A paradise for those who want to rest amidst an incomparable setting, but also for those who want to practice water sports and snorkel. Hawaii, which represents the 50th US state (State of Aloha), is also an archipelago of volcanic origin, which groups eight main islands. Imagine traces of beauty spread across 2400 square kilometers, across hundreds of atolls. Breathing in the sea breeze and smelling jasmine, you learn to appreciate the variety of landscapes, but also the traditions that result from a history full of diverse contributions.
Hawaii is a mixture of tradition and innovation, which makes the flow of clubs and the energy of the action alternate with Japanese ceremonies or the tranquility of the temples. The varied landscapes, tropical climate, variety of beaches, seas and majestic volcanoes make Hawaii an ideal destination for tourists and a point of reference for scholars.
There are several curiosities about the islands, starting with the presence of the only tropical forest in the United States. Hawaii also has numerous coffee plantations, although it is a very rare and refined product. The archipelago has always been the ideal habitat for many animal species, starting with birds. 20% of marine species, numerous varieties of butterfly fish and angelfish live there. Let’s find out together, then, what other treasures hide the eight main islands:
Oahu is the third largest Hawaiian island, after Maui and the Big Island, but it can be said that it is second to none. It is now a must-see on all tourist itineraries and accommodates more than half of the total population. There is no shortage of attractions and services, especially in the capital Honolulu. In addition to being a city full of ideas, it was also the birthplace of former US President Barack Obama.
And we still haven’t talked about the landscapes that mix enchanting beaches, pineapple plantations, not to mention volcanoes or wild areas. It is also the busiest and most connected island: you can get here with an international flight, and buses work well for transport within the island.
Plus, there’s a lot of history to rediscover. On Oahu is the former naval base at Pearl Harbor, made famous by the Japanese air force attack on December 7, 1941. Every day long lines of people visit the USS Arizona Memorial which holds the remains of the ship on which more than 1,100 sailors were killed. A place of memory and historical remembrance.
Honolulu in Hawaiian means “protected bay”, precisely because of its strategic location, in one of the few natural harbors in the archipelago. Despite being the capital, it is a place that manages to maintain tranquility, very different from the European chaos. The city center gives priority to pedestrians and you can visit it on foot. The city is located on the southeastern coast. In Honolululu there are plenty of architectural mixes. You will find yourself in front of skyscrapers, stunning beaches, always on the move clubs and restaurants specializing in fish dishes.
The common thread here is the balance between the ancient and the modern, but there is one building that stands out: it is the Iolani Palace. The structure was commissioned and sought after by King Kamehameha I, who chose Honolulu as his capital. There is a museum that pays homage to the last descendant of the royal dynasty: the Bernice Pauahi Bispo Museum, where you can delve into the many treasures of Hawaiian craftsmanship. You can find many of the materials inherited from the princess: masks, artwork and even weapons. Here you can discover Polynesian traditions like nowhere else in the world. Inside, you will also find a curious collection of insects, as well as a planetarium and a garden.
Other must-see museums include the Honolulu Academy of the Arts, which houses works by American, Asian and European artists, including Monet and Modigliani. To enjoy the action and some clubs, you have to head to Waikiki, the coastal stretch of Honolulu. A long row of typical restaurants and nightclubs. The area has been inhabited since the 19th century, when it was the vacation home of Hawaiian royalty, who enjoyed surfing with rudimentary boards.
Waikiki soon turned into a residential neighborhood, with skyscrapers, shopping and a lively nightlife. Even its beach (Waikiki Beach) has become one of the most famous in the world, a symbol of luxury tourism: its name in Hawaiian literally means “gushing water” and refers to the springs and streams that fed it when it was isolated from the City. The beach is divided into two parts, one of which is for surfers. Other must-see beaches are Sandy Beach, Kailua Beach and the three slightly wilder coral beaches: Waimanalo Bay, Kualoa and Malaekahana.
Can you go to Hawaii without seeing volcanoes? Don’t worry, you’re in luck. The most emblematic crater (Diamond Head) is close to the capital. A two-hour walk is all you need to access unforgettable views. Lovers of the sea should visit Sea Life Park Hawaii: here you will find a multitude of penguins and dolphins. You will also be able to see stingrays, sea lions and sharks. Further south, inside a cylinder-shaped tower, you will find Makapuu Point, a 14-meter lighthouse.
For trekking lovers, the Manoa Falls trail is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Not everyone can get through the trees, including guava and fig trees. The oahu Trail will also allow you to see eucalyptus and bamboo. On the slopes further on, sharpen your eyes to spot wild flowers and traces of ginger. At the end of the trip, you will stop in front of Manoa Falls, waterfalls that end in a clear body of water, after a 45 meter jump.
There is no shortage of places on the island to try typical cuisine and local dishes, especially Lomi Salmon. According to the traditional recipe, salt is rubbed into the salmon, which is massaged with the hands, along with some ingredients. The name of the dish already reveals the process: the word “lomi” means rubbing or paste. Poi is another Hawaiian national dish, which is made from the root of taro, a tuber that is peeled, boiled, and then combined with meat.
It is officially called Hawaii, like the archipelago, but to avoid confusion, it was decided to give it the nickname Big Island. It is the largest island and, at the same time, the youngest geologically. Its tourist vocation is less accentuated and allows you to live complete holidays in peace of mind and in contact with nature. Less touristy compared to the islands of Oahu and Maui, it is perfect for those looking for peace of mind and nature. The island, which stretches over 10,000 kilometers, is so large that its territories vary not only in landscape types, but also in terms of climate. It ranges from tundra to humid weather, through lava from volcanoes, and finally, we end up in front of snow-capped peaks. You can walk through green valleys or lie on the black sands of Punaluu Beach.
Ilha Grande is also home to some of the most impressive waterfalls: Hiilawe Falls. Get ready to see 400-meter waterfalls. We are now on the Lalakea River. Only the Waihilau waterfall reaches higher, at 790 meters. The islands also know how to heat up. Hikers and nature lovers will have plenty of opportunities to see wonderful volcanic complexes. For starters, there’s Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, about forty kilometers from the city of Hilo.
The area has been declared a UNESCO Heritage Site and allows you to discover different paths where you can camp. The park is home to two volcanoes that are still active. One of them is the largest on the planet, called Mauna Loa, and is a colossus of 4,169 meters. The second is the Kilauea Caldera. The area is widely visited via routes and trails, which cover 240 kilometers. You can walk among very rare plant species and exotic animals.
On the Big Island, trekking enthusiasts cannot, of course, miss the trail on Mauna Kea. The white mountain reaches 4205 meters above sea level. It is an astronomical point, one of the most important in the world. The Imaloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii, a museum that unites nature, religion and science, is an unmissable stop on the trip.
Here you will learn how the most modern telescopes work, we will talk about travel, but above all you will learn the logic of the maps of the ancient Polynesians. They were drawn on the basis of widespread religious beliefs. Heading to the west coast, the city of Kailua is the main hub. It is very touristy, organized and with excellent services. In addition, it also has a perfect climate. It has an airport, it is also a cruise port and one of the most touristic places on the entire island.
The main attractions are located in the center. Colorful buildings house restaurants, shops and historic sites, such as the Hulihee Palace, a museum, which was formerly the place where monarchs spent their holidays. There are also several churches to visit. Among the most characteristic is the small Saint Peter by the Sea, white and blue. A real gem to photograph.
Among the must-see cities, we have to talk about Hilo, which is also home to an international airport: it is on the northeast side of the island, perfect for shopping, or for a break from typical restaurants. For those who love nature, there are charming and picturesque beaches. It is home to the Pacific Tsunami Museum, where you can learn more about the terrifying phenomena that nearly destroyed the region. There is also a farmers market in the center where you can taste typical dishes and buy traditional artifacts. There is no lack of natural beauty in the region. Among them is the Liliuokalani Garden, with its 30-hectare Japanese-style ponds and gardens.
Maui is the second largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago. Here, too, there is no shortage of things to do, starting with a hike through the two volcanoes. To have a complete view, there are still waterfalls, varied landscapes and postcard beaches. The name Maui comes from the demigod of Hawaiian mythology. According to legends, it was James Cook who discovered it, but he couldn’t get inside as he couldn’t find a place to dock.
Who, in turn, managed to land on the island was the French admiral La Perouse in 1786. And in his honor there is now a bay with a golden sandy beach, near Wailea. The seabed along the coast is suitable for diving and snorkeling. And the weather doesn’t disappoint either. Among the natural wonders of the area are the Honokohau Falls, waterfalls that fall from 335 meters high. Around it, the vegetation is exuberant.
Here you will have fun discovering the places chosen by Spielberg for the movie “Jurassic Park”. of Hawaii, as well as the residence of kings. The climate is sunny and dry. In fact, the name Lahaina means “unrelenting sun.” Through the narrow streets of this beautiful city, you can breathe the atmosphere of the 1800s. Front Street is the heart of city: you will be intrigued by the pedestrian street, with colorful buildings. Guests can enter shops, restaurants and art galleries. The street also ends in green areas and at other times offers spectacular views of the sea.
To the north is the island’s capital, Wailuku, full of bars and shops. There is also no shortage of museums where you can learn about Polynesian culture and traditions. Nearby is Hookipa Beach, a surfer’s paradise. Thanks to the huge waves, it is the place where surfing and windsurfing championships take place. The most popular resorts appear where the climate is drier and sunnier. To the south is Makena Beach: golden sand, lush vegetation and crystal-clear waters, ideal for snorkeling.
The east coast is covered in lush rainforest. The road that goes around it is one of the most scenic. There are also curiosities: the largest volcano on the island, Haleakala offers a lunar landscape that drives tourists crazy. Nothing stops them on the climb towards 3000, determined to climb about 3000 meters high. Some go walking, others go by car, bus or even by bicycle. Among the many trails, divided according to the degree of difficulty; you can see, beyond the craters and the ocean, the clouds seen from above. Also don’t miss the astronomical observatory.
Nicknamed “The Garden Islad” for the size of its forests, Kauai is irregular and has two peaks that exceed 1,500 meters: Kawaikini, at 1,598 meters, and Waialeal, a slightly lower volcano. On the island, just keep your eyes open to admire cliffs that blend with expanses of sand before gently entering clear waters. You will have the opportunity to experience the relaxed style of the locals. The first European to set foot on Kauai was English Admiral James Cook in 1778.
The variety of landscapes and natural views on the island is unique and varied, being able to mix forest, deserts, swamps, rugged mountains alongside cultivated hills. Visitors, however, marvel at the coasts, where there are beautiful sandy beaches, palm trees, protected from the strongest winds. A beautiful example is Anini beach. It is a protected bay where the sea is calm and ideal for bathing and snorkeling, due to the presence of a coral reef. On this enchanted beach, the sand is pink, the water is clear and along the beach you will find luxury villas with large gardens.
On Kauai, nature owns the show with the Na Pali COast, a majestic cliff overlooking the ocean. A jewel that extends for 35 kilometers inside the eponymous park. Among other treasures, we find the Kilauea Lighthouse, another special place. The area stretches out and ends in a lighthouse. From above, you can even witness the passing of whales from November to April. You may come across the Nene, wild Hawaiian geese.
Calm and simplicity are the ingredients of a visit to Molokai. Sixty kilometers long, the “friendly island” is an explosion of lush forests, immersed in a crystal clear sea. The highest point, at just over 1500 meters, is the Kamakou: it is surrounded by jagged cliffs that overhang the clear sea. You will feel very relaxed, as there are only 8,000 inhabitants here, many of whom are indigenous.
Among the most interesting areas is the Kalaupapa Peninsula, whose mountains are sometimes shrouded in a light mist and are constantly hit by high, sweeping waves. Beautiful and secluded, it is home to a former leper colony where Father Damien, a Belgian priest, worked with the sick. He dedicated his life to caring for the needy, and worked to build churches and houses. The story of the generous missionary, who died of leprosy, was also told by two biographical films: “The Cursed Island”, from 1959, and “Damião: the Saint of Molokai” (1999). Today, the entire area has become a National Historic Park. You can only visit it in groups and with an authorized guide.
Another must-see is Kamakou, the highest mountain in Molokai, touched by clouds and protagonist of a local legend. According to tradition, local women brought the placenta of newborns there: a sign of auspiciousness to guarantee them a peaceful life. The city of Kaunakakai is the largest and most welcoming center on the island. Stroll along the pier, visit the two churches, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and Kaluaaha Church. If you have a taste for green, head to a greenhouse: there, you can discover all the steps to make the famous Hawaiian wreaths. The most touristy area is the village of Molokai Ranch: the area covers 21,000 hectares and includes a farm and many outdoor sports spaces, which include spaces dedicated to mountain biking, kayaking and snorkeling.
The beaches are quiet, but you should never neglect the currents. The best known is Papohaku Beach, which is located to the west at Papohaku Beach Park. It has white sand and stretches for over 5 kilometers. From mid-December through March, you can spot whales on a guided boat or catamaran tour. A magical and immersive experience, as in addition to seeing the giants of the sea, you will be in the midst of a crew working as a team.
Lanai has a breathtaking coastline with fabulous beaches and cliffs, and beautiful forest inland. A paradise in miniature to live according to your needs and possibilities: it is a place with two faces: one for comfort and relaxation and the other more adventurous, which you can travel aboard off-road vehicles, to explore wonderful areas off the beaten track. known. There’s another reason to visit Lanai: to taste the pineapples in person. The island is in fact known as “The Pineapple Island,” because of the huge plantations of the fruit, grown only for indoor use. It’s only in the last few years that Lanai has experienced the presence of tourists, and yet you will only find smiles, friendliness and a welcome.
And the climate also helps: mild and with little rain. Even the small town center has idyllic beaches, the most famous of which is Hulopoe Beach, which is located to the south, on Hulopoe Bay. also for those who enjoy snorkeling, because of the large number of marine creatures. It has crystal clear waters perfect for diving and a picnic area with tables and grills.
There is also a natural pool to discover on the eastern side of the bay. A jewel carved from volcanic rock. Here you will feel like you are inside a small aquarium, among hermit crabs, ducklings and small fluorescent fish. The beach is within a protected area and tourists are advised to be respectful and not remove stones, shells or sand. An unmissable treat in the region are the rock gardens of Lanai: to reach them, you have to travel another 11 kilometers.
Here, the scenery of picturesque rocks and geological formations attracts not only connoisseurs, but also nature lovers. The boulders bear traces of ancient eruptions, and their shapes appear carved. The colors range from shades of red, orange, purple to earth color, and change according to the light that hits them. The center of the region is in Dole Park, the green lung where people meet and picnic in the shade of pine trees. Around this area are the city’s clubs, shops, restaurants and meeting places. Lose yourself in the shops that produce artifacts and handicrafts, or take a break from the restaurants to learn about the local cuisine. There is also a touch of culture and the works of local artists are preserved in the Lanai Art Center: a mixture of styles and techniques ranging from watercolors to colorful sculptures.
Niihau is one of Hawaii’s inhabited islands, the smallest and most isolated. If you want to imagine yourself in an extreme place, this is the right destination. There are no hotels, streets or restaurants. The only inhabited place is located in Puuwai, an independent and autonomous village where the community lives, as if time had stopped. The only activities are fishing, livestock and a little agriculture. However, we are talking about a paradise, full of beauty and charm. A gem of just 180 square kilometers, surrounded by cliffs and beaches formed by countless tiny shells. Some residents of Niihau spend days collecting and selecting the finest shells, with which they create exquisite necklaces.
For over 150 years, the island has belonged to the Scottish Sinclair family, who managed to honor their promise to keep Niihau isolated from the rest of the world. The island has only dirt tracks that allow you to move around the territory. Only some of them are open for visitation, with the idea of preserving the precious ecosystem. Even Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger was prevented from landing his helicopter.
The smallest of the islands was used by the Americans as a military base. Over time, it has always been sparsely populated and today it is inhabited only occasionally. It is very close to Maui, at a distance of only 17 kilometers. You can visit it in an original way: volunteering to work on the island (an experience that children can do too). The “expeditions” depart from Maui and there are several activities to do and schedule. They range from planting new bushes to eliminating weeds. Work also alternates with moments of leisure and cultural activities. Among the typical songs and dances, volunteers are told the history of the island.
The beauty of the Hawaiian Islands
Eight Islands that Offer Endless Opportunities: The Hawaiian Islands bring fairytale stories and wild stories and know how to offer unique natural views, which change between volcanoes and parks. There is no shortage of archaeological remains or modern constructions, nightclubs, lodging places and shopping malls in the territory. The culture of Hawaii is a mixture of influences, which are mixed with indigenous tradition.
There is one constant on the islands: you will always be greeted by friendly smiles, flower necklaces and magical sunsets, with colors that look like photographs. Nature is lush and leafy, the barrier reef is a work of art that offers calm waters.
Waterfalls and craters will then transport you to special settings. There is also the possibility to practice different sports. Including golf, if you’re a fan: the islands have more than 100 courses with incredible views. Hawaii is a heavenly and pristine place and it is no coincidence that its beauty has served as the backdrop for countless hits: some famous movies were shot there, such as Raiders of the Lost Ark and Jurassic Park. It’s time to project your next vacation movie. Clack, turn this way. Your destination is Hawaii.