It’s a common question by visitors and even locals; exactly how big is the “Big Island?” After all, it must be pretty sizable to earn a name like that, right? With more than 4,000 square miles of land mass, the Big Island is twice the size of the other islands combined, with room to spare. It’s even bigger than both Rhode Island and Delaware combined!

A well-deserved name, I’d say. Not to mention, it’s still GROWING. Thanks to Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano, land continues to be added to the already “big” island with each hardened lava flow. Scientists predict that the underwater volcano just 15 miles southeast of the Big Island will eventually reach sea level and merge with the Big Island. Loihi, as it has been named, is currently erupting under the Pacific Ocean, and it won’t be until another hundreds of thousands of years before this happens.

The Big Island is packed with beaches, volcanoes and reefs. In fact, it’s home to 11 of the Earth’s 13 climate zones. And since it’s the youngest island in the Hawaiian chain, there’s still plenty of cultural sites still in tact today. People can step back in time when visiting such sites and explore the living history at hand. There’s no way to see everything in one day, however; it’s just that BIG.

Some don’t realize that the “Big Island” is actually a nickname. Its real name is the Hawaii Island. I’m guessing that confused people since Hawaii is the name of the entire state – all eight Hawaiian Islands. Sometimes the Big Island is called the “Orchid Isle” because of the 100,000 species of orchids that grow there or the “Volcano Island,” which isn’t too far from the truth. After all, it does sit on an active volcano. But the Big Island is the name that stuck when describing one of Earth’s most amazing gems.


  1. Also Hawaii, the Big Island, has the name Moku O Keawe. So many associations with this name … the mele written during the last days of the reign of Queen Liliuokalani, the creation story of Keawe. Keawe was the light of the universe. He threw open his calabash and spread stars across the night sky, then selected the golden sun… This island has about it so much the sense of this creation spirit of Keawe. It is lovely to know this name for this place.

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