Legend has it that two deities — the volcano goddess Pele and the demi-god Kamapua'a (the latter of whom could control the weather) — struck a deal to make the vast Big Island of Hawaii's west side so dry, and its east side so wet. The story's short version is that, after a battle, the pair divided the island in two, with Pele taking the western half and Kamapua'a, the eastern.
Climate & Geography
Even so, the island's weather isn't so cut-and-dried. Twelve distinct climate zones exist here, ranging from East Hawaii's tropical rain forests and Mauna Kea's frozen tundra to Ka'u's arid desert in the south.
Covering 4,028 square miles, the Big Island (or the "Orchid Isle") is the youngest and largest of the Hawaiian Islands — twice the size of all the other major Islands combined. And with two of the five volcanoes that created the island still active, it continues to grow: Kilauea Caldera is the longest continuously erupting volcano in the world, its present eruptive phase dating back to 1983; Mauna Loa, meanwhile, last erupted in March of 1984, sending lava to within a few miles of East Hawaii's Hilo town. Of the remaining three volcanoes on the island, Mauna Kea and Kohala are extinct, while Hualalai is considered to be dormant, having last erupted in 1801. The Lava is currently flowing into the ocean in Kalapana off hwy 130 on Puna District on the eastern side of the Big Island.
Points of Interest
Until recently, upcountry Waimea's Parker Ranch was the largest privately owned cattle ranch in the world, and ranching and agriculture continue to be the Big Island's economic mainstays — particularly beef, Kona coffee, macadamia nuts, fruits and tropical flowers. Resorts and most residential developments are located in coastal areas such as Hilo, Kailua-Kona, and the Kohala Coast, leaving much of island's interior untouched.
Hawaii is the youngest island in the chain, and it continues to grow: Kilauea Caldera is the longest continuously erupting volcano in the world, its present eruptive phase dating back to 1983. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a short drive from Hilo and a little farther from Kailua-Kona. About visiting the Volcano on the Puna Coast in Kalapana.
Each year the Big Island plays host to a number of world-renowned festivals and sports events, the most notable being the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival (in Hilo each April), the Iron-man Triathlon World Championships (in Kona every October) and the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival in November.
What's More ...
• Though the average temperature on the Big Island ranges from 71-77 degrees Fahrenheit in the coastal regions (with temperatures in the low 70's Oct. thru April) The summit of Mauna Kea and Maona Loa are blanketed with snow. Hawaii Weather is varied.
• Average annual rainfall ranges from 10 inches at Kawaihae (near the west-facing Kohala Coast) to 128 inches at the Hilo Airport, coastal regions in Puna are drier and rains mostly at night as the trade winds blows off the Coast and which makes the East side less VOGGY than in Kona.
• Fifteen miles off the island's southeast coast yet another volcano, Lo'ihi, is erupting 3,000 feet below the surface of the ocean. While it will still be several thousand years before this volcano breaks the sea's surface, it has already risen more than 10,000 feet from the sea floor and has a crater that measures three miles across.
• Kamehameha the Great, who unified the Hawaiian Islands under one king for the first time in 1810, is believed to have been born in the Big Island's North Kohala area.
• Captain James Cook, who is widely considered to be the first European to set foot in the Hawaiian Islands, was killed at Kona's Kealakekua Bay in 1779.
• The Big Island's official flower is the lehua 'ohi'a
• The island's official color is red
The Bali Cottage at Kehena Beach