Aloha Big Island

Place of Refuge aka Pu’uhonua o Honaunau, my favorite place to snorkel

I have visited all the main Hawaiian Islands at least twice, always with a flutter of joy, but the one I fervently return to, my favorite, is the Big Island.


It’s not a typical tropical island, with white sand beaches, sand as fine as sugar. It’s paradise in a raw form, with fiery volcano eruptions, and warm Pacific waves meeting porous lava sprawls.

Kalij Pheasant, Big Island

The Big Island, also known as Hawaii Island, is built from five volcanoes, some of which are still active (see map below). It is the largest and youngest island of the chain. At it’s widest point, it is 93 miles (150 km) across.


The volcano activity is literally the foundation of this island. Eruptions have changed the shape of the land, sent residents scampering, closed roads, and claimed lives.

Pu’uhonua O Honaunau, Place of Refuge, Hawaii


So what is it about the Big Island that makes it so glorious?


The green sea turtles foraging in the lava rocks.

Green Sea Turtle


The vibrant tropical fish and colorful coral.

Yellow tangs, Big Island

Pink coral, Big Island


Expansive ocean vistas and endless ways to ride the waves.

Big Island


PsychedelicΒ  lava patterns with pooled puddles, crabs, and shorebirds.

Lava beach and sea

Crab, Big Island


Sitting beneath the rattling palm fronds, steeping in the magic of the black sand beaches.

Punalu’u Beach


Flowers and fragrance and geckos.



Hawaiian gecko on our rental car


Adventuring inland and up into the mountains to see the native birds and forests.

Apapane, native Hawaiian bird, Big Island

Nene pair, Hawaiian goose, Hawaii’s (threatened) state bird

Jet birding, binoculars inside jacket, pouring rain


Sitting quietly in the parks, watching the colorful birds and Hawaiian families, graced by the gentle fragrance of plumeria.

Myna pair on palm frond

Java Sparrow, Hawaii

Red-crested Cardinal on a coconut


Driving across the island on Saddle Road, surrounded by miles and miles of lava fields.

Saddle Road, Big Island. Our rental car, left of center.


Hiking in the old volcano craters and lava tubes.

Kilauea Iki Crater with hikers on trail


Watching Kilauea Volcano smoke and spew.

Close-up, Halema’uma’u Crater at Kilauea Volcano


Relaxing on the lanai and watching the sun set.


Thanks for joining me on the Big Island…or as they say in Hawaii, Mahalo.

Photo credit: Athena Alexander

Five volcanoes of the Big Island. Courtesy Wikipedia.



91 thoughts on “Aloha Big Island

  1. It’s the geckos that really do it for me Jet, then the birds. What beauties, all of them. Im also fascinated by the white and black sands. I heard recently that the white sand is made up mostly of parrot poop! On further investigation it seems that it is parrot fish poop and that that is mostly coral. Id love to go there someday.

    • The geckos are really cool, I could never get enough of them. There are no parrots in Hawaii, so that theory doesn’t stand for Hawaii. The black sands are the broken-down basalt of the volcano eruptions. We saw green sand on this island too, this is from a lava silicate deposit called olivine. (We walked out onto that surf and got our butts kicked, surf was so strong.) Glad to have brought the Big Island to you, Alastair, and as always, much appreciate your comment and visit.

  2. You have to love Hawaii but the volcanoes scare the health out of me –you just never know. I’ve been looking for the Apapane for years and so far only my lovely bride has seen one in our travels–thanks for sharing

    • The lava flows are scientifically measured and often predictable, but there are times I suppose when they are a surprise. Apapanes are more unpredictable than the lava flows, but we have always had good luck (with tenacious searching) on the trails in Volcano NP. Thanks so much for your visit, Bill, always a pleasure.

    • Apapanes are native, and native birds don’t come down to the lowlands, but we have had good lucky in the native forests in higher elevations, especially while hiking around in Volcanoes NP. Thanks very much, Julie, wonderful to receive your comment.

    • Knowing the beautiful islands you photograph and look out onto, and the many places you have been on this planet, Joanne, I know you would love this island. Many thanks–

    • I like staying 2-3 days near Volcanoes NP (we like Kilauea Lodge) and then driving over to the west side and spending a week in Kona. The volcanoes are really cool to be around, on the east side; and the Kona coast is great for warm, sunny, beach activity. In Kona we like to rent a condo on Alii Drive because it’s walkable to most places in town. I love Kona. I think you’d like it, Jan, it’s quirky and beautiful and less tourists than the other main islands.

  3. Wow – what a wonderful selection of photos! Love those birds … and the mazing crater and volcano. Thanks Jet for sweeping me away to a wonderful part of the world πŸ’›

    • I had a lot of fun putting this together, as you can imagine, Val. It was challenging to come up with just a handful of photos, because there are so many. A pure joy to sweep you into the Big Island, thanks so much for visiting.

    • Oh what a delight to see you back again, Sharon. I am so happy to “see” you. I’m really glad you stopped by, and what fun it was to draw you into the Big Island. I’m heading over to see what your new blog looks like, and looking forward to seeing more of you and your art again.

    • I had originally written this post with a lot more background and facts, and then I erased it all. I decided the photos could do most of the talking, and therein lies the peace. So very glad you enjoyed it Nan, and your comments are always a joy.

    • Hi Helen. I like that question. I love where I live and I love the everyday of life, in fact it’s “the everyday” that I love so much and strive to present in my novels. So when I get home I am always glad, and when I go on a trip I am always glad too. But admittedly there is one place, Africa, I really miss and is like no other and it’s so expensive to visit. Fortunately for me, I live as close to Hawaii as the mainland gets, so I can visit here every year or two. My thanks for your visit. πŸ™‚

    • It is a wildly exotic island, and I think you would enjoy it, Cindy. I know you are attracted to the native wilds, so if you go I highly recommend “Hawaii Forest Trails,” touring for a day trip. They take you up to private property where you can hike and observe the native birds for the day. Isn’t that red crab photo wonderful? I’m glad you like it, it’s one of my favorites for expressing the uniqueness of the Big Island.

  4. So so beautiful!! 😍😍😍. I have always wanted to go to Hawaii, I am fascinated by the old culture, I mean the culture that was there before the colonists came. It’s enchanting! Thank you for showing me around! πŸ’–πŸ˜ŠπŸ’–πŸ˜ŠπŸ’–πŸ˜Š

    • The Polynesian backbone of Hawaii is still very present, and you’re right, Trini, it is enchanting. It was a delight to show you around, my friend, and I so enjoyed your comment and happy emoticons. Always a pleasure to have you stop by, thank you.

    • Islands have their challenges in the natural world, because the land is limited. But the Big Island is indeed big and this, in addition to the conservationists who have worked hard to preserve, have helped. It is tricky on this island because the volcanoes erupt and destroy, but there is resilience, too. Thanks so much for your comment and thoughts, Walt…much appreciated. I hope you are enjoying your weekend.

  5. Very interesting narration and excellent photos! …seems like Madame Pele sent you a gift of cloud juice for your visit. Great post my friend! πŸ™‚

    • It was a true pleasure to share the beauties of Hawaii with you, HJ, and you’re right, Madame Pele did pay me a visit of inspiration. I really appreciate your warm and encouraging words. I hope you are feeling better and continue to heal with each new day.

  6. Look at all the wildlife you saw. I’m envious. This post brought back memories from our only trip to Hawaii. The rawness of the Hawaii Island and its active volcanic activities were what drew me to it most. It ended up being my most favorite of the Hawaiian Islands (although I very much enjoyed Honolulu as well).

    • I think we’re on the same joys of the Big Island, Keng, that rawness and uniqueness. And as you know in your travels and hiking, we found the wildlife by being out in the wilderness. Many people enjoy Hawaii in different ways, but being on the trails and under the water and rarely idle sure makes the wildlife more available. Thanks so much for your visit and comment.

  7. Much respect for Hawaii people and its people. Seeing thispost, it looks like the people there let nature be where they should be, like the beautiful fishes, the birds, and other visitors. Hawaii looks like a trip to relax, enjoy the beach, and just love nature and wonderful landscapes. You sell it us very well.

    • Yes, you are right, Rommel, the beauty of Hawaii stems from its people and the Polynesian background. No matter how many times I go to Hawaii, and know what to expect, for instance, I am always struck by the natural slow pace of the people and ways. There is a rushing we do on the mainland (even me, who works hard on not rushing) that just has to stop when you get to Hawaii. Things happen when they happen, it’s the aloha way. It is marvelous. My thanks, as always, for your visit today.

    • What a treat to have you stop by, Helen. I am happy you enjoyed the visit to the Big Island with me today. I think of you often and send my warmest wishes to you during this time.

  8. I usually only receive my Hawaiian escape during the weekly episode of Hawaii Five-0 and it was so enjoyable to escape to the Big Island with your words and photos! There was a feeling throughout the post that you guys almost had the island to yourselves, except for the exceptional wildlife and fellow birders. The sunset photo, the hikers in the distance and your isolated car along the lava fields enhanced the feeling, although it did appear that the gorgeous Gecko wanted to travel with you. How wonderful you have been able to visit these islands of paradise twice. You have captured the Hawaiian spirit wonderfully and it was impossible to choose a favorite photo of Athena’s this week.

    • Oh, how I loved reading your comment, ACI, thanks so much. Hawaii Five-O is good for a Hawaiian escape, and I am thrilled to be a part of the Hawaiian escape with this post. I had a lovely time visiting paradise as I composed the post too. Really enjoyed your thoughts and feelings as you absorbed the post, and very much appreciate your feedback, my friend. A joy to bring you some aloha moments, ACI, many thanks.

    • Such a delight to cavort with you this week, Bertie, and I’m happy you enjoyed this trip to the Big Island. Many thanks and happy smiles to you. I hope you are enjoying your mountain time….

  9. Loved this post on what to love about the Big Island, Jet. So much to see and explore, and sounds like you and company have explored the island far and wide. You really look very happy in your rain gear – what a big smile on your face πŸ™‚ Sometimes travel does that to us – making us feel on top of the world even during the challenging paths. As you mentioned in the comments to Nancy, I do feel a sense of peace coming through the simplicity of this post. Athena did such a wonderful job with the photos. Love the one of the gecko on your rental car. It seems to have blue eyelids πŸ™‚

    • Wonderful to have you visit, Mabel, thanks so much for stopping by. I appreciate your warm comments, and am glad you enjoyed the visit to the Big Island. The geckos there have some crazy colors and patterns!

  10. Jet we have been looking through your post and Athena’s lovely photos and we are convinced. Next trip it’s the Big Island. We would love to see the volcano activity and loving your description of a more rugged area. It looks like a bird lovers paradise as well. Now that you have us actually being observant enough to look for birds that would be an added bonus. Next step is actually recognizing more than crows and robins.

    • I am so happy this post piqued your interest in the Big Island, Sue. You and Dave would have a great time. There’s also lots of para-sailing and sea-doo rentals and kayaking. The Ironman Triathlon takes place in Kona every Oct. and that is incredible to watch. We were there about a week before the event one year, and watching the athletes training was fascinating. I have no doubt you and Dave would have a wonderful time. I’ll be happy to give you some help at planning time. Meanwhile, have another Guinness! Cheers!

  11. You can invite me back anytime! πŸ™‚ I enjoyed this tour of the big island. I LOVE Hawaii, but have spent time in Maui (when our family was younger) and now Kauai once a year in the winter. When I arrive, everything melts off me: worry, care, time. I’m new again, young again, and just breathe in the tropical air, listen to the palm trees sway, watch the whales cavort not far from the shore. Ahhh. But you entice me to visit the big island sometime, also.

  12. Pingback: Aloha Big Island – SEO

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