(The Big Island)
(The Big Island)
Hawaii, or the Big Island as it more widely known, is very aptly named.
On Maui, you can get to most places in 30 minutes to an hour or two.
On the Big Island, you might find yourself on the road for 3 or 4 hours.
There is much that is only acre upon acre of black lava rock.
But, don't let me discourage you from exploring it.
There is much to see and do. It might just take a little longer in between stops.
Like Maui, the windward side (Hilo) of the island gets most of the rain,
and has the vegetation and waterfalls to show for it.
The leeward side (Kona-Kailua) is much dryer and hotter.
This is where you'll find most of the resorts and the more touristy areas.
Kona-Kailua is situated on the western side of the Big Island,
and is home to the largest airport on the island.
It is also home to the most famous Tri-Athelon in the world, the Ironman.
There are many condos and hotels to be had here, as well as many gift shops, restaurants and drinking establishments.
This is the area to the north of the airport, where you'll find more hotels and beaches.
Further south down the western coast, you'll find the sleepy little
best-coffee-in-the-world town of Kona. The highway actually climbs in elevation away from the coastline, as you approach the mountainside town. From there, you can take sideroads back down to the coastline for visits to Kealakekua Bay and Pu'uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park.
After you go further south, past Kona, you'll enter the area which is the southernmost point in the United States. No, not the one in the smaller pic. That's only the southernmost point in the CONTINENTAL U.S.A. If you want the southernmost point in the ENTIRE U.S., this is the place, as indicated by the marker above. This is one way to go, if you're trying to reach Volcanoes National Park or Hilo, on the Eastern coast. Even though there are plenty of sights to see, it will take you substantially longer to arrive at the aforementioned destinations.
The faster way to get there, is Saddle Road.
It was originally built by the military in the during World War II
to move troops and equipment from one side of the island to the other faster,
after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
It used to be a sometimes treacherous 4 hour drive over a narrow, bumpy road.
It is now freshly rebuilt and known as Highway 200.
You can travel from Kailua-Kona to Hilo in about 2 hours.