Most visitors to the Hawaiian Islands invariably end up flying into Oahu and staying nearÃ‚Â Waikiki in Honolulu.Ã‚Â If you only see Waikiki, you're truly missing out on a great experience if you don't see the other side of the island.Ã‚Â Instead of going on a Tourist Bus, rent a car, preferably a convertible or a jeep, and drive around the island at your own pace!Ã‚Â If you leave your hotel by mid-morning, you can easily drive around the entire island and have plenty of time to stop for a quick dip in the ocean at one of the many beautiful white sand beaches along the way; and have enough time for lunch and still make it back to your Hotel in Honolulu before dark!
A great many Families and Honeymooners sojourn to Maui, as it's far less crowded (at least no skyscrapers yet!)Ã‚Â andÃ‚Â even less visitors actually make it toÃ‚Â incredibly tropical island of Kauai (where "Jurassic Park" was filmed).Ã‚Â
But ironically, one of the least visited Islands happens to be the largest island in the stateÃ‚Â…Hawaii, or as the locals (called Kamaaina ~ meaning "resident") call it, "The Big Island."Ã‚Â
The Big Island of Hawaii offers visitors a much wider selection of experiences than the other islands.Ã‚Â First of all, it's larger than all the other islands combined and has two (2) volcanic mountain peaks (Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa) both over 12,000 feet tall.Ã‚Â In the winter, skiing and snowboarding are very popular for tourists and locals alike as the snowÃ‚Â is easily accessible due to the roads leading up to the enormous telescopes and observatories atop Mauna Kea.Ã‚Â
As a result of these two towering mountains, the Big Island has a unique range of climate and weather, resulting in the Kona side of the island (northern west coast) having a very warm, sunny and dry climate (not unlike Palm Springs); while the "Hilo side" (eastern coast) has a damp, tropical rainforestÃ‚Â climate and atmosphere that is responsible for the world's largest Orchid Nurseries.Ã‚Â The gigantic Banyan Trees along Hilo Bay's Banyan Drive are legendary for their incredible size and girth.Ã‚Â
For those who come to the Big Island to see Mauna Kea's active Volcano for the first time, here's a tip you won't see anywhere else.Ã‚Â As a long-time resident who has taken countless relatives and visiting friends to the Volcano, the trip is best planned out so as to enter Volcano National Park in the afternoon for a very specific reason.Ã‚Â It's a wonderful and gorgeous drive up from Hilo to the park, and an afternoon visit allows for plenty of time to see all the various sights that the tourist buses stop to see.Ã‚Â
The advantage of entering the park late in the day is that when you finally make it down to the coastline by duskÃ‚Â… to where the Lava is pouring out into the sea... you'll see an unforgettable sight of the magical red glow of the boiling molten lava as it splashes into the raging sea and illuminating the huge steam clouds with bright orange light as it continues to glow while vanishing under the waves.Ã‚Â
But if you make this trip early in the day, you'll only see the vast billowing clouds of white steam as the 6000 degree Lava hits the sea water... and not much else.
On a separate excursion, just north of Hilo is the fantastic Ã‚Â“scenic driveÃ‚Â” off the sugarcane highway.Ã‚Â This winding and twisting road is an incredible experience and the entire drive up through the Big IslandÃ‚Â’s Ã‚Â“HamakuaÃ‚Â” coastline is well documented as being Ã‚Â“One of the Best 25 DrivesÃ‚Â” in the entire United States!Ã‚Â Mellow and relaxed in comparison to the hectic pace and rushing crowds in Honolulu, the Big Island gives the visitor a feel for what Hawaii was like before World War II.
If you like to travel the unbeaten path, and prefer to get away from all the tourists, try exploring the Big Island the next time youÃ‚Â’re in Hawaii.Ã‚Â There are so many other adventures there besides the ones just mentioned.Ã‚Â With scuba diving, snorkeling, deep-sea and surf fishing, exploring, excellent dining, world class resorts and golf courses, shopping, hiking & camping or just relaxing, there are so many things to doÃ‚Â… your Vacation will be one youÃ‚Â’ll never forget!
The locals (Kamaaina) say, Ã‚Â“Big Island, moÃ‚Â’ bettaÃ‚Â” meaning, once youÃ‚Â’ve been there, youÃ‚Â’ll always come back.