Famous for the active Kilauea volcano, Hawaii’s Big Island is home to a list of fascinating anomalies.
Eleven different climate zones generate everything from lush rain forests to arid deserts, black sand beaches to snow-capped mountaintops. The Big Island is Hawaii’s biggest playground
The youngest Island in the archipelago, Hawaii’s Big Island was believed to be the first island Polynesian voyagers from the Marquesas islands set foot on 1,500 years ago.
In 1778, Captain Cook arrived on Kauai opening the door to an influx of westerners. Only a year later on the Big Island, warriors at Kealakekua Bay killed Cook after a contentious chain of events.
During this time of discovery, Hawaii’s Big Island was divided into separate chiefdoms and war between factions was common. In 1791, Kohala-born Kamehameha united the Big Island and went on to unify all of the Hawaiian Islands. This was the home to King Kamehameha’s court until it moved to Oahu in 1804. In 1812, Kamehameha the Great returned to his beloved Big Island where he died in 1819.
In 1820, the first missionaries arrived in Kailua-Kona. Other westerners followed, introducing cattle to the island. Parker Ranch was born, becoming one of the largest cattle ranches in the country. Sugar plantations also bloomed on the Hilo side in the 20th century.
Today, the Big Island remains a vital touchstone for Hawaiian culture. Throughout its modernization, one ancient Hawaiian god is believed to be alive and well here. Pele, the volcano goddess, has settled in Kilauea Volcano after moving south along the island chain. She continues to display her power today, keeping Kilauea in a constant state of eruption, since 1983.