The tropical paradise of Hawaii is one of the world’s most popular vacation spots. The island chain is known for its gorgeous beaches, towering volcanoes, and otherworldly scenery. It also has a rich history of culture and tradition that is evident throughout the islands.
In the early 1800s, Hawaiian culture was impacted by European visitors. While some benefited from trade and education, others suffered from disease brought by the visitors. The epidemic of influenza and smallpox among the native population was catastrophic and is estimated to have killed over half of the Hawaiian population by 1820. This led to the rise of a landowning class that dominated the economy, which switched from a trading to cash-based system.
Today, Hawaiian culture is thriving and many of its traditions are being rediscovered by locals and tourists. Hula is still performed in the form of a dance, but more and more Hawaiians are choosing to perform the art as a way to connect with their ancestors. Traditional Hawaiian games, like the sand pounding game ukulele, are also making a comeback.
On Maui, the Road to Hana is famous for its heavenly waterfalls and otherworldly black sand beaches. However, there is much more to do on the island if you are willing to travel a bit further. Visit Hana Bay, Hana town, and even the 7 Sacred Pools of Ohe’o on the eastern side of the island.
The largest and most populous of the Hawaiian Islands is home to a bustling city of Honolulu. While there are plenty of things to do in the capital, the most famous landmark is probably Diamond Head – the iconic volcano that stands sentry over the city of Honolulu. Hike to the summit on a paved path, then enjoy scenic views of the bright blue ocean and the city below.
Whether you want to go shopping in a luxury mall, take surfing lessons on the pristine beaches, or see a live show at the Aloha Theater, Oahu has it all. The best time to visit is between May and October, when the weather is warm but not too hot.
If you have more than a few days on the island, consider heading to Molokai for an adventure unlike any other. This remote island is the least populated in the entire state, and it feels almost like your own private island when you visit. Explore the lush green forests of Kamakou Preserve, where moss-covered trees line the trails. Be sure to stop at the quaint post office and try your hand at “posting” a coconut – you can send it anywhere in the world!
No matter which island you are on, be sure to respect the culture of Hawaii. Avoid touching coral (it kills it), and obey the speed limit (even when driving through Waikiki). Remember to be kind to other travelers, both locals and tourists. These simple acts of kindness will help keep Hawaii a wonderful place to visit for generations to come.