5 Surprising Things That Make the Big Island Unique & Special

February 25, 2017, 9:00 AM HST (Updated February 23, 2017, 12:35 PM)
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Big Island Now’s, Malika Dudley, shows us her “Top 5 List” – the top five things she thinks makes our island home unique and special. Read below or watch the video above to find out more.

#1 – It’s size.

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The Big Island got its name with good reason. The island of Hawaii is the largest island in the archaepelego with an area of more than 4,000 square miles – more than 5 times the size of Maui and larger than all the other Hawaiian Islands combined.

#2 – Our mountains.

The island of Hawaii is made up of five volcanoes – three of which are record-breaking.

The Big Island is still growing and is home to the world’s most active volcano, Kilauea. There have been 61 historical eruptions, and since January 1983 eruptive activity has been continuous along the east rift zone.

Mauna Loa is also among Earth’s most active volcanoes, having erupted 33 times since 1843. The shield volcano covers half of the island of Hawaii and is the world’s largest, most massive volcano.

Last but not least, dormant Mauna Kea rises to an impressive elevation of 13,796 feet but consider that more than half of the mountain is actually under water. When measured from its base on the sea floor to the peak, it’s the tallest mountain on the planet measuring more than 33,000 feet. As a side note, yes! It snows in Hawaii. Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa get a few snowfalls each year, at times even enough to snowboard and ski on.

#3 – Our climate zones

Our large mountains lead to big differences in climate across parts of the Big Island. Winds are deflected around our mountains and through our deep valleys. The windward and leeward sides oftentimes have opposing weather forecasts. Because of this, nearly every climate zone on earth is found on the Big Island. Rain forests along our windward mountain slopes, grasslands along the leeward Kohala coast, mesic forests, lava deserts, alpine deserts at the summit of our highest mountains and even tundra areas.

#4 – The Ranch in Waimea

Parker Ranch is one of the oldest and largest cattle ranches in the United States. It spreads over about 250 thousand acres and was founded more than 160 years ago. In fact, Waimea’s post office is named after John Parker’s grandson Samuel “Kamuela” Parker who was also the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Queen Liliuokalani. The first rodeo in Hawaii, also took place at Parker Ranch.

#5 – Mauna Kea’s lake

Lake Waiau is located more than 13,000 feet above sea level on Mauna Kea making it one of the highest lakes in the United States and the highest in the Pacific. Even though the lake is small, only about 300 feet across, it has big significance culturally for native Hawaiians. In fact, members of the Hawaiian monarchy would sometimes visit the lake. In 1881, Queen Emma was the last to do so and even bathed in the lake during that visit.

Here is a bonus lava video for you! 

Malika Dudley
Malika was born and raised in Hilo. She began her career in news at KGMB9 in 2007. As a part of their weather team, Malika was nominated for two Emmy Awards and won the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Journalism Award for her reporting on Big Island tsunami damage in 2011. She is a Certified Meteorologist and graduate of the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a BA in Speech Communication and French. Malika leads the Big Island Now weather team and enjoys conducting video interviews for Big Island Now's news and entertainment sections. The former Miss Hawaii is also a black belt in karate, avid waterwoman, jewelry designer, singer, TV host and mommy blogger.
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