The Island of Hawaii, or "the Big Island", is filled with variety. Below the surface, subterranean tubes deliver molten lava to the cooling ocean. There are five active, dormant or extinct volcanoes, on the Big Island. At sea level, black and green and white sand beaches stretch across several lengths of the island's shoreline. Up above, rain forests and waterfalls are carved into the sides of tall, snow-capped mountains. The Big Island, about the size of Connecticut, is the southernmost and biggest island in the chain of Pacific Islands, which make up the State of Hawaii. The Big Island has a dry side (Kona), and a wet side (Hilo). The borders of the six major land districts have remained relatively unchanged for centuries.
One of these districts is named Hamakua. Green sugar cane fields, previously ancient battlefields, were fully cultivated until the shutdown of the sugar industry on the Big Island in 1994. A modern coastal highway winds past the rural city of Honokaa where the first Macadamia nuts were planted in 1881. Farther up the coast, at Waipio Valley, 2000-foot cliffs overlook the ocean with spectacular views of the "Valley of the Kings". These days, a few taro farmers work the rich soil, while visitors and locals enjoy the awesome natural beauty. 4-Wheel-Drive is recommended!
Kohala is the northernmost district where the 225,000-acre Parker Ranch is located. Here, paniolos (cowboys) raise long-horned steers which are chiefly exported. Rolling pastures, great for horseback riding, grace the landscape. A splendid sunset can often be seen behind the fishponds at 'Anaeho'omalu Beach! Several expensive beach resorts are located on the Kohala coast. Waimea, a picturesque town with interesting historical sights, is a short drive from Mauna Kea ("white mountain"), the tallest mountain in the world measured from its base at the seafloor. Mauna Kea is a great place for scientists to observe the stars and has many of the world's finest telescopes located atop the summit.
The Kona district is on the hottest and driest side of the Big Island of Hawaii. It is sheltered from the tradewinds and rains that are found on the Hilo side. The city of Kona, also called Kailua-Kona or Kailua Town, was a small fishing and farming village hundreds of years ago. King Kamehameha, who helped in uniting all of the Hawaiian Islands, chose Kona for his residence and capital. Alii Drive, which starts at the Kailua Pier, is a beautiful oceanfront stretch with many restaurants, shops and areas to walk. Paddle boats, snorkel gear, and kayaks may also be rented. The Mokuaikaua Church was the first Christian church built on the islands, in 1820, and it sits across the street from Hulihe'e Palace.
The least developed section of the Big Island is the Ka'u district, on the south side. Long lava fields spread out from the west side of Mauna Loa, and eventually turn into lush greenery. South Point or Ka Lae ("the point"), is the southernmost tip of the so-called United States of America. On the way to this spectacular view, the Kamoa Wind Farm "harvests" deflected northeast trade winds. Beautiful ocean views abound.
Driving up north, there is a lovely black sand beach at Kaimu, in the Puna district. It is one of several beaches that have been formed out of lava cinders! Puna is just north of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which starts at Mauna Loa ("long mountain"). The Mauna Loa Weather Observatory sits at just above the 11,000 foot mark. The Park runs past the Kilauea Volcano, near the pretty town of Volcano, and on to the sea. There are camping areas, along with many opportunities to explore the chain of craters, and perhaps see some lava flows. Puna is another area where the Lord is doing His work among hurting people who deeply need Him. Puna lies just south of the Hilo district.