Blessed with breathtaking beaches, dramatic mountains, pristine rainforests and rich Polynesian heritage, Hawaii not only meets all expectations one could have of a tropical paradise, it exceeds them. Located 3,860 km off the United States coast in the Pacific Ocean, the Hawaiian archipelago consists of 132 islands and atolls. The state of Hawaii consists of eight islands, seven of which are inhabited. Six islands admit visitors. The capital, Honolulu, is on the south shore of Oahu, the most commercially important island, but Hawaii is the largest island by area. Two diagonal mountain ranges run through Oahu, with numerous beautiful waterfalls. In addition to rainforests, the islands also have green lowland areas and 13 climate zones. The population of Hawaii consists of many ethnic groups. Captain James Cook was the first westerner to set foot on land here in the 18th century. Oahu rose to prominence when Honolulu’s commercial trade prospered and the US Navy gained rights to Pearl Harbor. December 7, 1941 was the day the United States first intervened in World War II after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
- Travelationary: Covers basic information about Hawaii geography and economy.
Arriving by plane
Hawaiian Airlines (HA) (website: www.hawaiianair.com) operates air services within the archipelago. Air China (CA) flies from Germany via Beijing to Honolulu.
Honolulu – Frankfurt: 17-22 hrs (including stopover, depending on route); Honolulu – Vienna: 21-23 hrs (depending on flight route); Honolulu – Zurich: 18-20 hrs (depending on flight route). Honolulu – Chicago: 8 hrs; Honolulu – Los Angeles: 5 hrs 20; Honolulu-Miami: 10 hrs 35; Honolulu – New York: 9 hrs 20; Honolulu – San Francisco: 5 hrs 05; Honolulu – Singapore: 17 hrs 30; Honolulu – Sydney: 10 hrs 35; Honolulu – Washington DC: 10 hr 30. Internal flight times: Honolulu – Kavai Island: 30 min; Honolulu – Maui Island: 30 min; Honolulu – Hawaii Island: 35 min.
Arrival by car
Bus: There is a good bus network on Oahu (website: www.thebus.org). Standard fares apply, you need the right fare. A limited bus service (website: www.kauai.gov) operates on Kauai and Hawaii (main route between Hanalei and Kekaha). Metered taxis are available on all major islands. Rental cars are available from the usual car rental companies (minimum age 21 years). Documents: national driver’s license.
Arrival by train
The Hawaiian Railway Society (website: http://hawaiianrailway.com) on Oahu offers hour-long rides on a historic diesel locomotive that was formerly used to haul sugar cane.
Arrival by ship
Hawaii’s main ports are Honolulu, Hilo, Kawaihae and Lahaina. The following cruise lines call at Hawaii: P&O (Honolulu), Royal Caribbean and Princess. Ferry services operate between Maui and the small neighboring islands of Lana’i and Moloka’i. Note: The Hawaii Superferry has been stripped of its operating license for violating environmental regulations. Operations between Oahu and Maui ceased in 2009.
Passport and visa regulations
Entry with children
Since June 27, 2012, children need their own travel document (passport / children’s passport) for trips abroad (also within the EU). Entries of children in the parental passport are no longer possible.
official language is English; Little Hawaiian is spoken.
Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau
Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau 2270 Kalakaua Avenue, Suite 801
US-Honolulu, HI 96815
(808) 923 18 11, (800) 464 29 24 (toll free in Canada and USA).
http://www.gohawaii.com Hawaii Tourism Authority
Hawaii Convention Center, 1801 Kalakaua Ave
US-Honolulu, HI 96815
(808) 973 22 55.
http://www.hawaiitourismauthority.org Hawaii TourismEurope
c/o Lieb Management
(089) 68 90 63 80.
Honolulu is a modern business city, same commercial life as on mainland USA. Business hours: Mon-Fri 07.45-17.00.
Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii Suite 402, 1132 Bishop Street, Honolulu, HI 96813 Tel: (808) 545 43 00. Fax: (808) 545 43 69. Email: [email protected] Web: www.cochawaii.com
Kauai: Mount Waialeale
Mount Waialeale rises 1569 m above sea level in central Kauai, making it the highest mountain on the island. You have to be very lucky to get a picture of Mount Waialeale when the sun is shining because it is located in one of the rainiest areas on earth. Waialeale means ῾rippling water᾿ in Hawaiian. Mount Waialeale is located in the Alakaʻi Wilderness Preserve. A hike on the Alakaʻi Swamp Trail takes you through clouds and through a lush humid montane forest. However, Mount Waialeale’s nearly barren peak is inaccessible to hikers.
The port city of Kaunakakai, Mount Kamakou, Hipuapu Falls and the beautiful Halawa Valley are some of the most famous attractions here.
Lanai was once known as “Pineapple Island.” Must-sees include the village of Kaunolo, the Munro Trail leading to the spectacular Hauola Gulch, the petroglyph (rock painting) at Shipwreck Beach and the tropical rainforest in the center of the island.
The city of Hilo on the Big Island overlooks Hilo Bay and, on a clear day, can see the often snow-capped peak of Mauna Kea. Hilo attractions include the Pacific Tsunami Museum, the Hilo Farmers Market, the Panaʻewa Rainforest Zoo which, as its name suggests, is located in a rainforest, and the astronomical and cultural center Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai, which offers its visitors astronomy and Hawaiian culture and history. In the Hilo area, the Akaka Falls, the Nani Mau Gardens and the Macadamia Nut Factory are worth seeing. A crowd puller is the week-long Merrie Monarch Festival honoring King David Kalākaua. The festival celebrates the hula and other Hawaiian traditions every Easter.
Those who visit Hawaii usually arrive in the capital, Honolulu. The city’s most popular vacation spot is Waikiki Beach. In the center of Honolulu, which consists of the Capitol District, the central business district, Chinatown and the waterfront, there are numerous National Historic Landmarks, including the only royal palace in the USA – the Iolani Palace, as well as the Aloha Tower and the Chinatown Historic District. At the O’ahu Market in Chinatown you can find all kinds of meat that are commonly eaten in Hawaii. For extensive shopping sprees include Kalakaua Avenue, the huge open-air shopping center Ala Moana Center and the Kahala Mall. A must-see for any Honolulu visitor is the Bishop Museum, with the largest collection of Polynesian artefacts in the world and regular extremely interesting tours and demonstrations, including the formation of the Hawaiian Islands. Asian art can be seen at the Honolulu Museum of Arts.
Cities and landscapes of particular interest on this island include: Wailuku, bustling Kahului, the Iao Valley, the historic plantation town of Lahaina, the huge volcanic crater Mount Haleakala (“House of the Sun”), the beautiful tranquil East Coast, the scenic Hana Valley and the Wailua Cove waterfalls.
Kauai: Fern Grotto and the Wailua River
The popular tourist attraction Fern Grotto is a lava rock cave covered with ferns and tropical plants, but has been closed for many years and can only be viewed from the outside. Therefore, the following applies: the path is the goal. Set in a beautiful setting, the grotto is only accessible via the Wailua River, which is the only navigable river in the entire state of Hawaii. You can make the approximately 40-minute and beautiful boat trip to the grotto yourself in a kayak or canoe, but you need a mooring permit from the Smith family, who own the land surrounding the jetty. The jetty itself is only accessible by the commercial tourist ferries that run to the grotto from Wailua Marina every 30 minutes.
Kauai: Beaches and Water Sports
Dozens of beautiful beaches line the Kauai coast. From Salt Pond Beach with white sand to the Royal Coconut Coast with golden-brown sand, there is a beach for every taste. Many water sports such as snorkeling, surfing, diving and body boarding are available almost everywhere for sun lovers. Or just take a walk on the beach or swim in the crystal clear waters that lap the tropical island. Beautiful Hanakapiai Beach is a photo-only spot and no swimming due to the local currents. Numerous beaches are featured at www.to-hawaii.com/kauai/beaches.
Several former plantations can be visited on Kauai. Sugar cane was cultivated until 1965 and pineapple plantations continued until the 1960s. Hawaii is the only state in the USA that has coffee plantations, which is reflected in the Kauai Coffee Company, among other things. A restored train trundles regularly over the historic Kilohana Plantation near Lihue, which chronicles Hawaiian agriculture from its beginnings to the present day at the Kauai Museum. On the former Lihue plantation, tubing is a lot of fun: you can float down the old irrigation canals and through several tunnels in rubber tires.
Kauai: Botanical Gardens
Strolling through Kauai’s botanical gardens makes visitors feel like they’re in Alice in Wonderland because they can’t help but be amazed. Allerton Garden is a must-see, the location of several films and whose beauty fascinated Jackie Kennedy. Limahuli Garden, made up of lava rock terraced steps covered with taro, is also a magical place. The garden is framed by Makana Mountain and other high rocks with lush native and Polynesian vegetation. On the guided tours, visitors also hear legends about the petrified Menehune sitting atop the rocks and watching over the garden.
Kauai: Hiking in Waimea Canyon
A myriad of rainbows magically span Waimea Canyon, also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. However, the many rainbows are neither a coincidence nor the result of magic, because Waimea Canyon is located in one of the rainiest areas on earth. Despite the heavy rain, the sun often shines here, making the water droplets sparkle in all the colors of the rainbow. Here and there a waterfall falls into the depths. The red of the rocks and the green of the vegetation are the dominant colors in Waimea Canyon in all their shades. Waimea Canyon is part of Waimea Canyon State Park. A hike is the most direct way to experience this unique landscape. The Kukui Trail is a hiking trail rated as difficult. The Grand Canyon Trail is only four kilometers long and also not very easy, but it offers breathtaking views of Waimea Canyon. Short and easy are the Cliff Trail and the Po’omau Canyon Lookout Trail. A parking lot at Pu’u Hinahina, located on Waimea Canyon Drive, provides access to the Ni’ihau Lookout, which offers a view of the Forbidden Island of Ni’ihau on a clear day, and the Pu’u Hinahina Lookout, which a panoramic view of Waimea Canyon.
Kauai: Na Pali Coast State Park
The wild, rugged and verdant Na Pali Coast can only be explored on land on foot along the Kalalau Trail. Hikers who are experienced and physically fit for this strenuous and challenging trail should plan a day or two for the Kalalau Trail. The effort is rewarded with some of the most beautiful scenery Hawaii has to offer, secluded coves and idyllic sandy beaches along the way. Side trails lead to waterfalls and offer spectacular views of Kauai’s natural beauty.
Kauai: Helicopter Sightseeing
A helicopter flight over the dramatic and impossibly beautiful island of Kauai should be on everyone’s life time dream list. The flight takes in the otherwise inaccessible areas and the numerous natural wonders of the Garden Isle such as pristine forests, plunging waterfalls, verdant valleys, the Na Pali Coast and Waimea Canyon, as well as the interior of the island with its lush tropical vegetation.
Oahu: Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC)
The Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) provides information on the customs and lifestyle of the South Seas people from Tonga, Tahiti, Hawaii, Fiji, Samoa, the Marquesas Islands and New Zealand in six replica villages. In the villages, around 1300 locals talk about life in their respective home countries. This cultural attraction for the whole family is located in the small town of Laie on the northeast end of Oahu. Those who are not afraid of the high admission prices and the journey can stroll through the South Seas, be entertained by great shows and enjoy delicacies from the South Seas.
Oahu: Nuuanu Pali Lookout
Not far from Honolulu’s skyscrapers, the Nuuanu Pali Lookout offers panoramic views of the Koolau bluffs and the Windward Coast. From downtown Honolulu, travel northeast on the Pali Highway for approximately 5 miles to reach your destination. The Nuuanu Pali Lookout gives you a first glimpse of the natural beauty of the Hawaiian Islands.
Oahu: Honolulu Zoo
The Honolulu Zoo is home to more than 1230 mammals, birds and reptiles. The zoo is located in the northern part of Kapiolani Public Park, which is named after Queen Kapi’olani and where the annual Honolulu Marathon finishes.
Oahu: Big Island Tour
Countless excursion programs are available to tourists on Oahu to choose from. But you should definitely plan at least one day for the big island tour over the whole of Oahu. The mostly local bus drivers, who are also tour guides, tell their guests many interesting and funny stories about their homeland during the journey that you would not find out anywhere else. Sights on this route include Diamond Head, the affluent neighborhood of Kahala, home to the beautiful and famous, Hanauma Bay, Halona “Blow Hole” Lookout, Nuuanu Pali Lookout, Byodo-In Temple, the uninhabited island of Mokoliʻi, also known as Chinaman’s Hat, the Laie Hawaii Temple, Kualoa Ranch, the North Shore, famous for surfers’ paradise and for its beautiful beaches like Waimea Bay,
Oahu: Waikiki Beach
On what is perhaps the most famous beach in the world, Waikiki Beach, you can relax under the palm trees in the sun, people watch, stop off at one of the many beach bars, learn to surf, glide across the water on a catamaran or in a canoe or just the tropical enjoy paradise. From Waikiki Beach you can see a famous national monument that is also Honolulu’s landmark: the volcanic crater Diamond Head. The upper edge of the crater is a popular destination, which can be reached after a two-hour hike, including steep stairs. In the south of Waikiki Bay is the Waikiki Aquarium, where visitors can dive into the sea world without getting wet. A special spectacle should not be missed during the Advent season: Santa Claus arrives in his canoe on the beach in front of the Outrigger Waikiki Hotel every year in December, where he is greeted by hula dancers and a large audience. The International Market Place with 75 shops and numerous restaurants is located on the shopping street parallel to Waikiki Beach.
Oahu: War Memorials
There are several war memorials on Oahu. Most famous is Pearl Harbor with the USS Arizona Memorial erected on the site where the Japanese launched their surprise attack on the warship USS Arizona, drawing the United States into World War II. To this day, oil from the sunken warship is rising to the surface of the water. According to legend, the oil only runs dry when the last survivor of the attack dies. Another of Hawaii’s most popular tourist attractions is Punchbowl Crater – a grassy crater above Honolulu containing the graves of American soldiers who died in the war.
Oahu: Wet ‘n’ Wild Hawaii
On the southwest coast of Oahu, in Kapolei, is the massive Wet ‘n’ Wild Hawaii water park. The 25 water slides and attractions are divided into the categories ῾calm᾿, ῾moderate᾿ and ῾extreme᾿. There is also a surf shop, bar, cafe and several food trucks. If you want to make your visit to the water park a little more private, book a cabana at least a week in advance, where you can relax on loungers and with cool drinks from the hustle and bustle of the water park.
Oahu: Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay
Six miles east of Waikiki is beautiful, circular Hanauma Bay, which is the perfect snorkeling spot for all ages. The bay is protected from strong seas by natural features, is home to a reef and has an opening to the sea that allows tropical fish and turtles to swim into the bay. In addition to guided dive tours, there are also a few important rules of conduct to protect the sea creatures and the reef.
Hawaii: Mauna Kea
An unforgettable experience is a visit to the top of Mauna Kea, where the Mauna Kea Observatory is located. Because of the enormous height (4300m above sea level) of the inactive volcano Mauna Kea, the summit is often snow-capped. There is a lack of oxygen at the top, which can affect pregnant women, children and the elderly in particular. Below the mountaintop is the Maunakea Visitor Information Station, which is oxygenated enough for sensitive visitors and a stargazer attraction. A short hiking trail leads from the visitor station to Pu’u Kalepeamoa, also known as Sunset Hill. Many visitors flock there for the views of incredibly beautiful sunsets. Because from here you can watch the sun set in the west over the Kona coast.
Hawaii: Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
The elements of fire, water, air and earth unite on the island of Hawaii. Nowhere is this more evident than in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park (Internet: www.nps.gov/havo), which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rangers, some of whom also speak German, guide visitors through this natural wonder, for example from the Kilauea Visitor Center to the bottom of the caldera. Still active today, Kilauea’s frequent eruptions make for a spectacular spectacle, especially at night when the glowing lava hisses into the ocean. The inexorable lava flows of Kilauea occasionally destroy roads and houses.
The International Marketplace and the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center at Waikiki Beach, Honolulu are very popular shopping centers. Shop opening hours: Mon-Sat 09.00-22.00. Some shops are open on Sundays from 08:30 to 18:00.
There are many bars and nightclubs. Well-known international top stars perform here, but the local shows are also worth seeing. There is jazz, big bands, afternoon dances, discotheques and many other entertainment options.
The dishes offered are basically American with oriental influences from the many ethnic groups of the island population. The quintessential Hawaiian feast is the luau, which is based on puaa kalua (a whole pig). The pig is skinned and rubbed with salt and soy sauce, placed on a wire mesh and filled with hot stones from the Imu fire. It is cooked over the imu along with sweet potatoes, plantains, and sometimes laulaus (steamed pork, fish, spinach-like taro and other leaves). It is wrapped in banana and corn leaves so that it simmers in its own juice. This dish is eaten with your fingers along with poi (a thick paste made from ground taro), opihi (black, salty seafood soup) and Lomi Lomi salmon (in onion and tomato marinade). Chicken Luau consists of tender chicken pieces simmered in coconut cream with taro tops. Garnish with limu (dried seaweed), paakai salt and chopped and roasted kukui nuts. Local seafood such as moi mullet, ulua, opakapaka, lobster and tuna are also popular. Breakfast specialties include macadamia nuts, and banana and coconut pancakes with coconut syrup. Fresh fruit and nut ice cream specialties are delicious desserts. Beverages: Alcohol sale only to persons over 21 years of age. It is forbidden to drink alcohol in parks or on the beach.
There are hotels in all price ranges on the six largest islands. Many well-known hotel chains have branches here. For more information, contact the American Hotel & Lodging Association, 1201 New York Avenue, NW, 600 Washington, DC 20005-3931. (Tel: (202) 289 31 00. Web: www.ahla.com).
Information is available from the Division of State Parks, 1151 Punchbowl Street, Room 110, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813. (Tel: (808) 587.03.44).
Social Rules of Conduct
The native Hawaiians have been described as hospitable and warm-hearted people. This tradition is kept alive through the Aloha culture. A garland of flowers or shells (lei) symbolizes this spirit and is often presented to the visitor at the luau (feast). Several dishes have symbolic meaning. The old Aloha customs and the ultra-modern Hawaii coexist, but the commercialization of the traditional customs has unfortunately already begun.
Best travel time
Warm all year round, heavy rains in some regions from December to March.
Area (sq km)
Population density (per square km)
82.6 sq km
Population statistics year