Kona, Hawaii Island

Destination Location

  • 19.639994, -155.996933:primary
  • 19.7388000488281, -156.046005249023:secondary
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Overview

Commonly referred to as the Big Island, the Island of Hawaii is the largest of all the Hawaiian Islands – and there are a wide variety of ways to experience it. Hawaii has 10 climate zones, ranging from volcanic desert to snow-capped mountain and rain forest. But no matter where you are on the island, you’ll be captivated by its warm hospitality, gorgeous beaches, great accommodations and breathtaking attractions.

As you land, you'll see endless fields of black lava rock, providing an unusually beautiful welcome mat. Large areas of the coast and interior are covered in thick green vegetation. The black-sand beaches are calm and comfortable, and the ocean is a sparkling blue. Travellers looking for traditional island fun are well taken care of here. But if you're the kind of person who wants a little dash of adventure alongside luxury, the Big Island is also the perfect spot for you.

The Big Island has some of the calmest beaches in the state, making it better for wading toddlers than hardcore surfers. But don’t let that keep you out of the water. The snorkelling and scuba diving here are fantastic and the deep-sea fishing is world class.

If you head inland, you'll find that cattle ranches are plentiful here. You can even enjoy a fresh-picked pineapple for breakfast and local, grass-fed beef for lunch.

And while the island has its share of luxury mega-resorts, it is equally suited to the traveller who has a pair of hiking boots and knows how to use them. The mountainous terrain makes for ideal hiking and if you drive mountain-to-beach, it’s possible to go from parka country to bikini weather in less than two hours. Some might say the Big Island is the best of both worlds.

Kona is a fantastic destination for:

  • outdoor adventure
  • beaches
  • culture and history

Destination basics

Hawaii's climate is actually composed of 10 different zones on one island. From tropical, to desert, to glacial, Hawaii has it all. Within 50 km, annual rainfall totals can range from 25 centimetres to more than three metres. So in that sense, "How's the weather?" can be a hard question to answer!

Fortunately, there are a few guidelines. The Kailua-Kona (western) side of the island is warm, dry and sunny. Temperatures reach the mid-20s here, even in the winter. The sun is almost always shining and the breezes are typically soft.

If you journey to the interior, temperatures decrease by about 6 C for every 1,000 metres of elevation. Mauna Kea, the highest point on the island, is 4,200 metres high and experiences regular snowfall.

More than any other tropical destination, you’ll need to be ready for just about anything on the Big Island. So bring your umbrella and a coat, or just stay near Kona and you'll never need much more than a bathing suit and some sunscreen.

Average monthly temperature and average monthly rainfall diagrams for Kona, Hawaii Island

Geologically speaking, the Big Island is the youngest of the Hawaiian Islands. Yet, when it comes to the history of Hawaiian culture, Big Island towers over its neighbours. The man who would eventually become King Kamehameha the Great was born here and it was from this island that he launched many battles, allowing him to unify all of the islands under his rule. Kamehameha moved the islands into modernity, clarifying the island nation's system of law, taxation and land ownership.

Today, it is still possible to visit Kamehameha's birth site, his personal temple (known as a heiau) and what some claim is the beach he visited when he wanted to relax.

Living on top of a molten ball of fire has a way of changing people's attitudes about life. From fishing and ranching to coffee production, Big Islanders work hard but understand that life is short. So living a balanced life with plenty of recreation time is taken seriously here. Music and dance are a big part of Big Island life, and it's not uncommon to stumble upon a hula festival or a slack-key guitar demonstration in the park.

Along the coasts, almost everyone has some kind of relationship to the ocean – whether it's deep-sea fishing, canoeing or stand-up paddle boarding. In fact, one of the highest honours here is to be considered a waterman or kane o ke kai.

Although Mauna Kea has not erupted in about 4,500 years, Mauna Loa and Kilauea are still very active. In fact, Kilauea is considered the most active volcano on the planet and its lava often flows into the ocean in a dramatically sizzling fashion. To see the volcanoes' effects firsthand, hike to Kalapana, a fishing village destroyed by lava in 1990.

Living with lava is just a fact of life on the Big Island. People aren't afraid but they are careful to show proper respect to the goddess of volcanoes, Pele. On the Big Island, geology truly is destiny. And when you live in the shadow of the fire goddess, you need to make every minute count.

It is recommended that you bring U.S. dollars for general expenses. For entertainment and shopping expenses, your credit card will give you the exchange rate at the time of purchase. On the Big Island, you will also find multiple ATMs for your convenience. Please note that transaction fees vary by ATM.

Thanks to the size of the Island of Hawaii, the restaurant choices can be somewhat challenging. Unlike Maui or Honolulu, there aren't dozens of restaurants within a stone's throw of each other, and usually the ones that are close to each other are also similar to one another in price and quality.

As far as most people are concerned, there are two restaurant scenes on the island: West and East. West is Kona; East is Hilo. There are other regions to the North and South of the island, but people tend to group everything within one category or the other. Even regular travelers or longtime residents usually don't venture off their side of the island too often; the drive is simply too long. For that reason, most popular restaurants have two locations, one in Hilo and one in Kona, Kohala or Waimea.

Kona
There are dozens of fantastic restaurants in Kailua-Kona. If you're hungry head to the weekend buffet at the King Kamemameha Hotel which is large and reasonably priced. For a cold beer and some munchies, visit Kona Brewing Company.  For a casual meal in a beautiful setting try Huggo's On the Rocks.  

Kohala
As a rule, Gold Coast restaurants are stylish. The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai offer world-class dining options, including Beach Tree Bar and Grill and Hualalai Grille. Other fantastic dining options are in vast Hilton Waikoloa Village with restaurants like the Kirin Restaurant and Imari.

The resort areas at Mauna Lani and Mauna Kea offer fine dining choices galore. The CanoeHouse at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel serves inventive, exotic fare, often made from island-grown produce and fresh local seafood. Brown Beach House is considered to have one of the most stunning views in the state. The Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel offers sumptuous Saturday night buffets. An important note though: The dinner bill at any of the restaurants mentioned above could easily cost more than the hotel bill at many Kailua-Kona or Hilo hotels.

On the other side of the spectrum, inexpensive nibbles can be enjoyed in the food court of the Kings' Shops. You can also sample the finest Pacific Rim cuisine at Roy's.

North/Upcountry
Interestingly, many of the island's true culinary jewels have settled quietly, without fanfare or hoopla, in and around the Waimea (Kamuela) area. Merriman's is a Pacific Rim classic. Equally beloved is Bamboo Restaurant & Gallery, located in the sleepy village of Hawi. Cafe Pesto serves Italian-Asian fusion that the critics love.

Upcountry is not like the Kohala Coast though. It's still possible to get an inexpensive meal here. Try the down-home favorite, the Tex Drive In.

Hilo
The busy seaside town of Hilo probably has the island's highest concentration of restaurants. Dining options are varied from four-star to fast food. Hilo's Cafe Pesto offers tasty Italian-Pacific creations. Nani Mau Gardens has a great lunch buffet, and the setting can't be beat. Ken's House of Pancakes is open 24 hours a day and is perfect for the whole family.

Volcano

People call the town just outside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Volcano Village—but the name is a bit misleading. A village this might be, but it's a village that gets more tourist traffic than just about any other place on the planet. It only makes sense that such a place would have a restaurant on every corner. Kilauea Lodge is a popular mountaintop inn that has a gourmet restaurants onsite. A less expensive option is the Volcano's Lava Rock Cafe.

These are just the highlights of the Big Island Dining scene. For more information, check out a local guide book, grab a newspaper or play it safe—ask a local.

The Island of Hawai'i is the furthest south of any in the island chain, and it's larger than all the other islands put together. It's also the home of the world's highest mountain (Mauna Kea) though much of the base is submerged. Nearby Kiluaea is the most active volcano in the world, and is also the most popular visitor attraction in a state that's full of visitor attractions. The Big Island, as it's called, is the only place where one can ski in the daytime and walk barefoot in a warm sea at sundown.

Kona
This spread-out district stretches from South Kona, the location of Honaunau Bay, to the vast Kona State Park. The Kona Airport is located a few miles north of Kailua-Kona on Highway 19. The most heavily populated area is Kailua-Kona. It's the site of the Kailua Pier, the main tourist shopping drag. Just below Kailua-Kona is Keauhou-Kona. Most of the area hotels are ranged down the coast, from Kailua to Keauhou.

Central Kailua-Kona has a half-dozen attractions, including Ahu'ena Heiau and Hulihe'e Palace. Along the coastline are Laaloa Beach Park, known for its "magic sands". The southern town of Captain Cook is considered a part of greater Kona. Many people make the trip down the coast to snorkel at the marine preserve or view the sea captain's monument.

Kohala Coast/Kohala
The name translates to "Gold Coast." At first, it's hard to understand why this place deserves its name; the terrain is harsh, barren and almost spooky.

That is, until one reaches the resort districts.

The first one is Ka'upulehu, home of the Four Seasons. Further up the road is Waikoloa. This resort isn't as picky; it'll let anyone inside. Plenty of visitors to other districts opt to spend a full day exploring Waikoloa.

Further along you'll find Mauna Lani and Mauna Kea. Each resort district has a few four-star hotels, a few luxury condominium complexes and a dozen gourmet restaurants. Stop by the secluded beach park on the Mauna Lani property where the fabulous Puako Petroglyphs are located. Hapuna Beach Park sits in splendid isolation on the North Kohala Coast.

If there is one thing that brings people from around the world to the Kohala Coast, it's the golf. Most area courses rank among the top 100 in the United States. Hapuna Golf Course, Mauna Lani Resort Golf Club and the Waikoloa Village Golf Courses are all world-renowned.

After Mauna Kea, things change. Beach parks dot the coastline, and little settlements crop up alongside the highway. The pace of life slows down to correspond with the speed limit. North Kohala is ranch land and coffee country. Take a horseback excursion with Paniolo Adventures, or dine at Café Pesto or Bamboo.

Upcountry
Inland from Waikoloa is the town of Waimea. It's small and out-of-the-way, but it has an abundance of personality. Businesses here are usually family-owned, and many of them feature island-made products.

Hilo
Below the Hamakua Coast, in a fertile little pocket that gets more rain than just about any other place in the world, is Hilo. This is a booming town by Hawaiian standards. Of course, it knows how it appears to mainland visitors: cute, quaint and stuck in a time warp. It plays up that image, offering historic tours and a daily fish market.

Downtown Hilo is located on the waterfront. Sightseers can start at either Banyan Drive or the new Tsunami Museum. There's also the East Hawaii Cultural Center and Lyman Museum. For more information on these attractions and on the outlying areas, visit the Hawaii Visitor's Bureau.

Volcano
South of Hilo on Highway 11 is the most famous spot in the islands. Officially titled Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, it is informally known as “The Volcano” or “Kilauea.” Kilauea is, in fact, only a part of the massive park, but it's the part that everyone comes to see. Belching smoke and spewing flame, this is the most active volcano in the world. The Kilauea Visitor Center, Volcano Art Center and Jaggar Museum are open daily.

South & Central Regions
Between Volcano on the east side and Kona on the west, the island is a vast expanse of untouched volcanic overflow. The majority of it is part of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Above this is Mauna Kea State Recreation Area, the best star-gazing spot in the world and a designated astronomy center. The road to Mauna Kea cannot be navigated in a rental car.

The southern tip of the island, which is also the southernmost point in the U.S., has barely been touched by civilization. There are a few hotels and a few B&Bs. Travelers to the south shore usually visit the semi-famous Punalu'u Bake Shop & Visitor Center for lunch.

The Big Island really lives up to its nickname. You can drive for hours and see nothing at all. Then, suddenly, you'll stumble on a patch of land so developed that it resembles a strip mall in suburban Nevada. The Kona Coast is a desert. Hilo is a rainforest. There are palm trees growing out of lava rock on the Kohala Coast. There is skiing on Mauna Kea. Tens of thousands of feet below the snow-capped peak, sea turtles and dolphins play in an ocean as warm as bathwater.

Jungle tours, lava flows, humpback whales, stargazing, Kona coffee—the Big Island is a smorgasbord of sensory delights. Give yourself plenty of time to explore Waipio Valley or to hike the trails of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Take in a sunset over cocktails or a sunrise over fresh island juice. Enjoy traditional Hawaiian-style entertainment at a luau. Experience the best of Hawaii: eco-adventures, art culture and genuine Aloha spirit.

Explore the Island
Helicopter touring is one of the most popular ways to see the Big Island. Among the more notable helicopter companies are Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tours, Safari Helicopters and Mauna Loa Helicopters. Airplane tours are also available; try Island Hoppers or Mokulele Flight Service.

Prefer to stay a little closer to the ground? Try a tour by horseback. Ride along the open range of the Kohala Mountains, through a tropical rainforest, or get a little firsthand paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) experience. Some stables are situated on private ranch land, while others conduct tours along the trails of Kealakekua Bay and Waipio Valley. For more information, contact Waipio Ridge Stables or any of the numerous stables listed in activity directories.

For something entirely different, go to a star party. Constellations are the main event here, and you won't be distracted by any loud music. Held at the summit of Mauna Kea, stargazing events offer unparalleled views and a unique glimpse at Hawaii's natural history. Hawaii Forest & Trail provides stargazing tours; contact them for more information.

Cruises
A popular cruise operator is Dream Cruises. Their tours usually include food, drinks and all necessary equipment. Less cozy, but far more “up-close-and-personal,” are the rafting and kayaking tours available through companies such as Aloha Kayak Co. For those who prefer to see the underwater world without getting wet, submarine tours are available through such companies as Atlantis Submarines.

Water Sports
Notable surfing beaches include Kahalu'u Beach Park, Honoli'i Point and Hilo Bayfront. Scuba schools abound. Contact Torpedo Tours, Dolphin Discoveries or Ocean Eco Tours. More involved than snorkeling (but less involved than scuba) is thy hybrid sport known as ‘snuba' (call Big Island Water Sports for more information.) To rent a Jet Ski, call Aloha Jet Ski.

Golf
The Big Island offers some of the best golf conditions anywhere. It boasts 18 courses, ranging from championship oceanfront courses (Mauna Kea Beach Golf Club) to isolated, upcountry courses (Makalei Hawaii Country Club.) The courses of Kohala Coast, for example Waikoloa Village Golf Club and Mauana Lani Resort Golf Club boast spectacular scenery, challenging play and excellent facilities.

Fishing
Charter your own fishing boat or go on a fishing cruise, as the options abound. You'll find world-class marlin fishing, among other things. Many fishing boats dock at Honokohau Marina on the West Side of the island.

Culinary Tours
Kona coffee is world-famous, and the farms that produce it are usually open to tourists. Visit Kona Coffee Living History Farm. Also worth a visit is the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory, home to Hawaii's favorite nuts.

Less known than its coffee are the Big Island's microbreweries and tropical wineries. Located in Volcanoes National Park is the Volcano Winery, serving exotic wines such as Macadamia Nut Honey Wine and Lehua Blossom Honey Wine. The Hawaiʻi Nui Brewing Company / Mehana Brewing Company can be found in Hilo, and offers locally brewed ales and lagers. Kona Brewing Co. on the West Side is a popular daytime attraction and nighttime hangout spot.

Shopping
Visit Kings' Shops in Waikoloa for an upscale shopping experience. In the upcountry village of Holualoa, you'll find the highest concentration of galleries on the island. Don't miss Holualoa Gallery. Other funky upcountry shopping centers include Waimea Center and the Kawaihae Shopping Center. The downtown areas of Volcano Village and Hilo afford hours of browsing and shopping enjoyment.

Theaters
Hawaii may not be known as a nighttime hotspot, but it certainly has its share of entertainment venues. Take in a movie at Keauhou Theatres in Kona, or (if you're staying on the Hilo side), at Prince Kuhio Theatres or The Palace Theater. If live performance is what you have in mind, the Akebono Theater in Pahoa is a safe bet.

Music & Nightlife
If you're looking for something that caters a bit more to alternative lifestyles, check out The Mask, in Kona.

Luau
Aside from their entertainment value (which is high,) luaus also offer a taste of traditional Hawaiian cuisine. The flavors of Polynesia make these cultural events even more of an enticement. The popular Island Breeze Luau takes place on an idyllic strip of oceanfront property at the Kona Beach Hotel. Other luaus include the Royal Kona Luau and Sunset Luau at the Waikoloa Beach Barriott Resort & Spa.

However you choose to spend your days and nights on the Big Island—commando-hiking through the jungle, sunning by the hotel pool, visiting an active volcano, hanging out at a local bar—you're pretty much guaranteed an interesting time. All the necessary elements of a perfect vacation are within reach, so make your time in Hawaii exactly what you want it to be.

Hawai'i (Big Island)

Hawai'i (Big Island)


State: Hawaii


Country: United States


Hawai'i (Big Island) by the Numbers

Population: 186,738
Elevation: 18 feet / 5.5 meters
Average Annual Rainfall: Ranges from 10 in / 254 mm at Kawaihae to 128 in / 3,251 mm at Hilo
Average January Temperature: 73°F / 22.8°C
Average July Temperature: 82°F / 26°C


Quick Facts

Electricity: 110 volts, 60Hz, standard two pin plugs

Time Zone: GMT-10; Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time (HAST)

Country Dialing Code: +1

Area Code: 808


Did You Know?

Hawaii's Big Island is the youngest in geologic age, as well as the largest of the Hawaiian Islands and continues to increase in size because of Kilauea, the world's most active volcano.

Two of the tallest mountains in the Pacific reside on the Big Island – Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.


Orientation

The island of Hawaii is located in the Pacific Ocean, the farthest east of the Hawaiian Islands. It is located about 33 miles (53 kilometers) east of the island of Maui.

The Big Island's geography is all about volcanoes. The scenery varies from gently sloping hillsides to steep lava cliffs plunging into the ocean. The old lava flows make for dramatic black sand beaches and plains of moonlike terrain. (So moonlike, in fact, Apollo astronauts trained here in preparation for their lunar landings.)

At a mere 800,000 years old, Big Island is the youngest island in the state. And, like most youngsters, it's always growing and changing shape. That's because Mauna Loa and Kilauea are still quite active. As lava hardens, it pushes the coastline further into the ocean. Roads dead-end into rock, towns are forced to relocate and molten fissures open in the earth's surface.

The island is also famous for its lushness of vegetation. Coffee plantations are everywhere and the island has many ferns and other dense foliage.

While the oldest Hawaiian island (Kaua'i) was formed some 5.1 million years ago, the Big Island is the newest addition, and is still growing. There were once five active volcanoes contributing to the island's growth: Mauna Kea, Kohala, Hualalai, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Hualalai last erupted in 1801, while Kilauea and Mauna Loa are still considered active.

By the time Westerners discovered Hawai'i (in the late 18th Century), Polynesians from the Marquesas, Tahiti and the Cook Islands had lived on the islands for more than 1200 years. These island people had traveled over 3500 miles by sea, bringing with them the plant life and animals necessary for their survival. They had established a way of life based around agriculture and a government based around ali'I (chiefs) and kahuna (priests). The system of kapu dictated the rules of society. The Hawaiian people were, for the most part, peaceful. Because there were only a limited number of able-bodied warriors, a fighting lifestyle was not practical. Pre-contact life on the Big Island was quite prosperous. As one of the primary taro producers in the island chain, it managed to maintain a relatively high standard of living through inter-island trade.

The ancient Hawaiians were a highly religious people; many gods and goddesses affected their behavior in everyday life. On the Big Island, the most powerful of these was the Volcano Goddess, Pele. Big Islanders believed that Pele's wrath showed itself in the form of the molten lava that frequently ran down the mountainside and (less frequently) destroyed villages and killed their inhabitants.

January 17, 1779 was the date of Captain James Cook's arrival into Kealakekua Bay. Coincidentally, the British ships sailed into the bay during a celebration known as Makahiki. More than 10,000 Hawaiians had flocked to the area to honor the god Lono. According to Hawaiian legend, Lono was a 'white god' accompanied by white banners-a remarkably similar description to that of Cook, who arrived by sea with his white flags flying. The Big Islanders greeted this British navigator as though he were in fact a god. He was treated with complete deference during the remaining two weeks of Makahiki: entertained, honored and plied with gifts. In return, Cook presented the Hawaiians with gifts and with British-style entertainment (fireworks).

Apparently, the initial goodwill was not enough to maintain peaceable relations between the British and the Islanders. Cook sailed out of Kealakekua, only to turn back due to ship damage. At that point, Makahiki had ended and a kapu (rule) that forbade entrance to the bay was being enforced. In respect for this kapu, the Hawaiians confiscated the British shore boat. The British responded by attempting to kidnap the Hawaiian chief Kalaniopu'u. They planned to use the chief as hostage until their boat was returned. This attempt was Cook's fatal mistake: he was killed by a group of Hawaiians as soon as he reached the shore.

After Cook's death in 1779, a young Big Island ali'i named Kamehameha was inspired to seize a British ship. With the cannon and guns on the ship, he was able to obtain control of the entire Hawaiian Island chain. Under Kamehameha's rule, Hawaii became an organized sovereignty for the first time, and was recognized by the world as such. The king built his court on the Big Island and established a system of trade and taxation. As the islands were forced to become more and more involved with trade in the western world, it became increasingly difficult to preserve Hawaiian culture. Kamehameha managed to maintain the delicate balance until his death in 1819.

The island population had been fairly small to begin with, numbering about 300,000. After the arrival of the westerners, disease ran rampant on the islands, killing off all but about 50,000 people by the year 1880. As the population diminished, so did the strength of the Hawaiian nation.

In the 1840s, an attempt was made by the British Consul to seize control of the Hawaiian Island chain. Although British government changed their position, thereby rendering the attempt unsuccessful, this event raised the issue of land ownership on the Islands. Foreigners decided that the time had come to claim their piece of paradise. Up until that time, the Hawaiians had measured land in terms of its resources. In order to qualify as an ahupua'a (the Hawaiian unit of measurement), the land had to contain timber, fresh water, farmland and water for fishing. This concept was beyond European understanding, and they set about divvying up the land as they saw fit.

In 1845, an event later known as the Great Mahele occurred. This event surrendered all lands for redistribution: a third was to go to royalty, another third to the government, and the last third was to be divided amongst the people. By 1850, land ownership rights were given to any foreigner who cared to purchase them. The majority of the land held by the island people passed into the hands of the foreigners in the course of just a few decades.

Once the Hawaiians began to lose control of the land, it was a slippery slope downward to the total decline of their island culture. The last queen, Liliuokalani, was forced to relinquish power into the hands of the businessmen who had won control of the sugar industry. Annexation followed shortly thereafter: on August 12, 1898, Hawai'i became a territory of the United States. On July 27, 1959, Hawai'i became the 50th of the United States, with the Big Island constituting one of its four counties.

While much of the Big Island's culture was lost through the course of the past 200 years, recent times have seen a resurgence of interest in Hawaiiana. The dance, song and legend of ancient Hawaii have not yet been lost, although they no longer represent the beliefs of a nation. Perhaps more amazing than the perseverance of the Hawaiian people is the fact that, today, so many races live harmoniously in what was once a land of conflict.

On the Big Island, you will need a car if you plan to explore (be sure to get four wheel drive if you're headed off the main roads). You can book a rental car at the airport or arrange to pick up at the airport from the car rental agency of your choice. Just be sure to check your rental agreement for restrictions on where you can drive. Many companies do not allow you to take rentals on the steeper, winding roads.

If you choose not to rent a car, there are airport transfers, taxis and public transportation options available. You can also book hotel transfers with a WestJet Vacations representative.

Arrival

Kona International Airport is the main airport in Hawaii. Located on 3,450 acres of land, you'll know you're landing when you see this airport's 11,000 feet of runway.

Before you depart Canada, you will first go through security and U.S. Customs. Once you land in Kona, proceed to the baggage claim area to pick up your belongings. If you have pre-booked a transfer or an orchid lei greeting & transfer with WestJet Vacations, please see the Diamond Head Vacations representative in the baggage claim area.

If you've rented a car, you can catch shuttles to the car rental depots from the centre median outside the baggage claim area. Each car rental company has a designated pick up area and shuttles operate continuously. Taxis are located curbside, fronting baggage claim areas A and B. See the taxi dispatchers for service.

Departure

Located just seven miles from Kailua and 25 miles from Waikoloa, you’ll be able to quickly and easily get back to Kona International by shuttle or taxi.

Once there, smiling WestJetters will be ready to assist you at the international check-in counters. These counters open three hours prior to departure and close 15 minutes after your flight is scheduled to depart. You can also check in and select your seats ahead of time using WestJet's Web check-in service.

The Big Island is just that – big. In fact, it's so big you could fit all the other Hawaiian Islands inside it…twice! But it's not just big in circumference; it's also high. The island is made up of five volcanoes. Two of them (Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea) are more than 4,000 metres in altitude. Interestingly, if you measure from the sea floor, Mauna Kea is actually the tallest mountain in the world.

The Big Island is home to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, a stunning (and very active) volcanic area. The Park covers 13,500 sq. km and is accessible by road, or via the 240 km of hiking trails.

The unique soil and terrain of the island make it ideal for producing the smooth Kona coffee beans exported all over the world. The moist, mild climate is also perfect for flowers (the Big Island is a major exporter of orchids).

The Big Island is also known as The Adventure Island. Many people consider the Big Island the top sport-fishing destination in the Pacific, if not the world. It is also considered the golf capital of the state, with about 20 unique courses taking advantage of the stunning scenery.

In addition to spectacular earth, the Big Island is also known for amazing skies. The summit of Mauna Kea houses some of the world's largest telescopes, with a combined light-gathering power 60 times stronger than the Hubble Space Telescope.

Traditional Hawaiian culture is also strong on the Big Island. Here, you'll find the state's largest petroglyph field of more than 23,000 rock carvings. And since the Big Island was the seat of power during the rule of King Kamehameha, you can also find the ruins of numerous temples, village sites and extensive fish ponds.

Whether it's golf, natural wonders or five-star resorts, everything on the Big Island is bigger and many say better than anywhere else.

Kona International Airport is the main airport in Hawaii.

It is recommended that you bring U.S. dollars for general expenses.

On the Big Island, you will need a car if you plan to explore (be sure to get four wheel drive if you're headed off the main roads).

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^Total price one-way per guest. See terms and conditions.

*Prices are per guest, based on double occupancy and are limited; may not reflect real-time pricing or availability. See terms and conditions.

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