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Big Island see + do

There's so much more to do on the Big Island than kick back at your luxury resort. Everyone makes the requisite pilgrimage to Kilauea Crater, one of the most active volcanoes on earth. But with 11 of the world's 13 recognized climatic zones, the Big Island contains an astounding diversity of natural wonders. If you like driving, you could circumnavigate the island in one long, exhausting, and highly scenic day, but we recommending tackling it in sections over at least three days. There are black (and even green!) sandy beaches, great snorkeling, and some of the best diving in the state. Surfers used to the waves on Maui, Kauai, or Oahu might feel shortchanged, but hikers will be thrilled with the Edenic interior. A new trend on the island is agro-tourism, tours of private farms that give an insight into a growing aspect of the island's economy (www.hawaiiorganicfarmers.org).

Nightlife is next to nonexistent on the Big Island (unless you count bowling alleys and dive-y karaoke bars), so it's best to trade in the boozing for a night dive or a luau. But your absolute best bet for a moonlight activity is to find out where the lava from Kilauea is flowing into the ocean, and head there at sunset: In the darkness of night, you can see red-hot lava meet the cool-blue depths of the Pacific, one of the most amazing sights on the planet.

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Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii, Hilo

The world's largest collection of telescopes (13) on top of Hawaii's highest mountain, Mauna Kea, has long distinguished Hawaii as a mecca for astronomers. For...more

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Hilo Hattie, Hilo

All kitsch, all the time. Named after a 1930s entertainer and hula dancer, this emporium is one-stop shopping for Hawaiian music CDs, his and hers Hawaiian...more

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Hilo Coffee Mill, Mountain View

This mill sits not in Hilo but on 24 verdant acres in the blink-and-you'll-miss-it town of Mountain View just south on Highway 11 (chances are you'll smell the...more

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Hiking on the Big Island

Well-marked and challenging trails crisscross Volcanoes National Park (you'll get a map upon entering), including the popular hikes down and across Kilauea Iki...more

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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Note: Due to an eruption that began on March 5, 2011, Chain of Craters Road, all east rift and coastal trails, and the Kulanaokuaiki Campground have been closed...more

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Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, Papaikou

Located eight miles north of Hilo at Onomea Bay, this lush garden is composed of easy-to-navigate nature trails running through a rain forest of rare and...more

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Golfing on the Big Island

With more than a dozen world-class courses, the Big Island is Hawaii's premier golf destination, known for tricky shoreline holes (the classic shot over water...more

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Fishing on the Big Island, Kailua-Kona

From May to October, big-game tournaments, with prize money totaling up to $1,000,000, inspire an atmosphere as competitive as the World Poker Championship....more

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Diving on the Big Island

The west side of the Big Island—one of the most popular dive destinations in the state—is nearly ideal for underwater exploration: The water is warm,...more

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Hotel Photo
Big Island Beaches

Glorious white-sand beaches are not common on the Big Island, but Hapuna Beach is so perfect, it's unlikely you'll want to go anywhere else. Predictably crowded...more

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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