“Buy land—they’re not making any more of it,” the saying goes. Well, that’s not quite true on the Big Island of Hawaii, where at this moment molten rock is spilling into the Pacific, making the state’s biggest, newest island even bigger and newer. And the lava isn’t all that’s fresh on the scene. In the November 2013 issue of Travel +Leisure I plot out nine red-hot reasons to visit right now. Check it out on newsstands! In the meantime, as a teaser, here are four of my favorites:
#1: Volcano House. The only hotel in America that’s perched on the lip of an active volcanic caldera, this iconic National Park Service Lodge has just reopened after a four-year closure and renovation. On a clear night, step outside your room and watch the glow of a subterranean lava lake reflected in the billowing plume.
#2: Chef Ippy. The Big Island is the breadbasket of Hawaii, so it’s no wonder that some of the state’s most prominent celebrity chefs hail from here. The newest on the scene is 23-year-old “Food Network Star” finalist Ippy Aiona, who earlier this year opened the island’s first gastropub, “The Three Fat Pigs,” with cooking inspired by his own fusion of Italian and Hawaiian ancestry.
#3: Mauna Kea astronomy. Nearly endless clear skies make this peak a premiere site for astronomy, with two of the world’s three largest optical telescopes. Now plans are underway to build a new record-breaker. At the visitors center at the 9,200-foot level, smaller complimentary telescopes provide front-row seats to the vastness of the universe.
#4: Pu’u ‘O’o lava flow. For more than 30 years lava has been flowing into the sea on Hawai’i’s southeastern coast. Kalapana Cultural Tours leads two-hour hikes across a twisted, blackened landscape to a lookout above the spot where glowing rock collides with steaming ocean. .