When most people think of Hawaii, they are thinking of the Big Island. Its proper name is Hawaii, but it is locally known as the Big Island to help differentiate the individual island from the group of islands that make up the whole state.
The island is 4,028 square miles, making it the largest island in the United States and larger than all the other Hawaiian islands combined. There are competing theories as to the origin of the name: Some say it was named after Hawai’iloa, the Polynesian navigator who first discovered it. Others say the name is derived from Hawaiki, the place from which Polynesians are believed to have originated. The Big Island was home to King Kamehameha, who waged years of warfare designed to unite all the islands into one state.
The Big Island was formed from five separate volcanoes that erupted in a very specific order, each creating lava flows that overlapped the other. Today, the island still has active volcanoes and is considered to be growing. In fact, between 1983 and 2002, the island produced enough land (created from lava flows) to increase its size by 543 acres. The island is not terribly populous, with just over 175,000 residents in 2000.
Like the other islands, the Big Island originally built its economy on the back of the sugarcane trade. However, in 1996, the last big plantation closed and the island now makes its money on the tourism trade – although it is also known for its orchid agriculture. Thanks to the orchid industry, the island is unofficially known as the Orchid Isle. The Big Island is also known for being a prime spot for astronomy and you will find many telescopes located at the top of Mauna Kea.
For the Art Connoisseur
The Big Island is teeming with small galleries with small art exhibits of both local and national artists. There are a few places you’ll want to keep an eye on for bigger theatre and musical performances, too.
- Kahilu Theatre Foundation – The Foundation offers a 24-concert performance season, presented in the cozy 490-seat Kahilu Theatre. Past seasons have included the Kamuela Philharmonic and American Bluegrass Masters. There are also free community events, such as a pianola artisans showcase and film showings. www.kahilutheatre.org
- Volcano Art Center – The center is a wonderful community resource, offering classes, workshops, performances and special events throughout the year. A spring art camp, lampworking demos and a native species art hike along Kamehame Beach are just a few of their offerings. Check their Web site to see what performances are scheduled for the time of your visit, as things change often. www.volcanoartcenter.org
For the Foodie
The Big Island is a haven for foodies, even those who shy away from resort-style dining. There are wonderful eateries to be found in every nook and cranny.
- Kilauea Lodge – Just a mile from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the Lodge is a local favorite, being particularly popular for its fantastic breakfasts. In fact, Honolulu Magazine and the Tribune Herald both voted it best bed and breakfast on the island (so think about booking a room here, too). Go for the Sunday brunch, which includes smoked salmon Benedict and the famous volcano loco moco. While you are there, be on the lookout for Meatloaf and Lambchop, the resident cats. www.kilauealodge.com
- Daniel Thiebeaut – Located in the restored century-old Chock In Store, this restaurant features an eclectic décor that includes lots of vintage Hawaiiana – but its best feature is the menu. Entrees include grilled bacon-wrapped beef tenderloin in a Thai red wine sauce with herb spaetzle – and the always fresh daily specials, many of which are vegetarian. www.danielthiebeaut.com
- Monettes – Kobe beef tastings. Winemaking. Whale watching. Benefit events. Monettes has it all, including a new menu each day centered on local ingredients and paired with international items. And let’s not forget the award-winning wine list of over 1,000 labels. www.monetteshawaii.com
- Bamboo Restaurant – Despite its common name and being slightly off-the-beaten path, this restaurant is a favorite among the locals – and gets rave reviews from tourists regularly as well. The menu features fresh, locally caught fish prepared in a variety of ways, and there is local music on Friday and Saturday nights. While you’re there, be sure to order one of their trademark passion fruit margaritas.
For the Nature Lover
Like the other islands, the Big Island is full of natural beauty – and with myriad ways to experience it you’ll never be bored.
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – This park houses two of the world’s most active volcanoes, the most famous of which is Kilauea. You can tour the volcanoes, but also make time for the 10.6-mile Crater Rim Drive that traces Kilauea’s caldera. Make sure your time in the park also includes a stop at the Thomas A. Jagger Museum, the Thurston Lava Tube and the Puu O’o vent. nps.gov/havo.
- Pu-uhonua O Honaunau National Historic Park – Right on Honaunau Bay in south Kona, this park is a true immersion experience. The park was once a refuge for ancient Hawaiian outlaws. If the lawbreakers could make it to this area, they could undergo a sacred ceremony that would allow them to return to society. Take advantage of the walking tours that include a hike down the black lava shoreline, past ancient carved wooden images of the gods and a sacred temple called Hale Okeawe Helau. nps.gov/puho
- Sadie Seymour Botanical Garden – A relatively small botanical garden, the Sadie Seymour is located on just 1.5 acres on the grounds of the Kona Outdoor Circle Educational Center. The gardens were founded to help beautify the Kona community and feature the plants of Hawaii arranged in 11 tiers according to their geographic origin. The gardens also contain an archeological site called Heiau, once used for the construction and blessing of canoes. Find out more on the Kona Circle Web site, konaoutdoorcircle.org.
- Imiloa Astronomy Center – The Hawaiian islands are well known for being near-perfect places to observe the night sky, with their high peaks and clear, warm weather that allows for year-round observations. The astronomy center explores the origins of the cosmos and Earth’s role in that development, as well as space explorations throughout history. There are daily live presentations on a variety of topics. While you are there, be sure to visit the full-dome planetarium – the surround sound will leave you feeling as though you are floating amongst the stars themselves. www.imiloahawaii.org
For the History Buff
If you prefer to spend a bit of time taking in the history of the Island, there are many museums and historical areas that you might want to explore.
- Lyman Mission House & Museum – The mission house was originally built in 1839 by missionaries from New England, David and Sarah Lyman. In 1931, the property was established as a museum and the home was completely restored. Today it houses exhibits including a collection of fine art artifacts and pieces revolving around the natural history of the area. There are also special exhibits throughout the year that demonstrate life as it was for missionaries 150 years ago. www.lymanmuseum.org
- Hulihe’e Palace – For the latter half of the 19th century, this two-story palace was used by royalty as a vacation home. In 1925, the government purchased the property and today it is maintained and operated by the Daughters of Hawaii as a museum. The home showcases period furniture and historical items and the grounds contain several gardens and fish ponds. Each month, the museum sponsors a public concert dedicated to one of Hawaii’s monarchs. www.huliheepalace.org
- Kona Historical Society – The Kona Historical Society brings history to life on a 19th century coffee plantation. You’ll also visit the H.N. Greenwell store, experiencing a general store as it existed in 1890. Look into the jeep and boat tours of the area and stop in at the stone oven to watch a bread baking demonstration. The society also offers a walking tour of historic Kailua village. www.konahistoricalorg
The Big Island makes a wonderful weekend (or longer) trip, for all of the reasons We’ve listed above. There are also some fantastic festivals and events that you may also want to explore, or even plan your trip around. This is just a sampling of festivals on the island – check gohawaii.com for a more comprehensive list.
This is in Honolulu not the big island please fix
- Honolulu Festival – Designed to promote harmony in the Pacific Rim region, this is one of the biggest annual festivals on the island. For three days each March Hawaiians and visitors come together to celebrate all over the city of Honolulu. There are performances, craft fairs, educational programs – and to top it all off, a spectacular parade which includes appearances by Miss Hawaii, hula troupes and top high school marching bands. www.honolulufestival.com
- Merrie Monarch Festival – In the 19th century King David Kalakaua revived the tradition of hula in Hawaii, after it had been nearly stamped out by Christian missionaries. This festival is held each year in his honor. Hula dancers from the world over make the pilgrimage to participate – make sure you catch the competition for Miss Aloha Hula. www.merriemonarch.com
- Kokua Festival – A benefit for the Kokua Foundation, which supports environmental education in Hawaii’s public schools, this festival was co-founded by musician Jack Johnson and his wife, Kim. Past artists at the festival have included Dave Matthews, Paula Fuga, Eddie Vedder and Matt Costa. This is definitely one you’ll want to put on your calendar. www.kokuafestival.com
As you can see, every island in Hawaii has unique experiences to offer. Plan a day trip, a weekend or even a week – no matter which you choose, you’ll experience something fantastic.
“HANDS DOWN! Team Lally is the best in Hawaii! My experience with Team Lally was amazing! They’ve went beyond my expectations for any realtor. My first visit with Team Lally, they gave me “The Red Carpet Treatment”, they immediately treated me like family and was very supportive every minute I was with them. When Team Lally list your home, they’ll start with being super flexible with your schedule, they’ll recommend on what to do on getting the most out of your home. They then will install their awesome sign in front of your home! After, they’ll have their professional photographer come by to take pictures, who is SUPER NICE and he understands everything you’re going through. Not only does he take pictures, but he takes a VIRTUAL TOUR of your HOME, a luxury feature NO OTHER REALTOR I’VE SEEN PROVIDE!!! They will also keep you in loop by updating you every week once your homes on the market! Like I said Team Lally is the best in Hawaii! I highly recommend all my friends to Team Lally! Thank you!”
“We found Team Lally a credit to us and our Family. They were professional, up to date, honest, helpful and willing to help in anything. They began to help us find a house in 2011. With up to date data and phone calls, emails and appointments, we were able to find our perfect house within a few months. Now we look at Team Lally as Friends. They were not only professional but they took the time out to get to know the family and help us with all they could. Thank you Team Lally again.”
“Loved working with them! They completely understood the Military lifestyle and our needs and concerns! They were there to answer every question and help us work out any issues that came up resulting in an Excellent Sales Experience!”
“First conversation with Attilio Leonardi was a no pressure sales call. He was patient with all my questions, not hurried, and very knowledgeable about the short sale process. That helped establish trust and confidence in hiring their team. Other members of the team, with special mention to Howard Nett, all contributed to the successful negotiation. The short sale process was all together long and tedious; but as long as you commit to your part as a seller (i.e. providing necessary paperwork in a timely manner), team Lally will make the process as smooth and painless as possible with their professionalism.”
“When it was time to sell our family vacation property we interviewed many people. Team Lally has amazing marketing which draws buyers from all over the United States and even the world. They had the property sold for a great price in a reasonable timeframe plus they had fabulous staff who took the time to keep all of our family informed throughout the entire process. I can’t say enough good stuff. Call them!”
“Team Lally is amazing!! What a great experience dealing with a stressful time in our family’s life! They were easy to talk to and knew everything we needed! I would recommend them to anyone looking to buy OR sell a home in Hawaii!”
“Aloha! I have worked with Adrienne for several years. She is the hardest worker and the most knowledgeable realtor I know. And there is nobody better than Team Lally when it comes to Short Sales! That’s why I used her! Her Team sold my home! And they make it easy with their outstanding team! And their marketing is 2nd to none! I highly recommend Adrienne and Team Lally!!”
“Adrienne and her team were immediately responsive to my inquiry about their services and very thorough from the beginning. They applied their expertise through the listing, sale and close of my home at a high level of satisfaction for me. The sale of my home closed in just under 3 months. I moved out of state and felt they did an excellent job of communicating with me as an absentee seller.”
“Adrienne and Atillio knew the urgency in selling our home and worked so quick that at times I was overwhelmed. When they got a buyer, their team Member Howard Nett was so helpful in keeping us informed and updated as to how things were progressing and things we needed to do, that it made this whole process comfortable for us. We are VERY satisfied with their services. We recommend Team Lally when you are looking to sell your home.”
“Team Lally is awesome!! Without their help we would have never been able to sell our home as fast as we did. Everything went smoothly and better than expected.”