Hawaii, also called the Island of Hawaii, the Big Island or Hawaii Island , which comprises Hawaii County and the Hilo, HI Micropolitan Statistical Area, is an island, county, and Micropolitan Statistical Area located in the U.S. state of Hawaii in the Hawaiian Islands.
It is the largest and the southeastern-most of the Hawaiian islands, a chain of volcanic islands in the North Pacific Ocean. With an area of 4,028 square miles (10,430 km2), it is larger than all of the other islands in the archipelago combined and is the largest island in the United States. The island is often referred to as the "Big Island" to reduce confusion between the island and the state.
The best way to see Hawaii's Big Island is to drive around it. You'll soon be immersed in a varied landscape unlike any other in the United States. You'll encounter lava desert, jungle, farmland, active lava flows, warm beaches, cool highlands, and views of soaring mountains and plunging valleys.
"The Big Island has it all," says Corky Bryan, a career paniolo, or Hawaiian cowboy, who's now a vice president at the island's 150,000-acre (60,702-hectare) Parker Ranch. He's right. This island is larger than all the other Hawaiian Islands combined; it's the only one still volcanically active; and it has rich evidence of native culture.
A side road leads to Kealakekua Bay, from which you can see a monument marking the place where British explorer James Cook was stabbed to death by the natives in 1779. This happened just a year after he and his crew became the first Europeans to set foot on what he dubbed the "Sandwich Islands."
For the next 40 miles (64 kilometers), the road traverses, alternately, old lava fields and Eden-like forests with flowering multicolored bougainvillea and hibiscus along the side of the road. Also look for tropical trees like the wide-spreading monkeypod and ohia trees with feathery red blossoms.