Hawaii is the fiftieth US state after receiving statehood around 55 years ago. Thanks to their beauty, these northernmost Polynesian islands represent one of the main tourist attractions within the entire country – at least when it comes to sun, sea, and sand tourism. Since they are far away from the US mainland, however, Hawaii is somewhat intended for a select band of tourists, but the islands are still easily accessible thanks to Honolulu International Airport.
Hawaii isn’t your regular tropical paradise, however. 8 largest islands that compose the majority of the archipelago are riddled with natural wonders including dense forests and volcanoes. It’s one of those places where you can sip cocktails on a sandy beach, in a shade of a palm tree, and yet get to see the snow without traveling too far away. Mauna Kea offers that experience, being almost 14,000 feet above the sea level.
Mauna Loa follows close by, and unlike Mauna Kea – it’s still an active volcano whose last eruption dates back to 1984. There are many such volcanoes scattered around the islands, though not as high as the two. These volcanoes are natural attractions themselves, and tourists are offered the opportunity to visit most of them.
I can’t even speak Hawaiian, but if you go there and listen to a Hawaiian song, you get captured because it’s so beautiful, like the melody is just gorgeous and you know Bob Marley is on the radio every single day. It’s very reggae-influenced down there. Basically, you haven’t been to paradise if you haven’t been to Hawaii.– via Bruno Mars
Hawaii volcanoes national park
National parks and reserves of Hawaii don’t only extend over volcano areas. Most of them have been established in order to preserve the rainforests which thrive this close to the Equator. Five out of eight larger Hawaiian islands have at least one large forest reserve. That way, you can visit Kau, Hilo, Puna, Kohala and many more on the Big Island, Hana, Kula, West Maui, etc on Maui, Moloka’i on the same island, Honolulu Watershed, Ewa, Mokuleia, Makua Kea’au on O’ahu and Moloaa, Helelea or Puu Ka Pele while on Kauai. These are only a few of available forest reserves across Hawaiian islands, and this should really speak volumes of islands’ natural attractions by itself.
Finally, we’re getting to the beach part. However diverse and stunning Hawaii islands are – it usually comes to this. Hawaii is a tropical paradise after all, and as such, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. There are way too many beaches to mention all of them, so we’ll just start with a few most popular ones. Of course, it all starts with Waikiki – the most popular beach in the Hawaiian capital of Honolulu. Lanikai beach on O’ahu is a little bit less urban but offers pristine sands and crystal clear turquoise waters.
Lahaina Beach on Maui has a romantic reputation, while Kaanapali on the same island has a reputation for being luxurious. Poipu on Kauai is something entirely different, and so are Kauna’oa and Honaunau on the Big Island. All of the aforementioned beaches have their own clientele, and together, they offer exquisite variety rarely found anywhere else on Earth.
Hawaii isn’t known for its nature alone. Island’s culture and inhabitants are unique in their own way as well. Everything from hearing Aloha for the first time and getting your neck adorned by a lei to watching the locals dancing the hula has its own story. Hawaiian music, art, and even festivals are entirely different than anything else in the states. This is one of the reasons why Pacific islands are one of the most sought destinations among not only the US but the world’s citizens altogether.
Snapshots of these islands scattered in a cobalt blue ocean are heavenly, without the need for any tourist-brochure embellishment. Sunrises and sunsets are so spectacular that they cause for celebration all by themselves. As tropical getaways go, Hawaii couldn’t be easier or more worth the trip, although visiting these Polynesian islands isn’t always cheap.
Whether you’re dreaming of swimming in waterfall pools or lazing on golden-sand beaches, you’ll find what you’re looking for here.
In Hawaii, we go to this wonderful place, all families. My wife and I go directly from breakfast to a beach chair where we read all day. My daughter goes from water to pool to running around with friends she meets, some of whom are regulars there.– via Stephen Collins
O’ahu – home to Honolulu
As the most populous among Hawaiian islands, O’ahu probably offers the most for an average tourist. We have already mentioned forest reserves, volcanoes, and beaches, but O’ahu is home to great many more attractions. Apart from Honolulu which has a life of its own, the island is home to historic Pearl Harbor. A number of WWII museums are open for every history enthusiast, and you really shouldn’t pass on an opportunity to pay respects to all tragically perished on that fateful December 7, 1941.
World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument is a good start of the tour, while USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park isn’t far away as well. On Ford Island, you can still see the USS Utah’s wreckage and Battleship Missouri Memorial. There’s also Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor for aircraft enthusiasts.
Seasons in the Islands
Most of Hawaii has only two seasons – summer, from May to October, and winter, from November to April. The early Hawaiians named them kau, the warm season (when the sun is almost directly overhead and the weather is warmer and drier and winds blow reliably from the northeast) and ho’olio, the cooler season (when the sun is lower in the south, the winds are more variable and there is more rainfall and cloud cover).
Temperatures at sea level in Hawaii range from highs of 85-90°F (29-32°C) in the summer to 79-83°F (26-28°C) in the winter. The temperature rarely rises above 90°F (32°C) or drop below 60°F (16°C) except at higher altitudes, including on Hawaii’s three tallest mountains of Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea, and Haleakala, where it often snows in the winter months. June, July and August are the driest months on all islands. But even in Hawaii’s winter months, rain and cloud cover are very intermittent and you should get ample time in the sun.
The warmest temperature in Hawaii was recorded in Pahala (Big Island of Hawaii) on April 27, 1931, when the thermometer reached 100°F (38°C). Hawaii’s lowest recorded temperature is 12°F (−11°C), observed on the summit of Mauna Kea (Big Island) in May 1979.
Hawaii’s longest and shortest days are about 13.5 and 11 hours respectively since it is located relatively close to the Equator. The sun is directly overhead twice in the year, at the end of May and in late July.
Hawaii is a tourist destination that could be depicted and explored alike for days. Words don’t really give it enough credit, and you should try to experience Hawaii at least once. Given all the islands have to offer – it certainly won’t be easy to visit everything on a single trip, though.
When to Visit Hawaii
Hawaii is in the tropics but has a cooler, drier climate due to the trade winds that blow from the east. Temperatures are consistently warm but comfortable throughout the year, but it’s important to keep in mind when planning your travel to Hawaii that May through October is dry season, while November through April is the rainy season. If you visit Hawaii in the winter months, it is advisable to bring rain gear.
- Horseback or carriage ride into the Big Island’s Waipio Valley, a lush ancient gorge sacred to the Hawaiians, where taro is still cultivated as it was by the original Polynesian settlers who set foot here more than a thousand years ago.
- Ringing the enormous bell at Oahu’s stunning Byodo–In temple, a replica of a 900-year-old building in Uji, Japan, with a gorgeous green mountain backdrop.
- Seeing some of the best hula dancers in the state at the dance’s traditional birthplace on rural Molokai at the three-day Molokai Ka Hula Piko festival in May.