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Hawaii Island, or the Big Island, is (as the name correctly suggest) the biggest island of Hawaii. Unlike Oahu, where Honolulu is located though, it sees far less tourists and is far more attractive regarding nature and landscapes as well.
In greatest dimension, the island is 150 kilometres across and has a land area of 10,430 km2 comprising 62% of the Hawaiian Islands' land area. Measured from its sea floor base to its highest peak, Mauna Kea is the world's tallest mountain, taller than Mount Everest is above sea level.
The Island of Hawaiʻi is built from five separate shield volcanoes that erupted somewhat sequentially, one overlapping the other. Because Mauna Loa and Kīlauea are active volcanoes, the island of Hawaii is still growing. Between January 1983 and September 2002, lava flows added 543 acres to the island. Lava flowing from Kīlauea has destroyed several towns, including Kapoho in 1960, and Kalapana and Kaimu in 1990. In 1987 lava filled in Queen's Bath, a large, L-shaped, freshwater pool in the Kalapana area. The southmost point in the 50 States of the United States, Ka Lae, is on Hawaii. The nearest landfall to the south is in the Line Islands. To the north of the Island of Hawaii is the Island of Maui, whose Haleakala volcano is visible from Hawaii across the Alenuihaha Channel.
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In the Hawaiian language, Mauna Kea means "white mountain", so named because its summit is regularly covered with snow in winter. The mountain's summit is one of the best astronomical sites in the world and several leading observatories can be found there as a result.
Kona International Airport (KOA) is the major airport on the western side of the Big Island.
There are direct flights to the Big Island with United Airlines from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. US Airways has flights from Phoenix.
American Airlines and Delta Airlines also serve the airport from Los Angeles.
Some other cities with direct flights include Vancouver (seasonal), Seattle, Oakland and Tokyo.
Hilo International Airport currently only serves Honolulu and Kahului.
Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.
For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.
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