Hawaii is a popular vacation destination, and for good reason: with 750 miles of coastline, a temperate climate and ample natural wonders, visitors looking for extraordinary experiences flock here. Millions arrive on these storied shores each year to honeymoon, explore volcanoes, sky dive, scuba diving, or lounge the days away on pristine beaches.
Hawaii is the only U.S. state composed entirely of islands. Its capital, Honolulu, is located on Oahu, one of eight major islands in the archipelago. More than 70% of the state’s 1.3 million residents live in Honolulu County. The rest of the islands are more rural, with unspoiled natural beauty and quaint villages to discover. In many areas, tourists outnumber residents.
The islands offer an array of legendary beaches, with sand in golden, white, red, green and black hues. Vacationers can take a horseback ride alongside the waves, swim, surf, snorkel or simply relax in the sun or shade. Thrill-seekers can venture away from the shore for jet skiing, parasailing and jet packing. The world’s top surfers compete along Oahu’s North Shore, where mammoth waves can reach 30 feet in winter.
The Hawaiian Islands are ripe for encounters with sea turtles and dolphins. Opportunities abound for deep-sea fishing and whale-watching; you may even hear these major mammals sing. Underwater explorers can climb into a cage for their chance to come face-to-face (safely) with sharks.
Most parts of the islands are accessible by foot, mule, car, boat or helicopter. The fabled terrain includes palm-lined beaches and pine-bordered deserts, as well as canyons, cliffs, valleys, craters, waterfalls and rushing rapids. One of the most popular natural sites is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Here, visitors have a rare, close-range glimpse at an active volcano. Kilauea is the most productive of Hawaii’s three active volcanoes. Since 1983, it has released a steady flow of 2,000-degree-lava into the Pacific Ocean.
Sunset in Hawaii is another opportunity to enjoy the views and environment. Enhance the experience by sipping a Mai Tai cocktail or taking part in a luau, a Polynesian party featuring leis, ukuleles and hula dancing.