Hawaii Vacation-Part 3-Big Island

The third in our four-part series of Hawaii vacations covers the "Big Island", as the island of Hawaii is most often referred to.

As the natives (and longtime residents) like to say, there are only two seasons on the Big Island Hawaii: "summer," between May and October, and "winter," from October to April. The weather varies dramatically, though, - in terms of precipitation - from west to east. Hilo, on the east, Egypt
"Wet" side of Big Island, is the wettest city in the United States.

Big Island Hawaii's "Kona" coast, (the dry west side), is the most popular destination. It offers accommodations and activities catering to the pure pursuit of FUN! Snorkeling, diving, kayaking and deep-sea fishing being the most popular.

The island is also famous for its volcanoes. Kilauea is the most active volcano in the world. At times you can Watch lava streaming across the landscape at Volcanoes National Park. On the days when the volcano is not erupting, you can explore its unique "lavascape", with its vents spewing steam, its giant chasms and lava craters. Standing at just over 5,000 feet, Kilauea is not Big
Island's tallest volcano, but it is certainly the most active.

For an aerial view of the Big Island, be sure to check out Blue Hawaiian or Tropical Helicopters in Hilo. Dedicated pilots will whisk you away and provide loads of nformation during the flight, including a literal "over-the-top" view of Kilauea Volcano!

And, for those wanting a water experience, trek over to Kona Boy Kayaks, past the 113 mile marker on Highway 11, and get the thrill of Big Island Hawaii - in a big way! There you can rent a kayak or go on a guided trip. Paddle atop the waves, skirting awesome cliffs and waterfalls, or snorkel and swim in a calm, protected cove - your choice. Perhaps you'll see a few spinner dolphins as you paddle across Captain Cook monument.

Speaking of dolphins, the Hilton Waikola Village on the Big Island, has a program called Dolphin Quest. There, in the lagoon, kids and teenagers, and a few adults, can have the opportunity to swim with the few Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphins. This program is almost always full.
Reservations must be made at least 60 days in advance.

You can go even further by discovering the undersea world's creatures and their habitat by visiting Atlantis Submarines, also in Kona. And there is also world class sports fishing off the Kona coast.

This area is known as the marlin capital of the world. Big game fish, including giant blue marlin and other Pacific billfish, tuna and swordfish are abundant in the waters off the coast. Hundreds of charter fishing boats operate out of the Kailua-Kona area where you can charter a boat with friends or join one of the daily shared charters.

The highest point on the isand is Mauna Kea, at 13,796 feet above sea level. Both the neighboring Maunu Loa and Mauau Kea and have some of the clearest air in the world. As a result, more than two dozen of the world's finest telescopes are located there. Tours of the University of Hawaii Telescope are available every weekend.

There are many beaches on the Big Island. Pauoa Beach, at the Fairmont Orchid Hotel in the Mauna Lani Resort, is infused by natural freshwater springs that move benefit the ocean's surface. It's located on Hawaii's Kohala Coast, on the northwest side of the island.

One of Hawaii's best beaches, Hapuna Beach, is a landscaped 62-acre beach park. Swimming and other water sports are best enjoyed in summer months during calm seas. Winter surf can be rough. The beach is located on the Kohala Coast on the northwest side. The Hapuna Golf Course, part of the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, extneds from the shoreline to 700 feet above sea level, offering
Both challenge and beauty.

Honaunau Beach, part of the historic Pu'uhonua o Honaunao National Park, offers a full range of family activities. The sanctuary name means a "place of refuge."

A snorkeler's delight, Kahaluu Beach Park, is located on the Big Island's west coast. Visitors can explore a colorful variety of more than 100 types of tropical fish and marine life including sea turtles. A large coral reef both protects the lagoon and is home to these animals. A fresh water spring feeds up to 10 million gallons per day into the lagoon.

Kaunaoa Beach, also known as Mauna Kea, is bordered by a coconut grove and protected by two black-lava points. This beach sit directly in front of the Mauna Kea Hotel. The rugged surf makes Kaunaoa a bodysurfer's and boogie boarder's delight.

Close by, the Mauna Kea Golf Course is carved out of the volcano's black lava, and is considered one of the top courses in the United States. The dramatic views of the Pacific Ocean and its shoreline cliffs seem to add to the challenge of the course.

The South Point on the Big Island is believed to be where the first Polynesians arrived from the Marquesas Islands or Tahiti around 500 AD And the island that is located has been luring visitors back for centuries. Will you be one of them?