|Hawai‘i (The Big Island) - The Orchid Isle - is the youngest and largest of the Hawaiian Islands, covering 4,028 square miles and growing every day (Kilauea caldera is the longest continually erupting volcano in recorded history). The Big Island is twice as large as all other major Hawaiian islands combined.
Ranching and agriculture are the Big Island's economic mainstays. Major products include beef, Kona coffee, macadamia nuts, papaya and tropical flowers such as orchids and anthuriums. Resorts and most residential developments are located in coastal areas such as Hilo, Kailua-Kona, and the Kohala Coast, leaving much of the interior of the island untouched.
The Big Island is home to five volcanoes, three of which are active: Mauna Loa erupts an average of once every five years; Hualalai last erupted in 1801; and Kilauea erupts almost continuously. Kohala is the Big Island's oldest volcano, and Mauna Kea is Hawai‘i's highest mountain at 13,796 feet. The Big Island is approximately 0.7 million years old.
The island has 12 distinct climate zones, ranging from rain forest to tundra. The rain forests are on the eastern portion of the island, while the western side receives very little rain. The Big Island's average annual rainfall ranges from 10 inches at Kawaihae (near the Kohala coast) to 128 inches at Hilo Airport.