More than any other of the main Hawaiian islands, the Big Island in Hawaii has the most diverse landscape, the most climatic zones, and the most land mass. All those things make the island one of the most fascinating places on the planet, but they also make the Big Island a tricky place to visit if you don’t ask the right questions.

So, we’ve put together 5 questions you should ask before you visit, so you can make informed decisions about your vacation:

1. What side of the island do you want to visit? The Big Island of Hawaii (similar to the other islands) has a windward side and a leeward side, but here, the extremes are quite… well… extreme. If you want to experience a wetter, more “rainforesty” place, you’ll want to book your vacation on the Hilo (east) side of the island. There, you’ll experience a more lush environment, but fewer resorts, beaches, and tourist-oriented restaurants, etc. If you book your vacation on the Kona (west)side of the island, you’ll be in a more desert-type environment, but you’ll find more businesses catering to visitors, more resorts, and more beaches.

Comfortable shoes, clothing and drinking water are musts if you intend to hike out to Kilauea's lava flow.

2.  How has the vog been lately? For visitors who struggle with lung or breathing issues, this is an important question. Kona and the surrounding areas are particularly susceptible the adverse effects of vog (volcano fog). Too much vog can really put a damper on a vacation, since it hovers around the atmosphere, choking-out some of the sun. More importantly, though, those who have asthma could run-into health issues if the vog is too thick.

3. Is the volcano flow visible these days? Most folks who visit the Big Island in Hawaii make it a priority to visit the Kilauea Volcano, which often creates visible lava flows. However, there are times when the flow won’t be visible, especially by those who want to stay on land. You don’t want to be disappointed with a no-show lava flow. So, make sure you ask about visibility before you book your trip.

4. How long will it take me to get from ______ to ______? Lots of visitors are shocked when they realize just how big the Big Island is! If you would like to do some road trips or excursions while visiting the island, make sure you ask how long it will take you to get to and fro by car. Because the road system isn’t exactly “modernized,” what looks like a short trip could actually take you much longer.

If you have any type of breathing difficulty, it's wise to check on just how bad the vog coming from the volcano is before your visit.

5. Do I need any special attire/clothing? This is a great question for those planning a visit to the summit of Mauna Kea. There, you’ll experience near-arctic conditions, which means your shorts, tank top, and slippers won’t do the trick. For visitors who make plans for night excursions, the same applies: It can get a bit chilly at night on the Big Island, especially in the winter.

Your tour professionals at Hawaii Aloha Travel are experts at answering these kinds of questions and more. Whether you’re booking a volcano tour, a whale watching excursion, or a Big Island Circle Island tour, you’ll want to ask your knowledgeable guides about what to expect.

Once you have all your questions answered, you’re ready to go! So, ask up-front, and enjoy your Big Island vacation!


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