Hawaii: Jewel in the Pacific

Planning your next vacation? Think beautiful sandy beaches, clear blue waters, volcanic islands brimming with wildlife and a rich and welcoming culture with friendly people. Hawaii is a unique state within the United States in that it is the only state outside of the North American continent, the only state that is an archipelago, and the only state in the tropics. A popular tourist destination, it welcomes people from all over the world, and it being located at the equator means that it is summer all year round, making it a very comfortable place to visit at any time of the year.

Owing to the isolated nature of the islands of Hawaii, it has had a rich and tumultuous history and have consequently developed a very distinctive culture that is a mix of Asian, South American and Polynesian cultures. It has unique traditions and customs with an emphasis on ohana, which means family in the Hawaiian language, and ceremonies such as the lu’au and hula that are strong enough to affect and influence the wider United States.

Of beaches and wildlife

Hawaii is brimming with wildlife, full of islands that are home to a whole host of unique wildlife endemic to the archipelago. It is composed of 50 state parks encompassing approximately 30,000 acres across five major islands. All of these state parks offer all sorts of outdoor activities, from camping to trekking to various kinds of sightseeing, as well as a whole host of heritage opportunities where one can interact and explore the culture of Hawaii firsthand.

For the more adventurous, one can also go camping within Hawaii and certain lodges even offer cabins for tourists to stay and enjoy the natural side that Hawaii has to offer up close and personal. It is safe to say that the archipelago would be an outdoor person’s dream come true, offering them new sights, sounds and experiences.

For those who prefer to rest, relax and soak in the sea breeze instead can enjoy the many beaches of Hawaii. An exciting array of options await, for every island has their own beaches with each individual appeal. The main island of Hawaii is home to their world-renowned black-sand beaches, shaped by centuries of volcanic activity that is a trademark of Hawaii. Of course, one cannot miss their most famous Waikiki beach on Oahu island, as well as the winter waves of its North Shore beaches. If one prefers to stay away from the crowd and soak in a beautiful view, there is also the option of Kauai’s picturesque beaches.

Of traditions and culture

Hawaii is also home to a welcoming and warm culture that focuses on ohana and has vibrant ceremonies and delicious cuisine that is sure to impress and make any tourist feel right at home.

First there is the traditional dance of hula, the storytelling dance of the Hawaiian islands. It shares the stories and ancestral knowledge of the native Hawaiians through energetic and animated dances. Traditional chanting and percussion accompaniment adds life and excitement to these dances, and one can really immerse themselves in the culture of Hawaii. There are two forms of hula dancing, hula kahiko (ancient hula) and hula auana (modern hula). Hula kahiko is one performed with ceremony and more fnafare, and is the more serious counterpart. They usually tell ancestral stories that have been passed down through the generations. It also makes use of more traditional percussion instruments and oli chanting. Hula auana is the less formal style of hula dancing that emerged around the turn of the 20th century, accompanied by more modern instruments like the guitar, bass and ukelele.

Significant is also the culture of gifting Hawaiian leis to visiting or leaving tourists and guests. A lei is a garland or wreath, normally made up of flowers, leaves or fronds. However, what is interesting is that different materials have different connotations and meanings. For example, a lei made using a hala fruit is supposedly to be connected to love, desire, transition, and change. The culture of lei giving has also spread far and wide across the rest of the United States, and these days it is not uncommon to see leis being worn at wedding ceremonies, graduation parties and even hung in front of doorsteps or around the house.

Finally, there is the lu’au, a traditional Hawaiian party or feast that features a wide range of entertainment, from hula to traditional Hawaiian music, as well as having Hawaiian cuisine such as poke, salmon, poi, kalua pig and beer. Lu’aus are also frequently organised in order to allow tourists to enjoy the traditional way of partying on Hawaii, so be sure to be on the lookout for any that are happening to attend when one does drop by Hawaii for a vacation.

All in all, Hawaii remains a very enticing option for anyone looking for a getaway, with a wide range of activities and a vibrant and rich culture that is sure to please people from all walks of life. Be sure to visit Hawaii today!