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Facts about The Big Island: the Island of Hawaii

a train on a track with smoke coming out of it

1. Facts About The Big Island: Hawaii is an Archipelago AND an Island

Hawaii” is the name of the island chain in the Pacific Ocean comprising the 50th state in the United States, but it is also the name of the biggest of the individual islands that make up this island chain. Some people may find this naming convention confusing, and so to make things easier, the large island named Hawaii is often simply called “The Big Island“. This is one of the facts about The Big Island that can help you understand which island is being talked about in conversation.


smoke coming out of the water


2. Kilauea Volcano is the Most Recent Volcano on The Big Island to Erupt

Kilauea Volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Visitors can view the eruption from a safe distance at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Volcanic eruptions occur when magma from the earth’s core spews out above the crust and becomes lava. A webcam updated 24 hours per day broadcasts this volcanic activity. For those of us who don’t live near volcanoes, volcanoes are an exciting glimpse at the power of Mother Nature, but for residents, these eruptions are just another one of those facts about the Big Island that have become a a part of every day life.

3. Pele’s Hair are Blown Glass Shards of Volcanic Basalt

You may be familiar with images of lava rivers pouring down the side of a mountain volcano, but that’s not the only form of igneous rock created by a volcanic eruption. Volcanic eruptions can also produce a fine, thin, hair-like glass known as Pele’s Hair.

According to legend, Pele is the volcano goddess who came to rest on Kilauea. These blown glass fibers are thin, and look like hair. It’s easy to see where this fragile, unique volcanic creation got its name.

a close up of a rock

4. Mauna Kea Volcano is the Tallest Mountain from the Sea Floor

This dormant volcano reaches 33,000 feet from the bottom of the sea floor to the summit. Visitors can frolic on a beach in the morning and ascend to the nearly 14,000 peak in the afternoon. If you want sunshine and snowballs in one day, beware of altitude sickness. Take breaks and drink water during your trip.

5. Facts about The Big Island: the Newest of All Hawaiian Islands

Volcanic activity created the Hawaiian island chain, and The Big Island is the latest of these islands to rise from the ocean. Not only that, but this island is the largest of all of the islands in this archipelago. In fact, The Big Island is larger than all of the other Hawaiian islands combined, and is over 4,000 square miles.