What Is the Big Island Of Hawaii Known For? We Answer Your FAQ’s
When you think of the Big Island of Hawaii, what comes to mind? You probably wonder, “What’s the Big Island of Hawaii known for?”. The Big Island of Hawaii is jaw-droppingly beautiful, and is rich with culture and history, so keep reading as we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about this crown jewel in the Hawaiian islands.
If you’re like most people, Volcanoes National Park is probably the first thing you think of. Perhaps it is black sand beaches. If you’re a coffee lover like me, it’s all about the Kona coffee. All these are correct, plus so much more…
What Is the Name of the Island?
One of the most frequent questions we receive is about the name of the island. The name of the island is Hawaii, but since the state is also named Hawaii, plus the island names are also the county names – it can be a bit confusing!
Therefore, the island is usually referred to as Hawaii Island, or as the Big Island of Hawaii. Hawaii is the biggest island in the Hawaiian chain, hence the nickname. However, it is common for first-time visitors to mistake the “main” island of Oahu for the Big Island.
Although Oahu is the most populated island, and home of the state capitol, it is only the third largest of the Hawaiian Islands. To recap, the Big Island is officially the island of Hawaii, in the county of Hawaii, in the state of Hawaii. What could be confusing about that? 😉
Where Should I Stay on the Big Island?
We highly recommend staying in the town of Kailua-Kona, more commonly known as just “Kona”.
A short drive from the Kailua-Kona Airport (KOA), this quaint town is located on sun drenched western side of the island. In comparison, Hilo Town, on the east side of the island experiences many more rainy days. Another bonus of staying in Kona is the proximity of the Captain Cook region, the mountainous “Kona Coffee Belt”, the Gold Coast and the convenience of its location if you are coming off Saddle Road.
There are charming galleries, shops, restaurants and open-air markets located in Kona. Our Big Island All-Inclusive Premier Package features the Royal Kona Resort, the premier resort in Kailua-Kona.
When Is the Best Time to Visit the Big Island?
When is not a good time to visit the Big Island?
The year-round weather on the Big Island averages between mid-70’s to mid-80’s. The Kona region averages approximately 10 inches of rainfall annually, so you don’t need to worry about a “monsoon season” if you go. Of course, no one can predict the weather, but on average it is warm and sunny year-round.
June, July, Christmas and New Years are traditionally the busiest time for travel to all the Hawaiian Islands, however there are two annual events that take place on the Big Island that you should be aware of.
The first in the Merrie Monarch Festival, which is held in Hilo the week after Easter. The Merrie Monarch Festival is essentially a hula competition – the best of the best compete here. Tickets sell out far in advance, so plan in advance if you wish to go. The other event is the Iron Man Triathlon, held in Kailua-Kona. The dates fluctuate, but usually it is in October.
Although it is only a two-day event, the week its held expect higher rates for flights, hotels and rental cars – especially in Kona.
Is the Southernmost Point in the United States Really in Kona?
Yes! Some people consider the marker in Key West to be the southernmost point in the US, however it’s the southernmost most point in the continental US.
The actual southernmost point is Ka Lae, on the Big Island, near the sleepy town of Naalehu. Sometimes it’s referred to as South Point Complex, or just South Point. It doesn’t have a touristy landmark like the one in Key West, just a lonely road down windswept plains marked by occasional wind turbines.
At the end of the road, you’ll see a sign pointing to the southernmost point in one direction, and the green sands beach, Papakolea, in the other direction. The southernmost point is usually marked with white rocks. The waters below the cliffs are excellent for fishing, but please never cliff jump or attempt to swim in the waters below. It is extremely dangerous.
Likewise, if you make the hike to Papakolea Beach, please exercise caution. There are strong currents, and no lifeguards. However, this is the famous green sand beach location!
Where Can I See the Black Sand Beaches? (The Big Island of Hawaii is known for sands of many colors)
The most popular black sand beach on the Big Island is Punalu’u. It is only a short drive up the road from Naalehu, so be sure to check it out after you visit South Point! This beach is famous for the green sea turtles you are likely to see hanging out, plus its jet-black sand framed by the aqua waters of the Pacific and the grove of coconut palms on the shore. A must see!
Another excellent black sand beach is Kehena Beach, also known as Dolphin Beach due to the spinner dolphins who frequent the area. The Big Island is known for many other black sand beaches, but these are the most accessible.
What Are the Prettiest Waterfalls on the Big Island?
The Big Island of Hawaii is known for its waterfalls. We think any waterfall is a pretty waterfall, but if we must choose, Akaka Falls State Park takes the top prize.
Stroll through an Eden-like garden and rainforest and then soak in the view of 442 foot Akaka Falls as it plunges into the stream below. The 0.4-mile path loops back around, if you’re up for the walk. There is a $5 per person entry fee for non-residents.
Another popular Big Island waterfall is Rainbow Falls, near Hilo. Frequent rainbows give this 80ft waterfall its name. The best time to see a rainbow is during the morning hours, with your back facing the sun as you look towards the falls. There is no fee to visit Rainbow Falls.
Is There Good Stargazing on the Big Island?
Absolutely! The easiest (and cheapest) way to stargaze is on Saddle Road. Drive up on a clear night when the moon is new. There are several pull-offs and parking areas if you want to gaze from here.
You can also continue up Mauna Kea and enjoy some of the most breathtaking night skies in the world! The Mauna Kea Observatory once boasted the strongest telescope in the northern hemisphere.
Volcanoes National Park is also excellent for stargazing, and you may also see lava “glow” in the distance, depending on the volcanic conditions (please always consult with a park ranger if leaving marked trails and roads).
There are also star-gazing tours, and our Big Island All Inclusive Package offers one as an activity selection. Contact us for details on how to experience one of the top things the Big Island of Hawaii is known for.
I Need Authentic Kona Coffee! Where Can I Get Some?
The Big Island of Hawaii is definitely known for Kona coffee! The “Kona Coffee Belt”, a short drive from Kailua-Kona, is a 35-mile long terroir ranging in elevation from 500ft to 3200ft above sea level. In this narrow strip of fertile, mountainous land, you will find some of the best coffee in the world.
The Kona Coffee Living History Farm offers self-guided tours, and is worth a visit. There are many other working coffee plantations and farms which offer tours. You will have an an opportunity to sample and purchase genuine Kona coffee as well.
What Are the Highlights of Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park?
There is so much to see and do at the Big Island’s Volcanoes National Park! Check out our blog post detailing some of the highlights. Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park may be what the Big Island is known for most!
Can I See It All in One Trip?
The short answer is – yes! Our 6 Day/5 night Big Island All Inclusive Package offers plenty of time to explore the island. The longer you stay, the more you can see, but even on our Hawaii Four Island Hopper Package, you can see highlights of the island in one day with our unique Hawaii Island Driving Guide.
Although the Big Island is large, with planning you can see all of this and more. Let us plan your dream Big Island trip – we’ll do all the work for you, at great value.