If you haven’t heard, Hawaii has beaches and sun (especially when many places around the world are cold). But the Big Island is so much more than its unbelievably good weather. In reality, it’s an international destination where it’s not so hard to get off-the-beaten path since the majority of the Big Island offers seclusion and adventure with easy access.
The Big Island of Hawaii really is a surprising hodgepodge in every possible way. It is the newest island, geologically speaking, in the chain of islands that make up the state of Hawaii; but, many places on the Big Island, like Hilo (which is actually the second largest city in the state) tend to feel as if you have left the United States of America and have traveled to a different country and time — all while still able to use U.S Dollars and your cell phone with 3G.
Even more important than the lava that formed the physical structure of the Island, it is the sugar plantation industry established in the mid-1800s that is credited for creating the Big Island’s culture through bringing numerous immigrants primarily from Asia as well as some from Portugal to work the Island’s land. Much of the Island’s modern day customs from language (watch Hawaii 5-0 episodes to familiarize yourself with Hawaii Pidgin) to food (like the loco moco or spam musabi) to clothing (the classic aloha shirt) reflect this merging of Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Polynesian, Portuguese, as well as mainland American cultures in a small isolated place.
So although most people are beckoned the Big Island of Hawaii for its warm weather and well-known spectacular landscape it may be the lesser known sights and tastes of the Big Island that end up making a visit to the Big Island unforgettable.
To read more about how to travel and experience the Big Island of Hawaii, check out my guidebook Moon Big Island of Hawaii or an article on some lesser known subcultures in Hawaii: