Big Island
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Big Island

Surfing guide
LAST UPDATED 21/02/2008
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MattWright: Colored locator map for the island of Hawaii; 30 July 2007

The Island of Hawaiʻi (called the Big Island or Hawaiʻi Island) is the largest Hawaiian Island. It's total area is 10,432.5 km². The Island of Hawaiʻi is administered as the County of Hawaiʻi. It is estimated that in the year 2008, the island had a resident population of 201,109.

The Big Island is famous for its volcanoes. Kīlauea, the most active, has been erupting almost continuously for more than two decades. When the molten lava makes contact with the ocean, the sea water turns into steam, and the sudden cooling of the lava causes the newly formed lava rocks to explode and crack into small pieces.


Eric Guinther: Kohala, Hawai'i; 2003

The Big Island of simply Hawai'i is by far the largest of all of the Hawaiian Islands and larger than all of the others combined. Wilst all costs have excellent exposure to respective swell trains, the extremely active volcanic nature of the island has combined with it's topography to produce a rugged coastline not as conducive to quality waves as one would hope. There are a nice selection of points scattered across the island but transport is difficult around the island.  Once you look to do some exploring you realise exactly how spoilt you were on Oahu. Still, an uncrowded wave is by far the norm here as opposed to the north shore circus elsewhere.


Singularity: Hawaii Superferry Alakai, docking in Honolulu Harbor on June 30; 1 July 2007

Plane, bus, boat, car - all these means of transportation are available in Hawaii. Airlines are quite good and you can find virtually all flights between the islands. And you can actually save money and time by planning "triangle routes" that arrive in Hawaii on one island and leave on another. An of course, booking in advance will save you money as well.

If you want to travel by car, book in advance (Waikiki is the only exception) and note that insurance coverage is very expensive - it can pretty much double your daily rate or more. Gasoline won’t be cheap as well. In this situation renting a scooter or taking a bus can be good alternatives. Renting a scooter won’t be as expensive as renting a car (about $50 per day), plus the gas is cheaper as well. And Oahu has an excellent public transportation system - TheBus. The route information on how to get around the island is available from the booklet “TheBus” at local ABC Stores. There are buses on the neighbouring islands, but the system is less developed.

If you prefer to get around by water, than the following options are for you.  There are ferries that operate between Oahu, Maui and Kauai daily, as well as charter boats between some islands, especially the Maui-Molokai-Lanai area.

where to stay

Lijjccoo: Camping in Amsterdam, 16 January 2007

The Big Island is full of your typical style resorts. But there are great Bed and Breakfast type places and small operator hotels too.

  • Margo's Corner - A colorful, off the beaten track bed and breakfast. Two choices for accommodation: indoors or campsites nestled in Margo's organic gardens. Guests who stay for longer than a week are also served evening 'family style' meals. On site natural food store and wireless internet available. Daily entertainment and nap lessons by the 5 resident cats.
  • Dragonfly Ranch - An "eco-spa treehouse", allows guests to engage in activities such as communing with friendly dolphins, snorkeling, diving, labyrinth, yoga space, organic garden, lomilomi massage, birding, hammock, flower essences, infra red sauna, and supplies wireless high speed internet.
  • Kona Oceanfront Rentals - Beautiful oceanfront home and condos in gated communities the Kona Coast in Kauila-Kona.
  • Paniolo Greens - Located only minutes away from Hapuna Beach Park and the white sand beaches of the Kohala Coast with 162 spacious villas providing fully equipped kitchens and private lanais
  • Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel - Located in the bluffs above Hapuna Beach, this luxury resort features a spa and salon, fitness facilities, extensive wedding and meeting space, an 18-hole golf course, and restaurants serving Hawaiian and Japanese cuisines.
  • Mauna Kea Beach Hotel - Located on the Big Island’s Kohala Coast, this luxury resort offers a long list of services and activities including wedding venues, fine dining options, a championship golf course, tennis courts and etc.
  • Mauna Lani Resort - This Big Island beach front resort offers luxury suites, vacation packages, nightly entertainment, spa services and championship golf.
  • Hilton Waikoloa Resort on the Kohala Coast. This resort is the Disneyland of Big Island. There is a monorail as well as a ferry boat to take you between buildings. The pool is like an amusement park, and you can actually swim with the resident dolphins. The restaurants on site are quite pricey though there is a nearby mall which can offer a range of less expensive dining options.

what to pack

Fir0002: Canon-Deluxe Backpack-200-EG; 26 June 2005

Bring comfortable loose clothes for warm weather and some warm clothes with long sleeves for evenings. Definitely take along some bug repellent spray, good sunscreen, a hat  and sunglasses. Pack some basic toiletries so that you do not need to spend unnecessary money to purchase these basics. You may want to just buy a travel pack and bring it.

Also, bring cash with you incase you can't find an ATM to withdraw money. You would probably find a bank but it will charge you a hefty fee! So be warned.

A small backpack makes a good carryon bag and will be useful in daily life. Women: remember to take a good flat pair of shoes.... And for everybody: pair of comfortable walking shoes will be great for walking.  

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