The Hawaiian Islands are a place of superlatives. Of sights and sounds, and scents and things to taste and touch that awaken passions. Beaches. Waterfalls. Volcanoes, Valleys. Mountains. Rainforests. Posh resorts. Fine restaurants. Golf. World-class shopping. Hula. Ballet, Theater. Rock concerts. Opera. Art galleries. Museums. Deep-sea fishing. Swimming. Sailing. Scuba. And, of course, the home of surfing.
Proud Hawaiians. People who came here from Polynesia, Micronesia, Japan, the Philippines, China, Korea, Portugal and 49 other U.S. states and Europe. And with the people came a potpourri of cultures, lifestyles and historical manifestations. It’s also a place of science, of learning, talented people, and cutting edge industries from high-tech telescopes to renewable energy. Enjoy. It’s all here, on six major islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
- Kauai is the oldest and northernmost of the major Hawaiian Islands.
- The population of around 58,000 is mostly centered in the town of Lihue. Kauai is known as the “Garden Isle” due to the lushness of its scenery. It is home to the majestic Napali Coast, and Waimea Canyon, nicknamed “the Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” and the beautiful bay of Hanalei, site of the movie “South Pacific.”
- Kauai is also site of the Pacific Missile Range facility, the world’s largest multi-dimensional testing and training missile range. US Military and subcontractors favor its relative isolation, ideal year-round tropical climate and encroachment-free environment. It is the only range in the world where submarines, surface ships, aircraft and space vehicles can operate and be tracked simultaneously.
- The capital city of Honolulu is a thriving community made up of modern metropolitan areas, residential neighborhoods, wide-open rural spaces, lush mountains and palm-fringed beaches. It is home to famous Hawaii icons such as Iolani Palace, Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head, Pearl Harbor, Bishop Museum and Aloha Tower.
- Nicknamed “The Gathering Place,” Oahu attracts about two-thirds of the state’s seven million annual visitors from around the world to enjoy its cosmopolitan culture, natural beauty, and friendly Aloha Spirit.
- With a population of about 900,000, it is the center of the state’s business community which is nestled in an elegant downtown located between the mountains and the sea. In addition to tourism and military spending, leading industries on Oahu are science and technology, health, agriculture, education, ocean research and development, and film and television production.
- It is proud to be President Obama’s birthplace, where he grew up and attended Punahou School.
- The Island clings to tradition. Its small population of just under 7,000 prefers to live by raising crops, catching fish and adhering to the old ways. Molokai is an island of serenity and a strong Hawaiian culture that is woven into the fabric of everyday life.
- Lanai is the sixth-largest of the Hawaiian Islands. Also known as the Pineapple Island because of its past as an island-wide pineapple plantation, it is home to Hulopoe Bay, regarded in 1997 as one of America’s Best Beach. Lanai is separated from the island of Molokaʻi by the Kalohi Channel to the north, and from Maui by the ʻAuʻau Channel to the east.
- Maui is known as the “Magic Isle” and continually ranks in travel polls as one of the world’s favorite islands.
- It is home to the old whaling port of Lahaina and is the leading whale-watching center in the Hawaiian Islands due to Humpback whales wintering in the sheltered Auau Channel.
- The Maui High Performance Computing Center, established in 1993, is a research and development facility that provides a state-of-the-art computational capability. It is managed by the University of Hawaii under contract to the U. S. Air Force.
- Another high tech facility is the Maui Research and Technology Center, a business incubator managed by the State of Hawaii as part of the state’s efforts to facilitate the growth of Hawaii’s commercial high technology sector.
- Maui is also an important center for advanced astronomy. Haleakala Observatory was Hawaii’s first astronomical research and development facility. At the 10,023 feet summit of the long dormant volcano, operational satellite tracking facilities are co-located with research and development providing superb data acquisition and communication support.
The Big Island of Hawaii
- Almost seven times the land area of Oahu, the Island named after the state deserves to be called “big”. The population of around 150,000 is centered in two major towns, Kona on the west side and Hilo, the seat of the county government, on the east side of the island.
- The economy on Hawaii Island is driven by a mix of industries led by diversified agriculture, ranching, science and technology, and of course, tourism.
- The Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii at Keahole Point has evolved into the premiere site for Hawaii aquaculture, where marine life is raised in controlled conditions before ending up on dinner plates around the world.
- The Big Island is perhaps best known for its active volcano Kilauea, and for the dormant Mauna Kea, the highest peak in Hawaii at almost 14,000 feet and home to several leading international observatories, including the famed Keck telescope.
- It is the southernmost Island in the Hawaiian chain, the place where on the 10th of January 1778 at Kealakekua Bay, Captain James Cook became the first Westerner to set foot in the Hawaiian Islands.