When you're not out enjoying the great outdoor activities the Big Island has to offer, you might schedule a trip to one of its museums. The museums on the Big Island offer insight into the island's history and culture, which will help you gain insight into its people as well. The Big Island museums range from old ranches to modern astronomy centers, and you're bound to find at least one that piques your interest. Adding a trip to a museum on the Big Island can only add depth to your vacation, and you'll likely walk away from the experience with a greater appreciation of all things Hawaiian.
Two of the top museums on the Big Island are the Lyman Museum and the Pacific Tsunami Museum. The Lyman Museum & Mission House, as it was formerly known, not only boasts a house that is the island's oldest wood-frame residence, but it also features the Earth Heritage Gallery, which chronicles the geological and volcanic history of the Hawaiian Islands. As for the mission house at the Lyman Museum, it dates back to 1839 and was built by David and Sarah Lyman. The couple, who hailed from New England, once entertained such luminaries as the Hawaiian royalty and Mark Twain at their mission house, which is a must-see when in Hilo. As for the Pacific Tsunami Museum, it too is found in Hilo. It offers exhibits that pertain to past Big Island tsunamis and the natural phenomena that help create them. The largest town on the Big Island, Hilo was all but wiped out by tsunamis on May 23, 1960. The town also suffered considerably at the hands of tsunamis in 1946. While 1975 saw the last tsunami on the Big Island, the threat of more to come is always there.
The Kona Historical Society Museum is one of the other top museums on the Big Island, and you can find it in south Kona. Admission to the Kona Historical Society Museum is free, which makes a visit here even harder to pass up, though donations are accepted. Among the highlights is the Greenwell Store, which dates back to 1875. This stone structure houses the main museum, which boasts antiques and artifacts that illustrate the history of the Kona Coast. The Big Island coffee and cattle industries are among the topics that you can learn about at the Kona Historical Society Museum, as well as at the newer Kona Heritage Ranch addition. Other Big Island museums you might add to your itinerary include the Kamuela Museum, which features fascinating historical artifacts, and the Parker Ranch, which first came into prominence in the early 1800s and is still a working ranch. For a different experience when it comes to the museums on the Big Island, a trip to the Imiloa: Astronomy Center of Hawaii is in order.
The Imiloa: Astronomy Center of Hawaii is one of the Big Island museums that you won't want to leave off your list. In addition to a fantastic planetarium, Imiloa features a huge gallery with more than 300 exhibits that not only cover Hawaiian culture but also the astronomers who view the stars from the Mauna Kea observatories. Self-guided tours of Imiloa are offered in English and Hawaiian, and plans to add more languages are under way. Regardless of which language you speak, the various museums on the Big Island will prove to be rewarding places to visit when you're looking for things to do on your Big Island vacation. So keep them in mind when making your plans.