The state of Hawaii is a collection of islands. There are 7 or 8 ‘main’ ones (depending on the criteria used), and over 150 smaller ones. Hawaii is not only the name of the state but also the name of the largest island in the chain. Hawaii is not just a land of volcanic outcroppings. It is a rich, tropical paradise full of natural and human-made wonders.
Certainly, there are natural sights galore.
Hawaii is justly well-known for having some of the loveliest waterfalls in the world. The Akaka Falls majestically pouring down 442 feet into crystal clear waters below is just one example.
And, there is no doubt that extinct volcanoes like Diamond Head crater – and live ones like those at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – offer some of the most interesting hikes around.
But, some of its most fascinating natural features lie under the surface.
The Kula Kai Caverns offer deep caves, lava tubes and many other natural features below the surface. Scuba diving in these waters is bound to bring sights you could find nowhere else from underwater lava tubes to thousands of tropical fish species and monk seals.
The humpback whales that migrate to waters around the islands every winter are another fascinating natural sight available to visitors. Shark encounters are easy to have on any of the dozens of boat tours offered by experienced guides.
Other animal attractions include the first-rate Honolulu Zoo and the one-of-a-kind Panaewa Rainforest Zoo. The first offers an African Savannah exhibit where the lions roam free like San Diego’s Wild Animal Park but in a much more lush setting. The second is set in an actual rainforest and is unlike any other zoo in the world.
Not surprisingly, a Hawaiian vacation offers several truly fine aquariums. The Maui Ocean Center has a 54-foot tunnel that fronts a 750,000-gallon tank full of creatures you’re likely to find while scuba diving. The Waikiki Aquarium provides an equally thrilling look at many of the native marine life species.
You can see a lot of these natural wonders by cycling around the islands, then taking a hike. You can stop at one of the thousands of world-class beaches or snorkel around and see live tidepool inhabitants with ease. You can take in numerous botanical gardens that house thousands of native plant species that are unique to this region.
But Hawaii, Oahu, Maui and the rest also have numerous man-made attractions to offer visitors.
The Bishop Museum has millions of objects on display that record the state’s past and present. The unique blend of Asian, European and Polynesian culture that is Hawaii finds representatives from every thread here. The Kokee Natural History Museum in lush Waimea Canyon provides yet another take on an interesting phase of Hawaii’s evolution.
The Dole Plantation provides a look into Hawaii’s fascinating past and ever-changing present. The Pineapple Express train ride will give you a history lesson on the great entrepreneur who put the state on the map, while you see some of the grounds and the lovely mountains nearby. The world’s largest maze will amuse the kids as the adults stroll through the outstanding gardens.
Make sure to make time to see the USS Arizona Memorial, commemorating the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. The Battleship Missouri standing guard on the fallen offers a chance to get on board to see what life on such a ship was like. The USS Bowfin and Submarine Museum are not far away.
Those looking into a honeymoon or a vacation in Hawaii often think of the outstanding hotels, the first-rate beaches, and the stellar restaurants and shows offered. Those all exist, to be sure. But Hawaii is so much more than a Hula dance near the swimming pool or a stroll in the sand during a luau.
Hawaii is an adventure along a chain of paradise with many links.
Photo Credit: GPA Photo Archive Flickr via Wunderstock (license)