The Big Island
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.
From the torrents of molten magma flowing from Kilauea Volcano to the snow-capped heights of Mauna Kea; from the lush green rainforests of the Hamakua Coast to the jet black sands of Punaluu Beach, Hawaii’s Big Island is an unrivaled expression of the power of nature.
The dramatic size and scope of the largest Hawaiian Island create a microcosm of environments and activities. On this island’s vast tableau, you’ll find everything from extravagant resorts and astonishing golf courses to sleepy, local towns, and sacred Hawaiian historical sites.
- See molten lava flow at Kilauea volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
- Play in the snow atop Mauna Kea, the world’s tallest mountain (measured from the ocean floor)
- Hike through Waipio Valley, the “Valley of the Kings”
- Explore Puukohola Heiau, the largest restored ancient Hawaiian religious temple
Covering 4,028 square miles, the Big Island (or the "Orchid Isle") is the youngest and largest of the Hawaiian Islands — twice the size of all the other major Islands combined. And with two of the five volcanoes that created the island still active, it continues to grow: Kilauea Caldera is the longest continuously erupting volcano in the world, its present eruptive phase dating back to 1983; Mauna Loa, meanwhile, last erupted in March of 1984, sending lava to within a few miles of East Hawai'i's Hilo town. Of the remaining three volcanoes on the island, Mauna Kea and Kohala are extinct, while Hualalai is considered to be dormant, having last erupted in 1801.
Though the average temperature on the Big Island ranges from 71 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit in the coastal regions (with temperatures in the low 70s October through April), the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa are often blanketed with snow.
Average annual rainfall ranges from 10 inches at Kawaihae (near the west-facing Kohala Coast) to 128 inches at the Hilo Airport.
Fifteen miles off the island's southeast coast yet another volcano, Lo'ihi, is erupting 3,000 feet below the surface of the ocean. While it will still be several thousand years before this volcano breaks the sea's surface, it has already risen more than 10,000 feet from the sea floor and has a crater that measures three miles across.
Medically Underserved Areas
Hawai'i County is by far the most underserved area in our state. Because of its vast size, low population density, and relatively high poverty rates, health care services are difficult to access. In addition, because there is little to no public transportation, transit to health care services is an issue.
The Big Island has two Critical Access Hospitals and four health centers that are eligible to recruit NHSC personnel, as well as J-1 Visa health professionals.