With Rainbow Falls and black-sand beaches, this island is an explorer’s dream.

The largest of the Hawaiian islands, fittingly nicknamed the Big Island, Hawaii has a wealth of luxuriant landscapes, from coastal jungles to mountain slopes. With some of the most beautiful beaches in the world along with world-class shopping and dining, it’s no wonder that millions of people flock here every year. And with four active volcanoes, the Big Island is actually getting bigger, thanks to the lava flows that add landmass.

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Explore Island of Hawaii

  • Hilo
  • Kailua-Kona
  • Kohala Coast
  • Volcano Village

Hilo

Overview

Thanks to its location on the opposite side of the island from Kailua-Kona, Hilo has an entirely different ecosystem and weather patterns — it receives 10 feet of rain per year, for instance. Among the natural wonders are the famed Rainbow Falls and Boiling Pots, as well as an astronomy center to learn about how ancient cultures interpreted the stars in the sky.

Known For

Hiking, Waterfalls, Snorkeling

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Kailua-Kona

Overview

Kailua-Kona stands apart from the crowd for its wildly popular resorts and breathtaking oceanfront views. Home to some of the most popular beaches on Hawaii, Kailua-Kona also features luxe spas, as well as a former residence of Hawaiian royalty.

Known For

Beaches, Resorts, Natural History

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Kohala Coast

Overview

The jewel of this stretch of “Gold” coastline is the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, founded in 1965 by Laurance S. Rockefeller. It offers a championship golf course, a spa and several acclaimed restaurants.

Known For

Beaches, Parks, Hiking, Spas

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Volcano Village

Overview

The Big Island is home to four active volcanoes, and the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in Volcano Village is the best place to be for a glimpse of these explosive sights — and to experience plenty of adrenaline-pumping adventure.

Known For

Volcanoes, Hiking Trails, Scenic Drives

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Stay in The Center of it All

Immerse yourself in your destination at these centrally located hotels.

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Unwind in Paradise: Three Days on the Island of Hawaii

Observatory on mountain range

Kick Back in Kona for a Taste of Local Culture

Start your day with a look at the coffee farms that give Kona a reputation for top-notch beans, then kick back in a rented cabana for a beachy morning. In the afternoon, hike to the summit of Mauna Kea, or stay near sea level and get cozy with the marine life at Kanaloa Octopus Farm. Follow up an evening of fine dining with some live jazz at Gertrude’s.

 

At Rainbow Falls, the Wailuku River rushes into a large pool below

Head for Hilo

 Hawaii isn’t all about beaches, so today you’ll explore some of the verdant mountain jungles outside of Hilo, with stops at the famous Rainbow Falls and Boiling Pots. After lunch, it’s a visit to Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve & Garden to glimpse a few of the countless flora native to this island chain, or a trip to Imiloa Astronomy Center for a planetarium show and a primer on the Polynesian navigators who first settled Hawaii so long ago. 

 

An active volcano in Hawaii

Cap Off a Weekend in Paradise With a Volcanic Visit

We wouldn’t have Hawaii without its volcanoes, so a visit to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a must — but it’s up to you whether to explore it on foot or via helicopter tour (or, hey, why not both?). Follow it up with a tasting at the southernmost winery in the United States, then head to Punaluu Black Sand Beach for snorkeling (or just snoozing off any lingering wine buzz on the shore). 

 

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