Hawaii General Information


What To Know...Location:

The Hawaiian Islands are located just south of the Tropic of Cancer in the Pacific Ocean, 2,400 miles southwest of California. The Big Island of Hawaii is the largest in the chain, roughly twice the size of all the other islands combined. It is also the southernmost island in the Hawaiian Islands chain. Hawaii Island was always the name of the Island, After the conquest of King Kam I all of the chain of islands were named Hawaii and Hawaii became the name of our state.

Geology:

The Hawaiian islands were all formed by volcanic activity on the ocean floor of the Pacific. Each island is essentially a mountainous volcano or group of volcanoes that has risen above the surface of the ocean and expelled lava to create land mass. The Big Island is the youngest of the Hawaiian Islands and is home to an active volcano, Kilauea. About 30 miles southeast of the Big Island, a new island, Loihi, is being formed. It is still about 3,000 feet underwater, but is expected to be the next island to emerge in the archipelago. From it's base, Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain in the world over 6 miles high.

History:

Before annexation to the United States, Hawaii was once an independent kingdom. Each island was a separate domain until 1795, when the first King Kamehameha forcefully united all of the Hawaiian Islands except Kauai. Kamehameha and a dynasty of his progeny ruled the islands for the next century. However, by the time King Kamehameha I died in 1819, Hawaii's socioeconomic system was already undergoing dramatic changes. Most all of the ancient customs of the traditional "kapu" system were overthrown by the monarchy after his death. The missionaries came on April 20, 1820 and began to share the "Torch of Life" as the Hawaiian called the "Gospel" By the late 19thcentury, the United States was actively involved in shaping the islands' politics. Although the majority of Hawaiians opposed annexation, President McKinley signed an annexation agreement on July 7, 1898. Hawaii was finally granted statehood on August 21, 1959. The Kona Historical Society is a good place to get further information about the Big Island's cultural past.

Weather:

The east side of the island is often wet from the moist trade winds coming from the northeast. The island's western side, on the other hand, is drier and is the location of most of the hotels and resorts. Average temperatures on the Big Island range from 66 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit. Nights get a bit cooler, so a sweater comes in handy. You can call 8089615582 for current weather conditions.

The People:

The Big Island's population is 130,500. It's roughly 26 percent Hawaiian and part Hawaiian, 25 percent Caucasian, 21 percent Japanese, and 28 percent Filipino and other Asian and Pacific Islanders.

Although contemporary culture in Hawaii is similar to that of the rest of the U.S., Hawaiians strive to preserve cultural traditions. Language and hula classes are common, and traditional arts and crafts thrive. The social tradition of giving flower necklaces, or leis, illuminates the richness of the Hawaiian culture. Different leis have different meanings. For example, tourists are given leis of plumeria, while a bride might wear a lei of pikake. There are special leis for hellos and goodbyes, and each island has its own particular lei.

Cuisine

Hawaii's sizable Asian influence is evidenced by much of the islands' cuisine. A typical "mixed plate" for lunch comes with rice and macaroni salad, as well as your choice of an Asian dish such as chicken teriyaki (Japanese), beef with oyster sauce (Chinese), or kalua pig (Hawaiian). Kalua pig, a favorite of luaus, is a suckling pig slowcooked in an underground oven. Dried salted fish is also a favorite, as is poi, like mashed potatoes only made from the taro plant. Indigenous fruits such as star fruit and breadfruit are used in many traditional recipes. For dessert, try a local favorite, shave iceit's like flavored snow but better, best on a hot day. Or, sink your teeth into some chocolatecovered macadamia nuts, available at nearly every drugstore, grocery store, and souvenir shop.

Calendar of Events

February

Mardi Gras: Held in Hilo, this colorful celebration is a smaller version of the Mardi Gras held in New Orleans.

March

Pele's CrossCountry Ski Cup at Mauna Kea: This fourday competitionthe only place in Hawaii where you can actually skiis just one of several ski events held on the island between February and May.

April

Merrie Monarch Festival and Hula Competition: One of Hawaii's premier hula competitions, this annual event takes place in Hilo.

June 11

King Kamehameha Day. This state holiday is celebrated with a parade, canoe races, and a crafts fair in Kona.

July 4

Parker Ranch Rodeo and Horse Races: This largescale event is staged in Waimea.

October

Aloha Week: This is a statewide festival held in Wailuku with parades, dances, canoe racing, and sports. Gatorade Ironman Triathalon Full moon in October, This year, 1997, it will be held on October the 18th. Annual Macadamia Nut Festival in Hilo

November

The annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival: Held in Kailua, the festival includes a beanpicking contest and tours of coffee farms. Hamakua Taro Festival in Honokaa: This festival pays tribute to the root that has been a chief staple in the islanders' diets for hundreds of years.

Flight Times To The Big Island

From San Francisco: 5 hours, 20 minutes
From Los Angeles: 4 hours, 20 minutes
From Chicago: 9 hours
From New York: 11 hours

Local Time

The Big Island is on Hawaiian Standard Time, two hours earlier than the West Coast (Pacific Standard Time),and five hours earlier than the East Coast (Eastern Standard Time). Unlike the rest of the U.S., the Hawaiian Islands do not observe Daylight Savings Time. That means that during the summer months, the Big Island is three hours earlier than Pacific Daylight Time and six hours earlier than Eastern Daylight Time.

Language

Both Hawaiian and English are spoken on the Big Island. Take a look at this language guide to learn a few phrases in Hawaiian.

Tourist Information

Both airports have tourist information booths. The two Hawaii Visitors Bureau offices are located in Hilo and Kona. Both are closed on weekends. If you wish to have an informational packet sent to you before you leave, call 800648BIG1.

What To Bring

Travelers to Hawaii should pack light cotton clothes, a bathing suit, sunglasses, and plenty of serious sun screen. The majority of people on the Big Island dress casually, although the island does have a few upscale restaurants and nightclubs where a jacket or skirt wouldn't seem out of place. Sandals or bare feet are the norm, but if you are planning on doing any hiking or on visiting the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, bring flashlight, hiking shoes, warm clothes & rain gear.

Activities...

Beaches

The beaches on the Big Island tend to be generally more covelike. Nonetheless, the Kona Coast has long sundrenched shores and calm waters that are perfect for swimming and water sports.

Water Sports

The Big Island is not as exceptional for surfing as are Oahu, Kauai, and Maui, but Honolii Cove near Hilo, Kahaluu Beach in Keauhou, and Banyans near White Sands Beach are popular among enthusiasts of the sport. People also go to White Sands Beach for boogieboarding and body surfing. Wind surfers ride the tamer waves at Anaehoomalu Bay in Waikoloa.

The Big Island has good diving and snorkeling on the Kona and Kohala coasts. Kealakekua Bay, Kaiwai Point, and Red Hill are popular for diving. The island's best snorkeling spots include Place of Refuge and Kahaluu Beach Park. There are many diving operators of charter boats for diving and snorkeling excursions.

Fishing

The waters off the Big Island are a prime fishing area and the island has been called the blue marlin capital of the world. Though any time is good for sportfishing here, many locals say the best time for marlin falls between January and September. You don't need a fishing license; just hook up with one of the island's many charter companies. If you want to see the monsters of the day's catch, take a stroll along Honokohau Harbor between 11 am and noon or 3:30 and 5 pm to watch the daily weighin.

Golf

Several of the island's best courses are constructed on lava flows, offering golf aficionados some of the world's most unique play. All in all, there are many fabulous golf courses on the island. The best greens include the course at Waikoloa Beach Resort, the Waikoloa Kings' Golf Course, the courses at the Mauna Lani Resort, the Mauna Kea Golf Course, and the course at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. The Big Island provides phone numbers and rates for all of the island's courses.

Skiing

The Big Island is the only tropical resort in the world that offers snow skiing. While the ski season is unpredictable, Mauna Kea, the island's tallest mountain, usually receives a fair share of snow starting January and running for several months. There are no ski lifts or ski lodges herethis is the stuff of real adventurers. If you are serious about giving it a try, you will need a guide or a permit to ski the runs, which occupy 100 square miles and are five miles long.

Horseback Riding

Several companies on the Big Island run trail rides. Kohala Naalapa offers rides through the pastures of Kahua Ranch with spectacular views of the coast. Paniolo Riding Adventures and Chalon International also offer excursions in the Kohala area. For a cattle roundup adventure, try Dahana Ranch Roughriders near Waimea. Waipio on Horseback and Waipio Naalapa Trail Rides have guided tours of Waipio Valley.

Shopping

The city of Hilo and the resort areas on the Kona Coast are home to a wide variety of souvenir shops. Ubiquitous island mementos include colorful floralprint clothing and Tshirts; traditional arts and crafts, such as jewelry made from coral, enamel, and precious metals; feather and flower leis; and a host of takehome foods, which include everything from exotic fruits to coffee, macadamia nuts to Maui potato chips. Kailua-Kona has a Costco, Wallmart and K-Mart.

More coming soon!!

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