Description - The Hawaiian Islands contain some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. Examples of this can be seen within the state park system. Outdoor adventures can be as short as a few hours or last several days and nights if backpacking is a choice for you. Because the islands formed, and continue to grow, through volcanic activity they harbor many plant and animal species that don't exist anywhere else in the world. Each area supports many miles of beautiful public beaches. The island of Kauai is the farthest north in the chain, which makes it slightly cooler than the others. Much of Kauai's northwestern coast and interior is maintained as forest preserves and state parks.
Oahu lies south of Kauai moving eastward. This island is teeming with tourist attractions and is highly developed. Hotels and restaurants line the beaches and streets of Oahu, which embraces modern American society. Honolulu, the capital and largest city in Hawaii, lies on this island's southern shore. The eastern portion contains several natural areas such as Hawaii Volcanoes. As well as the western shore with such attractions as Kaloko-Honokohau, and Pu'uhonua o Honaunau.
The largest city on Maui is Kahului on the northern shore. Lahaina on the western shore is a historic whaling port and historic district. Between these two communities lies The West Maui Forest Reserve. The eastern side contains Koolau Forest Reserve, Haleakala and Kahikinui Forest Reserve.
Molokai is the least developed of the islands and lies in the middle of the chain. The dense wilderness area of Molokai Forest Reserve lies on the eastern portion as does Kalaupapa. The western half of the state is agricultural land surrounded by beaches and reefs.
Lanai is the smallest island that will be described here. This is the Pineapple Island that was once occupied by pineapple groves of the Dole Fruit Company. Dole sold its portion in 1995 and development has occurred since then. Today visitors come to the island and its resorts for water sports and humpback whale watching.
The Big Island is twice as large as the other islands combined. Hilo is the largest community and lies on its eastern shore. The southern area contains the natural areas of Hawaii Volcanoes, Kau Forest Reserve, Mauna Loa Forest Reserve, Hilo Forest Reserve and Upper Waiakea Forest Reserve. The western shore supports many small communities and three National Historic Sites.
Recreation opportunities abound throughout the Hawaiian Islands. Visitors and locals alike can enjoy a myriad of water-oriented sports. The National Parks and reserves on many islands support hiking, camping, mountain biking, and viewing archaeological sites. Don't forget that just offshore are the wonderful opportunities of some deep-sea fishing. Marlin, Tuna, and spearfish are just a few of the catches available here.
On Oah'u The USS Arizona Memorial marks the spot where the USS Arizona was sunk in Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941, during the Japanese attack. The USS Arizona Memorial grew out of wartime desire to establish some sort of memorial at Pearl Harbor to honor those who died in the attack. The vessel is the final resting place for many of the ship's 1,177 crewmen who lost their lives on December 7, 1941. The 184-foot-long Memorial structure spanning the mid-portion of the sunken battleship consists of three main sections: the entry and assembly rooms; a central area designed for ceremonies and general observation; and the shrine room, where the names of those killed on the Arizona are engraved on the marble wall.
Pala'au is the only state park on Molokai, but it is packed with interesting features. The park encompasses 233 acres of land on the northern central shore. The Kalaupapa overlook provides views of the northern Molokai pali and Kalaupapa peninsula. Interpretive panels at the overlook explain the sights below. Also within the park, and minutes away from the parking lot, is Kauleonanahoa, a phallic shaped rock, believed to enhance fertility in the traditional Hawaiian religion. The rock is surrounded by ironwood trees and a short, easy trail leads to it. The other attraction at this site is a hiking trail through ironwood and eucalyptus area that leads eastward from the overlook area. Facilities at this park include campsites, picnic tables and rest rooms. Drinking water is not available.
On Kaua'i at the Russian Fort Elizabeth Historical Park, The remains of a Russian-engineered, Hawaiian-built fort and the surrounding terrain comprise this park of 17 acres. The structure grew from a defense agreement between the ruling chief of Kaua'i and the Russian-American Company. By the time the fort was complete the islands had been united under Kamehamema and the Russians were expelled from Kaua'i.