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Hawaii is one of my favorite travel destinations. There are vistas around every bend and possibly even under every rock. It’s a land of bold colors and brash contrast. Lush greenery and vivid flowers from every corner of the globe sprout from black lava and red dirt. And between the brilliant sky and the myriad turquoise and aquamarine shades of the ocean, Hawaii has more blues than a hundred New Orleans jazz clubs.

A tropical paradise? I’m afraid there’s no such thing. Hawaii has its share of traffic (during rush hour, Honolulu might as well be Los Angeles), economic inequity, mosquitoes, and even smog (volcanic ash and gases give the Kona coast of the Big Island unhealthful air quality). But that doesn’t make the islands any less of a wonderful place to visit.

There are eight Hawaiian islands, each of which has its unique “personality.” Click on the pictures or text below to see my images and impressions of five of them.

Oahu, “the Gathering Place”: Waikiki, Honolulu, and more

          Oahu Beyond Waikiki

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Maui, “the Magic Isle”: Something for Everyone

          Maui’s Scenic Coastal Highways

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Kauai, “the Garden Island”: Jungles, Cliffs, and the Grand Canyon of the Pacific

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Molokai, “the Most Hawaiian Island”: Rustic Seclusion and History

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Hawaii, “the Big Island”: Flowers and Volcanoes

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In case you were wondering, the other three Hawaiian islands are Lanai, Niihau, and Kahoolawe. Lanai (“La-na-ee”) was formerly a pineapple-growing island without facilities for visitors. It has recently been developed as “the Private Island” with luxury resorts that are far beyond my price range, so I haven’t been there. Niihau (“Knee-ee-how”) is a privately-owned refuge for about 160 native Hawaiians, who live a primitive life and speak Hawaiian. It is fleetingly accessible only on expensive helicopter tours. The United States Navy used Kahoolawe (“Ka-ho-oh-lah-vay”) as a bombing range between 1941 and 1990. After years of legal wrangling, it is now a reserve for native Hawaiian culture and religious ceremonies, and kapu (forbidden) to visitors.

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