Why do more visitors who are returning to the islands come back to the Island of Hawaii again and again? The reasons read like a fantasy checklist of adventure, fun, romance and history.
What is your island dream? Riding horseback along a lush valley trail? Whale watching? Swimming with manta rays? Listening to the glassy clinking of cooling lava? Testing your swing at a cliff-side championship golf course? Hiking up the side of a volcano? Or perhaps you're already feeling the calming influence of the island atmosphere and you're in the mood for stargazing, waterfall watching, or sunbathing on a quiet beach. With its fantastically diverse landscape and seascape, the Island of Hawaii is made for outdoor enjoyment. Whatever your idea of adventure, you'll find it, and much more, on the Island of Hawaii.
KONA SIDE: The Kona (West) side of the island is known for its sparkling resorts, world-class golf courses, white sand beaches and homegrown Kona coffee! These coastal waters offer thrilling big-game sport fishing and jewel box snorkeling, while the landscape, carved into an ancient lava flow, records the past in its sacred heiau (temples) and historic sites. Historic Kailua Village is no longer the sleepy fishing village it was for Hawaiian royalty. Leave from here on sport fishing charters or stroll down the main road of Alii Drive to find a variety of attractions beyond the shops and restaurants. Kailua Pier, the starting and finishing point of the world-famous Ironman World Championship, is a great place to watch the sunset.
KAU AND PUNA: A dramatic black sand beach, orchid gardens, coffee groves, quaint towns, historic sites and, above it all, the magnificent 500 square-mile Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The diversity, contrasts and beauty of South Hawaii Island continues to inspire scientists and visitors from all over the world.
HILO SIDE: With historic small town flavor and attractive shops, restaurants and museums, Hilo is a flourishing capital city, a cultural hub - and so much more. With its volcano backdrop, tumbling waterfalls, colorful gardens and towering banyan trees, the Hilo (East) Side of the Island of Hawaii is also the gateway to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the 40-mile long, fantastically scenic Hamakua Coast.
KOHALA SIDE: Revered as the birthplace of King Kamehameha I, North Hawaii Island is also paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) country. Here, history resides comfortably alongside wide-open ranch lands. Artists and art galleries thrive amidst the limitless beauty and sacred heiau (temples) remain as treasures of the island's heritage.
It's hard to imagine a landscape more unique than the Island of Hawaii. For sheer variety, it is unmatched. The roads are excellent, the pace is easy and the people are mellow; so stretch out and explore some of the island's 266 miles of coastline, five marine life conservation districts and 11 of the world's 13 climate zones. Where else will you find five volcanoes (Hualalai, Kilauea, Kohala, Mauna Kea, and Mauna Loa), historic towns, multi-colored beaches, the world's foremost site for astronomy (Mauna Kea), coffee plantations and the southernmost point of land in the United States (Ka Lae)? A living laboratory of natural science, the Island of Hawaii is also home to rich history, unrivaled beauty and sophisticated luxury. Take your time along the way; stop to browse in an art gallery, dig your toes into the black sand, and enjoy the Island of Hawaii.
Waipio Valley, once home to Hawaiian kings, is one of the most beautiful and secluded places to visit on the Island of Hawaii. There are a number of ways in which you can see the valley, starting with the overlook above the valley. If you want to go down into the valley, you can hike (for the very physically fit), drive down in a 4WD (make sure your car rental company allows it), do a horseback riding tour, a mule drawn wagon tour, an ATV tour, or ride down in a shuttle. However you get there, you'll be rewarded with some of the most amazing scenery you'll see during your stay on the island.
There are many ranches on the Island of Hawaii. One of the most interesting ones to visit is the Anna Ranch Heritage Center, named after "The First Lady of Ranching," and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. During your visit you can learn about the history of ranching in Hawaii, tour Anna's historic home, visit the blacksmith shop, walk through the beautiful grounds and gardens, and purchase some locally made products in the gift shop. Visiting the ranch is truly a step back in time.
Visiting a Kona coffee farm is something a lot of visitors want to do. There are a number of good options, including Greenwell Farms, where you can do a complimentary 45-minute tour, during which you'll learn about the history, farming and processing of coffee, followed by some sample tastings. If it fits into your schedule, stop by on a Thursday morning so you can have the added benefit of watching the Kona Historical Society practice the traditional art of baking Portugese bread in a large wood-fired oven located in the pasture below the farm. The bread is baked and sold hot out of the oven around 1:00 PM.
He pilina wehena ʻole ke aloha honua.
One’s love for the planet is an inseverable relationship.
I pledge to be pono (righteous) on the island of Hawai‘i.
I will mindfully seek wonder, but not wander where I do not belong.
I will not defy death for breathtaking photos, or venture beyond safety.
I will malama (care for) land and sea, and admire wildlife only from afar.
Molten lava will mesmerize me, but I will not disrupt its flow.
I will not take what is not mine, leaving lava rocks and sand as originally found.
I will heed ocean conditions, never turning my back to the Pacific.
When rain falls ma uka (inland), I will remain high above ground, out of rivers and streams.
I will embrace the island’s aloha spirit, as it embraces me.
Lawe i ka maalea i kuonoono
“Take wisdom and make it deep.”
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