Hawaii is nicknamed the Big Island for obvious reasons (it's double the size of the other islands), but the moniker also captures its personality. Its microcosm of environs -- snow-peaked volcano, thermal springs, black sand beaches -- offer travelers myriad activities. There are wild indigenous flora and extraordinary hikes, including trails up the Mauna Kea volcano, where the Visitor Information Station hosts unforgettable stargazing unhindered by pesky city lights.
Big Island is no Oahu when it comes to nightlife, but it comes close enough. The gay bar Mask-Querade features the standard theme-night scene -- Tequila Tuesdays, Fiesta Saturdays -- and is full of enough locals, expats, and cocktail-happy travelers to sustain a few nights out.
For an all-day affair, the nine-acre Lava Lava Beach Club, a recently opened gay-owned resort, bar, and restaurant complex, features four contemporary freestanding cottages on Anaeho'omalu Bay in Waikoloa Beach Resort. The sunset views have to be seen to be believed. If that's not your thing, take in the end-of-day rays at Huggo's, a fine dining institution since 1969. The view's just as spectacular, and executive chef Ken Schloss's pupu menu -- seared ahi sashimi salad and guava-braised baby back ribs -- give it a special flavor all its own.