Hawaii is like an artist’s sun-kissed pallet: rain forests
adorned in the deepest greens; lush fruits and flowers of vibrant
reds, yellows and pinks; all set on the canvas of an azure-blue
ocean. Mark Twain, the famous American writer who visited
in the late 19th century described the Aloha State as the “The
loveliest fleet of islands that lies anchored in any ocean,” an apt
description then and one that continues to be true today.
A visit to Hawaii blends dramatic volcanic landscapes, tropical
climate, luxury resorts and the islands' unique Polynesian culture
into a vacation experience that is unrivaled anywhere in the world.
Hawai'i offers warm weather, broad sandy beaches, lush tropical
vegetation, water sports and a slower pace to the day's events than
we experience at home. Hawai'i is a place to relax while experiencing
countless ways to enjoy your vacation in paradise.
The Hawai'ian Islands attract seven million visitors per year. The
majority of guests arrive from the western United States, followed
in rank order by visitors from the eastern United States, Japan,
Australia, the United Kingdom and Korea. For most travelers it takes
a long plane ride to get there, but visiting Hawai'i is worth the
Hawaii has six destination islands 0ahu, Maui, the Big Island (named
Hawai'i), Kauai, Lanai and Molokai. Of the visitors to the Aloha
state, two-thirds visit only one island and almost fifty percent of
all visitors make that island Oahu, lured by Waikiki, Honolulu and
the famous surfing beaches of the North Shore. Oahu is an incredible
vacation destination, but we hope to persuade you to sample the
“other” Hawai'i as well. Maui, the Big Island, Kauai and Lanai
are distinctly different experiences and all are attractive vacation
destinations. We do not cover Molokai, perhaps the least developed
island of the Hawai'ian chain. For those of you interested in
statistics, the rank ordering of the islands in terms of the number
of visitors is Oahu, Maui, Hawai'i (the Big Island) Kauai, Lanai, and
The ThereArePlaces Hawai'i Travel Guides
Hawaii Guide covers Oahu,
Maui, the Big Island (the Island of Hawai'i, Kauai and Lanai. We believe that these islands
are the most attractive for vacationing. Our guides to the Hawai'ian
Islands are concise, illustrated and focused on the Best Places to
Visit in Hawaii. Clicking the map symbol next to an attraction or
place name will show you its location on a detailed map of that
island in Hawai'i.
Why Vacation in Hawaii?
Once you land upon her shores,
will captivate you with the scent of tropical flowers carried by
soft, warm breezes. Year round, the daytime temperature ranges
between 75º and 85º and is perfect for enjoying a day of water
sports, golf, sightseeing or just laying at the beach. Something
wonderful seems to happen during vacations in Hawai'i. Maybe its the
tropics, or the distance away from the "real world" back home, but
everything other than vacationing and having fun seems to melt away
with the suntan lotion.
Hawaii’s leading resorts often bill themselves as "a complete
vacation” and, we think, this is an apt description of many of the
resorts in Hawaii. There is often no compelling reason to leave the
larger properties, since everything you might want is likely to be
supplied there. But trust us; you will finally get tired of relaxing
and lazing about at the pool or the beach and want to head out for
something , well, different - and Hawaii excels at providing unique
While Hawaii is a place to relax and get away from it all, it’s not
one of those boring vacation spots where there is “nothing to do”
buy sit in the sun. If you get tired of soaking up the rays, you
will find that Hawai'i offers excellent surfing, diving, golfing,
hiking, biking, windsailing and paragliding. If you are an
adventurer, you already know that the Hawai'ian Islands owe their
existence to volcanoes. If you are among the brave at heart, the
Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island can provide an incredible
adventure. Haleakala on Maui also can provide exceptional adventure
for those interested in trekking. If you are really capable, you can
learn to Hula - it is harder than it looks and more fun than you can
The uniqueness of the Islands includes the Hawai'ian culture.
Although most often seen by tourist as the luau and Hawai'ian print
clothing, the Hawai'ian people have an interesting history. Theirs'
is a complex culture that includes wonderful lore and important
links between the Hawai'ians and the earth. It is our belief that the
closer you get to Hawai'ian culture, the more you will enjoy your
trip to the Islands.
For those interested in twentieth century history, there are
dramatic memorials commemorating the deaths resulting from the
December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan, an act that caused
a state of war to exist between the present day allies. Although war
memorials are not of interest to everyone, visiting the USS Arizona
Memorial in Pearl Harbor is, for many, an important part of the
Hawai'i is a tropical paradise and most people travel there to take
some time to rest and relax in the tropics. If you are looking for a
non-stop action packed adventure, Hawai'i may not be the right place
for you. If you are looking for great weather, fantastic beaches,
excellent water sports and an interesting cultural environment, then
read about the wonder of Hawaii.
Travel Preparations for Visiting Hawaii
What are the peak
vacation seasons in Hawaii?
There is a
secondary peak tourist season in summer, when it is both drier and
warmer than in winter, but this one reflects school being out and is
when most families can stay in Hawai'i long enough to make it worth
The lowest prices for rooms are usually found during the
“shoulder seasons” of April/May and September/October. In our
opinion, Hawaii is a great place to visit whenever you can get
What kind of clothes should you take?
It's the tropics,
so bring lightweight clothes. During the days you may spend a lot of
your time in swimwear. When you are touring or eating, you will
probably want to wear shorts, short-sleeve tops and sandals. In the
evenings you may want to nightclub or hit fine restaurants, so pack
a dress, or a sports coat, as appropriate. A light jacket or a
windbreaker is usually a good item to pack, since the temperature
drops in the evenings, especially on the coast or in the highlands.
you are planning on visiting Haleakala on Maui or Mauna Kea or
Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island you should pack a
sweater/sweatshirt, windbreaker and hiking shoes.
glasses and hats to protect from the sun are a good idea for
everyone, as the sun's rays are more direct in Hawai'i than where
most of us live.
If you have never been to
Hawaii, we recommend that you plan a visit that includes Oahu and
one other island. Oahu has a lot to see and is a fun place to visit
for a few days but, to many tourists, it not the most attractive of
the Hawai'ian Islands. We suggest that you spend three or four days
exploring Oahu and then head for Maui, the Big Island or Kauai for
the another week, if you have the time.
The main method of inter-Island travel is
by air. Aloha Airlines. The main airports are in Honolulu (HNL),
Hilo (ITO) and Kailua-Kona on the Big Island, Kahului (OGG) on Maui
and Lihue (LIH) on Kauai. There are smaller airports on Lanai and
Cruising Hawai'i sounds idyllic, but
there are a couple of clinkers for you to consider. The islands and
ports that may be included on a cruise itinerary include: Oahu
(Honolulu), Maui (Lahaina or Kahului), the Big Island (Kailua-Kona
or Hilo) and Kauai (Nawiliwili).
You really have two choices in
respect to itineraries and the difference is significant. First,
Norwegian Cruise Lines is the only carrier that operates a cruise
ship that is U.S. flagged. This means that the NCL ship that is
Hawai'i-based is currently the only liner that can cruise and port in
the Hawai'ian Islands without having to make a stop in a "foreign"
Non-U.S. flagged cruise lines that visit ports in Hawai'i must,
also, call on at least one "foreign" port during their itinerary.
Many make a run to Fanning Island in Kiribati (1200 miles southwest
of Hawai'i) to satisfy the "foreign" port requirement, before
returning to Oahu. Other itineraries may be employed to deal with
the foreign port rule, for instance by combining cruises to Hawai'i
However, before you sign up for a cruise, consider that most
vacationers go to Hawai'i to sit on the beach and do lots of lazing
around, separated by trips to see the local attractions when they
feel they need a break. Sitting around the pool on a boat is not
like sitting on the beach in Hawaii! Also, those of you who have
cruised before know that the land tours offered by cruise lines are
scripted, hurried and often less than satisfying. If you really want
to see the Hawai'ian Islands, we think your vacation needs to be land-based. Of course, if you have have been there before, a cruise could
be a great way to gain a new perspective on Hawai'i.
Plan on renting a car if you want to explore Oahu, Maui, Hawai'i (the
Big Island) and Kauai, as there is little in the way of widespread public
transportation on most of the islands. A jeep is the best way to see the limited sights on
Lanai. An alternative is to find a tour company and let them arrange
explorations for you.
Facts you should know about
Windward and Leeward sides of islands.
The windward side of the Hawai'ian Islands is the coast hit by the
prevailing Northeast Trade Winds, which flow from the northeast to
the southwest. These winds generally strike the northern or eastern
side of the islands, which is called the windward side. The windward
side is usually the wetter side of the island, as the land elevation
forces the wind to rise to cross the island. Ascending air masses
cool, which may cause the water vapor they carry to condense and
precipitate as rain. The Leeward side of the island is usually the
drier side of the island, since the air carried by the winds has
lost its moisture on the windward side of the island. In addition,
it is often warmer on the leeward side of the islands, because the
trade winds warm as they head to lower elevations after crossing
Waterfalls and rainforests area common on the windward side of
islands and rare on the leeward side. Honolulu, Kanapali and Kona
are located on the leeward side of their respective islands.
Hawaii and volcanoes
The Hawai'ian Islands are over 2400 miles from the nearest continent.
This mid-Pacific island chain has been forming over the last 81
million years as the Pacific Plate (one of many major movable
sections of the earth’ surface) slowly edges northwest. The path of
these "migrating" islands passes over a stationary source of magma
(a plume) that winds through the earth's crust and eventually oozes
out onto the floor of the Pacific Ocean.
Countless eruptions over millions of years sometimes produce
layered mounds of lava that are able grow and break the ocean's
surface, despite the scouring action of the Pacific. When this
happens, an island is born. However, because the plate continues to
move towards the northwest, the volcanoes are eventually cut off
from the sub-surface lava plume. When this happens, the island
reaches a mature stage and it is likely that another new island will
start to form to the south.
Which Hawai'ian Island was created first?
In chronological age the Big Island is the youngest of the Hawai'ian
chain, and the other islands increase in age to the north, with
Kauai being the first (oldest) Hawai'ian Island. The Big Island is
currently the lava hotspot in Hawai'i, but its lava action occurs on
the south end of the island. Further south of the Big Island, an
island-to-be named Loihi is already building up beneath the surface
of the Pacific.
Hawai'i and Earthquakes
On October 15, 2006, a magnitude 6.7 earthquake occurred 10 miles
west-southwest of Waikoloa off the west coast of the Big Island in
Hawai'i. Although there was some structural damage across the Big
Island, there were no deaths and limited casualties. Large
earthquakes are relatively rare in Hawai'i, although the Big Island
is one of the most active seismic zones in the world. The majority
of the Big Island earthquakes are small in magnitude and related to
the movement of magma flowing through the Kilauea and Loihi
The cause of the October 15th earthquake appears to be related
to the weight of the lava that has accumulated during the Big
Island's rise from the sea floor. The distance between the highest
elevation on island and the sea floor is approximately 30,000 feet.
The weight of this landmass depresses the earth's crust around the
edges of the island and, from time to time, a rebounding effect
generates shearing and tearing of the crust that results in
In addition, the Hawai'ian Islands are part of a chain
of volcanoes that stretches nearly 3500 mile across the North
Pacific Ocean. Due to the movement of the earth's crust resulting
from plate tectonics, the Hawai'ian Island chain is moving to the
northwest. These movements of the crust cause earthquakes in zones
where plates collide.
Hawai'i and Tsunamis
Major earthquakes that lower or raise of the earth's crust can
result in the formation of Tsunamis. Tsunamis are large, rapidly
moving ocean waves triggered by a major disturbance of the ocean
floor. They are often caused by earthquakes but can be produced
by submarine landslides or a volcanic eruptions. Tsunamis have been
referred to as "tidal waves," but they have no relation to tides.
Some ports in the Hawai'ian Island were damaged by the tsunami
related to the March, 2011 earthquake in Japan. Hawai'i is included in the Pacific Tsunami Warning System, which is
headquartered at Ewa Beach on Oahu. The system relies on sea-level
monitoring instrumentation to determine when tsunami warnings should
be issued. Although an infrequent phenomenon, tidal waves have
occurred in Hawai'i on the east coast of the Big Island at Hilo and
If a tsunami warning is issued, local authorities
will implement evacuation plans. Do not return to low-lying areas
until notified by the authorities.
Hawaii's No Smoking Ban
In November of 2006, the State of Hawai'i banned public smoking in
enclosed or partially enclosed areas (both public and State owned)
that are open to the public (including private businesses). Although
hotels can reserve 20% of their rooms for smokers, smoking is not
allowed in lobbies, reception areas, restaurants, bars or other
public areas. In addition, the ban applies at airports, aquariums,
galleries, libraries, museums, lobbies, bars (indoor or out),
elevators, nightclubs, restaurants, sports venues, retail shops and
While in Hawaii you will notice that the island is sometimes spelled
Hawaii and Hawai'i at other times. The name of the state is
Hawaii. Hawaiians, however, prefer Hawai'i. We use
Hawaii for the state, Hawai'i for the Big Island, Hawai'ians for the
people and Hawai'ian Islands for the chain of islands comprising the
state. Yes, it is confusing.