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15 BIG THINGS YOU REALLY NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE ISLAND OF HAWAII
Pssst! Want to learn a few very cool things about the island of Hawaii? Here’s the first: It’s a lot more than just big, folks. Proving that, here’s a handy collection of 15 other big and interesting facts you should (but might not) know about the island.
# 1. We’re growing bigger every day
The largest and youngest of the eight main Hawaiian Islands is the only one still adding to its acreage. Since 1983, continuous activity at Kilauea volcano has sent between 250,000 and 650,000 cubic yards of lava daily to surface and ocean, adding about 500 acres of new land to the island.
#2. We’ve got 10 of the world’s 14 climate zones
Studies by climatologists using the original Koppen Climate Classification System – the method most often applied for identifying and defining global climate zones – determine the island of Hawaii boasts everything from humid tropical and arid desert climates to temperate and ice climates. Thank the island’s vast size and sea level to alpine elevation changes for that.
#3. Exploring the universe is one of our main industries
Situated high above the clouds and far from the nighttime glow of civilization, the 13,796-foot summit of Maunakea volcano is one of Earth’s most renowned astronomy sites, home to 13 telescopes representing 11 countries. Other main industries on the island include tourism and an ever-expanding array of diversified agriculture businesses.
#4. The history of our Hawaiian Islands began here
The island of Hawaii is believed to be the first of the main Hawaiian Islands discovered and settled by Polynesians, possibly as far back as the fifth century. Island-born King Kamehameha the Great created the Kingdom of Hawaii by unifying the entire island chain under his rule in 1810 after a years-long succession of battles, initially basing the capital of the Islands in Kailua-Kona.
#5. We’ve got more land for more outdoor adventuring
With 4,028 square miles of land encompassing everything from sandy beaches, windswept seashores and warm lava deserts to occasionally snowy alpine summits and lush rainforests and valleys, the island of Hawaii offers myriad outdoor adventures. Hiking, snorkeling, sailing, biking, road tripping, zip-lining, horseback riding and stargazing? We call that a good start.
#6. We’ve got three active volcanoes including one that’s really, really active
Hualalai volcano last erupted circa 1801 and Maunaloa volcano last sent out lava in 1984. Kilauea volcano’s current eruption, both in and near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, has been ongoing for 33 years and counting, wowing visitors and residents daily. Is that active enough for you?
#7. The two tallest mountains in the world? We’ve got ‘em, too.
Measured from their bases on the Pacific Ocean floor, Maunakea and Maunaloa volcanoes are more than 33,000 and 30,000 feet tall, respectively. (Take that, Mount Everest and your mere 29,000 feet!) Adding to its geological coolness, Maunaloa is also the world’s largest subaerial (that’s “above ground” for non-science types) volcano, with a land area of 2,035 square miles.
#8. Four of our five National Park Service (NPS) parks, sites and trails focus exclusively on Hawaiian culture
Everyone knows of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and its wonders of nature, science and the Hawaiian culture. But did you know Hawaiian history and culture provide the main narrative drive of NPS sites Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site, Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park and the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail? All five are must-visits.
#9. We’re one of the best places on Earth for stargazing, with or without a telescope
A few thousand feet downslope from those world-class summit telescopes mentioned back at #3, the 9,200-foot-elevation Maunakea Visitor Information Station offers one of Earth’s best spots for naked-eye stargazing. Why so awesome? It, too, is above cloud level. The oxygen-rich air is easier to breathe. And here, the island of Hawaii's 19.5 degrees north latitude location offers dazzling views of the entirety of Northern Hemisphere skies and 90 percent of the Southern Hemisphere’s.
#10. We make sure our marine life have lots of room to thrive
With 266 miles of coastline, it’s no surprise the island of Hawaii has the most marine conservation districts of all the Hawaiian Islands. Which is wonderful for the honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles), manta rays, dolphins, and multitude of colorful reef fish and marine life that thrive in our protected waters; and undersea nirvana for snorkel and scuba aficionados.
#11. We’re home to the most prestigious hula competition in the world
Held each year in Hilo, starting on Easter Sunday, the weeklong Merrie Monarch Festival’s three biggest nights are its signature hula competitions. Participation is by invitation, meaning only the best halau hula (hula troupes) from Hawaii and the Continental U.S. compete. For non-ticketholders, the fest also has craft fairs, a hoolaulea (celebration), a parade through Hilo, and hula exhibitions.
#12. We’ve got more oceanfront golf holes than any island in the Pacific
It’s true. And we dare you NOT to be at least a little bit distracted by all of the sublime natural scenery surrounding the island's sumptuous greens. Views of Maunakea and Maunaloa volcanoes. Fairways set like emerald oases amidst indigo lava fields or set apart by churning seaside coves. Go ahead. Feel free to sightsee while you tee off.
#13. If it can be grown or ranched, chances are good we’re growing and ranching it
Vanilla. Coffee. Papaya. Mushrooms. Bananas. Strawberries. Cacao. Tea. Grass-fed beef and lamb. Honey. Herbs. Lettuces. And that’s just for starters. With a diversity of climates and landscapes available to them, the Island’s farmers and ranchers produce an ample bounty for the island’s supermarket shelves, farmers markets and ever-growing number of farm-to-table restaurant menus.
#14. We expand the definition of nightlife
Nightclubbing is for amateurs. On the island of Hawaii, our nightlife includes stargazing from the cloud-free elevations of Maunakea (and even telescopes on your resort rooftop), taking in the evening glow of molten lava churning beneath Kilauea volcano’s Halemaumau crater, overnight rainforest and beachside camping, and dining under the stars at a working cattle ranch.
#15. We are the island of Hawaii
Each of the Islands has a Hawaiian name and ours is Hawaii. You’ve likely heard the island called by its nickname, “The Big Island.” (We’ve got more acreage than all of the other Hawaiian Islands combined, so we get it.) But we prefer “Hawaii" or "the island of Hawaii.” Come visit and we’ll say it together!
For information on the island of Hawaii, please visit http://media.gohawaii.com/hawaii-island.