The Island of Hawaii is also nicknamed
The Big Island and The Orchid Isle. The Island of Hawaii's flower is
Lehua and the island's color is red. There are many places to see while
on The Big Island. There is Hilo Bay, Banyan Drive, Lili'uokalani Gardens,
Rainbow Falls, Hawaii Volcanoes
National Park, Lava Tree State Monument, Lapkahi State Historical Park,
Akaka Falls, Kahuna Falls and many other great points of interest.
Hawaii is the youngest island in the Hawaiian
Chain, with a new island, the Loihi Seamount, building under water just
beyond its easternmost point. Hawaii is one of the few places
on Earth where you can walk right up to an active volcanic firepit.
It boasts the world's most voluminous lava flows, but rarely poses danger
However, scientists are taking a
second look at Hawaiian volcanoes' history in the wake of the explosive
Pinatubo volcano in the Philippines in mid-1991. Recent studies
of the ocean floor reveal that ash and rock were similarly shot high
into the air by prehistoric volcanoes in the Hawaiian Islands.
Five large shield volcanoes coughed
up enough lava to make the big Island, which comprises nearly two-thirds
of the land mass of the Hawaiian Islands. Eruptions have occurred
over millions of years, beginning with magma bubbling from a crack in
the sea floor, laying down layers of lava until the shield volcanoes
emerged from the ocean. The five shield volcanoes that form the
Big Island are Kilauea and Mauna Loa, still active, Hualalai, which
last erupted in 1801, and Mauna Kea and Kohala, which have been inactive
in recent history.
Lava that flowed quickly
left smooth pahoehoe paths and slower-moving lava left chunky
'a'a. As the big Island matured, wind and water erosion
carved valleys and waves cut high sea cliffs. Glaciation affected
the Big Island, and its trails can be seen on the high slopes o 13,796-foot
It was he most massive mountain Polynesians
had ever seen. Mauna Loa loomed above the seafarers as they stepped
out of their sailing canoes, climbing onto Ka Lae at south Point to
settle this island of living volcanoes more than 1,200 years ago.
From the Marquesas, Tahiti, and
perhaps the cook Islands, the Polynesians used wind and paddles to carry
them more than 3,500 miles north to the Big Island. In waves of
migrations, they brought ingredients for self-sufficient living:
banana, coconut and mulberry plantings, chickens, dogs and pigs to be
cooked in their earthen ovens or imu. Knowledge of fishing and
boat-building, weaving, wood and stone-carving allowed the Polynesian
population to grow. By the time Capt. James Cook sailed into Kealakekua
Bay in 1779, there were about 80,000 people living there.
Polynesians flourished in Hawaii under
a system of chiefs and commoners, a culture of strict rules and an abundance
of mythology. The most powerful deity whom Big Islanders worshiped
is said to still reveal herself every time the lava spurts from a caldron
or drips down a mountain. Her name is Pele, a goddess who changes
place and form at will; whose anger, fire and burning blood (lava) can
run over a village and catch a man. With the volcano destroying
almost 200 homes during the last decade, some Hawaiians still place
gifts of food and drink on her rim, hoping to appease Madame Pele.
Modern-day Hawaiians revere their
ancestors as stewards of the land and sea. Hey were a race who
were careful not to over-fish reefs, streams and rivers, and were skilled
in creating irrigation channels to water the native taro, a staple food
pounded into the gray paste called poi.
The early Hawaiians lived in triangular
communities called ahupuaa, each containing all the resources needed
for life. Abundant water flowed the mountains, to house poles
cut from forests, the lowland soils were good for planting, and the
near-shore reefs teemed with edible fish.
Some of the most prosperous ancient
Hawaiian communities were located on the Big Island, including Waipio
and Polulu Valleys on the North Shore. These communities produced
taro that was traded throughout the island in exchange for fish, cloth
and other necessities.
Capt. James cook's crew sailed into Kealakekua
on the British ships HMS Discovery and Resolution on Jan. 17, 1779,
escorted into the bay by Hawaiians in their canoes. The Hawaiians
had learned of cook's first trip to the islands the year before when
he had landed at Waimea Bay on the island of Kauai.
At Kealakekua, some 10,000 Big Islanders
were in the midst of their makahiki celebration in honor of the god
Lon. Some historians have concluded Cook was mistaken for this
god and treated accordingly. Notes from ship logs said his crew
had never before seen such an amassing of people in these islands, thousands
celebrating on shore, thousands more paddling and "swimming about
the ship like shoals of fish."
On land, natives put their hands
over their faces and bowed before Cook, perhaps believing the white
sails of his ship were flags of Lono, similar to their own banners honoring
the god. They held ceremony after ceremony during his two-week
stay, entertaining his crew with Hawaiian boxing, wrestling and other
native games, bestowing gifts upon Cook, and hosting feasts. In
return, Cook thrilled the Hawaiians with a fireworks display, a flute
and violin concert, and ship tours.
Cook was murdered by the Hawaiians
only days after treating him as royalty. After setting sail from
Kealakekua, a storm destroyed the Resolution's mast. When
Cook returned to Kealakekua Bay for repairs, the festival was over and
Hawaiians were respecting a kapu that made the bay off limits.
The natives fraternized with the crew but stole their shore boat.
When cook landed to take Chief Kalaniopuu hostage until the cutter was
returned, a and of Hawaiian warriors clubbed him to death.
During the last century, England
erected a monument to Cook at the northern end of Kealakekua Bay, which
remains the only piece of property in the Hawaiian Islands owned by
England. The monument is visited by a number of boat tours that
operate along the Kona Coast.
Following cook's death, the Big Island's
own King Kamehameha set out to conquer all the Hawaiian Islands, bringing
them under one ruler for the first time by using the white man's weaponry
and sailing crafts. By 1791, he had conquered his own Big Island
and by 1795, the islands of Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Oahu. By
1810, he also held Kauai, after convincing its chief to serve him.
Kamehameha held a tight rein on
the islands, attempting to brace them for the increasing visits by entrepreneurs
and sailors who were introducing western ways that many of his subjects
found difficult to resist. Venereal diseases wiped out much of
the native population during the next century, with help from measles,
influenza, typhoid and other epidemics.
Greed along the chiefs, including
Kamehameha himself, led to additional destruction of Hawaiian life.
They forced natives to spend weeks at a time in the interior, cutting
forests of sandalwood that was sold in the orient, thereby abandoning
their own self-sufficiency. Guns and boats from westerners were
exchanged for Hawaiian wives and land. By the time Kamehameha
died at the age of 63 in his Kona home, the Hawaiian way of life was
well on its way to destruction.
THE MISSIONARY INFLUENCE
On April 4, 1820, Calvinist missionaries
from Boston arrived on the brig Thaddeus at Kawaihae on the Kohala Coast.
Meanwhile, after Kamehameha's death, his favorite wife, Kaahumanu, and
her foster son, Kamehameha II, had become the rulers. They hastily
abandoned kapus and embraced the new Christianity. The missionaries
wasted no time in destroying ancient Hawaiian altars and replacing them
Even Kapiolani, high chiefess of the Big
Island discredited Hawaiian gods by holding a Calvinist service on the
edge of a volcano to denounce Madame Pele and proclaimed that Jehovah
was her god. Hawaiians were impressed that despite Kapiolani's
insults, the volcano did not respond. Recently however, following
a similar service in 1974, the volcano erupted, pleasing some of the
revivalists of ancient Hawaiian religious practices.
With missionaries and foreign entrepreneurs
came the skills of reading and writing, and the idea of western law
– particularly the laws associated with private property --- previously
unknown to Hawaiians.
By the year 1840, the Hawaiian Islands
had a constitution, a supreme court and a parliament with an elected
lower house. In 1848 the land was divided into a third for the
royalty, one third for government and the final third for common people.
By 1850, foreigners could buy land outright and, during the 1860's,
an immigration office was established to encourage people to move to
Hawaii, particularly those wanting to work in the burgeoning sugar industry.
By the mid-1800's, with the forests
depleted, the sugar and whaling industries replaced the sandalwood trade.
Whaling died out with the depletion of the whale population and the
discovery of oil fields in America. Sugar, however, flourished
well into the twentieth century and, although troubled, continues today.
Many of the businessmen who arrived
during the 1800's came into conflict with royalty. Under pressure
from United States sailors and Marines, Queen Liliuokalani turned over
her rule to the businessmen who founded the Republic of Hawaii.
At their request, the U.S. annexed Hawaii as a Territory on July 7,
1898. On July 27, 1959 the voters of the Hawaiian Islands approved
statehood and the Big Island became one of the four counties of the
More recently, the Big Island has
become a center of research and education, with its four-year university,
astronomy, geothermal, alternate energy and ocean research centers.
It is also a leader in diversified agriculture, with flowers, coffee
and macadamia nuts among its products. The visitor industry also
injects much revenue into the county and state coffers.
Much more to come! Currently under construction...