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Hawaii

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Travel Guide North America USA Western United States Hawaii

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Introduction

Hawaii 345

Hawaii 345

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Hawaii is USA's 50th state and a popular holiday destination for its citizens, as well as foreign tourists. Together with Florida, it's one of a few states where it's usually summer year round. The most popular island is Oahu, where you'll find Honolulu, Waikiki Beach and numerous other options to have a relaxing holiday. Maui is a good number two, and has great beaches and surfing as well as fantastic scenery. You can do daytrips to from here to islands like Molokai and Lanai. Kauai is another gem, in the northwest of the archipelago, while Hawaii Island (or the Big Island) is as big as all islands combined and is great for wachting the stars, hiking and more of a nature destination compared to the other islands.

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Geography

Hawaii is an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean roughly 3,200 kilometres southwest of the continental United States, south of Alaska, and north of Tahiti. Hawaii is the southernmost state of the United States and the second westernmost state after Alaska. Only Hawaii and Alaska do not share a border with another U.S. state. Hawaii is the only state of the United States that is not geographically located in North America, grows coffee, is completely surrounded by water, is entirely an archipelago, has royal palaces, and does not have a straight line in its state boundary. Hawaii’s tallest mountain, Mauna Kea, stands at 4,205 metres but is taller than Mount Everest if followed to the base of the mountain, which, lying at the floor of the Pacific Ocean, rises about 10,200 metres.

The eight main islands, Hawaiʻi, Maui, Oʻahu, Kahoʻolawe, Lanaʻi, Molokaʻi, Kauaʻi and Niʻihau are accompanied by many others. Kaʻala is a small island near Niʻihau that is often overlooked. The Northwest Hawaiian Islands are a series of nine small, older masses northwest of Kauaʻi that extend from Nihoa to Kure that are remnants of once much larger volcanic mountains. There are also more than 100 small rocks and islets, such as Molokini, that are either volcanic, marine sedimentary or erosional in origin, totaling 130 or so across the archipelago

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Major Islands

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Cities

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Sights and Activities

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

In Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii, you can see the only active volcano in North America. Here are steaming vents and gleaming black rocks, the results of 70 million years of volcanism, migration, and evolution - processes that thrust a bare land from the sea and clothed it with unique, exotic, tropical ecosystems and a distinct human culture. The park highlights two of the world's most active volcanoes, and offers insights on the birth of the Hawaiian Islands as well as world-famous views of dramatic volcanic landscapes. An experience visiting the volcano on the Big Island has two parts. There is the steaming Kilauea crater at nearly 4,000 metres high as well as the long slope near Kalapana where the molten lava goes into the ocean. Watching earth being created is an experience you will never forget and is best done near sunset. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is only one of several astounding natural features on the Big Island of Hawai'i. You can also find Mauna Kea, the world's tallest peak as measured from base to summit, sacred Waipi'o Valley with its lush flora and black sand beach, and eleven of the world's thirteen climate zones in one area of the island or another.

Mouna Kea

2 of the 14 Observatories on Mauna Kea

2 of the 14 Observatories on Mauna Kea

© All Rights Reserved wardtours

Mauna Kea is by some measures the tallest mountain in the world. It is located on the Big Island. When measured from the base of the mountain on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, it rises 10,203 metres to its peak, taller than Mount Everest if using the same measurement. It is a dormant volcano, with its last eruption dating back to about 2500 BC.
In the Hawaiian language, Mauna Kea means "white mountain", so named because its summit is regularly covered with snow in winter. The mountain's summit is one of the best astronomical sites in the world and several leading observatories can be found there as a result.

Other Sights and Activities

  • Waimea Canyon on the island of Kauai is 10 miles long a mile wide.
  • Waikiki Beach on Oahu offers the chance to unwind.
  • Haleakala National Park Hawaii

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Weather

Hawaii is a popular destination among people looking for great weather. There are however differences throughout the year and even between parts of the islands. The southwestern parts are generally much drier compared to the northeastern parts of the islands. Honolulu is located in the southwest and has only between 20 and 50 mm of rain during most of the year, more so from November to February. Temperatures here are highest between July and October, around 28 °C during the day and around 24 °C at night. The other months are still nice and warm, between 24 °C and 27 °C during the day and around 20 °C at night.

The northeastern parts have even less fluctuation regarding temperatures though nights tend to be slighly cooler, days a bit warmer, especially in 'winter'. Here, rainfall is high with between 200 and 400 mm of rain a month, the wettest again from November to March. It is quite unusual for tropical islands to have the wettest time of year coincide with the slightly cooler months. Oddly enough, the possibility of a tropical storm or even a hurricane is higher from May to November, opposite to the wetter months. Still, such storms are less frequent compared to for example the Caribbean or west Pacific.

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Getting There

By Plane

Oahu:
Honolulu International Airport on the island of Oahu (airport code: HNL) is the main gateway to the islands of Hawaii and the principal hub of Hawaiian Airlines. There are direct routes to Honolulu's airport from Asia, North America and the Pacific.

Dozens of international destinations are served, among which many cities in the US, like Los Angeles, Seatlle and New York City. Other destinations include Vancouver, Auckland, Fiji, Taiwan, Micronesia, American Samoa, Seoul, Melbourne, Sydney, Manila, and quite a few cities in Japan, including Tokyo and Osaka.

To/from the airport
TheBus (Honolulu) routes 19, 20, and 31 stop on the upper (departure) level of the airport. Routes 19 and 20 connect the airport to Pearlridge Center (20 only), Hickam AFB (19 only), Downtown Honolulu, Ala Moana Center, and Waikiki. Route 31 connects the airport to Tripler Army Medical Center, via Kalihi Transit Center. Routes 9, 40, 40A, 42, and 62 run on Nimitz Highway within walking distance of the airport.
Taxis, limousine services, (hotel) shuttles and rental cars are all widely available, some of them requiring advance reservations.

Hawaii Island:
Kona International Airport (KOA) is the major airport on the western side of the Big Island.
There are direct flights to the Big Island with United Airlines from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. US Airways has flights from Phoenix.
American Airlines and Delta Airlines also serve the airport from Los Angeles. Some other cities with direct flights include Vancouver (seasonal), Seattle, Oakland and Tokyo.

Maui:
Kahului Airport (airport code OGG) handles all flights to and from Maui. Destinations include Vancouver in Canada and several mainland US cities like Los Angeles, Seattle, Anchorage, Portland, Dallas, Chicago, Phoenix, Denver and San Francisco.

Kaua'i:
Lihue Airport (LIH) is located on the southeast coast of the island. From here, Alaska Airlines flies to Seattle, American Airlines and Delta Airlines to Los Angeles, United Airlines to Los Angeles, Denver and San Francisco, US Airways to Phoenix and there are seasonal flights with Westjet to Vancouver.

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Getting Around

By Plane

There are dozens of flights between the islands, including Hawaii Island, Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Lanai and Molokai. Airlines include Hawaiian Airlines, Go!, Island Air, Mesa Airlines and Pacific Wings.

By Car

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

By Boat

Hawaii Superferry provides services between Oahu and Maui. Expeditions has ferries between Maui and Lanai. Finally, Molokai Ferry travels once a day between Maui and Molokai.

Hawaii on a cruise. With two basic alternatives, Hawaii is one not to be missed. Start from Honolulu, go around the other Polynesian islands and get back to the most populated island takes around seven days. Other choices would leave from Vancouver, San Diego or Los Angeles. The longest cruise would take almost two weeks from mainland, taking few of those days to get to Hawaii. Visit the Big Island (Hawaii Island) and look at the volcanic formations, enjoy luxurious Oahu and Maui full of resorts and beautiful beaches.

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Sleep

Hotel and Motel Chains

There are dozens of hotel and motel chains, ranging from budget to top end. Allthough they are not the most charming accommodations, they usually have a very decent midrange service with good rooms and are generally good value. At least you know what to expect and in some cases they are either the only or the best option in the area. Some of them include:

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Contributors

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Hawaii Travel Helpers

This is version 63. Last edited at 13:39 on Mar 27, 14 by Utrecht. 39 articles link to this page.

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