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Short Stories

by DeAnne Trompeter Appleby

The Hawaiian Islands are isolated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, over 2,000 miles from the mainland United States. The chain of islands stretches from the big island of Hawaii to Kure Atoll 1,500 miles to the northwest. These volcanic islands were formed millions of years ago and are still growing.

Polynesians from the Marquesas Islands migrated to Hawaii more than 1,600 years ago. Navigating by the sun and stars, they sailed across thousands of miles of open ocean in double-hulled canoes. Eight hundred years later, these settlers were followed by Polynesians from the Society Islands. The first Westerner, James Cook, arrived at the end of the eighteenth century, to find the islands ruled by King Kamehameha. His royal family ruled until about the end of the nineteenth century. Shortly thereafter, the islands became a republic, and on August 21, 1959, President Eisenhower declared the Hawaiian Islands to be the 50th state.

Although the island chain comprising the Hawaiian Islands consists of at least 123 islands of various sizes, there are eight major islands. Nihau, Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe and the “Big Island” of Hawaii. 

The islands of Hawaii are wonderful places to visit. Each island offers a variety of things to do, from water sports to hiking and biking. The weather is superb, the scenery is breathtaking, and the people are friendly and welcoming.

The Island of Hawaii is the largest island at over 4,000 square miles, and the youngest island at 800,000 years. It is twice the size of all the other Hawaiian Islands combined.  On its eastern coast is the city of Hilo, the seat of government and the fourth largest city in the state. Hilo is the gateway to Volcanoes National Park. Within the park, a drive around “crater ring” leads to the top of Kilauea Volcano, the largest active volcano on the Hawaiian Islands. The scenery in the park is beautiful and lush, and the landscape formed by the flowing lava reminds visitors of images of the moon. On Hawaii’s western coast is the city of Kona. The people in Kona are friendly and the area is known for its supurb coffee. The coastline around Kona is filled with beautiful bays, coves, lagoons and beaches.

Maui is the second largest island and was formed by two massive volcanoes. A beautiful valley, where sugarcane and pineapple are grown, is nestled between the remnants of these volcanoes. The Maui coastline has over 80 beaches with sands colored white, gold, black, green and garnet. Lahaina is a popular resort city and offers snorkeling, surfing, fishing and other water sports. Inland, the lush Iao Valley has some spectacular waterfalls and a large expanse of tropical rain forest. Across the island and opposite the Iao Valley is the Haleakala National Park, containing the Hawaiian Islands’ largest inactive volcano. Haleakala Crater stands among the clouds and contains a variety of beautifully colored cinder cones, and the volcano floor is awash in incredibly rugged volcanic remnants.

The island of Oahu is home to the state capital of Honolulu, the Hawaiian Islands’ only major city. Nearby Waikiki Beach offers beautiful hotels, lots of shopping and white sand beaches. Overlooking Waikiki Beach is Diamond Head, an extinct volcano, which offers spectacular views of the beaches of Mamala Bay. This area is perfect for sunbathing and shopping. A few miles outside Honolulu is Pearl Harbor. This historic area was a naval base and home to the Pacific Fleet before it was attacked by the Japanese in 1941. The National Park Service offers excellent tours of the area, including indoor and outdoor museums. They also offer tours of the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial which straddles the hulk of that battleship, sunk during the attack with 1,100 men on board. The memorial is a wonderful experience and the tours are expertly done.

The Island of Kauai is the fourth largest Hawaiian island and is one of the most isolated; it can’t be seen from the other islands. Known as the “Garden Isle,” parts of Kauai receive 450 inches of rain per year. All of this rainfall helps keep the island incredibly green and lush. Inland, the Waimea Canyon offers breathtaking views in deep, rich colors. Dramatic red and brown volcanic slopes contrast with lush green vegetation, white waterfalls and dark-shaded valleys.

The islands of Hawaii are wonderful places to visit. Each island offers a variety of things to do, from water sports to hiking and biking. The weather is superb, the scenery is breathtaking, and the people are friendly and welcoming.

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