Get to know the Big Island

Big Island


The Big Island of Hawaii is the largest of the Hawaiian islands. 

There are two international airports on the island, one at Hilo and one at Kona.  Cruise ships put in at both Hilo and Kona.

Hilo is the nearest airport to Volcano.

Hawaii is home to Kilauea, often referred to as the most active volcano in the world.  Hawaiian legend calls Kilauea the sacred home of Pele, one of the many goddesses in the Hawaiian pantheon, a daughter of Hina.  There are four main volcanos that have formed the land mass of Hawaii; Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, Haulalai, and Kilauea.  Of the four, Mauna Kea is not active.  Mauna Loa and Haulalai are not erupting currently, but can and will erupt in the future. 

The dangers posed by the eruption at Kilauea are published and kept current on the USGS website.  The eruptions are monitored and studied constantly.  Kilauea and the other volcanos of Hawaii are known as shield volcanos.  Shield volcanos may have explosive eruptions, but the lava tends to flow from them as a’a and pahoehoe.  Mt St Helens with its pyroclastic flows and stupendous explosive eruptions is another kind of volcano.  Millions of people visit Kilauea annually, with rare mishaps.  There are dangers in going out onto newly formed lava shelves, and the sulfuric fumes are dangerous to those with lung problems.  

The sulfur plume rising from a vent on the floor of the crater at Halemaumau at Kilauea is blown by trade winds north west, away from the town of Volcano, on most days.   The fumes accompany the direction of the plume. 

The distance from Hilo to Volcano is 26 miles.  It takes about a half hour to drive from the airport, and 40 minutes from the state offices in Hilo where you would be getting your wedding license.   Driving time from Kona to Hilo is about two hours without stops. 

It is easy to think of the Hawaii of white sands and beaches.  The upcountry is different in many ways.  The climate is cooler, more temperate, with temperatures seldom rising above the low eighties.  Night time temperatures can fall into the low fifties.  In the winter when the other volcanic peaks on the island are covered with snow,  the trade winds are cooled as they blow over them, and it feels very cold.  Comfortable clothing would be no different than what you would expect to wear visiting  a mountain  resort in late spring, elsewhere.

There are few bugs, and no mosquitoes.  Some hitchhiking bugs ride in autos up the mountain, and soon perish. 

Hawaii is blessed with abundant rainfall.  Some refer to the forest of Kilauea as cloud forest.   The lushness of the forest is due to rainfall.  It does not rain all the time, but often.   Whatever the season, the date and time you choose for your wedding may be sunny and bright, or may be wet.  The pavilion will keep you dry for the ceremony.  It is however, within the the forest, perhaps a hundred feet into the canopy.  If it is raining, you will have bright tropical umbrellas to shelter you on the path. 

If your wedding plans include making stays or stops around the island, it is a good idea to call your host at the different locations to talk about the weather some, when you are packing.  It is always nice to buy clothes where you vacation, and even nicer to arrive with something comfortable already with you.  Kona side tends to be quite hot and dry, but sometimes there is rain, and chill.  If you plan a trip up Mauna Kea, the tour will provide you with parkas to wear, but you will want your own cozy undergarments, sturdy pants. and hiking boots.   The waterfalls are in and along steep paths, and there are mosquitoes there.  Bring repellent you like, umbrella in the car, and wear layers in case it becomes warmer or colder than you thought when you started out.  When we drive about the island, we like to throw snorkel gear, swim suits and towels in the car just in case.  It is wonderfully refreshing to stop off at a beach for a swim in the ocean, and often there is something worth looking at in the ocean with you.

Along the way on this island, there are many small & even quaint shops.  And there are farmer’s markets, where in addition to local produce, artisans sell their wares.  Locally grown coffee, preserves from local fruit, honey, jewelry in the Hawaiian style worn by locals from times before their island was overtaken by foreign trade are among the most special purchases you may make, to bring back to your home and remember your time here.   Purchased from the makers directly, they are not expensive.