There are countless famous tourist spots around the globe, all showcasing different features and aspects. People craving for a taste of history and of the earliest civilizations can tour around any of Europe’s well-known cities or the ancient ruins in South America. A trip to Asia, on the other hand, would entail learning about rich cultures and immersing one’s self into age-old customs and traditions. Places like the Caribbean, meanwhile, promise days of sun, sea, fun and relaxation.
As for me, I’ve packed my bags and will be saying “Aloha!” to the tropical paradise known as Hawaii a place where I can get to have everything in less travel time. I will have the chance to learn about a history and a culture that is as rich as all the others, people who are products of cultural assimilations and who have preserved age-old practices and traditions, as well as have a great deal of fun under the sun and on sandy beaches. First, let us know a few basic facts about Hawaii. Hawaii, which the state’s official tourism site says is nicknamed “The Aloha State,” is an island group situated in the northern Pacific Ocean, about 2,400 miles west southwest of San Francisco.
Hawaii, according to City-data. com, is the smallest of the five Pacific states and ranks 47th in size among the 50 states of America. Netstate. com says that Hawaii is comprised of a chain of 132 islands, with a total area of 6,470 square miles. I used to think of only the eight main islands when I think of the Hawaiian group: Hawaii’s Big Island, which is the largest; Maui; Oahu; Kauai; Molokai; Lanai; Niihau; and Kahoolawe. This, I found out, is not surprising because the other 124 islands only total about 3 square miles in land area.
One interesting fact I learned about the islands of the State of Hawaii all major and minor islands were formed by volcanic eruptions. The general coastline of the island chain is 750 miles, City-data. com indicated. The State of Hawaii’s capital is Honolulu, located on the island of Oahu. How to Get There Hawaii’s official tourism site – gohawaii. com says that the Honolulu International Airport on Oahu is Hawaii’s major airport and serves as the entry point for most of Hawaii’s visitors.
Major domestic and international carriers serve Oahu, so anyone can get there from just about anywhere! There are also direct flights from the mainland to Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii’s Big Island, but for the most part, one may need to connect through Oahu to get to the neighbor islands. For first-time visitors like me, finding accommodations in Hawaii is easy. Hawaii’s tourism site tells me that I can find everything here from historic hotels and boutiques, to bed and breakfasts, rental condominiums, and luxury resorts. In fact, one can find more than 30,000 hotel rooms on Oahu alone!
History Hawaii’s history, like its general natural scenery, is very colorful if history books were to be relied on. I’ve learned from Hawaii’s official tourism site that its earliest inhabitants were Polynesians who came to the islands in double-hulled canoes between 1,000 and 1,400 years ago, either from Southeast Asia or from the Marquesas in the South Pacific. Around 500 years later, settlers from Tahiti arrived, bringing with them their beliefs in gods and demi-gods and instituting a strict social hierarchy based on a kapu (caste) system.
Hawaiian culture flourished over the centuries, but land division conflicts between ruling chieftains were very common. The Western world learned of the islands in 1778, when the English navigator, Captain James Cook, sighted Oahu. He originally named the entire archipelago as the Sandwich Islands after his patron, John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich. Subsequent contact with European sailors and traders exposed the Polynesians to smallpox, venereal disease, liquor, firearms, and Western technology and fatally weakened the kapu system.
Within 40 years of Captain Cook’s arrival, one of the island chiefs, Kamehameha whose birth date, designated as June 11, is still celebrated now as a state holiday had consolidated his power on Hawaii, conquered Maui and Oahu, and established a royal dynasty in 1810 in what became known as the Kingdom of Hawaii. In 1820, the first Protestant missionaries arrived on the Big Island, filling the void left after the end of the kapu system. Hawaii became a port for seamen, traders, and whalers.
Throughout these years of growth, western disease took a heavy toll on the native Hawaiian population. Western influence continued to grow and in 1893, American Colonists who controlled much of Hawaii’s economy overthrew the Hawaiian Kingdom in a peaceful, yet still controversial coup. In 1898, Hawaii became a territory of the United States. In the 20th century, sugar and pineapple plantations fueled Hawaii’s economy bringing an influx of Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and Portuguese immigrants. On December 7, 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on Oahu.
Four years later, on September 2, 1945, Japan signed its unconditional surrender on the USS Battleship Missouri , which still rests in Pearl Harbor today. In 1959, Hawaii became the 50th state of the United States. This account of Hawaii’s history alone tells me how enriching an experience it will be to visit the place and get to see some historical spots myself. People and Language Because of its rich history, Hawaii, Netstate. com says, is the most ethnically and racially diverse state of any state in the union, a mix that includes Caucasians, Americans of Japanese descent, and Polynesians, among others.
Native Hawaiians have held on to many of their customs and traditions despite the influx of non-natives over the years. In fact, Hawaii is the only state that has an official native language. According to Netstate. com, people who live in Hawaii or who come from Hawaii are not all referred to as Hawaiians. Dictionaries have described Hawaiians as natives or residents of the State of Hawaii. Increasingly, however, this broad terminology has given way to a distinctive division between indigenous or native Hawaiians and non-natives.
Today, the term ‘Hawaiians’ is used only to describe members of the ethnic group indigenous to the Hawaiian Islands, while ‘Hawaii resident’ or ‘islander’ describes anyone who lives in the state. Although massive immigration from Asia and the US mainland since the mid-19th century has effectively diluted the native population, the Hawaiian lexical legacy in English is conspicuous. Most native-born residents of Hawaiian ancestry speak one of several varieties of Hawaiian pidgin, a lingua franca incorporating elements of Hawaiian, English, and other Asian and Pacific languages.
In 2000, 73. 4 % of Hawaiians five years old or older spoke only English at home. Hawaii’s Temperature Hawaii, gohawaii. com relates, is known as one of the youngest geological formations in the world. But perhaps Hawaii’s most unique feature is its Aloha Spirit, which tourists define as the warmth of the people of Hawaii that wonderfully complements the islands’ perfect temperatures. Hawaii, according to a detailed state guide – city-data. com — has a tropical climate cooled by trade winds.
Normal daily temperatures in Honolulu average 72°F (22°C) in February and 78°F (26°C) in August. The average wind speed is a breezy 11. 3 mph (18. 2 km/hr). Rainfall is extremely variable, with far more precipitation on the windward — northeastern — than on the leeward side of the islands. Mt. Waialeale, Kauai, is reputedly the rainiest place on earth, with a mean annual total of 486 inches (1,234 cm). Kukui, Maui, holds the US record for the most precipitation in one year — 739 in (1,878 cm) in 1982.
Economic Development No visit to a particular place gets to be really meaningful without knowing the people, what most of them do for a living, and what the place, in general, is known for in terms of its products. In Hawaii, economic change from 1844 to 1876 was dominated nearly completely by land reform, whaling, and sugar (Morgan 195). American whalers achieved early in the nineteenth century an unchallenged dominance in the Pacific (Morgan74) and the years 1843-1860 were the golden age of Hawaiian whaling (Morgan 140). However, the whaling industry eventually collapsed.
Thirty years ago, Hawaii had [only] one principal, or basic, industry — the production of sugar. Today, it has two — the production of sugar and the production of canned pineapples. The economic history of Hawaii during the last third of a century is the history of the development of these two industries and their influence in various directions (Kuykendall 310). Moreover, the islands of Hawaii — specifically Maui, Molokai, Oahu, and Kauai — are the only places in the United States where coffee is grown commercially, city-data. com says.
Coffee production in 2002/2003 totaled 8. 5 million lb (3. 86 million kg). Another tropical product, papaya, has also become a substantial export crop, as well as macadamia nuts and tropical flowers. Taro (coco yam) used for making poi, as well as banana are also grown. Hawaii and the Nation Hawaii is an important link in the chain of national defense and because of that fact the army and navy occupy a conspicuous place in the everyday life of the islands, particularly of the island of Oahu.
The relations between the Territory and the nation have to a considerable extent centered about the development of plans to make Hawaii a powerful military and naval outpost of the United States (Kuykendall 298). Hawaii, according to city-data. com, is now the nerve center of United States defense activities in the Pacific. Commander-in-Chief Pacific, headquartered at Camp H. M. Smith in Honolulu, directs the US Pacific Command, known to be the largest of the six US unified commands and responsible for all US military forces in the Pacific and Indian oceans and southern Asia. Military prime contract awards in the fiscal year 2001 totaled $1. 3 billion.
Travel and Recreation Many visitors come to Hawaii for scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming, fishing, and sailing, city-data. com says. They also come for the hula, luau, lei, and other distinctive island pleasures, as well as for the tropical climate, extraordinary scenic beauty, and a remarkable variety of recreational facilities, including seven national parks and historic sites, 74 state parks, 626 county parks, 17 public golf courses, and 1,600 recognized surfing sites. Anytime of the year is a good time to visit Hawaii.
Summer between April and November is warmer and drier, while winter between December and March is more temperate. Trade winds keep things comfortable all year round. So where should tourists go? According to iExplore. com, Oahu, for one, has four divisions from a tourist’s point of view: Honolulu, which is the metropolitan center; Waikiki Beach, which is 3 miles from Honolulu’s downtown area; Oahu’s famous North Shore, stretching from Kahuku to Kaena Point; and the Windward Coast, notable for its beaches.
The Leeward Coast, on the western side, is more desolate, though in recent years a certain amount of development has taken place and new residential areas, golf courses, parks, a shopping center and an amusement park have sprung up. I believe, like most other travelers, that the cultural, commercial and political center of any place should be the starting point for visitors. The Waikiki Beach area, according to iExplore. com, is a particularly popular resort region of the city, and is currently undergoing a rejuvenation program.
Other attractions include shopping centers like Kalakaua Avenue and Kilohana Square; the Honolulu zoo; the National Cemetery of the Pacific, which is a memorial and cemetery for US military veterans; central Honolulu, including Chinatown; the fine collection of Asian art at the Honolulu Academy of Arts; Bishop Museum; the new Hawaii State Art Museum; Iolani Palace and the spectacular Nuuanu Pali. There are also many other parks, plus aquaria, museums and theaters in the city and its environs.
Oahu’s most visited attraction, iExplore. com relates, is Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial, the scene of Japan’s surprise attack which brought the USA into World War II. A variety of excursions is also available, where at least a day should be allowed for the Circle Island Tour, which takes in the whole of Oahu. Attractions en route include Waimea Falls Park, Pearl Harbor, the Polynesian Cultural Center, Sea Life Park, the Waialua Coffee Visitors’ Center (on a former plantation), the Sacred Birthstones and Sunset Beach.
Known stops at the Big Island include towns like Kailua-Kona and the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, which is one of the natural wonders of the world. iExplore. com points out that at 13,677 feet, Mauna Loa is the largest single mountain mass in the world, while at 4,000 feet, the still-active Kilauea’s steaming vents and frequent eruptions provide an unusual, and safe, spectator sport. The volcano is continuously erupting, and can be seen entering the ocean at sea-level. Maui, known as ‘The Magic Isle,’ attracts a multitude of tourists every year.
Luxury resorts and budget condos abound, but there are isolated spots of raw beauty. Attractions include the towns of Wailuku and Kahului; the Iao Valley; the historic whaling town of Lahaina; Mount Haleakala, a massive volcanic crater; the tranquil beauty of Hana on the Eastern Shore; the East Mountain range with its native ecosystem; the waterfalls at Wailua Cove; and Ka’eleku Caverns, which are located beneath the Hana Rainforest, and now open to the public for guided tours.
Lanai, which iExplore. com says was once known as ‘The Pineapple Isle,’ offers two 5-star resorts; spectacular natural attractions like the dramatic Shipwreck Beach or Kaiolohia with its petroglyph rock carvings and the mystical Garden of the Gods at Kanepu’u; the ruins of an archaeological site known as Kaunolu Village; and the Munro Trail, which leads to the Hauola Gulch, a truly spectacular view of the neighboring islands. From November to April, Lanai is the perfect place for whale watching, as humpback whales make the waters around the island their winter breeding and calving grounds.
Molokai offers attractions that include the harbor town of Kaunakakai, with its quaint and colorful shops; Mount Kamakou; the Moaulu Falls; and the beautiful Halawa Valley. Kauai, known as ‘Hawaii’s Island of Discovery,’ is breathtakingly beautiful with staggering mountains and miles of sandy beaches. Kauai is small, with a laid-back pace and discreet tourist facilities ideal for the visitor who does not care for crowded beaches or high-rise hotels.
Attractions include Mount Waialeale, the capital town of Lihue, and Waimea Canyon. and there is a majestic waterfall 2 miles up in the Hanakapiai Valley. Indeed, Hawaii is a haven for stressed and weary souls who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and the routine of everyday life. But beyond being a place teeming with natural beauty, Hawaii boasts of a story and a culture that’s magical in their own right. Its history and its people possess a magnificence that has greatly contributed to the islands’ charm and overall appeal. All in all, Hawaii’s got everything!