How Hawaii’s Big Island Is Different To Expectations

When I first chose to go to Hawaii over Easter a lot of people marveled at my choice of destination thinking it would be all white sand beaches, hula dancers, floral lay’s everywhere and surfers adorning all of the coastal areas. I had little expectations of the island other than knowing what the tour I was booked on had entailed as I hate paint brushing an entire area or island just down to the photographs you can find on Google.

Hawaii itself is made up of eight individual islands including Hawaii (The Big Island) along with Maui, Oahu, Kahoolawe, Lanai, Molokai, Kauai and Niihau, and believe it or not Honolulu which is the stereotypical Hawaii destination sits on Oahu, one of the much smaller islands. I ended up visiting the main Hawaii island which is often overlooked in favour of Oahu but the two places are so different.

Don’t expect white sand beaches

The large Hawaii island was created around a volcano which is still active today meaning that yes it does regularly spew lava, although most of this goes straight into the ocean. Due to the lava and the geological properties of the island don’t go expecting beautiful white sand beaches everywhere you look as most, in fact, are black or grey due to the lava. If you’re looking for crystal clear waters and white sand beaches then Waikiki in Honolulu is probably better suited for you.

Don’t expect huge cities

Honolulu is a large city and therefore the island of Oahu is quite urban with a large population, skyscrapers, and bustling freeways much like mainland America, but Hawaii isn’t like that at all. We sometimes entered beach area’s and were the only one’s there and even really touristy locations like the Volcano National Park wasn’t overrun by people, and some of the roads, well roads might be too nice of a term for it. While there are cities like Kona or Hilo and big hotels on the large island it’s so easy to be isolated and away from the crowds.

The island has 11 different climates

The big island has the widest range of climates offering a massive 11 of the 13 possible climate zones which means that one day you can be on the hot part of the island sunbathing on the coast, the next day you could drive an hour to the rainy part of the island and wander around waterfalls and botanical gardens, and then the next you can snowboard on the mountain peaks.

You can read more about my Hawaii adventures here and more about my experience with Trek America here.

July 11, 2017
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  • Wow I thought England’s climate was variable, but it sounds like Hawaii’s Big Island has it beaten hands down! I would love to get to visit myself one day – but until then I shall live it all through you!

  • PrettyLusciousThings

    Hawaii definitely sounds different on here than I have previously read but I kinda like it. Just makes the place more intriguing to me.

  • The black sand beaches look quite similar to Madeira, where my family is from. I had no idea that Hawaii was like that though, especially when you consider the stereotype perpetuated in the media x x

  • Gareth Torrance

    11 different climates is crazy! Man, you made me want to go adventuring there now!

  • Samantha Bye

    I did expect all of Hawaii to be the white beaches and clear sea, so I’m surprised it’s so different to the way it’s depicted! It still sounds like a cool place to visit though, especially with all the different climates on one island, that’s mad!

  • Nelu

    Is it still worthy of a visit though?

    • Of course! As you can see from the photos it’s a stunning place x

  • Natasha Mairs

    Sounds very different to what I expected too. I never knew Honolulu wasn’t on Hawaii it’s self. And it’s amazing to find out about the different climates there, I never knew some parts might have snow!

  • It just sounds like such an amazing place to visit! What an amazing experience you had! x

  • Leah Shafik

    What an interesting place. It’s so weird that we have been mislead though by the Hawaii pictures you see. I always thought Honolulu was in in Hawaii. Every day is a school day. x

  • Jennifer Eastwell

    My partners mum is visiting Hawaii soon and she keeps bragging of course. I didn’t realise that most beaches aren’t the nice sandy beaches are ones you see in pictures. I didn’t realise either about the range of climates either! I just thought that it was really warm all the time!

  • Mummy Times Two

    I would love to go to Hawaii and your stunning photos have made me want to go even more!

  • see dont believe everything you hear and see unless seen yourself , i still however think its ana amazing place x

  • Melanie

    Love this real article and how you tell the truths about the place so it manages people’s expectations :)x

  • it may not all be crystal sea and white sands but it’s still so beautiful ad what an amazong experience, your 2017 travels have been so good!

  • When I think of Hawaii it makes me thing of the programme Lost! Glad you had a great time there.

  • Kira L Curtis

    I’ve always loved the idea of going to hawaii and although I knew about the volcanoes, I never realised how quite the large island would be, sounds pretty nice and peaceful 😀

  • KGR

    I’ve always wanted to travel to Hawaii and I must say I am super jealous of all your traveling. I knew it was a volcanic island and that there weren’t cities etc but it sounds so peaceful and just that break and exploration would be great to do!

  • Laura Dove

    Oh I really did imagine white sandy beaches and green lush palm trees!! This has made me feel a little bit let down, although I’m sure it’s amazing, it’s not how I imagined?

  • This definitely isn’t what I expected Hawaii to be. But still looks like a beautiful place to visit.

  • This is really interesting actually! I suppose I was just going by what I thought I knew about Hawaii! I knew about the volcanoes, but I honestly did expect all white sand beaches! Your photo diary is beautiful btw!

  • I just admit I did think Hawaii would just be white beaches – How fascinating to learn that it is build around volcanos. Fabulous photos of what sounds a fascinating place.

  • Beach Hut Cook

    As soon as i read your opening title i thought immediately of white beaches and then saw your pictures of grey beaches which really surprised me. Lovely post

  • Helen Clark

    Oh I had no idea some of Hawaii had volcanic beaches! Or that it had so many different climates too. It’s not somewhere I know very much about so I’ve just pictured it all being like Honolulu I think.

  • Rachel In Real Life

    Like others I assumed Hawaii was all white beaches and I didn’t know it was made up of so many islands either!

  • Angela Milnes

    I enjoyed reading this post and I love the reality versus what people might expect. Living on the Island of Tonga myself I know what to expect although it was very different to how I imagined before I arrived. 🙂

  • I’m surprised they don’t have white sand beaches! That’s a disappointment 🙁

  • Jenni Grainger

    When I think of Hawaii I think of that film with Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler. I would have expected white beaches. I love that the climate is so varied!

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