The Island of Hawaii, better known as Big Island, is indeed the biggest of all the Hawaiian Islands. In fact, with an area of 4,028 square miles (10,430 sq km), it is in fact bigger than all the Hawaiian Islands put together and is the largest single island in the USA.
Famous for its monster surf, beautiful coastlines and geological extremities, the island has a huge amount to offer for the green traveller looking to witness some of nature’s most impressive and unforgiving terrains.
Native Hawaiians have practiced what we would now call sustainable living for millennia. Their fishing, farming, planting, aquaculture and methods of food sustainability and use of ahupuaa (contiguous land divisions which extended from the uplands to the sea) are widely regarded as the most efficient in the Pacific. If you want to eat somewhere that still maintains and applies these environmentally sound practices, then Merriman’s Restaurant is an absolute must. It uses only the freshest island ingredients: cattle raised on the islands’ upland pastures, fruits and vegetables grown from volcanic soil, and fish from one of the best managed fisheries around.
You will also want to take a tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Being one of the most active volcanoes on the planet, it is a sacred place for native Hawaiians, and a chance to see Mother Earth at her most burning and beastly. gohawaii.com offer tours of the park, Kilauea Visitor Centre and museums and can be booked all year round.
When looking for a place to stay, then there is a lot to choose from for the committed ecotourist. But I would recommend checking out the Volcano Guest House, which is situated within walking distance from the National Park, and boasts solar energy, its own 6 acres of nature trails, and use of recycled and local materials in all of its rooms as key features. This is affordable ecotourism with sustainable lodging experience since 1986. As its website says, it is ‘The Real Green!’