Hawaii Island (The Big Island)The Orchid Isle

Hawai‘i Island (The Big Island)

The Orchid Isle

Overview of Hawai‘i Island

Land Area: 4,028 square miles (10,432.5 sq. km).

Size Comparison: Hawai‘i Island is the largest Hawaiian Island.

Island Emblem: Pua Lehua—Red Blossom of ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua (Metrosideros species).

Highest Elevation: 13,796 feet (4,205 m), at the summit of Mauna Kea.

Official Nickname: The Orchid Isle.

Also called: The Big Island.

Visitor Information:

Big Island Visitors Bureau, 808-886-1655 -

located at King’s Shops at Waikōloa Resort, 250 Waikōloa Beach Drive (north of Kailua-Kona).]

Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce, 808-935-7178.

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, 985-6000, www.nps.gov/havo.

County Parks, 808-961-8311, Department of Parks & Recreation, 25 Aupuni Street, Hilo, open 7:45-4:30, M-F, www.co.hawaii.hi.us.

State Parks, 974-6200, Department of Land & Natural Resources, www.state.hi.us.

[Illustration: Map—Hawai‘i Island]

Hawai‘i Island is the youngest Hawaiian Island, at less than one-half million years old, and also the largest Hawaiian Island. The island of Hawai‘i is more than twice as big as the rest of the Hawaiian Islands combined, and more than four times as big as Maui (the second largest Hawaiian Island).

The island of Hawai‘i is about 93 miles (150 km) long by 76 miles (122 km) wide, and still growing due to the active lava eruptions coming from Kīlauea Volcano.

An ancient Hawaiian proverb states, “Ku ka‘apā ia Hawai‘i, he moku nui,” (“[It is well for] Hawai‘i to show activity; it is the largest of the islands”), meaning, “Hawai‘i should lead forth for she is the largest.”[i]

With HawHsnow covered peaks, lava deserts, and lush rainforests, the island of Hawai‘i supports a great diversity of native ecosystems. Near the coast lava crackles and hisses as it flows into the sea, while snow tops the 13,796-foot (4,205-m) summit of Mauna Kea volcano, the highest spot not only in the Hawaiian Islands but in all of the Pacific Basin.

The island of Hawai‘i was formed by six separate volcanoes, including five volcanoes above sea level: Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, Kohala, Hualālai and Kīlauea Volcanoes. The sixth volcano, Mahukona, is submerged off the island’s northwest shore.

Kīlauea Volcano is currently the most continuously active volcano on Earth, having covered more than 500 square miles (1,300 sq. km) with lava in the last 1,100 years. Kīlauea has erupted almost non-stop since 1983, adding more than 38 square miles (98 sq. km) of lava to the island of Hawai‘i.

This action continues as the flank of Kīlauea Volcano erupts lava near Hawai‘i Island’s southeast coast, where molten earth flows into the sea adding to the island’s size and also creating new material for black sand beaches.

The island of Hawai‘i’s agriculture products include macadamia nuts, Kona coffee, and papayas as well as diversified products (e.g., mushrooms) that supply the island’s fine restaurants. A large quantity of tropical flowers are also produced on Hawai‘i Island, including anthuriums and orchids. Another major export is beef.

Hawai‘i Island’s two main airports are Kona International Airport and Hilo International Airport. The smaller Waimea Kohala Airport is used by private charters and commuter flights.

Hilo is the county seat, with a population of about 144,000. Driving around the circumference of the island of Hawai‘i can be accomplished in about 222 miles (357 km), and has about 266 miles (428 km) of coastline.

Annual Events on the Island of Hawai‘i

Ø January Senior PGA Mastercard Championship

Ø March Hilo Orchid Society Annual Show and Sale

Ø March Big Island Marathon

Ø April Merrie Monarch Festival

Ø July July 4th Parker Ranch Rodeo

Ø June King Kamehameha I Day Celebration

Ø August Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament

Ø October Ironman Triathlon

Ø November Kona Coffee Cultural Festival

[i] p. 203, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 1885.