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The Big Island Hawaii

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The largest island in Hawaii is the island of Hawaii, also just called The Big Island. You can circle this island by road and it will be about a 350 mile drive. This island is the most diverse of all the islands. There is a desert here. There is a rainforest here. There is snow caped mountains here. There is a live volcano also on this island.

The cruise ships that stop here normally stop in two ports. Hilo and Kona will be the ports the ships stop in. When in Hawaii anywhere you will here of Kona by everywhere trying to sell Kona coffee. Coffee is grown in the mountains of Kona. On tours you will drive down roads going by many of the coffee plantations.

Hilo would be the port that you would head to see the live volcano. This is a must see. Tours will take you up to the museum and you will be able to see steam venting from various holes. Do NOT put your head in the steam to feel it. The steam is full of sulpher and will make you very sick. You will be able to walk on cooled lava flows. Most tours will stop and let you walk through a lava tube. A lava tube is where lava flowed through quickly and left a tube of lava. They are usually damp but have had lights put in them so you can get a good look on the inside. You can NOT walk up to where the lava is still flowing, because it is to dangerous but you can get fairly close. The truth is that when the volcano is flowing hard the best way to see it is by sea at night. The view in the dark at night of the lava flowing is spectacular.

The snow caped mountain, Mt. Maunakea is where one of the largest observatories sit. You can go up to the observatory and see it from the outside but unfortunately you do not get to go in and take a look through the telescopes. If you go up to the observatory keep in mind it is high up so it is cold and the air is thin, in otherwords if you have breathing problems do not head up here.

There are some beaches around the island, however most the shoreline is lava rock so it is not really a place to look for beaches to hang out at.

Taking flight tours here to look at the volcano and area from above are very popular and also have a hefty price. When the volcano is going heavy many flights are canceled due to the thick air from volcanic ash and this can also affect breathing on other parts of the island and other islands if the wind is right.

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Volcanoes National Park is a must-do! We loved walking through the lava tubes and hiking across the cooled lava flows.

There was also a great black sand beach when we visited but it’s possible that it has been lost to new lava flows since then.

We had fantastic snorkeling in Kealakekua Bay near the Captain Cook Monument.

The Puuhonua o Honaunau “place of refuge” is a fascinating and beautiful historical location.

We had good whale watching out of Kailua-Kona when we visited in January one year.

The south shore is home to Punalu’u Bake Shop – creators of the most wonderful Hawaiian Sweetbread ever made! (You’ll be able to find it on the Big Island for sale in most grocery stores and even Wal-Mart if you can’t make it to the shop though.)

We’re not big coffee drinkers but our friends who are loved touring the Kona coffee plantations – and all the free samples!

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