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The Hawaiian Islands

The Hawaiian Islands

On August 21, 1959 Hawaii became the 50th of the United States of America.

There are 8 major islands: Hawai’i, Maui, Kaho’olawe, Lana’i, Moloka’i, O’ahu, Kaua’i, & Ni’ihau.

The shapes in the tribal band represent spears and shark teeth.

Hawai’i: The Big Island

The largest of the Hawaiian islands, and home to Mauna Kea – the tallest sea mountian in the world and site of the world’s largest astronomy observatory, and two active volcanoes - Kilauea and Mauna Loa. The island has 12 separate climate zones, ranging from rainforests to show-capped mountain peaks. The island has a variety of colored sand beaches, including black, white, and green.

Points of interest include Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and Papakolea Beach – one of only four green sand beaches in the world.

Maui: The Valley Isle

The island is the second largest, and third most populated of the Hawaiian islands. The northwestern and southeastern parts of the island are connected by a narrow piece of land, this formation is why it is known as valley isle. The area is visited by humpback whales every winter, and is the main whale-watching center in the Hawaiian islands. The whales come from Alaska to the warm waters of the Au’au Channel to mate and birth their young.

Points of interest include Hana Highway, Haleakala National Park – named after the dormant volcano, and Lahaina – a harbor town and former whaling port.

Kaho’olawe: The Target Isle

The smallest of the eight major Hawaiian Islands. Due to a lack of freshwater sources the island has no permanent residents. It was used during World War II as a training ground and bombing range. Today the island and its surrounding waters are part of the Kaho’olawe Island Reserve and commercial use is prohibited. It has become a Native Hawaiian cultural site for education, historical preservation, and restoration of the native vegetation.

Lana’i: The Pineapple Isle, Hawaiian for “Conquest Day”

The largest privately owned Hawaiian island. Purchased by the Dole Corporation in 1922, the island was one the United State’s largest pineapple plantation. In 1961, luxury resorts, golf courses, and residential areas were built after Dole’s merger with Castle & Cooke, Inc. The island was sold once again in 2012 to one of the founders of Oracle Corporation, Larry Ellison.

Points of interest on the island include Palawai Basin – the site of 18th century petroglyphs – and the village of Kaunolu – houses and ceremonial religious structures the 15th century.

Moloka’i: The Friendly Isle

Originally inhabited by taro growers and fisherman. The island’s population grew in the 1920s with the growth of the pineapple industry. Competition in the pineapple industry resulted in the end of operation on the islands around the 1980s. Today the primary agricultural exports are sweet potatoes and coffee.

Points of interest include Kalaupapa National Historic Park – the former leprosy colony that was established in the 1860s – and Kahakaia National Wildlife Refuge.

O’ahu: The Gathering Place

The third largest and most populated Hawaiian island. Home of Waikiki Beach and Honolulu – the state capitol. Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world can be found on the east, or windward side, of the island. The island has been inhabited since at least the 3rd century. The over 300 year old Kingdom of O’ahu was home to the oldest rulers of the Hawaiian islands. Today the island is a popular tourist and shopping destination with over 5 million visitors each year.

Points of interest include Pearl Harbor – site of the World War II memorial, Iolani Palace – the only rolay palace on American soil, Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery, Diamond Head Crater, and Kualoa Ranch – where many Hollywood movies have been filmed.

Kaua’i: The Garden Isle

The oldest, geologically speaking, of the major Hawaiian islands. Mount Waialeale dominates the island is surrounded by fertile valleys, deep fissures, and ringed in costal lowlands. The mounts summit is considered one of the wettest places on Earth.

Points of interest include a 900-foot stone wall and 1000-year old Menehune Fishpond – said to have been built by the menehune, mythical little people of the island; Waimea Canyon – the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”, National Tropical Botanical Garden, and Kilauea Lighthouse – site of the world’s largest lighthouse clamshell lens.

Ni’ihau: The Forbidden Isle

The smallest of the populated Hawaiian. The islands home to a small traditional Hawaiian population and access is greatly restricted. There is no tourism and only Hawaiians can be residents. The residents of the island speak mostly in the Hawaiian language.

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