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Before You Go
No matter how long or short your trip, make sure you have adequate travel insurance, purchased before departure. At a minimum, you need coverage for medical emergencies and treatment, including hospital stays and an emergency flight home if necessary. Medical treatment in the USA is of the highest caliber, but the expense could bankrupt you.
- Hawaii State Department of Health (http://health.hawaii.gov) General healthcare information in the state.
- Hawaii Medical Service Association (https://hmsa.com/search/provider) Physician finder.
In Hawai'i, the Big Island
Availability & Cost of Health Care
There are good medical clinics on all four 'sides' (north, south, east and west) of the Big Island. As is the case anywhere in the USA, the quality of health care is high – and so is the price. Be sure to purchase travel insurance before you visit.
As of 2016, the Hawaii state Department of Health confirmed the presence of dengue fever on the Big Island. The few cases that have been reported are isolated, and the state has implemented strict control protocols whenever a case has been found. The best means of preventing dengue are basic mosquito control tactics that you should practice in any case – wearing bug repellent and light-colored clothes (trousers and long-sleeved shirts), keeping windows and screen doors shut etc.
The greatest environmental hazard on the Big Island is the water that surrounds it. Hawaii suffers from one of the highest rates of drownings in the country, and on the Big Island, many beaches don't have lifeguards. Always be aware of the tides and currents, and if you're not a confident swimmer, stay close to shore.
The other hazard particular to the Big Island is lava. Obviously lava should be given a wide berth. Don't poke it with a stick (yes, there is a tour company that does this). Don't get too close to the flow. And be aware that the gases that arise from a lava flow can be as dangerous as the flow itself.
The tap water on the Big Island is generally fine to drink.
Throughout the island you will see businesses offering traditional Hawaiian massages (known as lomilomi), hot stone treatments, ayurvedic programs and a host of other traditional and New Age medicinal services. While we can't speak to the scientific benefits of these services, we sure felt great after a massage.
European sailors remarked extensively on the general health of the Native Hawaiians they encountered. The indigenous population, then and now, believed in living a life defined by pono, a complicated term that means 'righteousness', which can extend beyond good moral living to a lifestyle we would recognize as healthy: a balanced diet and regular amounts of exercise, via labor and sport.
CVS pharmacies and smaller local pharmacies can be found across the island if you need over the counter medicine. For more involved treatment, options include:
- North Hawaii Community Hospital Medical clinic based in Waimea.
- Kona Community Hospital Hospital serving the western side of the island.
- West Hawaii Community Health Center Has four locations around Kailua-Kona and the Kona Coast.
- Hilo Medical Center Serving the eastern side of the island
- Kaʻu Hospital Has services on the southern side of the island.