Hawaii/Hawaii

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Hawai`i is the largest island in the Hawaiian Islands chain. It is often referred to as The Big Island to distinguish it from Hawaii the state.

Hawai`i was the home island of Kamehameha the Great who by 1795 had violently united most of the Hawaiian Islands under his rule. He gave his kingdom the name of his native island, which is why we now call all the islands Hawai`i.

Captain James Cook, who made the Western world aware of the islands, was killed on Hawai`i.

There is volcanic activity, including lava flows on the southern side of the island. Hawai`i Volcano National Park encompasses the summits.

The leeward side is the Kona coast.

The largest town is Hilo, on the windward coast, and is one of the wettest cities in the world.

Tourist information:

The Big Island is famous for volcanoes. The volcano shot up a fountain of lava few hundred feet tall couple decades ago. Some helicopters would fly tourists close to the fire fountain. Nowadays, the volcano is still active but the top of the lava flow had hardened and the lava flows underground in tunnels. At the sea shore where the lava meet the ocean, tourists can see billows of white steam rising from the shore line. At night, the lava lights up the steam to give a orange glow. When the molten lava makes contact with the ocean, the sea water turns into steam, and the sudden cooling of the lava causes the newly formed lava rocks to explode and crack into small pieces. The broken up lava is further ground into black sands along the shore by the ocean waves. Black sand beaches are quite common on the big island.

The Kilauea Caldera is also a famous tourist attraction. The floor of the caldera is flat like a lake and was formed when the lake of lava receeded and hardened.

Another popular tourist spot is the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut orchard and factory. It is interesting and good shopping for chocolate and the famous Macadamia nuts.

Websites: Volcanoes National Park