Hawaii is an archipelago comprising 137 distinct islands and islets located in the northern Pacific Ocean. Despite the presence of numerous smaller islands in the vicinity, Hawaii is thought to be made up of only eight major islands.
This tropical island chain has some of the most diverse temperatures, landscapes, and ecosystems in the entire country. It’s simple to see why Hawaii is one of the world’s most awe-inspiring gems, with volcanic volcanoes and sweeping canyons, verdant waterfalls, and picture-perfect beaches. Although most people are familiar with some of the major Hawaiian Islands, several others are worth exploring.
Honolulu (44.6 sq mi)
Kahoolawe is the smallest and most likely least known of the Hawaiian Islands. This tiny island, about 11 miles long and 9.7 miles wide, is fully off-limits to the public. The only way to visit is to participate in volunteer service activities.
As a result, Kahoolawe has a comparatively small population. Only a few dozen people are said to dwell ashore. It is presently home to the Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC), a conservation initiative to conserve the island’s and surrounding waters’ ecosystem.
Niihau (69.5 sq mi)
Hawaii’s most mysterious island is located 17 miles off the shore of Kauai. The Sinclair family has privately owned Niihau since 1864, and the only way to visit is by invitation from one of the owners. A small community of 200 villagers who live a typically basic and rural lifestyle can also be found on the western side of Niihau.
Niihau was originally purchased straight from the Kamehameha by the Sinclair family for $10,000 in gold. As part of the agreement, the king requested that the owners preserve the island’s traditional Hawaiian culture and traditions. Nowadays, the proprietors are dedicated to the well-being of the residents as well as the ecology and terrain.
Lanai (140.5 sq mi) – one of largest islands in Hawaii
Despite being Hawaii’s third-smallest island, Lanai is crammed with natural wonder and jaw-dropping splendor. Lanai is home to the 3,366-foot inactive Mount Lnaihale volcano, white-sand beaches, stunning cliffs, and rock formations.
Oracle founder Larry Ellison owns 98 percent of the island, with the state of Hawaii owning the remaining 2 percent. Lanai remains a popular holiday destination for visitors, with luxurious resorts, gourmet restaurants, and many world-class golf courses.
Molokai (260.0 sq mi)
Molokai is Hawaii’s fifth-largest island in terms of size and population, distinguished by towering sea cliffs, huge agricultural plantations, and volcanic highlands. It is located in the center of the Hawaiian archipelago and can be seen from the beaches of Oahu, Lanai, and Maui.
Unlike the other Hawaiian islands, which rely heavily on tourism, Molokai derives most of its income from agriculture and farming. Cattle ranches, pineapple plantations, and sugar cane fields can be found all across the island. The Kalaupapa National Historical Park now completely protects Molokai and its waterways.
Kauai (552.3 sq mi)
Kauai, sometimes known as the Garden Isle, is Hawaii’s most lush and tropical island. It is also the most ancient Hawaiian island, dating back 5.1 million years. The precipitation in Kauai ranges from 20 to 100 inches per year, with the high elevation mountain regions receiving the most. As a result, the environment on Kauai is a varied combination of lush jungles, gushing waterfalls, and towering seashore cliffs.
Despite its size, 97 percent of the island remains underdeveloped. Kauai has a population of little more than 70,000 people, with the majority of them residing in Lihue, Kapa’a, Hanalei, and Princeville.
Oahu (596.7 sq mi) – one of largest islands in Hawaii
Oahu is home to two-thirds of Hawaii’s population, making it the most inhabited island (despite being only the third-largest in size). The largest city is Honolulu, which also serves as the state capital. Oahu is home to Hawaii’s largest metropolis, but it also has sun-soaked beaches, enormous mountain ranges, and beautiful rainforests.
Ka’ala, the island’s tallest peak, rises nearly 4,000 feet above sea level. Oahu was produced millions of years ago by two volcanoes, Wai’anae in the west and Ko’olau in the east. These two volcanic ranges are presently thought to be dormant and inactive.
Maui (727.2 sq mi)
Maui is Hawaii’s second-biggest island, but it is also the largest island in Maui County, which includes Molokai, Lanai, and Kahoolawe. Its rocky, jagged coastline stands out against the beautiful beaches and waving palm trees, making it one of the most popular tourist attractions in Hawaii.
Maui’s economy, which has over 150,000 residents, is also a combination of tourism, agriculture, and business. The island’s principal exports are sugar and pineapple, but coffee, almonds, papaya, and flowers all contribute significantly to the export business.
Hawaiian Islands (4,028.0 sq mi) – largest islands in Hawaii
Hawaii, also known as the “Big Island,” is not only the largest island in the archipelago but also the largest island in the United States. Despite its vast area, it is home to only 13% of Hawaii’s population.
Mauna Kea is a well-known landmark in Hawaii. It is the world’s tallest mountain as measured from the ocean (albeit its overall height is only 13,803 feet above sea level). There are also dozens of beaches, 14 state parks, and four national parks on the island. Because of the vastness of the island, Hawaii has eight distinct climatic zones.