vacation home for Hawaiian royalty. Close by is Hawaii’s first church on the islands, Mokuaikaua Church. Visitors stroll along Ali’I Drive while enjoying the waterfront and exploring the various stores and restaurants. Kona’s Farmers Market is a favorite tourist stop with over forty vendors selling souvenirs, flowers, and fresh fruits.

Original Donkey Balls Factory and Store, Dirty Balls - Milk Chocolate Covered Mac Nuts - Kealakekua, Big Island, Hawaii, USA

Original Donkey Balls Factory and Store, Dirty Balls – Milk Chocolate Covered Mac Nuts

Another nearby historic district is Kainaliu off Route 11. Kainaliu is an old plantation town that is now home to specialty stores and restaurants. A popular store is the Original Donkey Balls Factory and Store. The store sells packets of various chocolate covered macadamia nuts named by using puns. You’ll find the labels on the packaging either hilarious or offensive. Puns aside the chocolate covered macadamia nuts inside the packages are delicious morsels that make for great souvenirs. Besides sweets The Original Donkey Balls Factory and Store sells a variety of BBQ rubs, packaged in the same witty style as the macadamia nuts.

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Introduction to the Big Island of Hawaii

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Mauna Kea: 19.820611, -155.468094
Hilo Airport: 19.718834, -155.041687
Kona International Airport: 19.736916, -156.042925
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: 19.419370, -155.288497
Kiholo Bay Scenic Overlook Point: 19.841805, -155.921574
Kona Coast Scenic Overlook and Ohi\'a Lava Tube Caves: 19.574186, -155.958996
Waikoloa Petroglyph Preserve: 19.916992, -155.880135
Queens\' Market Place: 19.913617, -155.880590
Kings\' Shops: 19.916323, -155.882090
Kailua Village Kona: 19.637090, -155.990203
Huliheʻe Palace: 19.639334, -155.994352
Mokuaikaua Church: 19.639574, -155.993832
Kona Farmers Market: 19.637065, -155.991840
Kainaliu: 19.533105, -155.926751
Original Donkey Balls Factory and Store: 19.531545, -155.925824
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Mauna Kea
Introduction to the Big Island of Hawaii
Mauna Kea, Hawaii County, HI, United States
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Hilo Airport
Introduction to the Big Island of Hawaii
Hilo Airport, Kekuanaoa Street, Hilo, HI, United States
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Kona International Airport
Introduction to the Big Island of Hawaii
Kona International Airport, Kupipi Street, Kona, HI, United States
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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Introduction to the Big Island of Hawaii
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI, United States
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Kiholo Bay Scenic Overlook Point
Introduction to the Big Island of Hawaii
Kīholo Bay, North Kona, HI, United States
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Kona Coast Scenic Overlook and Ohi'a Lava Tube Caves
Introduction to the Big Island of Hawaii
Keauhou, Alii Drive, Kailua-Kona, HI, United States
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Waikoloa Petroglyph Preserve
Introduction to the Big Island of Hawaii
Waikoloa Petroglyph Reserve, Waikoloa Village, HI, United States
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Queens' Market Place
Introduction to the Big Island of Hawaii
Queens' MarketPlace, Waikoloa Beach Drive, Waikoloa Village, HI, United States
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Kings' Shops
Introduction to the Big Island of Hawaii
Kings' Shops, Waikoloa Beach Drive, Waikoloa Village, HI, United States
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Kailua Village Kona
Introduction to the Big Island of Hawaii
Kailua Village, Kuakini Highway, Kona, HI, United States
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Huliheʻe Palace
Introduction to the Big Island of Hawaii
Hulihe‘e Palace, Kailua-Kona, HI, United States
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Mokuaikaua Church
Introduction to the Big Island of Hawaii
Mokuaikaua Church, Alii Drive, Kailua-Kona, HI, United States
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Kona Farmers Market
Introduction to the Big Island of Hawaii
Kona Farmers Market, Ali'i Drive, Kailua-Kona, HI, United States
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Kainaliu
Introduction to the Big Island of Hawaii
Kainaliu Union, Mamalahoa Highway, Kealakekua, HI, United States
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Original Donkey Balls Factory and Store
Introduction to the Big Island of Hawaii
Original Donkey Balls Factory and Store., Mamalahoa Highway, Kealakekua, HI, United States

 

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