Hawaii's Big Island is not only the largest (at 4,038 square miles, twice the size of all the other Hawaiian Islands combined), it is the most diverse, with climate and terrain that range from tropical to desert, from clean, high mountains to sprawling cattle ranches, and beaches that come in golden, white or black sand. At 800,000 years, it is the youngest of the island chain, but was the first discovered by voyaging Polynesians nearly 2,000 years ago, hence becoming the cradle of Hawaiian civilization. Today the Big Island is a fascinating storehouse of cultural and historic sites, befitting an island that is also the birthplace of the first three kings of a united Hawai'i.
Legends live among the Big Island's history, particularly stories of Pele, the Fire Goddess, whose home is in the mighty volcanoes. One volcano, Kilauea, is the world's most active, and yet is safely seen by over one million visitors annually. Two of the tallest mountains in the Pacific — Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa — dominate the center of this vast island and are snow-capped several months of the year. East Hawai'i is charmingly evocative of Old Hawai'i, with flowers, waterfalls and rain forests, and the important deep water port of Hilo. West Hawai'i is every man's dream of the South Seas, with long beaches and languid evenings.
Products distinctive to the Big Island are macadamia nuts (most of the world's supply is grown here), Kona's gourmet coffee and a wide range of floral products. The Big Island is an enormous feast for both the mind and the senses.
HAWAII'S BIG ISLAND Facts
Nickname: The Big Island
Land Mass: 4,038 square miles
County Seat: Hilo
Highest Peak: Mauna Kea, 13,796 feet
Major Airport: Kona International Airport & Hilo Airport
Golf Courses: 20