It can be difficult to explain or describe a place as ecologically diverse, visually stunning, and culturally rich as the 50th state admitted into the Union, Hawaii. Even still, one might find themselves describing a location and that doesn’t necessarily do the Aloha State justice, because this tropical wonderland birthed in volcanic fire millions of years ago is more than just scenery and a temperate climate with a complex diversity of ecosystems.
That sums up the “land of rainbows.” There is a generosity and kindness of spirit from both the native people and the locals who make Hawaii their home. There are also the gifts Hawaii offers of visual, historical, and educational bouquets as well. From the pristine beaches to the sky-high cliffs and volcanoes, the calm lagoons to the raging waves of the North Shore, the state as a whole feels like a continuous Christmas morning, especially for the adventurous at heart.
Below are some can’t miss spots when visiting the five islands that make up the “Paradise of the Pacific”:
Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site: Hawaii is unique in many ways but none more so than it offers a real-time glimpse into life under the previous monarchical rule in the United States. Long a territory ruled by the native Polynesian people, this history is preserved at this national historic site. Visitors can literally walk in the steps of the Hawaiian King, Kamehameha I. In the 1700s, Hawaii was in the midst of a bloody civil war and this historic site is the spiritual home of the unification of the Hawaiian islands and people. Learn more about this history when planning your next trip to the islands. One can even watch sharks from the safety of its pristine beaches and see the remains of a long-submerged ancient temple!
Visitors can see these fearsome, beautiful natural wonders of the planet up close and personal, and learn a little more about how these volcanoes formed the island chain and how it still affects and influences life there to this day.
Pearl Harbor National Memorial: Few places elicit such an immediate and solemn reaction in Americans as “Pearl Harbor” located at this national memorial in Aiea, Hawaii: Memorializing December 7, 1941, “a day that will live in infamy” as then-president Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said. This national memorial site protects the legacy of the day that drew the United States into World War II and frames the historical attack by the Japanese air forces on U.S. soil. Even more importantly, this park preserves the memories of the lives of the soldiers, sailors, and civilians who lost their lives in the first moments of the American military involvement of the Second World War. This is a true bucket-list destination for those interested in American, world, and military history – and also for anyone interested in one of the most seismic events in the 20th century, an event that literally reshaped the world in real-time.