Beautiful Hawaii consists of a string of hundreds of volcanic islands in the centre of the Pacific Ocean.
America’s 50th state is unique in many respects. Hawaii boasts an unusual combination of American, Polynesian and Asian cultural influences, is the only US state with a tropical climate and is also the only state located entirely off the North American mainland. The island chain is best known for its spectacular natural beauty. Over 1,200 kilometres of coastline encircle the various islands, alongside volcanic peaks that rise from tropical rainforest and beautiful beaches are washed by the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean. Hawaii’s balmy climate makes it a suitable destination for travel at any time of the year, and the state welcomes over 7 million tourists annually.
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A paradise born of fire
The islands of Hawaii, Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Lānai are the most popular tourist destinations. They also support the majority of the state’s population.
All of the islands were formed by violent underwater volcanic activity. It’s therefore no surprise that volcanoes are a prominent part of the Hawaiian landscape. All four of the major islands are home to volcanic mountains or mountain ranges with peaks topping 1,000 metres. The island’s volcanic origins have also resulted in some of the world’s most unusual beaches. These range from bright green beaches coated in Olivine crystals to iron-rich red beaches, yellow sand beaches like the iconic Waikiki Beach, black sand beaches and white sand beaches.
Volcanic activity has also given the island unusually rich soil, which combines with the humid tropical climate to support lush vegetation, particularly in lowland areas. Much of the island’s flora and fauna are endemic, and the island is home to more endemic plant species than any other US state.
An adventure playground
Hawaii has something for everyone, ranging from adventure sports to lazing on a beach or playing golf on one of the world’s most beautiful golf courses. The large, perfect waves that wash Hawaii’s shores have also made it the world’s premier destination for surfing enthusiasts.
Here’s a brief preview of some of Hawaii’s most famous attractions:
- The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the island of Hawai’i is the place to go if you have an interest in Hawaii’s turbulent volcanic origins. The park is Hawaii’s most popular tourist attraction, and the highlight of a day trip to the park is the view from Crater Rim Drive - where you might even be able to view an active lava flow. If you’re up for a hike, you can ascend either the active volcano of Kilauea or Mauna Loa; the world’s largest volcano.
- Waikiki Beach is Hawaii’s most famous beach. Located in the city of Honululu, the beach has a distinctive yellow sand colour, and is washed by warm turquoise waters. The beach is close to dozens of popular bars and restaurants, and is also a great place to enjoy watersports.
- Pearl Harbour is Hawaii’s most famous historic attraction. The naval base is a living memorial to one of the most important events in the history of the United States – the bombing of the US Pacific Fleet during World War II. A visitor centre provides information on the attack and visitors can view a memorial by ferry. You can even explore a real battleship, the USS Missouri.
- Hana Road is Hawaii’s most popular scenic drive. Located on the island of Maui, it meanders through lush forests and along scenic coastline from the town of Pai’ia to the town of Hana. The scenery is virtually unspoiled, allowing you to get a sense of what Hawaii was like prior to the arrival of colonists.
- Hawaii’s Polynesian culture gives this state a unique identity. Although native Polynesian islanders now comprise only 10% of the state’s population, they nevertheless have a profound influence on its culture. To find out more about the Polynesian culture of Hawaii, head to the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu. The centre offers dance, musical and craft exhibitions.