The state of Hawaii is an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean about 2,600 km (1,625 miles) from the mainland of USA, it includes about 130 islands. Most of these Islands are very small and not inhabited. There are eight major islands, six of which are open to tourism: Oahu, Maui, the Big island of Hawaii, Kauai, Molokai and Lanai. Each island is unique and may feature live volcanoes, lava flows, tropical rain forest, beautiful beaches, sugar cane fields, pineapple plantations or historic sites.
Hawaii or the "Big Island" is the largest of the islands. It was created by five volcanoes, of which the highest is Mauna Kea that stands 4,205 meters (13,796 feet) high, but actually is taller than Mount Everest if measured from the undersea base of the mountain, from where it rises 10,200 meters (33,500 feet).
Oahu, nicknamed "the Gathering Place", is the most populous and developed island. Its southern shores are home to Honolulu, the capital, commercial center and largest city of the state. Here you find Waikiki Beach, probably the best known tourist destination in Hawaii. Rainforests and hiking trails are located just minutes from Waikiki Beach. Outside the city are pineapple fields, and the North Shore of Oahu, where each winter you will find some of the largest waves in the world, turning the normally sleepy area into the surfing capital of the world.
Maui is the second largest island in the chain and is home to 3,055 meter (10,023 feet) tall volcanic mountain crater of Haleakala. The island is nicknamed "the Valley Isle" for the narrow plain between Haleakala and the West Maui mountains. On the west side of the island are the resort areas of Lahaina, Kaanapali, Kihei and Wailea-Makena.
On the east side is the tiny village of Hana. The road to Hana is one of the most scenic on Maui, as you manipulate many turns overlooking the eastern coast of the Island. It leads you over bridges and past beautiful waterfalls.
Kauai, the "Garden Isle", is home to natural wonders such as Waimea Canyon, the Na Pali Coast and the Wailua River. Mont Waialeale is known as one of the rainiest spots in the world. Molokai, the "Friendly Isle", is one of the least developed islands in the chain. Lanai was at one time completely privately owned and was the largest pineapple plantation in the world. Today it is open to the public and is home to several exclusive resorts.
The main aviation gateway for the Hawaiian Islands is Honolulu International Airport (HNL), it connects to many destination in mainland U.S. and to other countries around the Pacific Rim. its Inter-Island Terminal is quite a walk away from the International Terminal, so be sure to take the Wikiwiki Shuttle that runs every five minutes. You can easily travel between the islands by using one of the two domestic airlines: Aloha and Hawaiian Airlines. Flights are frequent and inexpensive.