Most people do not realize that the name "Hawaii" refers to the name of our state (which encompasses many small islands) as well as the name of The Big Island. The Big Island is just that - big, when compared with the size of the other major islands - Oahu (Honolulu), Maui, Kauai, Molikai, etc. We spent two days on Hawaii and absolutely loved it. The first day allowed us enough time to take a helicopter ride over
Kilauea, an active volcano that we saw erupting into the sea. What a thrill.
The Island of Hawaiʻi, also called the Big Island or Hawaiʻi Island, is the largest and the southeastern-most of the Hawaiian islands, a chain of volcanic islands in the North Pacific Ocean. It has a Population of 186,738 (2011) as compared with almost a million in Oahu/Honolulu. Area: 4,028 sq miles (10,430 km²) Elevation: 13,796' (4,205 m) Max width: 75.81 miles (122 km) Hilo is the largest city and is the county seat of the County of Hawaiʻi. The town overlooks Hilo Bay, situated upon two shield volcanoes; Mauna Loa, an active volcano, and Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano upon which are sited some of the world's most important ground-based astronomical observatories.
Hilo is home to the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, ʻImiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaiʻi, as well as the Merrie Monarch Festival, a week-long celebration of ancient and modern hula which takes place annually after Easter. I adore this festival and always watch it on our Hawaiian PBS channel. You haven't viewed hula until you see this competition.
Hilo is also home to the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation, one of the world's leading producers of macadamia nuts. I love these nuts covered in chocolate which you can buy by the box at the local Walmart for $2.90. YUMMY
The 4,200 meter high summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii houses the world's largest observatory for optical, infrared, and submillimeter astronomy.
The sunny Kona District stretches for about 60 miles from Kona International Airport to beyond Kealakekua Bay on Hawaii Island’s lava-lined western coast. Along this expansive area, you’ll find everything from coffee farms to historic Hawaiian landmarks. It is known for the best pot grown known as Kona Gold; also the famous Kona Coffee.
In fact, King Kamehameha actually spent his final years in Kailua-Kona. Today, Historic Kailua Village (Kailua-Kona) is a bustling, gathering place in the heart of the district, just a 15-minute drive south of Kona International Airport. Home to shops, restaurants and nightlife, you can conveniently take a walking tour of Kona’s history at places like Hulihee Palace, Mokuaikaua Church and the Ahuena Heiau.
The first thing I did in Kona was to visit the first Hawaiian Palace which is in the center of town. The Seal is on the gate and the palace greatly favored the one in Honolulu, but is less formal. Below is St. Benedicts Church, better known as the Painted Church because of its colorful interior. I loved Kona as it is a really lovely small town. However, the VOG (volcanic ash) is bad in the afternoons.