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I love visiting the Big Island, my favorite of the Hawaiian Islands. I think the main reasons are because of its active volcanoes and large stretches of undeveloped land. The volcanoes especially fascinate me and draw me to see them again and again. It’s because of its volcanoes that Big Island has so many black sand beaches — black sand is only formed by the breakdown of lava rock, often when hot lava encounters the ocean, solidifies, then shatters in the powerful surf. White sand generally is due to the breakdown of shells, corals, and other organic matter.
An excellent example of a black sand beach is Punalu’u Black Sand Beach Park, located on the southeastern Kau coast. Since black sand …
Perhaps the best place on the Big Island to enjoy a sunset (from many great possibilities), Pu’uhonua o Honaunau (the Place of Refuge) is a remarkable destination. This is a National Historic site which should be near the top of things NOT to be missed by anyone visiting the Big Island.
The Pu’uhonua o Honaunau was built by the Hawaiian people as a sanctuary and place of safety. Any commoner one who had broken one of the many laws (known as kapu) of their society could try to go here to be safe (although people would be trying to stop them as they tried to get to the place of refuge). No blood could be shed or people arrested …
Among the pleasures of being atop Hawaii’s giant volcanoes — Haleakala on Maui, and Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the Big Island — are the unusual things you see. Standing on an otherworldly landscape of reddish-brown or gray-black lava rock, the views over the clouds are often breath-taking. You can often see the Big Island from the top of Haleakala, and Maui from Mauna Kea.
If you divert your eyes from the magnificent views to the ground, you’re likely to see this rare gray-silver spikey plant known as “Hawaiian Silversword”. It only grows in Hawaii and then only a mile or more above sea level. Your best chances of seeing it are on the giant volcanoes. The climate up here is harsh — …
I love a scenic road-trip! One of the greatest short drives in America is Saddle Road, which crosses between the dry and wet sides of the Big Island of Hawaii, across broad lava flows and the saddle between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, the world’s largest and tallest mountains respectively (base of Mauna Kea is 19000′ below sea level; the part above ocean is 13796′ high). The drive is best done on a clear day, especially in the morning as it often clouds over in the afternoon. It’s a windy road but of good quality. It used to be that not all car rental companies allowed you to take your car rental across it, but the road is so good now …
The vegetation around the Visitor’s Center in Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii’s Big Island is in a cool tropical rainforest. Situated at 4000′ above sea level (1220m) there’s a lush growth here including ferns of several varieties. Some ferns are only inches tall, struggling for survival in the volcanic rock. Others are up to 35 ft (10 m) in height, the size of a small tree.
While walking to the visitor center, I came across a thick patch of ferns, one of the larger ones including a lot of new growth that we in Canada like to call “fiddleheads”. I’m not sure about this variety, but fiddleheads can make excellent eating. Regardless of their culinary value, I’m fond of walking in forests rich in …
I’m a huge fan of National Parks, and one of the most amazing parks anywhere is Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii’s Big Island. When you visit, you’ll know why it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site! I’ve previously shared some of my experiences here, which you can read at this link if you’re interested.
I recently revisited Volcanoes NP (something about the volcano draws me back again and again). Kilauea is still active, currently only to a limited extent within the park boundaries itself, although this could change at any time as volcanoes are notoriously unpredictable. Where Kileau’s lava flows are most active right now is outside the park in the southwestern part of the island near the …
One of my favorite places to travel is the Big Island of Hawaii. Where else can you find the tallest mountains in the world, the most active volcano in the world, and a surreal landscape of lava flows, desert vegetation, coffee plantations and tropical jungle? The Big Island and its welcoming, friendly people never cease to amaze me.
I try to visit or attend medical meetings on the island whenever feasible. One of the meetings I enjoy and learn a lot from is held regularly at a wonderful resort known as the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. This resort was opened on the Kohala coast (rainshadow side of the island) 20 years ago, twinned with the Mauna Kea Resort on 1839 …
Situated on the outskirts of Hilo, on the windward site of the Big Island of Hawaii, is beautiful Rainbow Falls. The falls is just northwest of Hilo off the main roads of the city, in Wailuku River State Park. It’s in a small canyon covered with lush tropical foliage and makes a picture-perfect photostop for people heading to and from Volcanoes National Park. The waterfall has a beautiful “Y” shape only when there’s only the right amount of precipitation — too much or too little and the “Y” disappears into a single channel of water. The fall’s name comes from the rainbow you’ll see in morning light on a sunny day.
(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance the …