The Islands of Hawaii

The Islands of Hawaii, Whale Watching

Hawaii seems to be at the top of everyone’s bucket list these days.  Each island offers not only a tropical paradise, but also a unique vacation experience.

The first choice for most people is the island of Oahu.  Home to Pearl Harbor, Waikiki and the Dole Plantation just to name a few, this island is the most populated and most energetic of the Hawaiian Islands.

Having said that, there are also areas of quiet and tranquility on Oahu as well.  The North Shore seems like it’s on a completely different planet from the Waikiki area.  A series of small villages with great beaches, roaring surf, and few resort choices it’s an excellent choice for those wanting to avoid the commotion of Honolulu.

Maui is a step down in energy from Oahu but a step up from the Garden Island of Kauai.  Maui has some areas that heavily developed and very touristy, but none as much as the Waikiki area and nowhere near the traffic problems of Honolulu.

The most serene areas of Maui are accessed via the road to Hana.  This narrow, winding road offers over 100 picturesque single lane bridges and scenery that will literally take your breath away.

Haleakala, the large crater on Maui, is the top tourist spot.  Towering at over 10,000 feet above sea level (you can see snow on the volcanoes of the Big Island from there) and larger than the island of Manhattan, Haleakala is a sight to behold and a must see for any first timer visitor to  Maui.

Whale watching in Hawaii is available only during winter months and is best experienced from Maui.  The narrow waters between Maui, Lanai and Molokai are perfect for calving and breeding humpback whales.

The Garden Island of Kauai is another gorgeous destination.  The oldest of the Hawaiian Islands, Kauai is known for its’ dense vegetation, the Waimea Canyon (Little Grand Canyon) and the spectacular Napali Coast.  If you’re looking for a relaxing Hawaiian vacation it’s an excellent choice.

Lanai is even more remote and unspoiled than Kauai, so for those who want to literally fall off the face the earth, it’s perfection in a tropical setting.  There is only one resort choice on Lanai, so come prepared to pay for luxury in a tropical setting.

Molokai has a history unlike any of the other islands.  Banished lepers from the other islands were abandoned here to survive on their own.  Father Damien, a Belgian priest, earned himself sainthood for dedicating his life to those unfortunate victims.  There are several interesting movies that tell his story.

The Big Island of Hawaii is the largest and newest of the Hawaiian Island chain.  It’s been in the news recently due to the volcanic eruptions disrupting lives and destroying homes.  Volcanoes National Park is the number one attraction here, but there are many other fascinating things to experience on the Big Island.  Home to all but two of the world’s climate zones the island offers a diversity that includes rain forests, deserts, icy peaks and shores in every color.  The island adds 42 acres to U.S. territory every year due to the activity of the Kilauea Volcano. 

If you haven’t experienced the magic of Hawaii let me encourage you to do so.  I’ve been going back and forth to Hawaii for over 30 years.  It’s truly paradise on earth. 

Joy Gawf-Crutchfield owns and operates The Joy of Travel.  Contact Joy at 918-339-4805.