Planning your Vacation to the Big Island of Hawaii
Are you planning a trip the Big Island and don't know where to start? This guide will help you plan your trip starting with picking the best hotel. You will learn about the different places to stay on the island as well as some favorite destinations. Whether you want to see the lava, visit the site where Jurassic Park was filmed or spend your trip lounging on the best beaches, this guide can help you. Good luck in planning your trip and have a wonderful time in Hawaii.
If you are visiting the Big Island, chances are you will come through the Kona Airport.
Kona Airport Info and Distances
The most popular airport for tourism on the Big Island is the Kona International Airport. As you make your final descent, you will be able to see the volcanoes as well as the beautiful coastline. The Kona airport is an outdoor facility. I say this so you are prepared to walk in the rain if the weather is bad.
After you exit the terminal, you will get your bags at one of two baggage claims and proceed to getting your rental car up the street. The airport is in a pretty remote area just outside of the town, Kailua-Kona. Depending on where you stay, you may have a drive ahead of you.
Distance from Kona Airport
Kona: 8.2 mi / 16 mins
Waikoloa: 25.9 mi / 42 mins
Waimea: 36.9 mi / 54 mins
Kohala: 39.2 mi / 57 mins
Hilo: 91.2 mi / 2 hrs 9 mins
Voclano: 105 mi / 2 hrs 33 mins
Where to Stay
- Best Hotels on the Big Island
The Big Island of Hawaii has numerous hotels and lodging places, most of which rest on a beautiful shore. This guide will help you to choose the best hotel for your trip to the Big Island depending on what you will be doing in Hawaii.
Camping Options and Information
- Camping on the Big Island
The Big Island of Hawaii has many locations where you can camp at. Many of them require permits, but for some, you only need four-wheel drive. This article will help you find the perfect place to camp on the island.
What to do on the Big Island
Hawaii is a place with rich history and unique stories. You will want to check out some of these historical sites while you are there.
City of Refuge
In Ancient Hawaii, if you stood too close to an ali'i (chief), you were punished with death. Hawaiians believed that the Gods would release their wrath on you. They built a place, however, called The City of Refuge, where people who broke the law of kapu could gain immunity--but they had to make it onto the land before someone caught them! You can now visit the City of Refuge and look at ancient homes and tikis. It's a beautiful place with rich history and breath-taking sights. To learn more, click here.
New England missionaries built this museum as a mission house in 1839. Their descendents converted it into a museum that honors Hawaiian history. It's a fabulous place to explore and is great for kids. To learn more, click here.
Ellison Onizuka Space Center
Ellison Onizuka was a Japanese-American astronaut from Kealakekua, HI. He was killed in the Challenger crash and was the first person from Hawaii to go into space. He was a close friend of my grandfather's. After his tragic death, a space center was built in his name at the Kona International Airport. It is a wonderful place for children and adults to explore space. Learn more, click here.
Fishing on the Big Island
- Hawaiian Reef Fish
This article provides a list of the reef life that can only be found in Hawaii as well as in-depth descriptions of Hawaii's most common marine life.
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This guide will give you useful information about fishing in Hawaii including where to get your gear and what to use for bait. Fishing in Hawaii is such a fun experience because even the most unexperienced fishers are likely to go home with a catch.
There are five volcanoes on the Big Island: Mauna Kea, Kilauea, Mauna Loa, Kohala and Hualalai. Of these, there are two volcanoes that you have probably heard of. One is the tallest mountain in the world and the other is currently active and has been pouring lava down the south side of our island for decades.
Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain in the world. Many people don't know this about Hawaii, but on this mountain there is snow. People often travel up there (with four-wheel drive) to play in the snow. It is not safe to snowboard, ski or anything like that in this area due to the texture of the snow as well as the rocks that may injure you underneath.
The Keck Observatory is resting on the summit of Mauna Kea. Astronomers from all over the world use this observatory to take photos of space. Since Hawaii has little artificial light, it makes for a perfect place to take accurate photos of space.
You probably know this volcano due to its activity. Kilauea is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and constantly pours lava down the mountainside. You will have to pay for a pass to enter the park and on unsafe days, they will turn you away. You can check the status of the volcano at their website. Volcanoes National Park is also the home of the Thursten Lava Tube, a perfect tunnel made from years of lava traveling underneath the ground.
Most people visit Kilauea for the lava. On good days, you can walk right up to the lava (but watch out, it's hot!). Make sure to wear thick shoes when you go or they may melt.
More Information on Hawaii Volcanoes
- How to Visit Hawaii Volcanoes
This guide will show you how to visit the volcanoes in Hawaii and get to see the stars with little if no obstruction as well as get feet away from hot lava with maps and directions.
- A Local's Guide to Hawaii Volcanoes
Hawaii is made up of six shield volcanoes. They are Kilauea (active), Mauna Kea (dormant), Mauna Loa (active), Hu’alalai (dormant), Kohala (extinct), and Haleakala (extinct).
Hiking and Fluming
Hawaii is known for its beautiful beaches, but the best ones take a while to get to. If you want to have the hike of your life, look no further. Hawaii has the best sites to explore.
Waipio Valley is famous for the films it has been in including Jurassic Park and Waterworld. This historic site was also the home to King Kamehameha, who grew up and learned to be a warrior in this place. Waipio is difficult to get to, so unless you have a four-wheel drive truck, do not try to drive down to the valley. Cars often get stuck in the mud here, so don't risk it if you haven't been there before. To learn more, click here.
Pololu Valley is very similar to Waipio, but you cannot drive down there. You can take a mule, but the steep, zig zag trail down to bay is a good hike that you will enjoy. There are many things about this place that makes it so special. There is a black sand beach in the valley that pushes water into a small creek. There are also rope swings in the trees, but I once broke my wrist from falling off of one, so be careful. To learn more, click here.
Flume the Ditch
On your way back from Pololu Valley, you can stop at the old sugar cane plantation in Hawi to "flume" the ditch. The ditch is an irrigation system that the old platation owners used. Kids used to slide down it on inner tubes and body boards, but now it is a guided tour where you sit in a kayak and paddle down the ditch through tunnels. This is a very fun, family-friendly tour that has fun surprises along the way. To learn more, click here.
- Best Beaches on the Big Island of Hawaii
This hub will help you find the best place to snorkel, surf, play volleyball or build a sand castle on your vacation as well as help you get there with maps. Enjoy your vacation to one of the most beautiful places on Earth, Hawaii.
Where to Eat
- Best Food on the Big Island
Hawaii is a unique place with a ton of different food options. If you are planning on visiting the Big Island, make sure to stop by one of these exquisite local favorites. This list in in no particular order; they are just a collection of my favorite
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