The Island of Hawaii, also known as the Big Island, is for the curious and adventurous traveler who wants to experience the raw power of nature, from the tropics to the tundra.
Once the commercial center of the sugar industry in the 1880s, Hilo is a great starting point for a Big Island trip. Learn about the island’s history at the Pacific Tsunami Museum and the Imiloa Astronomy Center. Meet local farmers and stock up on island-grown foods at the Hilo Farmers Market. And don’t forget to go chasing waterfalls.
For the closest waterfall to Hilo, check out Wailuku River State Park. Get there around 10 a.m. to catch the rainbow in the mist of the falls. A little farther from Hilo, Akaka Falls State Park offers an easy half-mile hike to see Kahuna Falls, featuring a 100-foot drop, and Akaka Falls, which plummets over 400 feet into a gorge.
Before you leave this side of the island, venture south to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to witness the wrath of volcano goddess Pele. The park includes over 300,000 acres from the summit of Maunaloa to the ocean. You can hike through volcanic craters, deserts and rainforests, see petroglyphs, and explore a walk-in lava tube and two active volcanoes: Maunaloa, which last erupted in 1984, and Kilauea, which has been erupting since 1983.
For pristine beaches, Hawaiian history and luxurious resorts, venture to the Kona coast. Thanks to high elevation and volcanic soil, Kona is also home to the legendary Kona coffee bean. There are over 600 coffee farms in the area, many offering tours to the public.