The Island of Hawai’i is the youngest of the Hawaiian Islands, and also the largest, hence its nickname, the Big Island. And the island has grown even more with the recent volcanic activity. With thundering waterfalls and lush rainforest, lava fields and grasslands, the Island of Hawai’i is also as diverse as they come.
To the delight of throngs of visitors, several sections of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park reopened last month after having closing in May due to volcanic and seismic activities that rendered parts of the park hazardous. Though not all of the park is open, and the lava is no longer visibly flowing, it’s still worth a visit! And be sure and partake in the cultural activities offered by park rangers; they are interactive ways to learn more about the park and local history.
After spending some time at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, drive toward Hilo and chase waterfalls along the way. Two to consider are Akaka Falls, more than 400 feet, and Rainbow Falls, considered the easiest falls to visit on the Big Island. A morning visit to Rainbow Falls is the best time to see the rainbows that arch over the water.
If your family is into marine life, there are two things to add to your list of to-dos. First, stop by Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, where Hawaiian green sea turtles haul themselves out onto the sandy shores to take a break from all their swimming. And when the night falls, join an evening snorkel tour and watch manta rays perform their ballet underneath you as they feed on plankton. It’s magical!
When night falls, take a look up and be amazed by all the stars you can see with the naked eye — likely many more than at home! For a better experience, join trained astronomers with KapohoKine Adventures to watch the stars shine and peep planets lightyears away in some of the darkest skies you have ever seen, or go it on your own at the Maunakea Visitor Information Station. Be sure to bring layers — once the sun goes down, so do the nighttime temps.
A meaningful way to remember your time on the Island of Hawai’i is to join an excursion with Hawaiian Legacy Tours. On your outing, you will be a part of the island’s evolving landscape when you plant a native koa tree as part of an endeavor to reestablish the island’s native forests. Once you’ve gotten your hands dirty a bit, you will receive a certificate with “your” tree’s coordinates so you can check back in with Hawaiian Legacy over the years to see how the tree is growing and maturing.
After visiting the Island of Hawai’i, you are sure to take a bit of the island’s aloha back home with you.