Hawaii, the big island is Hawaii’s biggest and youngest island. The island is so young that it is still growing from live lava flows. Hawaii is very diverse from the snow capped Mauna Kea to warm sandy beaches and from tropical forest to dry desert plains. Visitors can find a very wide assortment of climates and places to explore.
The west “Kona” side of the island is the dry side and receives the most visitors due to the sunny days and sandy beaches. On the west side of the island you are almost guaranteed a sunny day most of the year. Sometimes good sandy beaches can be a little more difficult to find than some of the other islands, but there are still quite a few of them. The waters are great for snorkeling and diving and you can find some great-protected reefs and bays to see some amazing fish and ocean life. For divers, there are some great spots where it gets deep right off of the island and you can see exotic Pacific Ocean life that you will not find anywhere else.
Just south of Kailua along the coast, you can find numerous good snorkeling and diving areas that have open public access, are easy to get to, and are close to hotels and restaurants. There are some wonderful beaches and protected reefs and bays that are great places for the whole family to swim and spend the day at the beach.
As you go north of Kailua, there are some stretches of coast line that are unpopulated and not visited very much. If you look around, you can probably find a beach to have all to yourself. Bring your own drinking water and be prepared to be self-sufficient. There are not many amenities on these beaches and no life guards so you will need to know how to read the waters and get local information if you can.
The east side of the island is the wet side, receiving much more rainfall than the west side, and has a lot more plant life. Hilo is the main town on the east side boasting a collage, restaurants, a great produce market and most of your basic amenities. Hilo was hit by a massive tsunami in 1960, which wiped out most of the town and the part that suffered the most was turned into a huge park to honor the victims and also making sure no one built in the dangerous low lying area again.
To the north of Hilo are some parks that have good hiking and a few beaches. The east coast of the big island is pretty rocky so it can be hard to find decent wading and swimming beaches.
To the south of Hilo is the Puna district. This area is very economically poor and has a large amount of hard drugs and crime. There are some interesting places to see here, but be warned that there have been numerous robberies so you need to travel and act accordingly.
Mauna Kea is a huge 13,796 ft dormant volcano that is in the middle of the island. You can drive most of the way to the top of Mauna Kea, which offers great views of the surrounding area. At night, the sky is crystal clear and this is one of the least lighted areas in the world so you can see an amazing star canopy . . . quite possibly the best in the world. There is a national observatory towards the top of Mauna Kea with visitors’ sections where the public can look through some of the telescopes and read informational displays.
The Big island of Hawaii has many good things to offer the traveler and has fewer crowds than some of the other islands. If you look hard enough, you might even be able to find a secluded beach all to yourself.