On Hawaii Island – the ‘Big’ Island, cascading waterfalls, rainbow-hued botanical gardens, roadside coconut stands, and lava landscapes come standard with every stay. And you don’t need to travel far to find them—at any time, every one of these otherworldly sights is less than an hour away. Add in a fish- and farm-to-fork scene made possible by the sea to summit topography, and it’s plain to see why life in the Pacific is so palatable. In case you need a refresher, here are seven reasons:
1. For the Landscape
Home to all but two of the world’s major climate zones, Hawaii is diverse by nature and it shows – the landscape changes by the minute. From green, black and white sand beaches to cow pastures, and Tarzan-thick tropical forests to lava fields, Big island feels alive. Turns out, it is, and has a growth chart to prove it. Since 1983, Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, has added approximately 500 acres to the island’s footprint.
2. For the Locavore Dining
Thanks to the fertile surf and turf, Big Island’s provisions redefine fresh. Forget 100-mile dining, on the Big Island, some restaurants boast a 15-mile sourcing radius. To partake in this ultra-Pacific palate, skip the grocery store and charter a fishing boat for ono, mahimahi, or marlin. Or, cast your sights on Da Poke Shack, a standing room-only lunch market serving just-caught ahi, seven days a week.
Pro Tip: Order the dynamite poke bowl with avocados, a meal so fresh it gives a new flavor profile to fish.
3. For the Spas
Few spas in the world can open their doors and trust the climate and setting enough to let nature in. Totally in. The Spa Without Walls in the Fairmont Orchid is the exception. Here, 14 hales (huts) are perched at the ocean’s edge or atop waterfalls for a tropical take on the lost art of rejuvenation.
While just lying in a hale listening to water flow and birds chirp is almost a treatment unto itself, the Ali’i Experience adds a dose of regal to your relaxation. Designed with royalty (Ali’i) in mind, the 110-minute journey from your hut to Hawaiian heaven calms with a lomilomi massage, cleanses with a locally-sourced herb scrub, and stimulates with a Kahinu body treatment (read: warm coconut oil cascading down your scalp) in an experience so pampered, it’s as though you’re being readied for your coronation.
4. For the Secret Beaches
Hawaii Island is splashed with mystique, partly due to the unmarked roads that meander off the island’s main highway in every direction. Word to the wise: Not even your GPS will recognize many of the byways. To find out what’s yonder: A) put on your explorer cap, or B) keep a guidebook by your side so you don’t miss locations such as Pololu Valley Lookout on the northeastern coast, or Anaehoomalu Bay on the Kohala coast.
5. For the Volcanoes
Volcanoes are a big deal on the Big Island. First, they formed the Pacific archipelago; second, they are still active; and third, the island has an entire national park devoted to the natural phenomenon. To see the lava in action drive to Kilauea, dubbed “the world’s only drive-in volcano”, which produces enough molten magic to resurface a 20-mile road daily.
6. For the Ocean Blue (or Green)
Whether you experience the water from the thrill of an outrigger canoe, or the quietness of a morning snorkel, make the Pacific Ocean a priority. Think: swimming in the gentle waters lapping Mauna Kea beach, a place Rockefeller was so taken by in 1960 that he built the world’s most expensive hotel (at the time) right next door. For something otherworldly, go in after dark to cozy up to manta rays.
7. For the Sunsets
There is something extraordinary about the sunsets that grace Hawaii’s namesake isle. Due to its unique location and latitude in the center of the Pacific, distinct markers such as clear air and low light make for a unique viewing plane, meaning sundown is a must-see show. The nightly occasion, starring a sultry sphere, is so spectacular, it even causes locals to stop in their tracks.