Hawaii - The Big Island Travel Tips
Keep in Mind...
- You will need a camera We did mention the flowing lava and the black sand beaches, right? Well, your best bet for seeing the former is at night, though you should call the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park's visitor center to check on Kilauea before you head out.
- You will need a sweater Those snow-capped mountains aren't an optical illusion. The higher elevations of the Big Island could be up to 20 degrees colder.
- You will need all-wheel drive If you're driving (and we recommend that you do) you'll soon learn that the island's varied terrain is easier to cover in a sturdier car.
In Hawaii, the Big Island is like the sometimes awkward older sibling. Forgotten in favor of adorable little brothers and sisters -- her attributes are often glossed over. Maui is for fun and families. Oahu attracts surfers, partiers and outdoor adventurers. Kauai is for romance and luxury. And the Big Island is just … big.
Majestic is more accurate. Geographically unique, the Big Island boasts everything from black sand beaches to snow-covered peaks, from hardened lava deserts to steamy and lush rainforests. And it's still growing. The Big Island's trump card -- the active, fire-spitting Kilauea volcano -- has been increasing the island's land mass since 1983. It's true that if you arrived here hoping for a stereotypical Hawaiian getaway that's full of Tiki, luaus and a honeymoon-esque atmosphere, you've probably missed the mark. But the hiking trails and state parks that are here hold sights that no other Hawaiian island can boast of. And the beaches are colors you've probably never seen.
How To Save Money in Hawaii - The Big Island
- Stay in Hilo You won't be near the west-side beaches that tourists love so much, but there are a terrific selection of bed and breakfasts in this area. And you can load up on affordable souvenirs, snacks and more at the weekly Hilo Farmers Market.
- Take the bus You might miss some of the Big Island's splendor this way, but the public bus is free to ride.
- Take a spring trip Tourism slows on Hawaii's Big Island around the end of April until the end of May. It's only a small window, but you could find a great package deal on one of the four-star hotels around this time.
Hawaii - The Big Island Culture & Customs
We like to think that most Americans regard Hawaiians as fellow citizens, but many travelers mistakenly and disrespectfuly refer to citizens of Hawaii as "Hawaiians" or "Natives" rather than "Americans." Be extra sensitive when speaking and addressing local citizens, and be sure to remember that Hawaii is an American state, not a distinct country.
Make sure to take extra care of the land by removing personal trash and belongings from beaches and nature areas. Do not collect or keep shells, rocks or sea creatures. On Big Island, it's important to "Leave No Trace" of your presence.
Hawaii - The Big Island Dining
Expect to encounter plenty of Hawaiian fusion restaurants in the hotel areas, serving shredded pork, poi (Hawaiian dessert) and other regional favorites. Those in the tourist industry expect vacationers to want what they perceive as authentic Hawaiian cuisine, and the restaurants are more than willing to provide. Fresh seafood is also a staple in many restaurants, as is locally grown produce.
You'll find the best eateries are the establishments on the Kohala coast, near Kona, but you should be prepared to pay the special "tourist" price. For more reasonable prices, head to Hilo.
Plan Your Trip to Hawaii - The Big Island
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- Map of Hawaii - The Big Island
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