Here on the Big Island

“It’s really big!”

You hear that a lot, from visitors, especially first-timers. Maybe they’ve cruised the Caribbean islands, most of which are downright tiny by comparison. Or they’ve seen the other Hawaiian islands first – Maui, Oahu, Molokai, Kauai, or Lanai – before coming here to the Island of Hawaii.

In the words of the late naturalist Euell Gibbons, “This one island is considerably larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined, and rises to an altitude much higher than New Hampshire and Vermont would be if they were stacked one on top of the other.”

It covers 4,000 square miles – literally twice the area of all the other Hawaiian islands combined. And since it measures 100 miles long by 100 miles wide, you need a full two hours to drive non-stop from one end to the other. But that’s not the best way to see Hawaii. Better to take at least two days, and make a circumnavigation. There’s an airport with rental cars on each side: in Hilo on the east side, and in Kona on the west, which also serves the big resorts that are oases on the black lava fields of South Kohala.

Driving from Hilo, the “classic” visitor route is clockwise: heading first to the volcano – Kilauea has been especially active, lately – and coming up to Kona from the south; spending a night there, and going back to Hilo by way of the ranchlands of Waimea and the lush Hamakua Coast. From Kona or South Kohala, the “classic” drive is typically counter-clockwise, heading south through the coffee fields of Kona and the windswept landscape of Ka’u, to see the volcano. Worthwhile side-trips are to North Kohala, still reminiscent of its “old Hawaii” days, or to rural Waipio Valley. It takes a four-wheel-drive vehicle to cross the island over the Saddle Road, but renting one (and being very careful!) you could visit the astronomy center at 9,000 feet, and even attain the 13,900-foot summit of Mauna Kea, which is often snow-capped in the winter.

The Big Island is therefore practically a continent in miniature, with all but two of the world’s climate zones – sorry, no glaciers or sandy deserts, but everything else from tropical jungle to alpine heights.

That quote from Euell Gibbons, by the way, is from his 1967 book Beachcomber’s Handbook, which has marvelous recipes for local fruit, vegetables and fish, about which I’ll write more in the weeks to come.

Market Conditions Report – Hilo

Market Conditions Report

* Hilo *

You asked for it!  We’ll now be periodically providing Market Condition Reports on specific areas on the Big Island, and we’ll start with Hilo …

Area Characteristics: Hilo is located on the east side of the Big Island of Hawaii. It is the second largest city in Hawaii with a population of approximately 60,000. Generally this is a lush green area with fair amounts of rainfall. The population makeup tends to be more local (native Hawaiians) then that of the Kona area, or west side of the island. The county, state, and federal offices are all located in Hilo, as well as the University of Hawaii at Hilo, a major contributor to the local economy and culture.
     For the individual thinking of relocating to Hilo, you will find the people warm and friendly, and there are numerous opportunities. Unemployment is extremely low, and well paying jobs may be hard to find. On the other hand housing is relatively affordable when compared to other parts of Hawaii or the continental U.S.
     If you are looking for a small town feel with all the amenities of a larger city, Hilo is the place to be.

Buyer’s or Seller’s Market: On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being a buyers market and 5 being a seller’s market, Hilo is at a 2. This is a buyers market.

Recent Price Trend: On a scale of 1 to 5, with a 1 reflecting sales prices down and 5 reflecting prices up, Hilo is “Down”, with a rating of 2.

Market Report Narrative:
Hilo has not really been affected by the market downturn over the past 1.5 years. Sellers are still listing their properties at nearly the same price range as last year. The difference is, there is greater inventory on the market, and sellers are often willing to take less than asking price in order to move their properties. Over the last year those properties that were listed on the MLS in the Hilo area (up to 1 million) sold for an average of $375,434. Currently, there are 143 properties listed that fit this description, with an average listing price of $428,059. As these properties linger on the market, most of these sellers will accept less. While this is definitely a buyer’s market sellers, particularly those of high end properties, are still getting fair value.

Alaska Airlines Now Serving Hawaii

According to www.cheaptickets.com today:

Alaska Airlines Expands into Hawaii

     Alaska Airlines introduced its first nonstop daily service between Seattle and Honolulu on Friday, October 12th.
     The flight is part of a wider expansion by the airline into Hawaii, with routes from Seattle to Lihue and Kauai due to commence on October 28th.
     In addition, a nonstop service from Anchorage to Honolulu will be launched on December 9th.
     Gregg Saretsky, Alaska Airlines’ Executive Vice-President of Flight and Marketing, said, “Our customers and employees have been waiting for this day — when Alaska says ‘Aloha’ to Hawaii — for years.
     “Customers now will be able to enjoy Alaska’s unique brand of service and earn Mileage Plan miles whether they’re booking a flight or a complete vacation package to the beautiful islands of Hawaii.”
     All the new flights will be operated with Boeing 737-880 aircraft and passengers will be able to purchase Hawaiian-themed meals onboard.

Big Island Climate

Big Island Climate


OrchidBecause of the size of the Big Island, as well as the fact that the island has two mountains over 13,700 feet tall, you can expect to find very many different climates on this pacific playground.From beautiful tropical beach weather to cooler elevations where fireplaces are necessary at night, the Big Island offers a climate for everyone.Hawaii temperatures are in general mild and do not vary more than about +/- 5 degrees throughout the year.

 Click here to see the 10 day weather forecast in Hilo.

Here’s a map displaying the Big Island Annual Average Temperatures:
Big Island Annual Temperatures

Here’s another displaying the Annual Average Rainfall:
Average Rainfall


Big Island Things to Do

Big Island Things to Do

The Big Island’s size and diversified climate means there is a lot of activities and entertainment to participate in. From hiking to rodeos to scuba to snowboarding, the Big Island offers just about everything. 

One of my favorite resources for things to do, featuring “nature and culture based experiences”, is Alternative-Hawaii.  Another of my favorite resources is InstantHawaii.com, featuring information about Hikes, Parks, Trails, Scenic Drives and more.

Below is just a small list of activities that are available to visitors and residents of the Big Island:

  • Hundreds of miles of hiking trails and mountain bike trails
  • Volcanically heated swimming areas
  • Surfing and body boarding
  • Scuba and snorkeling
  • Playing with red hot lava
  • Parasailing
  • Shore fishing and deep sea fishing
  • Boat cruises
  • Stargazing and Astronomy shows
  • Cavern and Lava Tube tours and clubs
  • Luaus
  • Golfing (18 golf courses)
  • Tennis
  • Museums
  • Off-roading
  • Hunting
  • Rafting and flume rides
  • Petroglyph sites
  • Flower and Tropical gardens
  • Music
  • Whale and Dolphin watching
  • Helicopter tours
  • Wineries and Coffee plantation tours
  • Horseback riding and rodeos
  • Kayaking and Canoeing
  • Bird watching
  • Farmers Market
  • Shopping, shopping and more shopping

Quick Big Island Statistics

 Big Island Stats At-a-Glance

    Age: 700,000 years     National parks: 4
    Size miles: 4,028.2 State Parks: 17
    Size acres: 2,578,048 County Parks: 135
    Island length: 93 miles Hunting Areas: 26
    Island width: 76 miles Wildlife Refuges: 1
    Highest Point: 13,796 ft Sanctuaries: 2
    Longest River: 32 miles Surfing Sites: 185
    Highest Waterfall: 620 feet Bodysurfing: 17
    Population: 143,135 Swimming: 72
    Churches: 288 Island Flower: Lehua ‘ohi’a
    Schools: 38 State Bird: Nene Goose
    Tourists daily: 21,360 Nickname: Orchid Isle
    The Big Island
    Sandy Shoreline: 19.4 miles