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Hawaii (Big) Island
Article Source: Copyright © 2012 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.
It's easy to forget that Hawaii has its own music until you step off a plane onto the Islands—and then there's no escaping it. It's a unique blend of the strings and percussion favored by the early settlers and the chants and rituals of the ancient Hawaiians. Hawaiian music today includes Island-devised variations on acoustic guitar—slack key and steel guitar—along with the ukulele (a small, four-string guitar about the size of a violin), and vocals that have evolved from ritual chants to more melodic compositions.
As local ingredients continue to play a more prominent role on Big Island menus, chefs and farmers are working together to support a burgeoning agritourism industry in Hawaii. Several local farms have cropped up over the past few years to make specialty items that cater to the island's gourmet restaurants. The Hawaii Island Goat Dairy produces specialty cheese; lone beekeeper Richard Spiegel of Volcano Island Honey Co. produces a rare and delicious honey now available not only in local restaurants but on the shelves of high-end stores like Neiman Marcus; and the Hamakua Heritage Farm has turned mowed-down koa forests into a safe haven for gourmet mushrooms. While a handful of farms—like Mountain Thunder, which produces 100% organic Kona coffee, and Hawaiian Vanilla Vineyards, which is cultivating vanilla from orchids growing wild on the Hamakua Coast—are open to the public and offer free tours, others have opted instead to offer limited tours through group operators. The Big Island Farm Bureau has also tried to encourage local farming and agritourism through the creation of Hawaii AgVentures, an organization that schedules farm visits (to either single or multiple farms) for interested parties www.hawaiiagventures.com.
One of the few ways you can really see the untouched beauty of the Big Island is by flying over its lush forests, dense tree canopies, and glorious rushing waterfalls on a zipline course. You strap into a harness, get clipped to a cable and then zip, zip, zip your way through paradise. Most guide companies start you out easy on a slower, shorter line and by the end you graduate to faster, longer zips. It's an exhilarating adventure for all ages and has even been known to help some put aside their fear of heights (at least for a few minutes) to participate in the thrill ride. Check company credentials and specifics before you book to make sure your safety is their number one concern.
Many of the island's resorts allow nonguests to play for a fee. They also rent rackets, balls, and shoes. On the Kohala Coast, try the Fairmont Orchid Hawaii, the Hilton Waikoloa Village, and Waikoloa Beach Marriott. In Kailua-Kona there's the Ohana Keauhou Beach Resort, King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel, and the Royal Kona Resort.
Where else but Hawaii can you surf, snorkel, and snow ski on the same day? In winter, the 13,796-foot Mauna Kea (Hawaiian for "white mountain") usually has snow at higher elevations—and along with that, skiing. No lifts, no manicured slopes, no faux-Alpine lodges, no après-ski nightlife, but the chance to ski some of the most remote (and let's face it, unlikely) runs on Earth. Some people have even been known to use body boards as sleds, but we don't recommend it. As long as you're up there, fill your cooler with the white stuff for a snowball fight on the beach with local kids.
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