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Hawaiian Islands

With its year-round balmy weather, Hawaii is one of the top vacation destinations for US citizens. Volcanic in origin, the Hawaiian Islands are high and rugged, lushly green and cut by spectacular gorges and valleys. From coastal deserts to Alpine mountaintops, barren lava flows to tropical rainforests, bleached white beaches to jet-black sands, the Hawaiian terrain startles and amazes. Some 2,500 miles from the nearest landmass, the islands are so isolated that of the thousands of species of flora and fauna that have evolved here, more than 90% exist nowhere else on Earth.

Despite heavy tourism in some areas, you can find scores of quiet spots and secluded beaches. The world's top surfing and windsurfing destination, as wells as excellent conditions for snorkeling, swimming, diving, bodysurfing and most other water sports, lure enthusiasts from around the globe. For those who prefer their feet on the ground, there's fantastic hiking to cascading waterfalls, remote rainforest valleys and quiet backcountry camping spots.

The Big Island

The island of Hawaii is suitably dubbed the "Big Island", as it's larger than all the other Hawaiian Islands combined. The Big Island has two things the others don't - snow and erupting volcanoes, the latter the centerpiece of the astonishing Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

It encompasses an amazingly varied geography that includes active volcanoes, coastal deserts, lush rainforests and snowy mountaintops. Some of the most impressive scenery is at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where you can drive or cycle around the rim of Kilauea's huge caldera and walk across still-steaming crater floors. There are plenty of beaches, some with white coral sand and others with black lava sand, and the island has numerous historic sites to explore.

Facts about Hawaii's Big Island
  • Hawaii's Big Island is noted as the Golf Capital of Hawaii
  • Ka Lae, or South Point, on Hawaii's Big Island is the southernmost point in the United States
  • Maunakea is the world's best site for astronomical observation
  • Sport enthusiasts know Hawaii's Big Island is home to Ironman Triathlon World Championship and Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament
  • Kilauea is one of Earth's most active volcanoes
  • Geographically speaking, Hawaii's Big Island is the youngest in the Hawaiian chain
  • Measured from its base on the ocean floor, Maunakea is the tallest mountain in the world, topping out at 31,988 feet.
  • Hapuna Beach State Park and Kauna'oa Bay regularly earn "Best Beach" titles
  • Hilo hosts Hawaii's cultural icons at the annual Merrie Monarch Hula Festival
  • Any time is the perfect time to visit the Big Island with its year-round temperatures averaging 82° in Kona and 78° in Hilo
  • You can experience most of the world's climate zones on the Island of Hawaii.

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