Hawaii

Hawaii

The Hawai’ian islands are the most isolated archipelago on the planet, yet through the development of modern tourism have become one of the most heavily visited places on earth.

The Hawaiian Islands, the 50th state of America, is the nation’s pride and a vacationer’s dream. Situated more than 2,500 miles (4,000km) from the nearest landmass, its geographical isolation has been in many ways both a blessing and a curse in ancient and contemporary times. This geographical area, also known as the Hawaiian Emperor seamount chain, has seen island formation through volcanic activity for the last 80 million years. Hawaii, in fact, consists not only of eight major islands, whose breath taking nature we know too well from tourism billboards, the archipelago consists of no less than 132 islands in total (though 124 add up to only three square miles in land mass as they are mainly small reefs). 

Forming the Northern most part of the triangle that is Polynesia, and lying 2,500 miles west of the mainland USA, Hawai’i encompasses a total area of 11,000 square miles of which only 40%, or 6,423 square miles make up the eight main inhabited islands. In this isolation a unique biodiversity has developed in which 90% of the Hawai’ian islands flora and fauna is found nowhere else in the world.

The ‘Aloha’ state has a very short and yet tumultuous history after its first discovery by seafaring Polynesian whose culture was established in the island group of Samoa and Tonga. The Polynesians had already colonized Tahiti and the Marquesas Islands in the first century AD, when around 300 AD, they dared a phenomenal 3,000 mile (5,000 km) ocean crossing on a journey of discovery in their twin-hulled voyaging canoes. The courage, stamina and no-less-than-brilliant sea navigation skills it took to master this journey, is no less than awe-inspiring. Their canoes could take up to 100 passengers plus crops and pairs of domesticated animals. Early Hawaiians established an advanced and deeply spiritual culture on the islands, which for hundred of years developed only influenced by the Polynesian culture and steered solidly by the hands of powerful Polynesian chiefs. Though archaeological and anthropological evidence suggests that Spanish galleons arrived on the islands in the second half of the 16th century, about two hundred years before the British, and used it as a pit stop in their Pacific voyages between their Mexican and Philippine colonies, it is certainly the arrival of Captain James Cook that had repercussions reverberating through the islands until today.

Today, more than 6 million people visit Hawaii each year; tourism is without a doubt the main engine of the local economy. The Hawaiian Islands are at once the picture-perfect tourist destination with all the comfort and facilities one can think of, and simultaneously the wild, rugged, and ancient landscape that has sparked the imagination of explorers and adventurers since the beginning of time.

The very name ‘Hawai’i’ evokes images of cheap honeymoon packages, swaying plastic hula dolls and Don Ho crooning in Waikiki. This is one side of Hawai’i, but much more remains begging to be explored once you get off the package tourist track and head for rural Oahu and the outer islands.

Before leaving the island of Oahu, try your hand at surfing on Waikiki beach, the sport once reserved for Hawai’ian royalty. Though the world’s best surfing waves are found on Oahu’s North Shore and are not for beginners, viewing these liquid monsters is awe inspiring.
On Kauai, kayak the island’s largest navigable river or hike the amazing Na Pali Coast where plenty of peace and quiet is found among the plunging volcanic cliffs that protect deserted beaches.

Drive to the top of Maui’s Haleakala Crater where a fantastic sunrise over the caldera makes the 4am wakeup call worth it, or head to Hana to experience the feel of a remote Hawai’ian town. Also known as the Big Island, on Hawai’i watch the newest land in the world being formed as volcanoes pour out lava; or do a night dive with gentle manta rays in Kona, on the island’s dry and rocky west coast.

Roll up your sleeves and take a Hula class that will connect you to the island’s ancient past. Learn some of the Hawai’ian words that are sprinked in the everyday ‘creole’ language spoken by the locals, by far some of the friendliest people in the USA. Whatever you seek in Hawai’i, it won’t disapoint as there is something for everyone in the Aloha State.

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