From the moment you step foot on Hawaiian soil, you will be immersed in unique culture. Visitors are greeted with a smile and presented with a traditional garland, known as a lei. Made from flowers, leaves or shells the lei has long been used as a symbol of affection and friendship.
Modern Hawaii is a vibrant fusion of proud traditions and new lifestyles. Bustling cities with rich economies and high rise buildings are sandwiched between sandy beaches and undulating, undisturbed landscapes.
The most populated of the six major Hawaiian islands is Oahu, often referred to as 'The Heart of Hawaii'. On the southern coast is the state capital of Honolulu, where ample shopping, dining and leisure facilities mix neatly with the mellow appeal of Waikiki Beach.
Catching a wave on Waikiki Beach is a must. The infamous sands and gentle waves make it a practice hotspot for surfers of all levels. Beginners can brave a surf lesson or ride the waves in an outrigger canoe, while those keen to keep their feet dry can admire the professionals from shore. Keep an eye out for some impressive gymnastic feats by tandem riders and pay a visit to the statue of Duke Kahanamoku. Widely considered 'the father of surfing', Duke was a local hero who brought surfing to the masses. For breathtaking swells and surf competitions, head to the island's wild North Shore.
Oahu's small size means most destinations can be reached within an hour or two. To the west of Honolulu is Pearl Harbor. Named after the pearl oysters which were once harvested there, the natural harbour was the site of a devastating air attack in 1941. Now a humbling memorial, the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites honour the 2,390 people killed, including 1,177 crewmen who lost their lives aboard the USS Arizona battleship. Take a moment to pay your respects and discover the important part it played during WWII.
To get up-close with the island's natural beauty, visit Kualoa Ranch on the eastern shore. Explore the private nature reserve by horse, quad bike or tour bus and discover the stunning landscapes and iconic settings immortalised in many of Hollywood's top movies.