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Paradise Found

Each year, my girlfriend and I take a nice vacation.  This year, we decided on Hawaii.  Living in California, it is a pretty easy flight.  We are not quite sure which island, or islands, we want to visit.  Each are unique and have their own personality.  There are six major islands to visit in Hawaii: Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, and of course the big island of Hawaii.  I thought I would do a little research and see what adventures, activities and sights awaits us on each island.


Kauai, which is known as the garden island, is the northernmost island in the Hawaiian chain.  It is no wonder that it is known as the garden island.  Mt. Waialeale on Kauai is the 2nd wettest spot on earth.  The average rainfall is 460 inches per year.  All this rain makes for emerald valleys, tropical rainforests, and cascading waterfalls.  More than just undeniable beauty, Kauai has many outdoor activities such as Kayaking on the Wailua River, hiking the trails of Kokee State Park, or experience an ATV tour where one will ride off-road through trails of the Hawaiian jungle.


Oahu, which is sometimes called the “heart of Hawaii” or “the gathering place” is home to the capital, Honolulu.  It is also home to the majority of Hawaii’s diverse population.  Oahu has something for everyone – from bustling city life to laidback surf towns. One of the most popular points of interest on Oahu is Pearl Harbor .  1.7 million visitors go to the USS Arizona memorial and learn about the day that launched the U.S. into WWII.  Highlights on this island include enjoying iconic Waikiki Beach, strolling through Chinatown which its traditional noodle shops and other hip restaurants, and hiking up to the top of Diamond Head which is a volcanic tuff cone offering breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and Honolulu.


See Hawaii’s past come alive when visiting the island of Molokai. There is a high percentage of Native Hawaiians who live on Molokai and preserve their ancient lifestyle.  Much of Molokai is made up of steep cliffs.  If fact, it is home to the highest sea cliffs in the world.  On the west end of the island, swimming and snorkeling are popular in the sparkling turquoise-blue waters at Papohaku Beach . If you are longing for seclusion, Molokai has miles of sandy beaches offering amazing unspoiled beauty.  There, you will not find beach bars and surf schools.  You may even find that you have the beach all to yourself which sets Molokai apart from the other islands.


The smallest inhabited island is Lanai , Hawaii’s most enticing island.  It is the perfect mix of relaxation and adventure.  There are stunning beaches and rugged nature preserves.  The island has rugged back roads to explore off-the-beaten-path treasures.  In Central Lanai, there is hiking and horseback riding amongst lush valleys and ironwood forests.  If relaxation is on the agenda, Lanai offers luxurious resorts with world-class amenities and championship-level golf.


The Big island of Hawaii, known as the island of inspiration, is the youngest and largest island in the Hawaiian chain.  The power of nature is definitely seen here.  8 of the world’s different climate zones can be found on this island.  It is one of the most ecologically diverse places in the world.  If you are up for it, you can actually see all the different climates in one day.  You can go from the Wet Tropical climate to the Polar Tundra in the same day.  One popular destination on Hawaii is the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  Here visitors can see molten magma flowing from the Kilauea volcano.  It has been erupting nearly continuously since 1983.  This volcano affords the opportunity to witness the creation of the newest land on earth.  Quite amazing! If you want to see sea turtles and a black sand beach, Punalu’u is for you.  This onyx beach was formed from the lava of the still-active Mauna Loa.


Voted “Best Island in the U.S.” for more than 20 years, the “Valley Isle” of Maui lives up to it’s reputation.  Aside from its world-famous beaches, the sacred Iao Valley, and views of the migrating humpback whales during the winter months, the Road to Hana is a trek that many like to make.  If you can brave Hana Highway’s hairpin turns and narrow bridges, you will be rewarded with stunning views of lush rainforests, gorgeous waterfalls, and exotic beaches.


Whichever island or islands we decide to go to this year, I will be sure to bring along some Penless postcards to send to friends and family.   Penless has a postcard of a beautiful sunset over the ocean which would be perfect for this trip.  I cannot wait to explore Hawaii, takes some pictures and videos, and send out some Penless postcards!





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