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The Big Island of Hawaii, the Orchid Isle

Rental parked on the Big Island of Hawaii

Photo by Olga Subach

The Big Island is a volcanic isle in the Pacific Ocean and one of the seven main islands that make up the US State of Hawaii. It is the largest island in the United States and is nicknamed “The Orchid Isle”. Hilo serves as the county seat for Hawaii county.

Two active volcanoes in Hawaii, Mauna Loa and Kilauea, make The Orchid Isle an astronomer’s paradise, thanks to the excellent clarity of the atmosphere on the summit of Mt. Mauna Kea. These volcanoes are still contributing to the size of the Big Island, and millions of tourists visit each year to witness the awe-inspiring and humbling power of nature. Kilauea has been erupting for almost 20 years, burying many homes in its path and creating black sand beaches. Saddle Road connects the Hilo side and Kona side and takes you to the Mauna Kea Visitor’s Center.

Tourism is the main industry on the Big Island, with Hilo and Kailua-Kona serving as the main towns. Kona is an area on the west coast of the island. The Hilo International Airport’s code is ITO, while the Kailua-Kona International Airport at Keahole’s code is KOA.

The Big Island offers numerous scenic spots for adventure seekers, including whale watching cruises, snorkeling, deep-sea diving, and air tours. For those seeking a more mellow vacation, there are nature tours, museums, art galleries, and ethnic festivals. There are many vacation rentals available in Hilo, Kona, and other areas of the Big Island.

There are two main airports on the Big Island:

  • Kona Airport (KOA) – On the west side. 7 miles north of Kailua, 25 miles south of Waikoloa
  • Hilo Airport (ITO) – On the east side in Hilo Town