Hawaii became the 50th U.S. state on Aug. 21, 1959. The archipelagic state is in the North Pacific Ocean, 2,300 miles from the mainland. In the 19th century, Hawaii was also known as the Sandwich Islands.
The Hawaiian Archipelago comprises eight islands and atolls extending across 1,500 miles. Of these, eight high islands are considered the main islands and lie at the southeastern end of the archipelago. These islands are, from the northwest to southeast, Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, Maui and Hawaii. The last is by far the largest and is often called the Big Island to avoid confusion with the state name.Military Impact in Hawaii
Direct and indirect impacts of military expenditures are reported to generate $14.7 billion into Hawaii’s economy, creating more than 102,000 jobs for residents that collectively report household incomes around $8.7 billion.
Military expenditures totaling $8.8 billion annually have elevated the defense industry. Military procurement contracts amount to about $2.3 billion annually, making the military a prime source of contracting opportunities for hundreds of Hawaii’s small businesses.
• Hawaii attracts increased activity in research and development projects and the presence of the nation’s top prime defense contractors: Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, General Dynamics, Raytheon and others.
• Many of Hawaii’s fledgling high-tech businesses receive federal grants through DOD programs such as those awarded by the Office of Naval Research and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and mentor-protégé programs administered by prime defense contractors.
• The Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard is Hawaii’s largest industrial plant, employing more than 4,600 engineers and skilled technicians to service naval surface ships and submarines based in Hawaii and respond to emergency repair calls throughout the Pacific. The naval shipyard extends use of its facilities to service commercial ships.
• The Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands, Kauai, is the world’s largest multidimensional testing and training range, and the only one in the world where submarines, surface ships, aircraft and space vehicles can train and be tracked simultaneously. It is the key R&D site for the nation’s ballistic-missile-defense program and the Navy’s premier anti-submarine warfare testing and training range.
• Since 2002, a 50-year contract to privatize the military family housing program has created billions of dollars in business opportunities. Ohana Military Communities and Lendlease Hawaii have contracted with many of Hawaii’s small businesses to develop, service and manage military residential communities for more than 17,000 homes throughout Oahu.
• Hawaii is the only single location in the world hosting the headquarters for the largest U.S. combatant command (U.S. Pacific Command), the Pacific component commands for the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard, and combat-ready land, sea and air forces.
• The defense industry has the largest industry-related workforce in Hawaii, providing more than 97,500 jobs with annual household incomes totaling $8.7 billion and representing 16.5 percent of Hawaii’s total workforce.
• The Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard is the largest industrial and repair complex and employer in Hawaii, with a workforce of nearly 5,000 civilians and military personnel. The total value of the shipyard is $2.54 billion, with more than $925 million funneling into Hawaii’s economy annually.
• The Coast Guard is the maritime workhorse in the island state, saving hundreds of lives and millions of dollars in property annually by completing search-and-rescue missions by sea and air.
• Hawaii’s military community totals nearly 145,900 military members and dependents, including close to 60,000 active-duty, Reserve and National Guard members, more than 66,100 dependents and 19,720 Department of Defense civilians.
• Hawaii’s population includes more than 116,800 veterans, of which nearly 17,000 are military retirees. This represents 11 percent of Hawaii’s population.
For more information, visit www.cochawaii.org/military-impact-in-hawaii.Hawaii Time
During standard time on the mainland U.S., Hawaii lags two hours behind the West Coast, four hours behind the Midwest and five hours behind the East Coast. And since Hawaii does not observe daylight saving time, add an hour to those time differences between March and November.Climate
Weather on Hawaii is best described in terms of just winter and summer. Summer runs from May to October, while the somewhat cooler, wetter winter extends from November through April. On Oahu, summer daytime temperatures in Honolulu range from 85 to 89 degrees, with nighttime lows of 71 to 75 degrees. Winter daytime temperatures range from 65 to 75 degrees, and nighttime lows, from 64 to 68 degrees.Geography
Eight islands make up the state of Hawaii, a 1,600-mile-long island chain born of volcanic fire. It is composed of islands, islets and shoals that link Hawaii, at the still-active southeast end, with Kure or Ocean Island, a mere fragment of an ancient volcano beyond Midway. Measuring from its submarine base (3,280 fathoms) in the Hawaiian Trough to the top of the mountain (13,796 feet), Mauna Kea on the Big Island is the tallest mountain in the world at 33,796 feet, counting the distance from the bottom of the nearby ocean floor to the peak of the island.State Symbols
Marine Mammal: The humpback whale, an annual visitor to Hawaiian waters and so designated in 1979.
State Anthem: “Hawaii Pono’i,” written by King Kalakaua and set to music by Henri Berger, the royal bandmaster. It was also the anthem of the Kingdom and the Territory of Hawaii.
State Bird: The nene (pronounced nay-nay) is a type of goose that has adapted to life in the harsh lava country by transforming its webbed feet into a claw-like shape and modifying its wings for shorter flights. Hunting and predators all but wiped out the species until law and a restoration project established in 1949 protected the birds.
State Fish: The humuhumunukunukuapua’a, a tropical reef triggerfish, was chosen as the state fish by a state survey in 1984. Here’s how to pronounce it: who-moo-who-moo-noo-koo-noo-koo-ah-pooah-ah.
State Flag: The state flag has eight stripes (representing the eight major islands) of white, red and blue; the field resembles the Union Jack of Great Britain, from which the original flag apparently was designed, a remnant of the British Empire's influence on Hawaiian history.
State Flower: The yellow hibiscus brackenridgei is the state flower. The official flowers or lei materials for each island are Hawaii, red pua lehua (ohia); Maui, lokelani (pink Damask rose); Molokai, white pua kukui blossom; Kahoolawe, hinahina (beach heliotrope); Lanai, kauna’oa (yellow and orange air plant); Oahu, yellow pua ’ilima; Kauai, mokihana berry; and Niihau, white pupu shells.
State Motto: “Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono” means “the life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.” The saying is attributed to King Kamehameha III on July 31, 1843, the day that sovereignty was restored to Hawaii by proclamation of Queen Victoria after a five-month-long rogue British occupation.
State Seal: A heraldic shield in the center, a figure of King Kamehameha I on its right side and the Goddess of Liberty holding the Hawaiian flag on its left. Below the shield is a phoenix surrounded by taro leaves, banana foliage and sprays of maidenhair fern. Statehood was achieved in 1959. With color added, the seal becomes the state coat of arms.
State Tree: The kukui, better known as the candlenut, is the Hawaii state tree. The nuts of this tree provided the ancient Hawaiians with light, oil, relishes and medicine.Quality of Life
Hawaii is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations with stunning scenery, commitment to environmental protection, cultural diversity and friendly people. Cool trade winds and rainfall contribute to moderate temperatures year-round, averaging below 78 degrees in the cooler months and rarely rising above 90 degrees in the summer. All these factors add up to consistent top placement on the “best places to live in the United States” lists. Hawaii residents take advantage of all the islands have to offer, and not surprisingly, its citizens have the longest average life expectancy in the nation.Tourism
Although Hawaii’s economic development continues to expand, tourism still has the most influence on the state’s economy, affecting all facets of life on the islands. In 2015, Hawaii welcomed more than 8.6 million visitors, who spent over $15 billion in the state, according to Hawaii Tourism Authority. Residents can expect premium rates and a high tourist presence mid-December through March. Spring and fall are considered low seasons.Recreation
With a near-ideal, year-round climate of mild temperatures, moderate humidity and cool trade winds, Hawaii residents can enjoy many different outdoor activities. The state has seven national parks, 77 state parks, nearly 600 county parks and several botanical gardens. There are more than 1,600 surfing sites, highlighted by Maui and Oahu’s nearly unbeatable surf and wind conditions. In addition to miles of coastline beaches, the state offers over 100 golf courses and more than 280 public tennis courts.
The island of Oahu, formed by two volcanic domes, serves as the main commerce port for all of Hawaii. Though Oahu is the third-largest of the Hawaiian Islands in landmass, it is the largest in population with just under 1 million people, roughly 72 percent of the state’s 1.4 million residents.
On the south side of Oahu is Hawaii’s state capital, Honolulu, which means “the gathering place.” Honolulu is home to the major business district, education center, international airport, busiest sea ports, military bases and all government offices for Hawaii. Famous Honolulu attractions include Waikiki, one of the world’s most photographed beaches; and Pearl Harbor, the battle site that precipitated the United States into World War II. On the north side of Oahu, often referred to as the North Shore, are world-famous surfing locations Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach.
The island’s eastern coast is home to the towns of Kailua, Kaneohe, Kahaluu, Kahana and Laie. The Waianae Coast, on the west side, is less traveled than other parts of the island. There are several ancient ruins, plantation homes and the Ku’ilioloa Heiau, a Hawaiian temple, there.Oahu Landmarks and Attractions
Ala Moana Beach Park: A beautiful 76-acre public park and beachfront with sandy beach, swimming lagoon, surfing grounds, dressing pavilions, food stands, picnic tables, harbors, ponds and bridges.
Ala Moana Shopping Center: In the heart of Honolulu, it is the world’s largest multilevel shopping center with more than 300 shops and restaurants and abundant parking spaces.
Aloha Stadium: A major feature near Pearl Harbor and Aiea, and site of the Pro Bowl, Hula Bowl and many other athletic events. Built in 1975, the stadium seats 50,000 people. The stadium also serves as the home of the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet and Marketplace or “Flea Market” on Wednesdays and weekends.
Aloha Tower: Honolulu’s familiar landmark is open to visitors and offers an excellent view of the harbor area.
Battleship Missouri Memorial: The USS Missouri arrived in Pearl Harbor on June 22, 1998, to serve as a battleship memorial and museum. Visitors first gather at the USS Bowfin Memorial for ticketing and a shuttle over the Ford Island Bridge to the memorial. Missouri is known as the “Mighty Mo” to many who served on her and was the last of the great battleships to be completed by the U.S. Navy. It was on board the Missouri’s O1 veranda deck that Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, along with other U.S. and Allied officers, accepted the formal surrender of the Japanese at the close of World War II. Visit www.ussmissouri.org for more information.
Bishop Museum and Planetarium: At 1525 Bernice St., the museum houses the world’s foremost collection of Hawaiian and Polynesian antiquities.
Byodo-In Temple: Japan’s 950-year-old architectural treasure is duplicated in smaller scale but in exact detail at the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park beneath the majestic cliffs of the Ko’olau Mountains. The beautiful Oriental garden setting also has a Japanese koi carp pool, 9-foot Buddha statue and teahouse.
Chinatown: Unlike the Chinatowns in other American cities, this section of downtown Honolulu is an exciting blend of shops, restaurants and markets displaying not only Chinese goods but wares and foods typical of the countries of origin of Hawaii’s early-day immigrants.
Diamond Head: This world-renowned landmark bounds Waikiki Beach on the south. An extinct volcano, it is said to have once been the home of Pele, the Fire Goddess.
Dole Cannery Square: The Hawaiian Pineapple Cannery Division of Castle & Cooke, Inc., is on Iwilei Road. Dole Cannery Square, now a retail and office complex, is open to the public to tour and shop.
East-West Center: A center for cultural and academic interchange between the peoples of Asia, the Pacific and United States. Established by the U.S. Congress in 1960, the center has since become a public, nonprofit educational corporation with offices and facilities adjacent to the University of Hawaii campus.
Foster Botanical Garden: Remarkable botanic displays, including the photogenic orchid section, in a 20-acre setting in downtown Honolulu.
Gunstock Ranch: Experience Hawaii as a Paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy). The ranch offers horseback riding through the Ko’olau Mountain Range on the North Shore of Oahu. Rides are suitable for all skill levels, and visitors also can enjoy pony rides, a petting zoo, pool, campfire and cowboy games.
Halona Blowhole: Near Koko Head, playful Mother Nature forces the mighty sea through a tiny hole in a lava ledge and blows miniature geysers high into the air.
Hanauma Bay: A delightful sea cove in Koko Head Park, its rugged grandeur was created by volcanic action 10,000 years ago when Pele made her last attempt to find a home on Oahu, or so legend tells. A favorite spot for swimming and snorkeling.
Hawaii Nature Center: The Hawaii Nature Center of Oahu offers school programs and weekend family programs, and hosts birthday parties and intersession camps.
Hawaii’s Plantation Village: Step back in time to when “sugar was king” and experience the “real Hawaii.” At Hawaii’s Plantation Village in Waipahu, a living history museum and ethno-botanical garden, local guides open a door to a bygone era. Immerse yourself in the diverse cultures and lifestyles and hear the stories of struggle and triumph of immigrants that came from China, Portugal, Japan, Puerto Rico, Korea, Okinawa and the Philippines to work on Hawaii’s sugar plantations. Explore more than 25 authentic plantation homes and structures. In addition to guided tours, Hawaii’s Plantation Village offers cultural festivals and live ethnic demonstrations throughout the year.
Helemano Plantation: Next to Dole Plantation, Helemano Plantation used to be a plantation school for pineapple workers and their families. Its gardens include the macadamia nut tree, pomelo, Kona coffee, papaya, apple, banana, sugarcane, pineapple, different varieties and colors of hibiscus, bird of paradise, torch ginger, goji berry and more. Helemano Plantation has also been the site for numerous hail and farewells, breakfast meetings and Christmas parties for the military, especially from Schofield Barracks.
Honolulu Zoo: At 151 Kapahulu Ave., the zoo is open daily and is home to more than 1,200 animals from Hawaii and around the world.
Iolani Palace: The only throne room under the American flag, where Hawaii’s last two monarchs lived and ruled. Completed in 1882, the building has been entirely renovated, displaying a magnificent interior.
Kaneana Cave: Near Mauka just before the end of Farrington Highway, Nanaue, the fearsome sharkman half-deity, is supposed to have made his home in this cave, which is volcanic and coral in formation.
Kawaiaha’o Church: Dedicated in 1842, the “Westminster Abbey” of Hawaii offers Sunday services in Hawaiian and English. The church, along with the Mission Houses, compose the Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site, which was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1962.
Laie Hawaii Temple: Built in beautiful Laie in 1919, the Laie Hawaii Temple was the first Mormon temple to be constructed outside Utah and is the fifth-oldest Latter Day Saints temple still in operation.
Mission Houses: The oldest existing buildings erected by the first missionary contingent to Honolulu are in the civic center area, which is also the locale of many other historic sites.
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific: The Punchbowl, or Puowaina, literally translated “hill of sacrifice,” is the final resting place of thousands of World War II, Korean and Vietnam War veterans. Open daily, it overlooks the vast expanse of Pearl Harbor, Honolulu and Waikiki.
Nu’uanu Pali: Oahu’s scenic masterpiece at the head of Nu’uanu Valley is where Kamehameha the Great defeated the Oahuans in a bloody battle in 1795 by forcing hundreds of warriors over the precipice to meet death on the jagged rocks below, thus adding Oahu to his realm
Old Sugar Mill: Near Ka’a’awa are the stone ruins of the Kualoa Sugar Mill, first sugar mill on Oahu, erected in 1864.
Pacific Aviation Museum: The Pacific Aviation Museum on historic Ford Island occupies two hangars and the Ford Island Control Tower that still bears the scars of the U.S. aviation battlefield. Visitors to the museum arrive via shuttle at Ford Island, a former Naval Air Station and National Historic Landmark in the middle of Pearl Harbor. From the island’s iconic 158-foot control tower to the World War II-era hangars that house the museum’s aircraft collection, signs of the 1941 Japanese surprise attack are visible to this day. Visit www.pacificaviationmuseum.org for more information.
Pacific War Memorial, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay: An Iwo Jima memorial built on Marine Corps Base Hawaii to honor all who served in the Pacific theater of operations during World War II, those residents of Hawaii who during the war years befriended and supported military personnel, and those in our armed forces who continue to serve our great nation. Visit www.mccshawaii.com/pacificwarmemorial for more information.
Polynesian Cultural Center: On the north shore of Oahu in Laie, the center is made up of native villages representative of those in Aotearoa, Fiji, Tonga, Tahiti, Samoa, the Marquesas and Hawaii.
Queen Emma Summer Palace: A charming home in Nu’uanu Valley, the former summer palace has been restored to its original appearance and houses a fine collection of Hawaiian artifacts.
Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center: In the center of Waikiki, this shopping mecca contains over 150 shops and restaurants and has something for everyone. You can purchase anything from fine designer garments to fun-in-the-sun apparel, from precious gems to splashy costume jewelry and Hawaiian treasures, from fine dining in many restaurants to fun hot dogs and ice cream. There are boutiques, sporting goods stores, jewelry stores, craft shops — almost everything conceivable.
Sea Life Park: At Makapu’u Point’s Sea Life Park, see an outstanding display of Hawaii’s exotic marine life in a beautiful oceanside setting. The 300,000-gallon Hawaiian reef tank, one of America’s finest aquariums, houses 2,000 island specimens: sharks, rays, moray eels, turtles and exotic reef fish. Check out giant whales, dolphins, sea lions, penguins and a variety of seabirds.
U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii: At Fort DeRussy, the museum exhibits tell the story of the Army in Hawaii and the Pacific area, the military history of Hawaii and the contributions that Hawaii’s citizens have made to national defense. Visit www.hiarmymuseumsoc.org for more information.
USS Arizona Memorial and World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument: The USS Arizona Memorial is the final resting place for many of the battleship’s 1,177 crew members who lost their lives during the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The memorial commemorates the site where World War II began for the United States. Off Kamehameha Highway, near Pearl Harbor, the National Park Service operates the visitor center at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument and provides the only public access by Navy shuttle boat out to the memorial. Visit www.nps.gov/valr/index.htm for more information.
USS Bowfin Submarine Park: Off Kamehameha Highway near Pearl Harbor, this 3.5-acre site is named after the historic restored World War II submarine USS Bowfin, which is moored at the park and open to the public. Other attractions include the Pacific Submarine Museum, submarine battleflags, and submarine missile and torpedo exhibits. Visit www.bowfin.org for more information.
Waimea Bay: Between Haleiwa and Kahuku, the beach is fine for picnicking, but the bay is dangerous for swimming when surf is 6 feet or more.
Waimea Falls Park: This narrow canyon extending into the Ko’olau Mountains was once a heavily populated Hawaiian village. Today, the 1,800-acre site between Haleiwa and Kahuku is a dwelling for nature’s lovely, unspoiled environment of tropical plant life, birds, hiking trails and a beautiful waterfall.
Waimea Valley: Waimea Valley is more than just a beautiful walk on a shaded and paved path through cultural sites and botanical gardens to a 45-foot waterfall where you can swim. It is a rich and culturally significant wahi pana (storied place).
Waikiki Aquarium: On Kalakaua Avenue across from Kap’iolani Park at Waikiki, the aquarium contains a world-famous collection of brilliantly colored tropical fish.Maui
Maui, also known as the “Valley Isle,” was named for the Hawaiian trickster demigod. It is the second-largest of the populated Hawaiian Islands with about 165,000 people and covers more than 1,161 square miles. Two volcanoes formed the island of Maui, including the 10,023-foot Mount Haleakala — the world’s largest dormant volcano — and Pu’u Kukui. Until the late 1960s, Maui was primarily an agricultural island producing mainly sugar and pineapple. In the early 1970s, with the development of several resort areas, the driving force behind the island’s economy changed to tourism.
On the west side of Maui are the resort communities of Ka’anapali, Kapalua and Lahaina. Ka’anapali and Kapalua have championship golf courses and beachfront hotels. Lahaina, a historic whaling town, is a national landmark entrenched in Hawaiian history. The island’s business center is made up of the towns Kahului and Wailuku, both in central Maui. Kahului is the island’s port city, while Wailuku is the county seat. East of Kahului on the Hana Highway is the most visited part of the island, Hana. Often called “heavenly Hana,” this section of the island features spectacular waterfalls and coastlines. Up the slopes of Mount Haleakala is Upcountry Maui. The towns of Makawao, Kula and Ulupalakua are upcountry and offer astounding views and botanical gardens.Maui Landmarks and Attractions
Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum: The award-winning Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum is a repository of information and exhibits about one of the most significant and influential periods in Maui’s history. The 1,800-square-foot museum not only charts the establishment and growth of the sugar industry but looks at sugar’s influence on the development of Maui’s water resources and rich, multiethnic makeup, and features intriguing displays on the inner workings of a sugar mill.
Hana: An undeveloped eastern coastline town with beautiful state beaches and a national park. Known for the scenic Hana Highway, the road to town contains 600 curves and 54 bridges and leads through lush landscapes of flourishing rain forests, flowing waterfalls and dramatic seascapes. Swim and sunbathe at Hana Beach Park. Snorkel at Waianapanapa State Park, a glistening black sand beach. Or hike to the isolated Kaihalulu Beach, also known as Red Sand Beach, for its red cinder sand.
Haleakala National Park: Stretching across east Maui, Haleakala National Park is home to Haleakala Crater, the largest dormant volcano on earth. Rising more than 10,000 feet above sea level, Haleakala’s graceful slopes can be seen from just about any point on the island. You can explore Haleakala at your own pace by car, bike or foot. The park is open year-round, 24/7, except for severe weather closures.
Hawaii Nature Center: The Hawaii Nature Center of Maui is committed to sharing the natural, historical and cultural wonders of the island through its visitors programs and environmental education for the children of Maui. The center’s interactive nature museum and guided rain forest walks are designed to interpret and foster experiencing Hawaii’s natural history both in a museum setting and in the natural environment.
Honolua Bay: On Maui’s north shore, Honolua Bay is a favorite spot for experienced surfers. During the winter high surf season, Honolua has been known to have a hollow, powerful wave that offers incredibly long rides. The bluffs above the bay are a perfect vantage for visitors to watch the pros. During the calmer summer, Honolua Bay is a popular destination for snorkeling and scuba diving. As part of the Mokuleia Marine Life Conservation District, Honolua Bay has an abundance of fish and coral formations to explore. The shoreline here is narrow and rocky, so sunbathing isn’t ideal.
Kula Botanical Garden: Opened in 1971, Kula Botanical Garden was developed by Warren and Helen McCord. The garden on an 8-acre site features proteas, orchids, bromeliads and native plants. The natural setting provides unusual rock formations, waterfalls, ponds and a panoramic view of the valley and west Maui mountains. The garden holds an aviary, koi pond, bird sanctuary with the Hawaiian nene goose and picnic areas, and the gift shop offers beverages, snacks and made-in-Hawaii products.
Lahaina Historic Walking Tour: Savor the simplicity of an earlier time by picking up a free walking map at the 1834 Baldwin Home, your first stop in historic Lahaina. Begin the tour by reading the riotous 1901 “Rules of the House” at the old Pioneer Inn overlooking the waterfront. Then peek in at the Hale Pa’ahao (stuck-in-irons house) — aka the jail. Keep on walking to pretty Maria Lanakila Church. Take a break and stop for lychee-flavored ice cream: You’ll need the fuel to see all 55 acres of Lahaina’s designated historic districts.
Lahaina Jodo Mission: A replica of an authentic Japanese Buddhist temple, the mission is beautifully set against the West Maui mountains. Explore these peaceful grounds and you’ll discover a towering pagoda and an enormous bronze Buddha statue, 12 feet high and roughly 3½ tons. Installed in 1968 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Japanese immigrants in Hawaii, this is one of the largest statues of the Buddha outside Japan.
Maui Arts & Cultural Center: This fine visual and performing arts complex offers a variety of cultural activities, concerts, dance performances, art exhibits, weekly films, theater and a full spectrum of music events.
Old Lahaina Luau: Settle under the stars for a traditional Hawaiian luau. Dine on kalua pig cooked all day in an imu (earth oven), haupia (coconut pudding) and an expansive menu of more familiar dishes. Get there early to see lei weavers, wood carvers and poi pounders at work. See dancers perform the ancient and modern hula. You’ll learn Hawaii’s history the traditional way — through chants, songs and dances. Talk with the artisans, take a hula lesson yourself or play some traditional Hawaiian games.
Waimoku Falls: At the end of the Pipiwai Trail, Waimoku Falls is one of Maui’s best hikes. About 9 miles beyond Hana, the Haleakala National Park is the starting point for the Pipiwai Trail. The trail follows the stream that feeds Oheo Gulch and ends overlooking Waimoku Falls, which cascade down 400 feet of sheer rock. The trek requires three to five hours, so it’s best to startearly.
Whale Center of the Pacific: Two free exhibits are at the Whalers Village in Ka’anapali. Whalers Village Museum covers the history of Lahaina’s whaling industry including the re-created sleeping quarters of a whaling ship and an extensive scrimshaw collection. Hale Kohala (House of Whale) showcases the scientific story of whales with interactive fun and marine models.Hawaii
The island of Hawaii, often referred to as the “Big Island,” is the largest of the Hawaiian Islands. Covering about 4,028 square miles, the island is still growing because of the continual eruptions of Kilauea, the most active of the state’s volcanoes. The Big Island is also home to Mauna Loa, considered the largest volcano on Earth, and Mauna Kea, Hawaii’s highest mountain at 13,803 feet. The population is about 196,000.
Ranching and agriculture serve as the Big Island’s economic mainstays. Major products include Kona coffee, macadamia nuts and tropical flowers. Resorts and most residential developments are in coastal areas such as Kailua-Kona, Hilo and the Kohala Coast. Kailua-Kona, on the Kona Coast, was the home of Kamehameha the Great in the late 1700s. Kamehameha’s palace grounds, still in this small town, help make Kailua one of the Big Island’s major tourist areas. Hilo, on the east side of the island, is the county seat of the island of Hawaii. This is where many area attractions can be found, such as Wailoa River State Recreation Area, Liliuokalani Gardens and Coconut Island. The Kohala Coast is on the north side of Hawaii and is home to the historic Waipi’o Valley (Waipi’o Valley is on and accessed from the Hamakua Coast) and several resort areas with luxury hotels and spectacular golf courses.
Other attractions include several heiaus (Hawaiian temples) such as Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park, the Mo’okini Luakini Heiau and the Wahaula Heiau; Kealakekua Bay, where Capt. James Cook was killed in the late 1700s; and Ka Lae, or South Point, the southernmost point in the United States.Hawaii Landmarks and Attractions
Akaka Falls State Park: Park visitors can view two gorgeous waterfalls on the northeastern Hamakua Coast during one short hike. A pleasant half-mile uphill trek winds through a lush rain forest of wild orchids, bamboo groves and draping ferns to 100-foot Kahuna Falls, and just around the bend, 442-foot Akaka Falls, plunging into a stream-eroded gorge. Beautiful Akaka Falls is perhaps the Big Island’s most famous waterfall. Easily accessible, this hike takes less than an hour.
East Hawaii Cultural Center: Voted the best art gallery in East Hawaii by 40,000 Hawaii Tribune Herald readers in 2016, the East Hawaii Cultural Center exhibits contemporary and traditional visual arts by local, national and international artists. Established in 1967, the cultural center’s building is on the state and national historic registry. Theater, dance and Shakespeare in the Park are some of the performing arts programs held there.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: One of Hawaii’s top attractions, this 505-square-mile park on Hawaii’s Big Island is a living museum where visitors can witness the power of Hawaii’s volcanoes at surprisingly close range. You can hike along rocky trails and desolate deserts that, in time, will flourish and thrive with new life. There are two active volcanoes in the national park: Mauna Loa and Kilauea.
Hulihe’e Palace: The palace was built in the early 1800s by John Adams Kuakini, governor of the island of Hawaii during the Kingdom of Hawaii, out of lava rock. The outside was plastered over in 1885 to give it a more refined appearance. The palace served as a vacation home of Hawaiian royalty and was later converted to a museum run by the Daughters of Hawaii, showcasing furniture and artifacts.
Lyman Museum and Mission House: The Lyman Museum and Mission House holds Hawaiian artifacts and natural history collections as well as the restored home of David and Sarah Lyman. Built in 1839, the Lyman House is the oldest wood-frame structure on the island and can be seen on a docent-led tour. Interactive museum exhibits provide an excellent introduction to the natural history of Hawaii.
Palace Theater: This historic 500-seat theater in Hilo offers fine films, concerts, live theater and special events, among them the popular Silent Movie Nights.
Paradise Helicopters: For spectacular views of the Big Island including lava flows, the volcano and waterfalls, fly to some of the most remote and private locations. Experienced pilots are well-versed in Hawaiian geology, history and culture. With 12 tours to choose from you’re sure to find one that’s a perfect fit.
Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park: The historical park preserves the site where, up until the early 19th century, Hawaiians who broke a kapu (one of the ancient laws) could avoid certain death by fleeing to this place of refuge. The grounds just outside the Great Wall that encloses the pu’uhonua were home to several generations of powerful chiefs.Kauai
Kauai is the fourth-largest of the Hawaiian Islands as well as the oldest and least populated, with 71,000 people for its 620 square miles. Referred to as the “Garden Isle,” Kauai is covered with lush tropical rain forests, some of which receive more than 400 inches of rain annually. The island was formed by Mount Wai’ale’ale, a volcano that rises more than 5,000 feet in the center of the island.
The coastline on the northwest side of Kauai offers some of the most dramatic scenery of all the Hawaiian Islands. It contains the Na Pali Cliffs, which can be fully viewed only by air or sea; Koke’e State Park; and Waimea Canyon, Hawaii’s “Grand Canyon.” The south side of the island offers white, sandy beaches, sunny weather and many historical sites. Lihue, Kauai’s main town, is home to state and county buildings and has a plantation-like feel, with its architectural design and slow-pace lifestyle. North of Lihue are the lush tourist destinations of Hanalei and Princeville. Here in the valleys along the Hanalei River are taro patches, waterfalls and lush forests.Kauai Landmarks and Attractions
Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge: Established in 1972, Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge is the oldest of Kauai’s three national wildlife refuges. The 917-acre refuge, in the Hanalei River Valley on Kauai’s north shore, was established to conserve five endangered water birds that rely on the Hanalei Valley for nesting and feeding habitat.
Kilauea Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge: Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1985 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is marked by its towering lighthouse. The ocean cliffs and tall grassy slopes of a dormant volcano provide a protective breeding ground for many Hawaiian seabirds, and include Hawaiian monk seal colonies and a short, self-guided coastal hike.
Koke’e State Park: There are seven main hiking trails in Koke’e State Park with views of the ocean and Kalalau along the way.
Menehune Fishpond: The Menehune Fishpond, near Lihue, is a historic Hawaiian fishpond. Also known as Alekoko Fishpond, it has been listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. It is so old that its construction is attributed to the mythical Menehunes, the mischievous little people inhabiting Hawaii before the Hawaiians arrived.
Na Pali Coast State Park: The Na Pali Coast State Park is a 6,175-acres state park in the center of the rugged 16 miles along the northwest side of Kauai. Although inaccessible to vehicles, this coast can be enjoyed overland by hiking or in a helicopter, and from the ocean by kayak and paddleboard.
Old Sugar Mill of Koloa: The Old Sugar Mill of Koloa was part of the first commercially successful sugarcane plantation in Hawaii. This was the beginning of what would become Hawaii's largest industry. The building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962. A stone chimney and foundations remain from 1840.
Safari Helicopters: About 80 percent of Kauai is uninhabited, remote and wild. For 27 years, Safari has taken passengers to the inaccessible wonders of the Garden Island, the oldest of the main Hawaiian islands. Choose from a Deluxe Waterfall Tour or a Refuge Eco-Tour.
Wailua Falls: Wailua Falls is as picturesque as Hawaiian waterfalls get. It’s close to the road, one of the few waterfalls you don’t have to hike to in order to get up close and personal.
Waimea Canyon: Nicknamed the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Waimea Canyon is a large canyon, about 10 miles long and up to 3,600 feet deep. Formed by erosion from the Waimea River, the canyon boasts a colorful array of red, brown and green hues that are complemented by waterfalls and frequent rainbows. The canyon is laced by challenging hiking and hunting trails.Lanai
Lanai, sometimes called “Pineapple Island,” is the sixth-largest island in the Hawaiian chain, covering about 140 square miles, with a population of about 3,500. Formed by the Palawai volcano, the island is often thought of as “Hawaii’s most secluded island.” Lanai was once owned and operated as a pineapple plantation by the Dole Co., Hawaii’s primary pineapple producer. Although agriculture and ranching are still vital parts of the economy, the island — now owned by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison since 2012 — is better known as a resort destination.
Lying at the base of the mountains, Lanai City is the main town where most of Lanai’s residents live. A few miles from Lanai City are the spectacular Hulopoe Bay’s secluded beaches and crystal-clear water. The Lodge at Ko’ele, in the tranquil mountains of Lanai, is an upscale resort with a Greg Norman golf course. On the south side of the island is Kaunolu Village, now a historic landmark that houses some of the best-preserved ruins and petroglyph carvings from ancient Hawaii. The village was also a favorite fishing spot of Kamehameha the Great.Molokai
Often called the “Friendly Isle,” Molokai is the fifth-largest of the Hawaiian Islands, covering 264 square miles, with a population of 7,400. The island was formed by two volcanoes, Kamakou and Kauhako, which give Molokai a shoe-like appearance. Molokai’s small population includes a large contingency of native Hawaiians. The island is free of many aspects of modern society such as high-rises, fast-food restaurants and traffic lights, and this old-Hawaiian feel has given Molokai the moniker “Most Hawaiian Island.”
Molokai is best known for its small peninsula known as “Kalaupapa.” This isolated section of the island was set apart for people with Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) in the 1800s. Kaunakakai, on the south side, is the main town and harbor of Molokai. To the west of Kaunakakai is the resort destination of Kaluakoi. To the east of Kaunakakai is the Halawa Valley, one of the earliest settlements in the Hawaiian Islands. The Halawa Valley, still home to taro farmers and fishermen, has some of the most dramatic scenery in all of Hawaii.Molokai Landmarks and Attractions
Church Row: On Sundays, listen to the music coming from one of the seven tiny churches along “Church Row” in Kaunakakai. Some of these picturesque churches date to the late 19th century. The music is lovely and is usually sung in Hawaiian. Himeni (hymns) were the first Hawaiian songs composed after the introduction of Western musical instruments and melody.
Halawa Valley: Hike into this classic Hawaiian “cathedral valley” to discover beautiful vistas, rich flora and rare Hawaiian plants and animals. With so many hidden heiau, or Hawaiian temples, it’s easy to see why this is one of the island’s most sacred areas. At the end of the trail is the impressive double-tiered 250-foot Mo’oloa Falls, a perfect place to rest, but be advised: The hike in is fairly difficult, and the only way to explore the area is with a guide, as the trail crosses private property.
Kalaupapa National Historical Park: It’s quiet as you ride a mule along the 2.9-mile trail to Kalaupapa, perhaps because the trail winds along the highest sea cliffs in the world (recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records) as an endless blue seascape paints the horizon. Traversing the Kalaupapa peninsula is enough to make anyone speechless.
Kamakou Preserve: Climb to a place so hidden and pristine you may even imagine you’re the first person to find it. The 3,000-acre Kamakou Preserve east of Kaunakakai is Molokai the way Mother Nature intended. See more than 200 rare plants that can only be found in Kamakou. Tread the 3-mile round-trip Kamakou boardwalk through primal bog and rainforest.
Kapuaiwa Coconut Beach Park: Visit Kapuaiwa Coconut Beach Park off Mauna Loa Highway, a royal Hawaiian coconut grove planted in the 1860s during the reign of King Kamehameha V. Given the hundreds of graceful, laden coconut trees, there is an obvious danger from falling coconuts, so go to neighboring Kiowea Beach Park for a safer, spectacular sunset view of the coconut grove.
Kaupoa Beach: Near Molokai Ranch, Kaupoa Beach is a picture-perfect beach with two cove-like areas divided by a rocky outcrop in the center. The beach has brilliant white sand with crystalline turquoise water. During the summer, the water is often calm, and the swimming can be sublime.
Mo’oloa Falls: Hike into sacred Halawa Valley for a beautiful guided hike ending at the 250-foot, double-tiered, Mo’oloa Falls. Native fruits and flowers surround the trail on this strenuous 4.2-mile round-trip hike.
Molokai Ranch: On the west end of the island in Manua Loa town you’ll find a link to Molokai’s ranching and plantation past. The Molokai Ranch sprawls more than 53,000 acres, almost one-third of the island but down from about 100,000 acres in its heyday. The tract, a working ranch for more than a hundred years, resumed ranching operations in 2014 after a hiatus, and a year later announced plans to reopen its Kaluakoi Hotel and Maunaloa Lodge, shut down in 2001. For decades, part of the ranch was a fruitful pineapple plantation.
Papohaku Beach: With 3 miles of soft-sand beach, Papohaku Beach (also known as Three Mile Beach) flows uninterrupted down Molokai’s west end. Billed as Hawaii’s largest white-sand beach, there’s plenty of room to spread out and enjoy it. Each May, Papohaku Beach Park is also the setting for the Molokai Ka Hula Piko, the island’s biggest cultural festival. Here you’ll find campsites, indoor and outdoor showers, picnic and restroom facilities and lots of space to enjoy a beautiful view of Oahu.Kahoolawe
Contrary to popular belief, neither Oahu nor the Big Island was the original cultural center for native Hawaiians: It was Kahoolawe where navigators and Kahuna trained for Pacific voyages, and some of the oldest temples, or “heiau,” are here. However, the island, at 44 square miles, is the smallest of the eight main Hawaiian islands, is now uninhabited and, like Niihau, is off-limits to visitors because of unexploded military ordnance. In the 1800s, the island became agriculturally desolate from disease and the destruction of native vegetation by European animals introduced onto the island. Beginning in the 1920s, the U.S. military began to train there and perform weapons testing, and by 1941 the Navy had gained exclusive use of Kahoolawe for gunnery and bomb training. After several decades of military acquisition, the island was returned to the care of the Hawaii state government in 1994. Federal projects are underway to clear away unexploded ordinance and related debris to restore the island to its original environmental conditions.Niihau
Niihau is the smallest of the populated islands, covering a little over 70 square miles with a tiny population of around 200. Referred to as the “Forbidden Isle,” Niihau is privately owned with access to the island originally limited to the Hawaiian families who lived and worked on Niihau and to their relatives who had moved to other islands. There are no phones or electricity on Niihau, and the official language is Hawaiian. Recently, the owners have begun allowing limited access by helicopter to outsiders, and permission has been granted to visit unpopulated areas of the island. Further loosening of the restrictions is under review