Meet the Hawaiian Islands
Each of the Hawaiian Islands has its own special charm and style, and many visitors return over and over again to their favorites. Others love them all and visit several during their vacation or concentrate on experiencing a different island on each trip.
Oahu is home to Hawaii's capital, Honolulu, a city as sophisticated as any urban metropolis but with a distinct tropical ambience. Waikiki, perhaps the world's most famous beach, is found here, as are numerous fine hotels, restaurants, and recreational opportunities. Oahu has lots of cultural sites and activities, including the Bishop Museum, the Arizona Memorial, and the Polynesian Cultural Center.
Kauai is a beautiful green island north of Oahu. Compared to Oahu, Kauai is a more subdued place. Its mountains, streams, canyons, and soaring cliffs distinguish this island as a place of rugged beauty.
For those who like something in between, Maui is a favorite choice. It's green and beautiful with plenty of resorts, world-class golfing, and some excellent beaches and quaint towns. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, one of Hawaii's two national parks, is located there and features a spectacular volcano known as Haleakala that reaches a height of more than 10,000 feet!
The island of Hawaii is usually called the Big Island to distinguish it from the State of Hawaii. Hawaii really is a big island, despite its small-island feel. Many visitors enjoy the Big Island for its amazing physical diversity. There are areas such as northern Kona, which resembles dry lava deserts, and Hilo, which is wet, lush, and green.
Molokai and Lanai
Molokai and Lanai are somewhat new to the tourism business, and people there seem to be committed to keeping these islands mostly undeveloped. Until recent times, both were primarily involved in large-scale agricultural operations. In fact, Lanai is still essentially one big pineapple plantation. If it's quiet you seek, Molokai and Lanai might be just right for you!
The Big Island is home to Kilauea, Hawaii's only active volcano, and the two largest mountains in the state, Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, both of which rise to more than 13,000 feet and occasionally accumulate snow. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a wonderful way to see volcanic phenomena, some of which are dormant and others quite active.