About Hawaii, Pacific

Located more than 5178 kilometres off the west coast of America, this tropical paradise of turquoise bays, white sandy beaches, lush tropical vegetation and balmy sunshine all year round, is renowned as one of the world’s most famous vacation playgrounds.

Most of the 132 islands in this beautiful archipelago are no more than tiny atolls, the summits of a chain of submarine volcanoes that stretches almost to Japan. Hawaii is full of contrasts and extremes and it has 11 of the world’s 13 climatic zones.

Capital and major centres

There are six major islands to visit in Hawaii. These are Oahu, with the city of Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii; Maui, the second largest island with the world’s largest dormant volcano; Kauai which is known for its magnificent scenery and vegetation; Hawaii Island or the Big Island where Captain Cook is buried, and the ancestral home of Hawaiian royalty; and Molokai and Lanai, located off the coast of Maui.

The people

There are 1.4 million people of mixed races living in the Hawaiian archipelago. Hawaii’s religions are as diverse as its cultural heritage. The official languages are Hawaiian and English. The diverse culture of Hawaii is expressed through language, music, art, theatre, dance, film and food.

History

The first inhabitants of Hawaii were Polynesians who arrived between the fourth and fifth century with plants and animals. Captain James Cook was the first European. He landed in 1778 to find a structured society with chiefs ruling each island. In 1920, Hawaii became a major tourist destination with the first non-stop flight from the US mainland. In 1959 it became an American state and Honolulu is now the 11th largest city in the USA.

The sights

On Oahu, see Pearl Harbor and visit famous Waikiki Beach. Hike to the top of one of Hawaii’s most recognised landmarks, Diamond Head, for panoramic views of Waikiki and Honolulu. Hire a car or jump on the local bus to explore the beautiful beaches on the famous North Shore.

On Maui the main attraction is Haleakala, the world’s largest dormant volcano reaching approximately 3000 metres. The best time to visit Haleakala is at sunrise. A drive along the stunning Hana highway is also a must while on Maui.

On Hawaii Island, there is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Parker Ranch, which is the third largest working cattle ranch in the US. There is also a space centre named after Hawaii’s first astronaut, Ellison S. Onizuka. Visit Akaka Falls State Park and take a scenic self-guided walk that features two amazing waterfalls, Akaka Falls and Kahuna Falls.

Kauai has Waimea Canyon and a number of magnificent botanical gardens. A sailing trip or helicopter ride along the breathtaking Napali coast is also highly recommended.

Molokai is home to historic Kalaupapa National Historical Park where victims of Hansen’s disease were exiled in the 1800s. Today, the serene Kalaupapa National Historical Park is a place of preservation and education and is only accessible by mule ride, hiking tour or airplane from the small commuter Kalaupapa Airport.

The smallest inhabited island in Hawaii is Lanai. It’s best dive spot, Cathedrals, has dramatic coral formations creating pinnacles and caverns rising from a depth of 21 metres to the surface. Kaunolu Village is an archaeological site featuring the largest surviving ruins of a prehistoric Hawaiian village.

Where to stay

Hawaii has accommodation to suit all budgets, and travellers can expect to find hundreds of hotels and condos in every category from luxury to budget. Camping is available in National, State, City, and County Parks.

Getting around

If you are considering visiting all of the islands, it is recommended that you allow a minimum of three weeks. The domestic airlines, Hawaiian, Mokulele Airlines and Island Air help to maximise sightseeing time. Helicopter sightseeing tours are popular and give you a chance to see places that may otherwise be inaccessible.

On the ground there are limousines, taxis and coaches available. Oahu is the only island with a bus service with an extensive route that covers the entire island. In addition, there is a ferry from Lanai to Maui and from Molokai to Maui. Renting a car or jeep is extremely popular in Hawaii, although it is not necessary in Honolulu as it has a good public transport network.

Driving is on the right hand side and, as most islands have only one main road, it is difficult to get lost. Night driving is not quite as enjoyable, as roads between towns are not lit and can be narrow.

Hiring a bike is a great option for visitors as it allows you to get off the beaten track and visit smaller towns.

Food and entertainment

Experience a traditional Hawaiian feast or luau, which usually includes dishes like poi, ground from the taro plant, kalua pork, an entire pig wrapped in ti leaves and baked in an underground oven or imu, poke, marinated raw fish, shellfish, or octopus, along with Polynesian-style entertainment and a hula performance.

Aside from the Pacific Rim or Hawaii regional cuisine, which is a fusion of food and techniques from all of the countries and ethnic groups that have historically had an influence on Hawaii, Hawaii boasts many international restaurants serving various Asian and continental cuisines. There are also fast foods of every kind, and doit- yourself is popular as most condominiums have cooking facilities.

Activities

There is a wide range of activities for all ages including snorkelling, fishing, tennis, golf, windsurfing, sailing, and many other water based activities including magnificent surfing. Hawaii offers sightseeing tours, bushwalks, downhill cycling adventures, trail rides, and a range of indoor activities.

Whale watching season begins in late December and ends in early May, with peak viewing occurring between January and early April. November through February is big wave surf season on Hawaii’s north shores.

Shopping guide

Artisans make copies of their ancient instruments made from gourds, stones, seeds, feathers, shells, lumber and bamboo. Also for sale are woven leaf hats, feather work in colourful hatbands, capes and bags, handwoven cloth, Lauhala leaves made into sandals, bags and wall ornaments. Beautiful Hawaiian applique quilts in island designs make the perfect gift.

Climate

With its warm and gentle trade winds, mild temperatures and sunny skies, Hawaii is an ideal vacation destination throughout the year. There are really only two seasons in Hawaii: summer from May to October and winter from November to April. The average daytime summer temperature is 29.4° C, while the average daytime winter temperature is 25.6°.

The wettest months are from November to March, with most of the rain falling in the mountains and valleys on the windward (northeastern) side of the islands. During the winter on many north shore beaches, Pacific storms drive ocean swells towards the islands, creating The Hawaiian Islands’ legendary big waves.

Hawaiian People & Culture

Things to know about Hawaii

Things to do in Hawaii

Hawaii’s Cuisine

Hawaii’s Culture & Night Life

Activities in Hawaii

Where to Stay

Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa
Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa
Experience authentic island luxury along the Maui coast at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa. Surrounded by 40 lush, beachfront acres at Ka’anapali Beach, this breathtaking Maui hotel presents an astonish... View More »
The Westin Hapuna Beach
An oceanfront paradise, The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort is the Island of Hawaii’s only Westin resort. Following an extensive multi-million dollar renovation, The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort features some of large... View More »
Embassy Suites by Hilton® – Waikiki Beach Walk
Embassy Suites by Hilton® – Waikiki Beach Walk
Golden sands and turquoise seas are right at your fingertips with a stay at Embassy Suites by Hilton® – Waikiki Beach Walk. Waikiki’s only all-suite resort is known for its spacious accommodations, convenien... View More »
Moana Surfrider Oahu
Moana Surfrider Oahu
Known as the “First Lady of Waikiki,” the oceanfront Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa, Waikiki Beach combines Victorian elegance with modern resort amenities. This elegant oceanfront hotel is a lege... View More »
Mauna Kea Beach Hotel
Indulge in timeless Mauna Kea moments at this hotel on the Island of Hawaii. On the sunny Kohala Coast, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is a landmark of luxury situated on a beautiful crescent beach offering its guests the... View More »
hawaii maui grand wailea resort restaurant outdoor
Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria™ Resort
Capture the spirit of Aloha at this luxury resort set on 40 acres of tropical gardens bordering Wailea Beach and surrounded by the essence of Hawaiian island living. Immerse yourself in idyllic Hawaiian luxury at... View More »
The Kahala Hotel and Resort
At the very end of one of Oahu’s most scenic drives around the iconic Diamond Head Crater landmark rests an oasis of luxury and elegance, The Kahala Hotel and Resort. Just 10 minutes from the world-class shoppi... View More »
Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa
At Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, luxury and nature go hand-in-hand. Exuding a modern Hawaiian elegance and spectacular beachfront locale, the resort is situated on 17 beachfront acres on Anaeho’omal... View More »
Waikiki Resort Hotel
Waikiki Resort Hotel
Waikiki Resort Hotel is located in the heart of Waikiki, just half a block away from the world famous white sands of Waikiki Beach and across from Kuhio Beach. The hotel is so centrally located it is only an elev... View More »
Grand Hyatt Kauai
Along a white sand beach in Poipu, on Kauai’s sunny South Shore, this luxury resort complete with five restaurants, an adults-only pool, a water playground with a river pool, waterfalls, a 150-foot waterslide as w... View More »
Hotel Wailea
An intimate five-star enclave, Hotel Wailea boasts 180-degree, unobstructed ocean views, breathtaking mountain scenery, and 15 acres of zen-inspired landscaped grounds comprised of tropical gardens, cascading waterf... View More »
Ho’Olei Villas at Grand Wailea
Discover a blissful, breezy retreat on Maui’s southern shore at the Ho’olei Villas at Grand Wailea. Set in the exclusive Wailea Resort area, Ho’olei Villas at Grand Wailea is a gated community offering soph... View More »
‘Ilima Hotel
Discover exceptional value, and experience the true spirit of aloha and ‘ohana at the superb ‘Ilima Hotel. From the moment you enter the lobby, with its gleaming koa wood and paintings by the famous Hawaiian ... View More »
The Royal Hawaiian Oahu
The Royal Hawaiian Oahu
Built in 1927, the iconic Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, ushers in a new era of luxurious resort travel to Hawaii. The most coveted spot on Waikiki Beach is at The Royal Hawaiian. Within the billowin... View More »
Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach
Discover an oasis of luxury and tranquility in the heart of Waikiki Beach. The brand-new, vibrant ‘Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach seamlessly blends indoor and outdoor luxury to elevate your holiday experience i... View More »
Prince Waikiki
Discover spectacular oceanfront accommodation and world-class service at one of the most desirable and convenient locations in Waikiki. Absorb breathtaking panoramas of the Pacific Ocean from all of the spacious,... View More »
Sheraton Waikiki
Sheraton Waikiki
In the centre of Waikiki, the heartbeat of excitement and entertainment, Sheraton Waikiki is perfectly located for fun-loving family vacations. Just three miles from the famed Diamond Head crater, the hotel is me... View More »
Fairmont Orchid
From sunrise canoe voyages to sunset torch lighting ceremonies, Fairmont Orchid offers an oasis of Hawaiian-style luxury and an incredible array of outdoor adventures for you to explore. This AAA Four Diamond lux... View More »
Vive Hotel Waikiki
Vive Hotel Waikiki is Oahu’s most stylish lifestyle boutique hotel, an inviting and relaxing place to call home when visiting Hawaii. Sophisticated design Warm and friendly service combined with a chic and w... View More »
Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach
Experience island bliss at Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach. Housed in a structure once known as the Waikiki Trade Center, a bustling office building, its modern features have been converted into a luxury hotel, with ... View More »

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