Hilo Hawaii: Volcanoes, Lava, Rainforests, Scuba Diving, Snorkeling, And More...

Hilo Hawaii...

Everyone who has ever traveled to the Hawaiian Islands knows how lovely they are, and a fantastic place to vacation. There are many islands in the chain, but really 4 major islands and a few smaller ones. The big 4 islands are Oahu (where you will probably fly into at Honolulu), Maui, Kauai, and the big island of Hawaii. There are 2 smaller sized islands that many people also visit, and they are Lanai and Molokai, near Maui. I’m going to talk a little about the beauty of the big island right now, and the many activities and things you can do there including Hilo Hawaii.

The big island is one of my favorite places in the islands, and I’ll tell you why. It is incredibly diverse as far as what you can do… There is dense, tropical jungle all around with exotic foliage and flowers that seem strange and beautiful to non-islanders. One of these pretty Hawaiian flowers is the Plumeria, which is grown for export on the big island. Many of these flowers are used in the traditional lei, or flower greeting in the islands. Hawaii is also the newest island and is still being created by the volcanic forces deep inside the earth, and lava is continuously being sent to the surface in eruptions through the active volcanoes there. The main active volcano that still erupts (presently) is Kilauea, and you can see actual lava on the ground in front of you by visiting the Hawaiian Islands National Park in the center of the island, which is actually closer to the Hilo Hawaii side...

This is a big park, and you can get there from either side of the island. There is a long and winding paved road through the park, and you can stop from time to time and see the various sights and active volcano, but down toward the end of the road (it ends because lava overflowed it some years back) you will get out of your car and walk up to a half mile to visit the very edge of the current lava flow as it makes its way down to the coast. When it meets the water, it explodes in steam and vapor, and being that close to all the action you can really smell the sulphur and feel the heat that is put out by the red hot lava. At some points, you can get so close that you feel like you might actually break through the hardened crust that you are standing on, and meet a fiery death in the flames below! It’s definitely a must see on the big island and Hilo Hawaii!

Black Sand Beaches
Black Sand Beaches
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Mauna Kea Observatory Trip, Near Hilo Hawaii...

When flying into Hawaii, you have a choice of either Hilo Hawaii on the east coast, or Kona on the west coast. The main touristy area is over at Kona, which is the leeward side of the island. That means less rainfall, and the resorts are located here along with great snorkeling and diving opportunities. Hilo on the other side has more traditional Hawaiian natives and not very much in the way of huge resorts, even though it’s definitely not a cow town! It’s actually a little closer to the Volcanoes National Park to fly into Hilo Hawaii and rent a car for the drive there than it is for Kona, so if that’s your goal then choose that airport.

Another do not miss attraction on the big island is the Mauna Kea Observatory trip! First of all, the two main volcanoes are Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, near Hilo Hawaii. They are both huge, up to 14,000 feet high and in fact so high that you are above the clouds when at the summits! Because of this, scientists and governments around the world chose to build a series of astronomical observatories at the top, and today there are more than a dozen. Private companies offer an observatory trip that takes you to the top in a specially constructed van with hydraulic brakes for the purpose of taking pictures and looking at stars. There is only one road to the top, and it takes a little time to get up there.


Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Mauna Kea Observatory Trip Near Hilo Hawaii...

At the 9,000 feet level, there is a mandatory stop for getting acclimated to the altitude at a rest stop and café station. This is also where the visiting scientists go first and live before heading to the top to do their work. Even they have to get acclimated, and I can tell you from firsthand experience that it is very different at the top! Incredibly thin air with much less oxygen and the temperatures are around 30 degrees or so! But what a beautiful sunset you’ll enjoy! One tip though, bring a candy bar or two up, because if you start to feel a little woozy because of the altitude a candy bar should fix you right up. You are only at the top for about 30 – 45 minutes, and then you travel back down to the 9,000 feet level for a star show, where your guide points out all the constellations. Since there is no light pollution up there, you can see everything so much more clearly than you ever have before! It’s really a great trip and close to Hilo Hawaii, and highly recommended.

Right in the center of the island is the famous Parker Ranch, which I believe is still the largest cattle ranch in the U.S., even Texas! They hire a lot of native Hawaiians, and it’s interesting to think of them riding horses and being real cowboys! The state also has a native population land giveaway program, where if they live and work a land for a few years then it becomes theirs. It’s only an option for someone who can prove a certain percentage of Polynesian blood though; otherwise it might be fun to give it a go!

I hope this will help you to understand the big island of Hawaii better, and that you’ll consider it on your next trip there. It’s just a short hop by plane from Oahu, and you’ll see some things there that you can’t in any of the other islands, such as snow in the wintertime on top on both Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa near Hilo Hawaii! In fact, you can actually snow ski down them if you dare! Have fun!

More Wonderful Island Travel Locations:

  • Maui - Maui is a beautiful island and one of the nicest in the Hawaiian Island chain. Many people consider Maui to actually be the best place to stay and sightsee, and there are many reasons for that…


  • Atlantis Resort, the Bahamas - You’ll love this resort on Paradise Island, near Nassau, and the many fun activities available for you and your family. Swim with dolphins, snorkel in a secluded cove with tropical fish, or enjoy the massive water park on property!


  • Jamaica - This is an island paradise to many people and is a great location in the Caribbean for those looking for a shorter trip. Lots of friendly people, great beaches, and awesome fun activities!
  • Kauai - You'll love this island with it's incredible exotic beauty and honeymooner ambiance... Plenty of tropical foliage, mountains, and wonderful beaches for relaxing and hanging out...

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