You could fit all of the other Hawaiian Islands into the Big Island and still have room left over, this is why they its name "Big Island". Big Island residents refer to the island by west and east side town names: Kona side to the west and Hilo side to the east. Most of the hotels and resorts are on the sunny Kona coast, while the rainy, tropical Hilo side is more residential.
Big Island offers some of the most beautiful views making for enjoyable drives, the climate varies from one region to the next. Travel across the island and you move from hot, dry beaches to cool, lush valleys; the 40-mi drive to Waimea from Kailua-Kona provide spectacular views of the coastline below and the rolling ranch lands of the upcountry; and the drive east along the Hamakua Coast from Waimea to Hilo (45 miles) is what Hawaiian dreams are made of, with rainbows appearing next to majestic mountain cliffs and waterfalls, and green valleys hiding pristine swimming holes. Directions on the island are often given as mauka (toward the mountains) and makai (toward the ocean).
First came the Polynesian voyagers, then European, Asian and American explorers, missionaries, whalers, traders, ranchers and entrepreneurs, then waves of laborers from China and the Philippines. Now Hawaii is home to all these cultures.
With each culture, comes different food, religion, language, music and sense of family. Poi and imu (earth-oven) roasted pig from Polynesia, won ton from China, kim chee from Korea, curries from Thailand, fish sauces from Vietnam, soup and sausages from Portugal are all great.
Five volcanoes one still erupting and can be viewed at Volcano National Park. At its heart is snowcapped Mauna Kea, the world's tallest sea mountain (measured from the ocean floor), complete with its own glacial lake. Mauna Kea's nearest neighbor is Mauna Loa (or "Long Mountain"), creator of one-sixth of the island; . Kilauea's eruptions make the Big Island bigger every day -- and, if you're lucky, you can stand just a few feet away and watch it do its work.
The Islands’ incredibly rich tapestry of cultures also presents itself in the performing arts. Hawaiian hula and slack-key guitar, the ukulele with its Portuguese roots, Caribbean-influenced “Jawaiian” pop music, Tahitian dance, etc...
Considering that, geographically, Hawaii is the most isolated place on the planet, it may seem surprising that we have come to be such a rich multi-cultural community. The spirit of aloha is alive and well on the Big Island.
Steeped in tradition and primal power of creation, the Big Island radiates what the Hawaiians call mana, a sense of spirituality that's still apparent in ancient petroglyphs carved in the black lava rock, many heiaus (temples), can be viewed around the island, the sacred shrines both on land and in the sea, and even the sound the wind makes as it blows across the desolate lava fields. Please be very respectful of these historical sites.