Hawaii - Dream Beaches, Waterfalls and Volcanoes
Hawaii makes wishes come true. The remote island in the North Pacific has been fascinating people for hundreds of years. It is associated with exoticism, spas, dream beaches, glowing volcanoes, tropical forests, scenic waterfalls and Polynesian culture. You will get a new awareness of life here.
Geography - The island paradise in the North Pacific
The island group in the Pacific Ocean is one of the best-known and most popular travel destinations on earth. Regarding geography and culture, Hawaii (also "Hawai'i") belongs to the Polynesian triangle but with regard to politics, it is the 50th state of the USA (1959). Including the water area, Hawaii has an overall area of 28,311 km² but the land area is only 16,625 km². Apart from coral reefs, the islands are all of volcanic origin but many of them are uninhabited and only relevant for tourism. Examples of such islands are Maui, Kauai, Oahu, Lanai, Molokai and The Big Island (Hawaii). The population of about 1,360,300 comprises different cultures, most of which are Asians, Americans and Europeans. The majority lives on Oahu because it accommodates the capital of Honolulu. One of the reasons why Hawaii is so popular is its climate, which is warm throughout the year. Due to the north-east trade wind, the climate is relatively consistent and there are no seasons.
Nature - Majestic waterfalls and idyllic sandy beaches
Hawaii's scenery could not be any more diverse. Deep tropical rainforests with a breathtaking variety of exotic plants, majestic waterfalls (especially on Maui and Kauai), impressive mountains, bubbling volcanoes and wonderful beaches make this island world in the middle of the Pacific Ocean an unforgettable natural experience. Hawaii accommodates the greatest volcanoes on earth with Mauna Kea as the most prominent example. Some volcanoes are still active, others have been inactive for a long time but are not considered dead yet. The most famous beach is Waikiki Beach in Honolulu on Oahu but North Shore Beach (Oahu), Lanikai Beach (Oahu), Ho'okipa Beach (Maui), Lahaina Beach (Maui), Kaanapali Beach (Maui), Punalu'u Beach (Hawaii), Kauna'oa Beach (Hawaii) and Honaunan Beach (Hawaii) are popular as well. The terrestrial fauna is relatively poor in species. Nowadays you mainly find birds (Hawaiian honeycreepers, black-winged stilts, Hawaiian ducks, Laysan ducks and short-eared owls) as well as several species of insects and spiders (huntsman spiders, cixiidae and monarch butterflies). The diversity of sea animals is much greater. Green sea turtles, monk seals, pygmy killer whales, spinner dolphins and many species of fish populate the waters around Hawaii. The flora is diverse too. Plants such as candlenut, cabbage on a stick, pineapple, plumeria and hibiscus grow on the Hawaiian islands.
Natural sights - The Grand Canyon of the Pacific
Hawaii offers an abundance of natural sights which surpass each other in beauty. The Route 550 on Kauai, for example, crosses the spectacular Waimea Canyon, which is called the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific" for a reason. The Na Pali Coast State Park is equally impressive. Oahu accommodates the Halona Blowhole, a rock formation which absorbs seawater and emits it into the air like a whale on the ocean's surface. Another attractive sight is offered by Diamond Head, the giant crater of a dead volcano. On Maui, you find the Haleakalā National Park, which is characterised by a fascinating untouched volcanic landscape. However, the main attraction is the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park on the island of Hawaii. There you see active volcanoes bubbling and spitting out lava. Other worthwhile destinations are the Rainbow Falls, Waipi'o Valley and the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden.
Culture - Watching hula dances
The islands were first settled by the Polynesians, which probably came from the Marquesas Islands. The residing society consisted of aristocrats, priests and the people. In 1778, the famous sailor James Cook discovered the Hawaiian Islands and named them "Sandwich Islands". The islands became a popular stopping point among sailors who were crossing the Pacific Ocean. The interest in the islands increased continually, especially on the part of the Americans, who had begun to grow sugar cane there because of the favourable climate. In 1898, the island paradise became part of the USA. The Polynesian population was decreasing more and more, while the number of Asians, North Americans and Europeans was rising. This also caused the language of the native inhabitants to almost become extinct. There is hardly anyone who speaks pure Hawaiian today. English is the main language now. However, pidgin (a mix of English and Hawaiian) is spoken in several regions. A relic of the Polynesian culture is the world-famous hula, a narrative dance which is mostly performed by girls adorned with flowers. Art handicraft such as mats made of tapa or lauhala and famous wood carvings called "tikis" are still common.
Cultural sights - Tiki culture and Polynesian settlements
Culture enthusiasts will be delighted by Hawaii. Many sights are influenced by the Polynesian culture or testimonies of Hawaii's chequered history. The islands' landmark is Aloha Tower, at which visitors were greeted and bid goodbye with traditional hula dances, music and lei wreaths in the 1920s and 30s. The Polynesian Cultural Center is a fascinating blend of an open-air museum and an amusement park and displays seven different South Sea villages which provide an authentic impression of the Polynesian culture. Honokahau Settlement on the island of Hawaii presents the remains of an original settlement. Another popular attraction is 'Iolani Palace in Honolulu, which was the residence of the last Hawaiian king. One of the best-known sights in Hawaii is without doubt Pearl Harbor (headquarters of the US Navy) with the Pacific Aviation Museum. Other interesting museums are the Lyman House Memorial Museum, the Bernice P. Bishop Museum, the U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii and the Pacific Tsunami Museum.
Experience - Glowing lava and exotic food
The islands are a top destination for weddings and honeymoons as well as for spa holidays because of their numerous resorts and dream beaches. In addition, lava tourism is becoming increasingly popular. It refers to trips on which you can see the hot lava of active volcanoes from afar or at close range. Hawaii's cuisine is typically American but there are local specialities as well. The island group's cuisine is characterised by fresh ingredients such as fish and exotic fruit. Mangos, papayas, guava, lychees and melons grow here at any time of the year and taste much better than those you can get in the supermarket in the rest of the world. Typical dishes are haupia (coconut pudding), kalua pig (pig baked in an earth oven), laulau (meat steamed in banana or taro leaves), mano (shark) and poi (taro porridge). The nightlife on the islands is becoming increasingly popular. You can party in a variety of clubs and bars here. Most travellers take home typical Hawaiian souvenirs such as original Aloha shirts and art handicraft, for example tiki carvings.
Activities - A surfing paradise
Hawaii is one of the most popular water sports destinations in the world, especially for surfers. One highlight is surfing through the Banzai Pipeline, a special wave shape. The wonderful beaches with their crystal clear water are also excellently suited for going bathing, swimming, kitesurfing, snorkelling or diving. The mountains and valleys offer great conditions for going hiking. Besides common leisure activities, there is a number of tourist attractions. Examples are Honolulu Zoo, the SeaLife Park Hawaii, the Waikiki Aquarium, the Wet 'n' Wild Hawaii leisure park and the Maui Ocean Center. Sports fans can attend a sporting event in the Aloha Stadium.
The easiest way of reaching Hawaii is by plane. Hawaiian Airlines travels to a number of airports in Asia, North America, Australia and in the Pacific region. However, there is no direct connection to Europe. The general entry requirements of the USA apply. Public bus traffic only exists on Oahu (TheBus) and Maui (MauiBus). Therefore, it is advisable to rent a car, which is possible at all airports.
The diversity of the Hawaiian Islands, the variety of landscapes, the multiculturalism, the pleasant climate and the excellent surfing facilities attract a great number of travellers. You have fresh fruit here, which will make your taste buds explode, as well as exciting trips to majestic waterfalls, bubbling volcanoes and Polynesian villages.