Hawaii is the newest of the 50 states of the United States (admitted to the Union in August 21, 1959), and the only state made up entirely of islands. It is the northern most island group in Polynesia, occupying most of the archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States (about 3,900 miles southwest of San Francisco ), southeast of Japan, and northeast of Australia. Because it is located in the center of the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii has many North American and Asia influences, with its own native culture active. Hawaii has over one million permanent residents along with many visitors and U.S. military. Its capital is Honolulu on the island of Oahu.
Hawaii consists of an archipelago of 137 islands, including eight major islands, from north-west to south-east: Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, Maui and Hawaii.
- Honolulu – state capital and most-populous city
- Kahuku – on Oahu
- Kailua – on Oahu
- Lihue (Hawaiian: Līhuʻe) – on Kauai
- Lahaina (Hawaiian: Lāhainā) – on Maui
- Kahului – on Maui
- Wailuku – on Maui
- Hilo – largest city on the Big Island
- Kailua-Kona – on the Big Island
- Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail on the Big Island.
- Haleakala National Park on Maui
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island
- Kalaupapa National Historical Park on Molokai
- Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park on the Big Island
- USS Arizona National Memorial on Oahu
- Waimea Canyon on Kauai
- NaPali Coast on Kauai
- Waikiki on Oahu
The island of Oahu is the most populous and here is the state capital and largest city of Hawaii, Honolulu, great for people who wish to experience the islands and still keep the conveniences of a large city. Rainforests and hiking trails are located just minutes from Waikiki Beach, one of the world’s best tourist destinations. In the winter, large waves on Oahu’s north shore turn the normally sleepy area into the surfing capital of the world.
On the other hand, those who wish to experience Hawaii at a slower pace would do well to visit one of the Neighbor Islands (the other, less populated islands around Oahu). All the neighbor islands offer opportunities to relax and enjoy the sun and scenery. Many of the natural wonders of the Islands are located on the Neighbor Islands, from Waimea Canyon on Kauai, to Haleakala on Maui, to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii. Numerous waterfalls and rainforests evoke memories of what the islands might have looked like before major corporations set their sights on Hawaii. The road to Hana is one of the most scenic on Maui, as you manipulate many turns overlooking the Eastern coast of the island. It leads you over bridges and past beautiful waterfalls. Ultimately, you can end up at the Oheo Gulch Pools (which are not sacred and there’s more than seven), where the hiking is quite the experience.
Foreign travelers entering Hawaii directly from another country are subject to the same entry requirements as for the United States in general.
The ever-present aloha shirt comes in a wide variety of designs. On one end, there are the brightly colored, tourist-oriented, polyester aloha shirts that many tourist-oriented stores throughout the Islands carry. On the other end of the spectrum are the type of aloha shirts that have become standard business attire among businessmen in Hawaii, in the same way that the business suit is on the mainland. These aloha shirts are usually cotton-polyester blend and are “reverse print.” Reverse print means that the design is printed on the inside of the shirt, resulting in a more muted, businesslike look. This kind of aloha shirt can be found in department stores.
For women, the muʻumuʻu is a long Hawaiian dress, usually made of cotton, that hangs loosely from the shoulder.
The item commonly referred to on the Mainland as a “sandal” or “flip-flop” (or more limited “thong”) are called on the islands a “slipper” or “slippa”. Using a mainland term for the shoe will get you a quizzical look from locals. Call them by their island name and they will instantly know what you are talking about.
One of the most popular souvenirs to buy in Hawaii are locally made bath & body products. The islands feature some of the most unique and refreshing fragrances in the world which you can easily find in Hawaiian shampoos, body lotions, soaps, oils, incense, floating candles, and much more.
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