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.
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.
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
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 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.
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
Mardi Gras: Held in Hilo, this colorful celebration is a smaller version
of the Mardi Gras held in New Orleans.
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.
Merrie Monarch Festival and Hula Competition: One of Hawaii's premier
hula competitions, this annual event takes place in Hilo.
King Kamehameha Day. This state holiday is celebrated with a parade,
canoe races, and a crafts fair in Kona.
Parker Ranch Rodeo and Horse Races: This largescale event is staged
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
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
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.
Both Hawaiian and English are spoken on the Big Island. Take a look
at this language guide to learn a few phrases in Hawaiian.
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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.