Travel + Leisure Staff
October 27, 2017

Officially named Hawaii, but referred to by most as the Big Island, this is the largest island in the Central Pacific archipelago known as Hawaii. Here, you’ll find no shortage of dreamy vacation draws, from white-sand beaches and a fascinating array of ocean and wildlife, to a thriving food and drink scene.

Once you’ve arrived on the Big Island, bee-line it to the famed Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where you can find Kilauea Volcano, one of the planet’s most active volcanoes.

There is ample room for exploration in this 333,000-acre park. Visitors can hike through volcanic craters and deserts, discover a volcanic lava tube, and adventure through the rainforest.

Unique to the state of Hawaii is a flourishing coffee industry, and the Big Island is the ideal place to get a taste. Head to the west side of the island to tour a coffee farm and working mills (and, of course, try the famous, locally-grown Kona coffee).

Related: The 15 Best Resort Hotels in Hawaii

Continue your trip in either Waimea or North Kohala, where you can learn about Hawaii’s storied paniolo, or cowboy traditions. Tour a cattle ranch, go out for an ATV ride, explore on horseback, or check out the historic homes and estates at places like Anna Ranch and Kahua Ranch.

It will come as no surprise that the Big Island offers visitors plenty of beautiful, pristine beaches and rugged stretches of shoreline, too. (Meaning there is something for every kind of beach bum.) Sit back and relax with a cocktail on soft, pearly sand, or head into the water for a snorkel or diving excursion.

A favorite is one of the island’s colorful beaches, Papakolea Beach, which has sand of a rare, olive-green hue.

Continue to take in the vibrant natural surroundings with a trip to Liliuokalani Gardens, a beautiful, 30-acre tribute to Hawaii’s first Japanese immigrants. Wander across grand arching bridges, past Japanese stone lanterns, through rock gardens, and admire the impressive flora.

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