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Ooaj Travel Guide, tourism, hotel reservation, residence, plane, cheap pension for you holidays in hawaii
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Hawaii is the 50th state of the United States of America.
Situated nearly at the center of the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii marks the northeast corner of Polynesia. While it was once a major hub for the whaling, sugar and pineapple industries, it is now economically dependent on tourism and the U.S. military. The natural beauty of the islands continues to be one of Hawaii's greatest assets.
Hawaii is an archipelago of islands. There are eight major islands, six of which are open to tourism.
These are some of the bigger cities in Hawaii.
Where tourism is concerned, Hawaii has something for everyone. The island of Oahu, the most populous and home to the state capital and largest city of Honolulu, is great for people who wish to experience the islands and still keep the conveniences of a large city. Rainforests and hiking trails are located just minutes from Waikiki Beach, one of the world's best tourist destinations. In the winter, large waves on Oahu's north shore turn the normally sleepy area into the surfing capital of the world.
On the other hand, those who wish to experience Hawaii at a slower pace would do well to visit one of the Neighbor Islands (the other, less populated islands around Oahu). All the neighbor islands offer opportunities to relax and enjoy the sun and scenery. Many of the natural wonders of the Islands are located on the Neighbor Islands, from Waimea Canyon on Kauai, to Haleakala on Maui, to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii. Numerous waterfalls and rainforests evoke memories of what the islands might have looked like before major corporations set their sights on Hawaii.
Polynesians migrated to, and established communities on, the islands of Hawaii before the arrival of Captain James Cook in 1778, who is widely cred as the first European visitor to the islands. At that time, each island was a separate kingdom. Kamehameha I of the island of Hawaii eventually conquered all the islands except Kauai, which acquiesced to his rule in 1810.
After Kamehameha II abolished the kapu (taboo) system, American missionaries came to the islands to spread Christianity. Their children would later become successful businessmen in the Islands. Pineapple and sugar cane plantations were established, and workers from other countries were imported as contract laborers. Later, their descendants would also become established as successful professionals.
The Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown in 1893 by a group of American businessmen, who established a provisional government that sought annexation by the United States. In 1898, the United States annexed Hawaii, which became a territory in 1900, and a state of the United States in 1959.
Over the years, many major retail chains have expanded their presence in Hawaii, making the Islands look more and more like the Mainland U.S. -- often at the expense of local businesses. Nevertheless, Hawaii remains culturally vibrant. Its population, descended both from the original plantation workers and from more recent arrivals, and in which no one group has a majority, is often cited as an example of multiculturalism at its best. There is a strong commitment to perpetuating native Hawaiian cultural traditions, as well as the cultural heritage of Hawaii's many immigrant communities from the Pacific, Asia and Europe. And certainly the environment is conducive to longevity...Hawaii has the longest predicted life expectancies of any U.S. state. 1 (http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2005/Jan/26/ln/ln05p.html)
Depending on where you're located in Hawaii, the weather can be very different over even short distances. On the same day, on Oahu you might find sun over the beaches in Waikiki and rain only miles away in Manoa Valley.
Although the islands receive abundant amounts of both sunshine and rain, rain is more likely on the north and east sides of the islands, which face the prevailing northeasterly tradewinds (the "windward" side of the island), as well as the mountain peaks and valleys. The moist tropical air carried by the tradewinds is forced upward by the mountains, resulting in clouds and rain. Rain is less likely on the coastal areas of the "leeward" sides (the south and west sides) of the islands.
Although there are no "seasons" in the islands in the same sense as the rest of the U.S., the climate does go through annual cycles based on rainfall. The "wet" season in Hawaii (cooler temperatures and more rainfall) runs roughly from October to March, and the "dry" season (warmer temperatures and less rainfall) from April to September. There is therefore a higher probability of rain if you visit during the peak of tourist season in late December or January.
Hurricane season in the islands runs from June to November. Although Hawaii's relative isolation means that it is affected only rarely by tropical cyclones, a destructive storm will occasionally hit the Islands, as Hurricane Iniki hit Kauai in 1992.
Overall, Hawaii is warm and temperate -- when you step out of the plane you'll immediately notice that the air is soft and humid -- and during the summer months the tradewinds provide a pleasant breeze. Daytime temperatures generally range from the mid-70s in "winter' to lower 90s in "summer". There is usually no more than a 20-degree difference between daytime high and nighttime low temperatures.
Consequently, besides your driver's license, cr card, camera, binoculars, and other essentials, it's best to keep your clothes to a minimum... a jacket, sweater/shawl, one or two pair of washable slacks/shorts, walking shoes, sandals and swim gear. Sunscreen is also essential. The suitcase space you save can be used to fill up on island purchases.
Most flights from the mainland US and almost all international flights land in Honolulu on the island of Oahu. Direct service from the mainland is also available to Kahului on Maui and Kona on the Big Island as well. The flight from Los Angeles or San Francisco takes about 5 hours, comparable to a flight between the West and East Coasts.
As Hawaii is one of the United States, travel to Hawaii from the U.S. Mainland is not much different from traveling between two states on the Mainland. It is not necessary to bring a passport (or any documentation of U.S. citizenship) when traveling to Hawaii from the U.S. Mainland. The only paperwork that you'll be asked to fill out is required by the U.S. and Hawaii State Departments of Agriculture to prevent harmful plant pests and diseases from coming into Hawaii. Any fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, and the like need to inspected by Department of Agriculture personnel at your point of arrival. To avoid problems, avoid bringing such items with you if at all possible.
Hawaii is the only state in the U.S. whose Interstate Highways don't connect to any other state. This is due to the state being a series of islands in the Pacific Ocean. If you want to take your car to Hawaii it will either need to be amphibious or freighted by ship. For car rental information see "Get around" heading further down.
While the days where everyone arrived in Hawaii by boat are long gone, there are limited numbers of trans-Pacific cruises to Hawaii that leave from ports on the West Coast.
On Oahu there is an excellent public transportation system ("TheBus"). You can buy a booklet called "TheBus" at local ABC Stores giving route information on how to get around the island. Public transportation systems are less developed on the Neighbor Islands.
Two inter-island airlines, Aloha Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines, provide the majority of flights between the islands, but there are smaller 'island hopper' airlines. Flight times run anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes. Flights can usually be purchased a day or two before departure. Charter boats sail and motor between some islands, especially the Maui-Molokai-Lanai area.
Norwegian Cruise Lines operates U.S.-flagged cruise ships between the islands. Most cruises originate in Honolulu Harbor.
Currently, there are no ferries between the Hawaiian islands, but a local company, Hawaii Superferry (http://www.hawaiisuperferry.com), is aiming to have ferries between Oahu and Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island running in early 2007 if things run on schedule.
Car rentals should be booked as soon as possible as the price charged is based on a supply/demand basis. The exception is Waikiki where you will not need a car on a permanent basis so just rent a car the day before you want one. Collision insurance coverage is very expensive through car rental companies so if you have a gold plus Visa or MasterCard and it offers collision coverage, use it. If not, get coverage from your own insurance company prior to your trip. Car rental rates for 5 or 6 day periods are often the same as 7 day rentals. Use your gold card Visa or MasterCard for medical and trip cancellation insurance if it has coverage, and if not, buy from your flight travel agent.
As part of the United States, English is the main spoken language of Hawaii. There are some subtle differences in usage (see below), but standard English is universally understood in Hawaii. Hawaiian "pidgin" English, spoken by many locals, incorporates bits of Hawaiian, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Portuguese and many other languages, in addition to its own unique idioms. As Japan is the most important international tourist market in Hawaii, many tourist destinations offer information in Japanese and have personnel who can speak Japanese. There are also many ethnic communities that speak languages such as Mandarin, Cantonese, Tagalog, Ilocano, Vietnamese, Korean, Samoan and the native Hawaiian language.
Learning a few words of Hawaiian can be fun and useful (some signs in Hawaii use Hawaiian words). Some useful words include:
When talking with Hawaii residents, be aware of the following differences in word usage. These may result in miscommunications. Also see Respect below.
As in the rest of the United States, U.S. dollars are the local currency. There are plenty of banks, ATMs, and money change offices in all cities. ATMs are scarcer on the North Shore of Oahu and other rural areas.
Other than the stereotypical grass skirt, no pieces of clothing are more associated with the Islands than the aloha shirt and the muumuu.
The ever-present aloha shirt comes in a wide variety of designs. On one end, there are the brightly colored, tourist-oriented, polyester aloha shirts that many stores throughout the Islands carry. On the other end of the spectrum are the type of aloha shirts that have become standard business attire among career professionals in Hawaii, in the same way that the business suit is on the mainland. These aloha shirts are usually cotton-polyester blend and are "reverse print." Reverse print means that the design is printed on the inside of the shirt, resulting in a more muted, businesslike look.
For females, the muumuu is a Hawaiian dress, usually made of cotton, that hangs loosely from the shoulder.
Several island companies specialize in aloha shirts and muumuus:
Tourists who want to get a taste of Hawaiian culture can sign up for classes in hula, surfing and lei-making at most tourist destinations.
There also a number of cultural and historical centers on Oahu well worth your time, such as the Bishop Museum and Iolani Palace.
If you have the money, the time and the inclination, the Polynesian Cultural Center provides a window into Polynesian culture. As its name implies, the Polynesian Cultural Center covers not just Hawaii but also the cultures of Tahiti, Samoa, Tonga, and the Maori people of New Zealand.
Hawaii is not an easy place to find casual work for non-US work permit holders. To apply for a local government job, by law you must be a Hawaii resident. This is changing though. Currently, police officer applicants do not have to be residents.
Contemporary Hawaiian food, like the language and popular culture, is a medley of traditional Hawaiian, American, and Asian Pacific flavors. Pacific "fusion" cuisine was largely invented in Hawaii. Well-known local chefs include Sam Choy, Alan Wong, Russell Siu, Roy Yamaguchi, and George "Chef Mavro" Mavrothalassitis. Seafood is, of course, fresh and tasty. Local beef comes from ranches on Maui and coffee is grown on the Island of Hawaii. Tropical fruits such as pineapple, mango, bananas, guavas, and papaya -- as well as fresh sugar cane, can be bought in most corner stores (although you may be surprised to learn that many of those fruits are now imported from distant locales such as The Philippines).
One of the most common ways that Hawaiian food is served is in the form of plate lunch, usually meat or fish with two scoops of rice and macaroni salad. It's always a good deal at any lunch truck, mall, or outside food court. L&L Drive Inn is probably the most widely distributed chain of plate lunch spots in Hawaii. Branches of L&L can be found around the Islands and in some locations on the Mainland as well (as L&L Hawaiian Barbecue). Other islands also have their own favorite spots; for instance, Rainbow Drive-Inn ("Rainbows") and Zippy's are popular plate lunch places on Oahu.
Perhaps the best setting to enjoy traditional Hawaiian food is at a luau, or a traditional Hawaiian feast. Tourists can find luaus at various locations in the Islands, including many of the major resort hotels. At a modern luau traditional Hawaiian favorites are served buffet style, and there is also Hawaiian music, hula, and other Polynesian entertainment. The downside is that they can be pricey and prices can vary widely; expect to pay between USD $50 and $90 per adult and about half that per child.
Dishes that are often found at luaus include:
Other local dishes include favorites such as the following:
For specific places at which to eat, see the individual island or city articles. Be sure to check the coupon books that are available at display stands for meal specials.
Hawaii well may be the birthplace of the foofy umbrella drink and offers a colorful array of fruit and booze concoctions. The Blue Hawaiian, Hawaiian Screw, and original Hawaiian Punch can be easily found. Passion-orange-guava (P.O.G.) juice is a popular mixer. Non-alcoholic variants are often available. Of course, standard beers, wines and liquors will also be on the menu.
Many small restaurants and all "to-go" places do not sell alcoholic beverages. However, in some cases it is customary to bring your own alcohol to such places, which may even provide you with a bottle opener, but check beforehand.
Kona Brewing Company 4 (http://www.konabrewingco.com/), on the big island, is a local microbrewery. Its beer is widely available in restaurants and stores throughout Hawaii, but not much outside of the state.
Theft is a big problem in cities as well as beaches and parks. If you are camping on a beach, keep bags locked in a car (but don't assume that they are safe in the trunk, especially if you are driving a rental) and keep valuables in a hidden money belt. Although Honolulu is generally considered a relatively safe city, it does has some violent crime. Consequently, women should not walk alone in unlit areas.
Be sure to have travel health insurance. See Stay healthy in United States of America for more information.
Hawaiian culture should be respected and travellers should be sensitive to the state's rich cultural heritage and diversity -- and the fact that the tourist experience of Hawaiian culture may only scratch the surface. For instance, there are many heiau (temples) in the Islands, where the ancient Hawaiian religion was practiced. Some of these have become tourist attractions, but visitors should treat these places with the same level of respect one would show at a place of worship.
If you visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, you will no doubt hear about Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes. An urban legend has it that people who have taken volcanic rock from the slopes of Mauna Loa or Kilauea have suffered various misfortunes; it is believed that it is the wrath of Pele. In any case, it is illegal to take rocks or other material from a national park.
Also, the status of Native Hawaiians vis-a-vis the U.S. federal government has become a hot topic in recent years, with Native Hawaiian groups seeking some degree of sovereignty for the Hawaiian people. There is currently no consensus on what form this sovereignty should take, from a status similar to that of Native Americans to complete independence and secession from the Union. Discussions of Hawaiian sovereignty can arouse a variety of strong opinions among Hawaii residents of all ethnicities, and the uninitiated visitor would be wise to avoid bringing up the topic in casual conversation.
Hawaii uses the US postal system. Internet access can be found in most tourist areas and many hotels. General wi-fi access is available only at select hotels and cafes. The public libraries offer Internet access, but only for library cardholders. Visitors may purchase a 3-month library card for $10.00.
Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Hawaii can be a stepping off point to explore Oceania.
When leaving Hawaii for the U.S. Mainland, all baggage must be inspected by Hawaii State Department of Agriculture inspectors at the airport. Be advised that fresh fruits (with the exception of pineapples and treated papayas) are prohibited from leaving the islands to prevent the spread of fruit flies.