Hawaii – Army Community

The Islands

Oahu

The island of Oahu, formed by two volcanic domes, serves as the main commerce port for all of Hawaii. Though Oahu is the third largest of the Hawaiian Islands in landmass, it is the largest in population with approximately 905,000, which is roughly 75 percent of the state’s 1.3 million residents.

Located on the south side of Oahu is Hawaii’s state capital, Honolulu, which means “the gathering place.” The city of Honolulu is home to the business district, education center, international airport, major sea ports, military bases and all government offices for Hawaii. Famous attractions in Honolulu include Waikiki, one of the world’s most photographed beaches; and Pearl Harbor, the battle site that led the American people into World War II. On the north side of Oahu, often referred to as the “north shore,” are the world-famous surfing locations, Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach.

The eastern coast of the island is home to the towns of Kailua, Kaneohe, Kahaluu, Kahana and Laie. The Waianae Coast, located on the west side, is less traveled than other parts of the island. Located here are several ancient ruins, plantation homes and the Kuilioloa Heiau, a Hawaiian temple.

Oahu Landmarks and Attractions

  • Ala Moana Park: A beautiful 76-acre public park and beachfront with sandy beach, swimming lagoon, surfing grounds, dressing pavilions, food stands, picnic tables, harbors, ponds and bridges.
  • Ala Moana Shopping Center: Located in the heart of Honolulu, it’s the world’s largest multilevel shopping center, with over 290 shops and restaurants and abundant parking spaces.
  • Aloha Stadium: A major feature near Pearl Harbor and Aiea, which is the site of the Pro Bowl, Hula Bowl and many other athletic events. Built in 1975, the stadium seats 50,000 people. The stadium also serves as the home of the “Flea Market” Wednesday, Friday and weekends.
  • Aloha Tower: Honolulu’s familiar landmark is open to visitors and offers an excellent view of the harbor area.
  • Aquarium: On Kalakaua Avenue across from Kap’iolani Park at Waikiki, the aquarium contains a world-famous collection of brilliantly colored tropical fish.
  • Battleship Missouri Memorial: USS Missouri (BB 63) arrived in Pearl Harbor on June 22, 1998, to serve as a battleship memorial and museum. Visitors first gather at the USS Bowfin Memorial for ticketing and a shuttle over the Ford Island Bridge to the memorial. Missouri is known as the “Mighty Mo” to many that served on her and was the last of the great battleships to be completed by the U.S. Navy. It was on board the O1 veranda deck of the Missouri that Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, along with other U.S. and allied officers, accepted the formal surrender of the Japanese at the close of World War II.
  • Marine Corps Base Hawaii Kaneohe Bay, the Pacific War Memorial: An Iwo Jima memorial built on Marine Corps Base Hawaii to honor all who served in the Pacific theater of operations during World War II, those residents of Hawaii who during the war years befriended and supported military personnel, and those in our armed forces who continue to serve our great nation.
  • Bishop Museum and Planetarium: At 1525 Bernice St., the museum houses the world’s foremost collection of Hawaiian and Polynesian antiquities.
  • Blow Hole: Near Koko Head, playful Mother Nature forces the mighty sea through a tiny hole in lava ledge and blows miniature geysers high into the air.
  • Bowfin Park: Located off Kamehameha Highway near Pearl Harbor, this 3.5-acre site is named after the historic restored World War II submarine USS Bowfin (SS 287), which is moored at the park and open to the public. Other attractions include the Pacific Submarine Museum, submarine missile and torpedo exhibits.
  • Byodo-In Temple: Japan’s 900-year-old architectural treasure is duplicated in exact detail at the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park, beneath the majestic cliffs of the Ko’olau mountains. The beautiful Oriental garden setting also has a carp pool, massive, 9-foot Buddha statue and teahouse.
  • Chinatown: Unlike the Chinatowns in other American cities, this section of downtown Honolulu is an exciting blend of shops, restaurants and markets displaying not only Chinese goods but wares and foods typical of the countries of origin of Hawaii’s early-day immigrants.
  • Diamond Head: This world-renowned landmark bounds Waikiki Beach on the south. An extinct volcano, it is said to have once been the home of Pele, the Fire Goddess.
  • Dole Cannery Square: The Hawaiian Pineapple Cannery Division of Castle and Cooke Foods is located at Iwilei Road. Dole Cannery Square is open to the public seven days a week for tours of the facilities and pineapple tasting.
  • East-West Center: A center for cultural and academic interchange between the peoples of Asia, the Pacific and United States. Established by the U.S. Congress in 1960, the center has since become a public, nonprofit educational corporation with offices and facilities adjacent to the University of Hawaii campus.
  • Foster Botanical Garden: Remarkable botanic displays, including the photogenic orchid section, in a 20-acre setting in downtown Honolulu.
  • Hanauma Bay: A delightful sea cove in Koko Head Park, its rugged grandeur was created by volcanic action 10,000 years ago when Pele made her last attempt to find home on Oahu, as legend tells. A favorite spot for swimming and snorkeling.
  • Hawaii Maritime Center: Includes a museum, Aloha Tower, plus the square-rigged Falls of Clyde and the Hokule’a Polynesian sailing canoe.
  • Hawaii’s Plantation Village: Step back in time to when “sugar was king” and experience the “real Hawaii.” At Hawaii’s Plantation Village, a living history museum and ethno-botanical garden, local guides open a door to a bygone era. Immerse yourself in the diverse cultures and lifestyles and hear the stories of struggle and triumph of the immigrants that came from China, Portugal, Japan, Puerto Rico, Korea, Okinawa and the Philippines to work on Hawaii’s sugar plantations. Together with their native Hawaiian hosts, they blended their ways of life, establishing a new, dynamic, multicultural society. Come explore more than 30 authentic plantation homes and structures. In addition to guided tours, Hawaii’s Plantation Village offers cultural festivals and live ethnic demonstrations throughout the year. The plantation gift shop features homemade handicrafts, ethnic music, cookbooks and more. Open Monday through Saturday (except major holidays), tours start on the hour from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tours usually last 1.5 to two hours. This attraction is on Bus Route No. 43 from Ala Moana Center and is located near Pearl Harbor and down the street from the Waikele Shopping Outlets (H1 to Exit 7 — Waikele/Waipahu), at 94-695 Waipahu St., in historic Waipahu town. For more information, visit their website at www.hawaiiplantationvillage.org.
  • Helemano Plantation: Located next to Dole Plantation, Helemano Plantation used to be a plantation school for pineapple workers and their families. Locals in the area still remember going to school here. Since that time, Helemano Plantation has evolved to providing job opportunities and training to persons with developmental disabilities who attend or live at the plantation.

       Experience the aloha at Helemano Plantation’s restaurant and shops … a major stop before heading toward the North Shore. It is a place for the whole family. Kids and the young at heart all enjoy taking pictures in the wooden caricatures and pineapple house in Helemano’s gardens. Its gardens include the macadamia nut tree, pomelo, Kona coffee, papaya, apple, banana, sugarcane, pineapple, different varieties and colors of hibiscus, bird of paradise, torch ginger, goji berry and many more. Colorful tropical plants, fruit-bearing trees and a variety of flowers used for making leis abound at Helemano Plantation’s gardens.

       Helemano Plantation has also been the site for numerous hail and farewells, breakfast meetings and Christmas parties for the military, especially from Schofield Barracks. If you have any questions, please email: helemano808@hawaii.rr.com.

  • Honolulu Zoo: Located at 151 Kapahulu Ave., the zoo is open daily and has a special collection of more than 300 animals from Hawaii and around the world.
  • Iolani Palace: The only throne room under the American flag, where Hawaii’s last two monarchs lived and ruled. Completed in 1882, the building has been entirely renovated, displaying a magnificent interior.
  • Kaneana Cave: Near Mauka just before the end of Farrington Highway, Kaneana, the sharkman deity, is supposed to have made his home in this cave, which is volcanic and coral in formation.
  • Kawaiaha’o Church: Dedicated in 1842, the “Westminster Abbey” of Hawaii offers Sunday services in Hawaiian and English.
  • Kewalo Basin: Sampans and other fishing boats moor in this small boat harbor that is also the departure point for Pearl Harbor cruises.
  • Mission Houses: The oldest existing buildings erected by the first missionary contingent to Honolulu are in the civic center area, which is also the locale of many other historic sites.
  • LDS Temple: Built in beautiful Laie in 1920, it was the first Mormon temple to be constructed outside of Utah.
  • National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific: Punchbowl or Puowaina, literally translated “hill of sacrifice,” is the final resting place of thousands of World War II, Korean and Vietnam War veterans. Open seven days a week, it overlooks the vast expanse of Pearl Harbor, Honolulu and Waikiki.
  • Nature Center: The Hawaii Nature Center of Oahu offers school programs and weekend family programs and hosts birthday parties and intersession camps. For more information, check out the website at www.hawaiinaturecenter.org or call 808-955-0100.
  • Nu’uanu Pali: Oahu’s scenic masterpiece, at the head of Nu’uanu Valley, where Kamehameha the Great defeated the Oahuans in a bloody battle in 1795 by forcing thousands of warriors over the precipice to meet death on the jagged rocks below, thus adding Oahu to his realm.
  • Old Sugar Mill: Near Ka’a’awa are the stone ruins of the first sugar mill on Oahu, erected in 1864.
  • Polynesian Cultural Center at Laie: Located on the north shore of Oahu, the center is made up of native villages representative of those in Fiji, Tonga, New Zealand, Tahiti, Samoa, Marquesas and Hawaii.
  • Queen Emma Summer Palace: A charming home, located in Nu’uanu Valley, the former summer palace has been restored to its original appearance and houses a fine collection of Hawaiiana.
  • Rabbit Island: Near Waimanalo, this is one of the many interesting islets that border Oahu. It looks like the head of a rabbit and was once overrun by them.
  • Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center: Located at the very center of Waikiki, this center offers over 150 shops and restaurants and has something for everyone. You can purchase anything from fine designer apparel to fun-in-the-sun apparel, from fine jewelry to fun costume jewelry and Hawaiian treasures, from fine dining in many restaurants to fun dining on hot dogs and ice cream. There are boutiques, sporting good stores, sports shops, jewelry stores, craft shops and practically everything else conceivable.
  • Royal Mausoleum: Resting place of Hawaii’s former rulers, with well-informed guide-custodian.
  • Sea Life Park: Located at Makapu’u Point. Sea Life Park features an outstanding display of Hawaii’s exotic marine life in a truly beautiful oceanside setting. The 300,000-gallon Hawaiian reef tank is one of America’s finest aquariums, housing 2,000 island specimens: sharks, rays, moray eels, turtles and exotic reef fish. Giant whales, dolphins, sea lions, penguins and a variety of sea birds can also be enjoyed.
  • U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii: Located at Fort DeRussy, the museum exhibits tell the story of the Army in Hawaii and the Pacific area, the military history of Hawaii, and the contributions that Hawaii’s citizens have made to national defense.
  • USS Arizona Memorial and World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument: The USS Arizona Memorial is the final resting place for many of the battleship’s 1,177 crew members who lost their lives during the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The memorial commemorates the site where World War II began for the Unites States. Located off Kamehameha Highway, near Pearl Harbor, the National Park Service operates the visitor center at World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument and provides the only public access by Navy shuttle boat out to the memorial. Tickets are required and are available at no cost at the visitor center on a first-come, first-served basis. The tour begins with a 23-minute orientation film followed by a boat ride out to the memorial; total tour time is one hour and 15 minutes. The center also includes an excellent new museum, wayside exhibits, Education & Research Center, and a book and souvenir shop. The center is open daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
  • Waimea Bay: Between Haleiwa and Kahuku, the beach is fine for picnicking, but the bay is dangerous for swimming when surf is 6 feet or more.
  • Waimea Falls Park: This narrow canyon extending into the Ko’olau Mountains was once a heavily populated Hawaiian village. Today the 1,800-acre site between Haleiwa and Kahuku is a dwelling for nature’s lovely, unspoiled environment of tropical plant life, birds, hiking trails and a truly beautiful waterfall.

Maui

Maui, also known as the “Valley Isle,” was named for a Hawaiian demigod. It is the second largest of the populated Hawaiian Islands with approximately 140,000, and covers over 700 square miles. Two separate volcanoes formed the island of Maui, including the 10,023-foot Mount Haleakala — the world’s largest dormant volcano — and Pu’u Kukui. Until the late 1960s, Maui was primarily an agricultural island offering products such as sugar and pineapple. In the early 1970s, due to the development of several resort areas, the driving force behind the island’s economy changed to tourism.

On the west side of Maui are the resort communities of Ka’anapali, Kapalua and Lahaina. Ka’anapali and Kapalua feature championship golf courses and beachfront hotels. Lahaina, a historic whaling town, is a national landmark entrenched in Hawaiian history. The island’s business center is made up of the towns Kahului and Wailuku, both located in central Maui. Kahului is the island’s port city, while Wailuku serves as the county seat. East of Kahului on the Hana Highway is the most visited part of the island, Hana. Often called “heavenly Hana,” this section of the island features some of the most scenic waterfalls and coastline available. Located up the slopes of Mount Haleakala is Upcountry Maui. The towns of Makawao, Kula and Ulupalakua are all located upcountry and offer astounding views and botanical gardens.

Maui Landmarks and Attractions

  • Alexander and Baldwin Sugar Museum: Located next to Hawaii’s largest working sugar factory in the historic plantation town of Pu’unene, Maui, the award-winning Alexander and Baldwin Sugar Museum is a marvelous repository of information and exhibits about one of the most significant and influential periods in Maui’s history. Dedicated to preserving and presenting the history and heritage of Maui’s sugar industry, the 1,800-square-foot museum not only charts the establishment and growth of the industry, but looks at sugar’s influence on the development of Maui’s water resources and rich, multiethnic makeup and features intriguing displays on the inner workings of a sugar mill. Reservations: 808-871-8058; website: www.sugarmuseum.com.
  • Hana: An undeveloped, eastern coastline town with beautiful state beaches and a national park. Known for the scenic Hana Highway, the road to town is comprised of 600 curves and 54 bridges and leads you through lush landscapes full of flourishing rain forests, flowing waterfalls and dramatic seascapes. Swim and sunbathe at Hana Beach Park. Snorkel at Waianapanapa State Park, a beautiful black-sand beach. Or hike to the secret and isolated Kaihalulu Beach, also known as Red Sand Beach, for its red cinder sand.
  • Haleakala National Park: Stretching across east Maui, Haleakala National Park is home to Haleakala Crater, the largest dormant volcano on earth. Rising over 10,000 feet above sea level, Haleakala’s graceful slopes can be seen from just about any point on the island. You can explore Haleakala at your own pace by car, bike or foot. The park is open year-round, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, except for severe weather closures. Park Headquarters Visitor Center, Haleakala Visitor Center and Kipahulu Visitor Center are open daily and year-round, subject to staff availability (with the exception of Haleakala Visitor Center on Dec. 25 and Jan. 1). The telephone number for visitor information is 808-572-4400. Website: www.nps.gov/hale.
  • Honolua Bay: Located on Maui’s north shore, Honolua Bay is a favorite spot for experienced surfers. During the winter high surf season, Honolua has been known to have a hollow, powerful wave that offers incredibly long rides. The bluffs above the bay offer a perfect vantage point for visitors to watch the pros from a safe distance. During the calmer summer months, Honolua Bay is a popular destination for snorkeling and scuba diving. As part of the Mokuleia Marine Life Conservation District, Honolua Bay has an abundance of fish and coral formations to explore. There is only a small rocky shoreline here, so sunbathing here isn’t ideal.
  • Kula Botanical Garden: Opened in 1971, Kula Botanical Garden was developed by Warren and Helen McCord. The garden is located on a unique, 8-acre site featuring proteas, orchids, bromeliads and native plants. The natural setting provides unusual rock formations, waterfalls, ponds and a panoramic view of the valley and west Maui mountains. You will enjoy an aviary, koi pond, bird sanctuary with the Hawaiian Nene goose and picnic areas. The gift shop offers beverages, snacks and a variety of made-in-Hawaii products. Reservations: 808-878-1715.
  • Lahaina Historic Tour: Savor the simplicity of an earlier time by picking up a free walking map at the 1834 Baldwin Home, your first stop in historic Lahaina. Begin your tour by reading the riotous “Rules of the House” at the salty old Pioneer Inn looking out on the waterfront. Then peek in at the Hale Pa’ahao (stuck-in-irons house) — aka the jail. Keep on walking to pretty Maria Lanakila Church. Take a break and stop for lychee-flavored ice cream. You’ll need the fuel to see all 55 acres of Lahaina’s designated historic districts.
  • Lahaina Jodo Mission: A replica of an authentic Japanese Buddhist temple, beautifully set against the West Maui mountains. Explore these peaceful grounds and you’ll discover a towering pagoda and an enormous bronze Buddha statue, 12 feet high and roughly three and a half tons. Installed in 1968 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Japanese immigrants in Hawaii, this is one of the largest statues of Buddha outside of Japan.
  • Lahaina Luau: Settle down under the stars for a traditional Hawaiian luau. Dine on kalua pig cooked all day in an imu (earth oven), haupia (coconut pudding) and a full menu of more familiar dishes. Don’t forget to try the poi (Hawaiian taro starch). Get there early to see lei weavers, wood carvers and poi pounders at work. See dancers perform the ancient and modern hula. You’ll learn Hawaii’s history the traditional way — through chants, songs and dances. Talk with the artisans, take a hula lesson yourself or play some traditional Hawaiian games. These hands-on festivities transport you back to a simpler time in old Lahaina.
  • Maui Arts & Cultural Center: Hawaii’s finest visual and performing arts complex offers a variety of cultural activities, concerts, dance performances, art exhibits, weekly films, theater, a full spectrum of music events and more. Call 808-242-SHOW (7469) for current events or visit www.mauiarts.org.
  • Nature Center: The Hawaii Nature Center of Maui is committed to sharing the natural, historical and cultural wonders of the island through its visitors’ programs and environmental education for the children of Maui. The center’s interactive nature museum and guided rain forest walks have been designed to interpret and experience Hawaii’s natural history in a museum setting and in the natural environment. The nature center offers overnight lodging for up to 60 people. The museum and gift shop are open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Reservations for rain forest walks can be booked 11:30 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. or 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Walkers must be at least 5 years old. To reach the Nature Center, take West Main Street in Wailuku to the end of the road. Hawaii Nature Center, 808-244-6500.
  • Sugar Cane Train: A puffing steam engine pulls old-style passenger cars between Lahaina and Ka’anapali aboard the Sugar Cane Train. A conductor sings songs and narrates the ride. Enjoy views of the West Maui Mountains and coastline. A depot and gift shop is in Lahaina; rides daily, 808-661-0089.
  • Waimoku Falls: At the end of the Pipiwai Trail, Waimoku Falls is one of Maui’s best hikes. About 9 miles beyond Hana, the Haleakala National Park is the starting point for the Pipiwai Trail. The trail follows the stream that feeds Oheo Gulch and ends overlooking Waimoku Falls, which cascade down 400 feet of sheer rock. The trek requires three to five hours, so it’s best to start early.
  • Whale Center of the Pacific: Two free exhibits are located at the Whalers Village in Ka’anapali. Whalers Village Museum covers the history of Lahaina’s whaling industry, including the re-created sleeping quarters of a whaling ship and an extensive scrimshaw collection. Hale Kohala (House of Whale) features the scientific story of whales with interactive fun and marine models. Open daily, 808-661-5992.

Hawaii

The island of Hawaii, often referred to as the “Big Island,” is the largest of the Hawaiian Islands. Covering approximately 4,028 square miles, the island is still growing due to the continual eruptions of Kilauea, the most active of Hawaii’s volcanoes. The Big Island is also home to Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, Hawaii’s highest mountain at 13,796 feet. Currently, the population is approximately 149,000.

Ranching and agriculture serve as the Big Island’s economic mainstays. Major products include Kona coffee, macadamia nuts and tropical flowers. Resorts and most residential developments are located in coastal areas such as Kailua-Kona, Hilo and the Kohala Coast. Kailua-Kona, located on the Kona Coast, was the home of Kamehameha the Great in the late 1700s. Kamehameha’s palace grounds, still located in this small town, help make Kailua one of the Big Island’s major tourist areas. Hilo, located on the east side of the island, is the county seat of Hawaii. This is where many area attractions can be found, such as Wailoa River State Park, Liliuokalani Gardens and Coconut Island. The Kohala Coast is located on the north side of Hawaii and is home to the historic Waipi’o Valley (Waipi’o Valley is located on and accessed from the Hamakua Coast) and several resort areas with luxury hotels and spectacular golf courses.

Other attractions to the island of Hawaii include several heiaus (Hawaiian temples) such as Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park, the Mo’okini Luakini Heiau and the Wahaula Heiau; Kealakekua Bay, where Capt. James Cook was killed in the late 1700s; and South Point, the southernmost point in the United States.

Hawaii Landmarks and Attractions

  • Akaka Falls State Park: Located along the northeastern Hamakua Coast, park visitors can view two gorgeous waterfalls on one short hike. The pleasant 0.4-mile uphill hike will take you through a lush rain forest filled with wild orchids, bamboo groves and draping ferns. As you follow the footpath, you’ll first see 100-foot Kahuna Falls. Continue to follow the loop around the bend, and you’ll discover towering Akaka Falls, which plummets 442-feet into a stream-eroded gorge. Beautiful Akaka Falls is perhaps the Big Island’s most famous waterfall. Easily accessible, this hike takes less than an hour.
  • Atlantis Submarines Kona: Experience Hawaii’s only real submarine tour. Create lifetime memories diving into the habitat of countless, exotic sea creatures. Gazing through your spacious viewport, you can exchange glances with hundreds of fish of different species dwelling in the waters of the coast of Kona. Reservations toll free: 800-548-6262.
  • East Hawaii Cultural Center: Elected as the best art gallery, the East Hawaii Cultural Center exhibits contemporary and traditional visual arts by local, national and international artists. Established in 1967, the cultural center is located in a beautiful building on the state and national historic registry. Theater, dance and Shakespeare in the Park are some of the performing arts programs held at the center. Reservations: 808-935-9085/961-5711.
  • Hawaii Forest and Trail Tours: Offers nine different nature adventures that showcase the Big Island’s amazing diversity. Features the best tour locales, relaxed, easy walks and hiking, and interpretive naturalists — professionally trained guides who share with you the landscapes, legends and life of Hawaii. Take a half-day or full-day adventure into waterfalls, active volcanoes, native habitats and some of the most beautiful landscape on earth. Tours include: Valley Waterfall Adventure, Kohala Country Falls Adventure, Kilauea Volcano Adventure, Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Adventure, Rainforest/Dryforest Birding Adventure and Hakalau NWR Birdwatching, and Merriman’s Farm Visits and Dinner, plus two off-road tours — PinzTrek Hualalai Holoholo and PinzTrek Kohala Wai Adventures in Pinzgauer six-wheel-drive vehicles. Custom private adventures are also available. Tours are limited to 12 guests and are fully outfitted, including food, snacks and gear. Reservations toll free: 800-464-1993.
  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Hawaii’s No. 1 visitor attraction, this 377-square-mile park on Hawaii’s Big Island is a living museum where visitors can witness the power of Hawaii’s volcanoes in surprisingly close range. You can hike along rocky trails and desolate deserts that, in time, will flourish and thrive with new life. There are currently two active volcanoes in the national park, including Mauna Loa and Kilauea. Mauna Loa last erupted in 1984 and Kilauea has been continuously erupting since 1983. A third active volcano, Lo’ihi, is located underwater off the southern coast of the Big Island. Other attractions include Kilauea Visitor Center, Crater Rim Drive, Thomas A. Jaggar Museum, Thurston Lava Tube (Nahuku), Puu Oo Vent and Volcano House. For more information, call 808-985-6000 or visit www.nps.gov/havo.
  • Lyman Museum and Mission House: Located near downtown Hilo, the Lyman Museum and Mission House features a superb collection of Hawaiian artifacts and natural history collections, as well as the restored home of David and Sarah Lyman. Built in 1839, the Lyman House is the oldest wood-frame structure on the island and can be seen on a docent-led tour. Interactive museum exhibits provide the best introduction anywhere to the natural history of Hawaii. The Earth Heritage Gallery features plants, animals and habitats native to Hawaii; explains the islands’ volcanic origins; and has one of the top 10 mineral and gem collections in the U.S. The Island Heritage Gallery showcases the rich history and culture of native Hawaiians as well as the many immigrants to the islands from around the globe, the blending of which created the diverse community of modern Hawaii. Other exhibits on view include the Shipman Collection of Chinese Art and shorter-term exhibits of special interest. Reservations: 808-935-5021. Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
  • Pacific Tsunami Museum: The museum provides interactive exhibits, documentaries and docents to explain the tsunami phenomenon and how it affects us in Hawaii, and particularly in Hilo, which is dubbed the “Tsunami Capital.” Reservations: 808-935-0926; website: www.tsunami.org.
  • Palace Theater: Historic 500-seat theater in Hilo offering a variety of fine films, concerts, live theater and special events. Please visit www.hilopalace.com for full details about programming. Reservations: 808-934-7010.

Kauai

Kauai is the fourth largest of the Hawaiian Islands, as well as the oldest and least populated with 63,000. Sometimes referred to as the “Garden Isle,” Kauai is full of lush tropical rain forests with certain areas receiving over 400 inches of rain annually. The island was formed by Waialeale, a volcano that rises above 5,000 feet and is located in the center of the island.

The coastline located on the northwest side of Kauai offers some of the most dramatic scenery of all the Hawaiian Islands. Located here are the Na Pali Cliffs, which can only be fully viewed by air or sea; Koke’e State Park; and Waimea Canyon, Hawaii’s “Grand Canyon.” The south side of the island offers white, sandy beaches, sunny weather and many historical sites, such as the first sugar mill in Hawaii. The town of Lihue, Kauai’s main town, is home to the state and county buildings and offers a plantation-like feel with its architectural design and slow-pace lifestyle. North of Lihue are the lush tourist destinations of Hanalei and Princeville. Located here in the valleys along the Hanalei River are taro patches, waterfalls and lush forests.

Kauai Landmarks and Attractions

  • Na Pali Coast and Koke’e State Park: Dramatic coastline, hiking and scenic beaches.
  • Helicopter Sightseeing to Mount Waialeale: Features wettest place on earth, waterfalls and spectacular views.
  • Kayaking: Exceptional river and sea kayaking.
  • Waimea Canyon: River gorges, scenic lookouts and hiking trails.
  • Hanalei Bay and Valley: Tropical mountains, taro plantations and kayaking.
  • Kilauea Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge: Includes sea birds, Hawaiian monk seal colonies and coastal hike.
  • Wailua River: See historical sites, Fern Grotto, river tours and waterfalls.

Lanai

Lanai, sometimes called “Pineapple Island,” is the sixth largest island in the Hawaiian chain, covering approximately 140 square miles, with a population of 6,000. Formed by the Palawai volcano, the island is often thought of as “Hawaii’s most secluded island.” Lanai was once owned and operated as a pineapple plantation by the Dole Company, Hawaii’s primary pineapple producer. Although agriculture and ranching are still vital parts of the economy, the island — now owned by developer Castle & Cooke — is better known as a resort destination.

Located at the base of the mountains, Lanai City serves as the main town where most of Lanai’s residents live. A few miles from Lanai City is the spectacular Hulopoe Bay, featuring secluded beaches and crystal-clear water. The Lodge at Ko’ele, set in the tranquil mountains of Lanai, offers an upscale resort with a Greg Norman golf course. On the south side of the island is the Kaunolu Village. The village, now a historic landmark, houses some of the best preserved ruins and petroglyph carvings from ancient Hawaii. The village was also a favorite fishing spot of Kamehameha the Great.

Molokai

Often called the “Friendly Isle,” Molokai is the fifth largest of the Hawaiian Islands, covering 264 square miles, with a population of 7,000. The island was formed by two volcanoes, Kamakou and Kauhako, which give Molokai a shoe-like appearance. Molokai’s small population includes a large contingency of native Hawaiians. The island is also free of many aspects of modern society such as high-rises, fast-food restaurants and traffic lights. This old Hawaiian feel has given Molokai the moniker “Most Hawaiian Island.”

Molokai is best known for its small peninsula of land known as “Kalaupapa.” This isolated section of the island became home to a colony of people with Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) in the 1800s. Kaunakakai, located on the south side, is the main town and harbor of Molokai. Located to the west of Kaunakakai is the resort destination of Kaluakoi. To the east of Kaunakakai is the Halawa Valley, one of the earliest settlements in the Hawaiian Islands. The Halawa Valley, still home to taro farmers and fishermen, provides some of the most dramatic scenery in all of Hawaii.

Molokai Landmarks and Attractions

  • Big Wind Kite Factory: The Big Wind Kite Factory in Manua Loa stocks a variety of colorful kites. You’ll find everything from dancing hula girl kites and pineapple windsocks to high-performance stunt kites. Tour the factory and learn about expert kite-making techniques. The owners even give free daily kite flying lessons, no strings attached.
  • Church Row: On Sunday, listen to the music coming from one of the seven tiny churches along “Church Row” in Kaunakakai. Some of these picturesque churches date back to the late 19th century. The music is lovely and is usually sung in Hawaiian. Himeni (hymns) were the first Hawaiian songs composed after the introduction of Western musical instruments and melody. There’s nothing like hearing “Amazing Grace” in Hawaiian. These missionary-style churches and the music within them transport you back in time.
  • Halawa Valley: Hike into this classic Hawaiian “cathedral valley” to discover beautiful vistas, rich flora, and rare Hawaiian plants and animals. It is believed ancient Polynesians settled in lush Halawa Valley as early as 650 A.D. With so many hidden heiau (places of worship), it’s easy to see why this is one of the island’s most sacred areas. At the end of the trail is the impressive, double-tiered 250-foot Mo’oloa Falls, a perfect place to rest and have lunch. The hike in is fairly difficult, and the only way to explore the area is with a guide, as the trail crosses private property. On Molokai, Halawa Valley’s ancient secrets await new generations to discover.
  • Kalaupapa National Historic Park: It’s quiet as you ride on your mule along the 2.9-mile trail to Kalaupapa. Perhaps it’s because you’re riding along the highest sea cliffs in the world (recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records) as an endless, blue seascape paints the horizon. Riding along Kalaupapa peninsula is enough to make anyone speechless.
  • Kamakou Preserve: Climb to a place so hidden and so pristine you may even imagine you’re the first person to find it. The 3,000-acre Kamakou Preserve east of Kaunakakai is Molokai the way Mother Nature intended. See more than 200 rare plants that can only be found in Kamakou. Hear the song of the olomao and kawawahie, two birds nearing extinction. Tread the 3-mile round-trip Kamakou boardwalk through primal bog and rain forest.
  • Kapuaiwa Coconut Beach Park: Visit Kapuaiwa Coconut Beach Park off Mauna Loa Highway, an ancient Hawaiian coconut grove planted during the reign of King Kamehameha V. With hundreds of lovely coconut trees, there is an obvious danger of falling coconuts, so go to neighboring Kiowea Beach Park for a spectacular sunset view of the coconut grove.
  • Kaunakakai: In the sleepy, central town of Kaunakakai, horse posts and a view of Molokai’s plains take you back to a simpler time. The town’s main strip, Ala Malama Avenue, was named after the nearby house used by Kamehameha V in the 1860s. You’ll find it easy to peruse the fine gift shops and boutiques of its three-block business district without crowds of tourists. Stroll a half mile down to the wharf. Even at high noon the road is clear of cars. Another half-mile and you’re at the end of the state’s longest pier, extending well past the reef — just you, the local fisherman and the sound of tour boats slowly jetting out of the harbor.
  • Kaupoa Beach: Nearby Molokai Ranch, Kaupoa Beach is a picture-perfect beach with two cove-like areas divided by a rocky outcrop in the center. The beach has brilliant white sand with crystalline turquoise water. During the summer, the water is often calm and the swimming can be sublime.
  • Mo’oloa Falls: Hike into sacred Halawa Valley for a beautiful guided hike ending at the 250-foot, double-tiered, Mo’oloa Falls. Native fruits and flowers surround the trail on this strenuous 4.2-mile round-trip hike.
  • Molokai Ranch: On the west end of the island in Manua Loa town, you’ll find a link to Molokai’s ranching and plantation past. The Molokai Ranch sprawls over 53,000 acres of land, almost one-third of the island. This area is still a working ranch and was also once a fruitful pineapple plantation.

         Molokai Ranch also offers a variety of outdoor adventures, including horseback riding, clay and target shooting, mountain biking, kayaking or golf on the stunning Kaluakoi golf course. You can even take a rodeo lesson to learn how to be a real paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy). The past meets the present here at Molokai Ranch.

  • Papohaku Beach: With 3 miles of soft-sand beach, Papohaku Beach (also known as Three Mile Beach) flows uninterrupted down Molokai’s west end. Billed as Hawaii’s largest white-sand beach, there’s plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the Friendly Island ambience. Each May, Papohaku Beach Park is also the setting for the Molokai Ka Hula Piko, the island’s biggest cultural festival. Here you’ll find campsites, indoor and outdoor showers, as well as picnic and restroom facilities. What you won’t find is a lot of foot traffic. There’s plenty of space to enjoy a beautiful view of Oahu. Out of sight over the Kaiwi Channel — just past Diamond Head (Leahi) — is Waikiki, which actually took sand from Papohaku years ago to help build up its own shores.

Kahoolawe

Contrary to popular belief, neither Oahu nor the Big Island served as the original cultural center for native Hawaiians. The island of Kahoolawe once acted as a place where navigators and Kahuna trained for Pacific voyages. Some of the oldest temples or “heiau” are located there. However, the island is uninhabited and, like Niihau, is off-limits to visitors. In the 1800s, the island became agriculturally desolate due to a combination of disease and the destruction of native vegetation by European animals introduced into the population. Beginning in the 1920s, the U.S. military began to train there and perform weapons testing and by 1941, the Navy had gained exclusive use of Kahoolawe for gunnery and bomb training. After several decades of military acquisition, the island was returned to the care of the Hawaii state government in 1994. Federal projects are underway to clear away unexploded ordinance and related debris, in order to restore the island to its original environmental conditions.

Niihau

The island of Niihau is the smallest of the populated islands, covering approximately 70 square miles, with a small population of 160. Referred to as the “Forbidden Isle,” Niihau is privately owned with access to the island limited to the Hawaiian families who live and work on Niihau and to their relatives who have moved to other islands. There are no phones or electricity on the island and the official language is Hawaiian. Recently, the owners have allowed limited access via helicopter to outsiders and permission has been granted to visit unpopulated areas of the island. Further loosening of these restrictions is under review.   

 

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