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Hawaii The Big Island Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook Paperback – April 20, 2011

4.8 out of 5 stars 1,133 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


The finest guidebook ever written for the Big Island. Now you can plan your best vacation--ever. This all new sixth edition is a candid, humorous guide to everything there is to see and do on the Big Island. Best-selling author and longtime Hawai'i resident, Andrew Doughty, unlocks the secrets of an island so vast and diverse that many visitors never realize all that it has to offer. Explore with him as he reveals breathtaking trails, secluded beaches, pristine reefs, delicious places to dine, relaxing resorts, an active volcano and so much more. Every restaurant, activity provider, business and resort is reviewed personally and anonymously. This book and a rental car are all you need to discover what makes the Big Island so exciting.

• The most up-to-date and accurate information available anyplace with up-to-the-minute changes posted to our website

• Frank, brutally honest reviews of restaurants, hotels and activities show you which companies really are the best…and which to avoid--no advertisements

• Driving tours let you structure your trip your way, point out sights not to be missed along the way and are complemented by 120 spectacular color photographs

• 38 specially-created maps in an easy-to-follow format with mile markers--so you'll always know where you are on the island

• Clear, concise directions to those hard-to-find places such as deserted black sand beaches, tropical rain forests, hidden waterfalls, the most dramatic part of the erupting volcano, freshwater lava pools (some volcanically heated) and scores of other hidden gems listed nowhere else

• 28 pages on Big Island's beaches with detailed descriptions including ocean safety

• Over 65 pages of exciting adventures and activities

• Fascinating sections on Hawai'i's history, culture, language and legends

• Companion website with links to every business, events calendar, over 90 resort reviews complete with aerial photos--so you'll know if oceanfront really means oceanfront

"Hawaii The Big Island Revealed" covers it all--from the snow-covered top of Mauna Kea, to the sparkling underwater reefs. This is the best investment you can make for your Big Island visit. Whether you are a first time visitor, or a longtime kama'aina, you will find out more about the Big Island from this book than from any other source. Discover the island of your dreams with "Hawaii The Big Island Revealed."

"Succeeded in telling us everything there is to know about traveling on the island of Hawaii...this book is essential reading..." Library Journal

"A colorful book--covers it all. I was pleased by the numerous little tips that can make a trip more pleasant." The San Diego Union-Tribune

"Superbly researched and easy-to-read reference... It's jammed with details and maps." Houston Chronicle

Book Description

Most travel titles are put together in a few weeks by visiting travel writers. Wizard guidebooks take over a year to compile and the writers are residents who personally and anonymously review every facet of the island. Their maps are the best you'll find. From restaurants to helicopter companies to scuba to beaches to trails. They see it all and show you the best the island has to offer. They also reveal who's the worst and who to stay away from. All told in a frank, humorous way that keeps the reading fun.

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Product Details

  • Series: ...Revealed The Ultimate Guidebook
  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Wizard Publications Inc.; 6th edition edition (April 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0981461069
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981461069
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,133 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,388 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The strengths of this book lie in the authors' thorough local knowledge of the island. For example, if you're interested in finding hidden beaches, volcanic pools, self-drive advice into the Waipio Valley, and so forth, this is probably the best book for these kinds of tips. They are excellent at detailing the logistics of seeing island sights on your own (exactly when, how, etc.). They also warn about potential difficulties you might encounter, such as tourist scams or signs indicating a private road when the road is in fact public (Waipi'o Valley).

It has some serious weaknesses, however, when it comes to its sometimes heavy-handed opinions on local businesses. One example is the Red Sail Dive operation in Kohala. I signed up with them despite the authors' description: "Groups are held on a tight leash. Get in, get out, let's go, next site. We received no briefing whatsoever." Since they had a desk at the hotel where I was staying, I dove with them, and found this description to be completely inaccurate. I asked one of the instructors about that, and he said that it was like that 10 years ago (certainly not in the five years he worked there). This advice was been repeated in the newest edition, leading me to believe that once the authors form an opinion, they often stick with it rather than re-evaluating it for subsequent editions. It would be more accurate for them to say "When we last dove with them in 1996,..."

Another glaring example for me was their review of the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, which they don't recommend. I more often than not stay at 4* properties, and this is one of the nicest hotels at which I've stayed. It's rated #1 out of 70 hotels on the island of Hawaii on tripadvisor.com (based on 229 reviews), so my opinion doesn't seem to be off-base.
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Format: Paperback
I just got back from two weeks on the big island and was able to explore every wonderful nook and cranny with the help of this book. It is so chock full of information about cool, hidden places, restaurants, swimming holes, etc. But for the love of Pete - can they organize it by area, not by activity. I can't tell you how many times I flipped through that book trying to find something I had previously read and couldn't remember whether it was in Sights, Beaches, Activities or Adventures - it's maddening!
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Format: Paperback
The plusses:
Just about every place that this book recommended, and that I've tried, has been spot on. Perhaps more importantly, it's also spot-on with respect to its recommendations of tour companies (e.g. snorkeling tours, van tours). Not one restaurant, attraction, tour company, or hotel recommended by this book has disappointed, and it recommends a lot -- you could spend a month on the Big Island and not go through half of what's in this book. For the most part, the maps are clear and helpful, and the book gives contact information as needed.

The minuses:
The information presented is very poorly organized. Largely speaking, this book breaks down into Sights, Activities, Adventures, and Dining/Lodging, and within each section, the listings are broken by geographic region. The problem with this approach is that, in order to see everything there is to do within a particular geographic area, you have to flip to each section. It would be far more convenient to reverse the ordering -- break down the book first by geographic area, and then by activities within the area.

Secondly, the "Sights" section for each area is presented as a single tour that goes through each attraction, and the directions for each site are only given in terms of the location of the previous site mentioned. The problem is, there are often many more attractions than you'll have time for in each area, so it takes considerable work to figure out the location of individual attractions if you want to skip an attraction or go in a different order than the book describes.

Normally, the I'd treat the minuses much more harshly, but the recommendations are so good that I'm going to be more forgiving here.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The book is about as good as guide books get. Personally I used the Kindle version of the book on my iPad and then downloaded the app to my phone for $7-8, which we used constantly on the road. I would say you could easily get away with JUST THE APP, but the book has far more info. I would also say, spring for the app whether you buy the book or not because it has GPS maps whether you have an internet connection or not and we constantly needed to look at exactly where we were when trying to find remote beaches and such. Seriously, buy the freaking app.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We just used this book to help us navigate the Big Island for a family vacation. The maps were fantastic and the descriptions very helpful. Hawaii tries to hide it's national treasures and signage is almost invisible. This book gave mile marker references and visual landmarks to help you find where you needed to go. The amount of information was a bit overwhelming, but it was great to keep in the car for quick reference as you were trying to decide what to do next. We found the information to be extremely accurate except for restaurant suggestions - some were correct, but rely on your hotel concierge first. We would highly recommend this book if this is your first trip to the Big Island or you are adults traveling alone and a bit more on the adventurous side (lots of hiking and rough terrain not suitable for little legs).
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