The Big Island of Hawai‘i is the newest island, geologically speaking, in the chain of islands that make up the state of Hawaii. While lava formed the island’s physical structure, it is the sugar plantation industry, established in the mid-1800s, that is credited for creating the Big Island’s culture, through bringing numerous immigrants to work the island’s land. Much of the island’s modern-day customs, from language (Hawaiian pidgin, or da’ kine) to food (like the loco moco or Spam musubi) to clothing (the classic aloha shirt), reflect this merging of Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Polynesian, Portuguese, and Mainland American cultures.
Many visitors are beckoned by the Big Island’s warm weather and well-known spectacular landscape—including pristine Hapuna Beach, picture-perfect Waipi‘o Valley, and the lava flow rush into the ocean in Pahoa. The island provides an array of activities for outdoor lovers, from “fluming the ditch” (kayaking through an old plantation-era ditch in Kohala) to surfing the popular Honoli‘i Beach Park; from night snorkeling with the manta rays in Keauhou Bay to stargazing at the Mauna Kea Observatory. And you’re never more than 10-20 minutes away from a gorgeous beach.
The Big Island doesn’t offer just one kind of experience. When the weather gets too hot seaside, drive upcountry to Waimea, the cool interior part of the island, where a fireside meal will be waiting for you. Or spend an early Sunday morning at one of the island’s numerous farmers markets adorned with tropical fruits, malasadas (Portuguese doughnuts), and food carts with mouthwatering huli huli chicken and smoked fish.
When your visit is over, say “a hui hou” (until we meet again). You’ll want to come back.
Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Hawaiian Islands.