Think Hawaii and pictures of glistening beaches, swaying palms and luxurious resorts fronting onto pure blue waters automatically spring to mind. But there’s so much more to this sun-drenched island state than the obvious.
1. It grows bigger every year
The Big Island is already the biggest island in Hawaii. It is famous as the home of Kilauea Volcano – one of the most active volcanos in the world. Because of the continuous eruptions and the lava flow down below, The Big Island actually gets bigger by about 42 acres every year.
2. You can discover the world’s largest sea cliffs
On the north shore of Molokai Island, the soaring Kalaupapa Cliffs claim the world title at more than 3,000 feet high. It’s such a rugged coastline that it can’t be reached by car. Instead, you are taken along a trail that descends along the cliffs into Kalaupapa village – or else you can view the spectacular sight from the water by boat.
3. It’s the only US state with tropical rainforest
Love the green lush scenery of tropical rainforest? Hawaii is the only place in the USA where you can enjoy a tropical rainforest climate thanks to the wetter conditions and wind patterns. This means you can also find some dazzling walking trails, waterfalls and interesting flora and fauna to admire.
4. There are world-class hikes
Many travellers don’t realise it, but Hawaii is heaven for hikers. From trailing along fields of lava to coastal cliffs and lush green inland scenery, there’s a huge variety to be found including short walks and multi-day treks. The Haiku Stairs (Stairway to Heaven) and Kalalau Trail are two of the most popular trails.
5. You can visit the beach where Captain Cook was killed
On the Kona Coast of the Big Island, down an inconspicuous turnoff to Kealakekua Bay, you can see with your own eyes the site where Captain Cook was killed during a conflict between his crew and the locals in 1779. There’s no real memorial, but there is a simple white obelisk to mark the spot.
6. Hawaii once had a royal family
Royalty and revolutions, rogues and sugar barons make up the story of the rise and fall of the Hawaiian Kingdom. It’s a fascinating tale and you can get a glimpse of part of the history at Iolani Palace in Downtown Honolulu, which delves into the lives of the last two monarchs – King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani.
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7. It snows!
Hawaii is famous for its beaches but it also gets some snowfall during the winter – on the summits of the three tallest volcanoes: Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea and Haleakala. The locals even ski down Mauna Kea volcano but there is a catch – there are no lifts.
8. There’s delicious coffee to be found
It’s easy to find a great brew in Hawaii – it’s grown locally in the Kona district of the Big Island. The fertile soil of the area is ideal for coffee bean growing thanks to being home to two of the world’s most active volcanoes.
9. The beaches are more than golden
The sands aren’t just golden in Hawaii. Black sand beaches are common because of the volcanic geology, but you can also find red and green beaches, more phenomena caused by Hawaii's volcanic makeup.
10. It’s a playground for whales
About two thirds of the 10,000 humpback whales that migrate to north Pacific waters every year can be found in the waters of Hawaii. Maui is a hotspot for whales, as well as Kona on the Big Island from January to April each year.