Hawaii is a volcanic archipelago and an American state. It is located in the Central Pacific Ocean and is made up of hundreds of islands that span a distance of 2,451km. Only 8 of these islands are commonly known and just 6 are regularly visited. They include Hawai’i Island, Maui, Oahu, Kauai, Molokai and Lanai. Each of Hawaii’s most popular islands are known for completely unique traits. With volcanic mountain ranges, perfect beaches, surf breaks, reefs, tropical rainforests and bustling city hubs, there’s no wonder why the ‘Aloha State’ is referred to as the destination that has it all!
History and culture play a big role in Hawaii’s mesmerising diversity. Originally settled by the ancient Polynesians, Hawaii has since welcomed explorers and migrants from Europe, China, the Philippines, and Japan (just to name a few!). Despite being the most remote island chain in the world, Hawaii has a population of over 1.4 million people. Military personnel and tourist-residents make a significant contribution to this figure—it’s a pretty great place to be posted, if you ask our My Hawaii Holiday Experts!
- Capital: Honolulu
- International Airport: Honolulu International Airport
- Language: English and Hawaiian
- Currency: US Dollars
History and Geography
Hawaii has a rich Polynesian history, with settlers from the Marquesas Islands and Tahiti being amongst the first to call the islands ‘home’. The archipelago remained relatively undiscovered by the rest of the world until Captain James Cook’s landing in 1778 and it then became a port for traders and whalers in the early 1800s. Just before the turn of the 19th Century, Hawaii became a territory of the United States of America. The 1900s saw a rise in Asian and European immigrants moving there to work on sugarcane and pineapple plantations and World War II made its mark, with the attack on Oahu’s Pearl Harbour in 1941.
Hawaii was officially listed as the 50th American state in 1959 and it has since continued to present itself as a vibrant, connected hub. Despite this, it is actually the most isolated archipelago in the world. The ‘Aloha State’ sits approximately 2,360km north of the equator. It is 3,850km from California on the east and 6,195km from Japan on the west. All of its visible islands are just the tip of huge underwater volcanic mountain ranges and they spread sideways, ranked oldest to youngest, from the northwest to southeast.
The most popular Hawaiian Islands are among the youngest ones in the chain. Many of these still have active and dormant volcanoes on them, including Kilauea and Maunaloa on Hawaii Island, Loihi off its southern coast, Haleakala on Maui and the Diamond Head tuff cone on Oahu. Surprisingly, Hawaii is more than mountains and lava! Lush green rainforests, pristine beaches, farmland and cityscapes abound, depending on which island you visit, and microclimates are common. Click here to read more about Hawaii’s islands and weather.
What to do in Hawaii
Hawaii has something for everyone. Whether you want to be pampered at a luxury resort on the coast or head inland for a heart pumping, adrenaline-fueled adventure, you’ll find the perfect activity on at least one of the state’s islands! Find your feet with a tour—there are plenty to choose from and many come included with our exclusive My Hawaii holiday package deals! See Oahu’s most historic landmark on the USS Arizona Memorial and Historic Downtown tour, drive along the scenic Road to Hana and discover the best of Maui, snorkel with manta rays off the Kona Coast or enjoy traditional Hawaiian entertainment on the Chief’s Luau experience!
For travellers that like to seek out their own adventures, there are countless experiences to try! Ride a helicopter over a volcano, hike through wetlands and national reserves on the Garden Isle (Kauai) or the Big Island (Hawaii Island) and sample locally grown coffee and pineapple at the state’s many plantations! Learn to surf, dive, snorkel, zipline and more—there are companies and schools waiting to teach you the ropes around most of the resorts!
Golf lovers will find their haven in Hawaii, as will shoppers. There are 14 golf courses on Maui alone, several of which are ranked near the world’s best! Shopping abounds on Oahu—discover the boutiques that line the streets of Waikiki or shop for department-store bargains and brand names at Ala Moana, the largest open-air shopping centre in the world! Click for more things to do in Hawaii or contact our My Hawaii Holiday Experts for their top picks!
My Hawaii Hot Deals
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