Of the thousands of islands in the world’s oceans, none has captured the fancy and dreams of adventure more than those in the central and south Pacific. Even among those magical islands, however, the Hawaiian Archipelago stands out. Hawaii is the most remote island chain in the world, over 2,000 miles from the nearest landfall. Distance makes for splendid isolation¬† these Polynesian islands are removed from all else but one another. Hawaii consists of eight major islands plus 124 minor islands, reefs and shoals, strung like a necklace across the Pacific for over 1,500 miles. The Hawaiian Islands vary in size from hectares to thousands of square miles and in elevation from sun-drenched atolls less than 20 feet above sea level up to snow-capped peaks nearing 14,000 feet.

A Map of Hawaii

With volcanoes like Mount Kilauea squirting out new land like toothpaste out of the tube, Hawaii, quite literally, is growing. In fact, there’s an expanding volcano near the Big Island that’s still a few thousand feet below the surface of the ocean. One day, thousands of years from now, it will become the newest Hawaiian island. In fact, it already has a name: Loihi.

But for today, there’s already enough beauty and activity in Hawaii to fill more vacations than anyone could ever take. With so much to choose from, first-time visitors need to be selective. Our recommendation is to settle first on the Hawaii you want to see. It might be beaches, luaus and nightlife; it might be rare orchids and hikes in the rain forest; it might be quiet countryside, small towns and scenic drives. Whatever the combination, there will likely be an island or islands best suited to your desires.

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