The Hawaiian islands
Prestige issue 268, November 2015
A corner of paradise, as far as the eyes can see
© Archives Ajam
Idyllic beaches, enchanting landscapes, idyllic sea … the Hawaiian Islands incite to daydreaming, travel, relaxation, but also the most exciting and memorable adventures. In this place on the other side of the world, in the heart of the Pacific Ocean, the wind with exotic scents blows on a small corner of paradise. On board the cruise ship «Pride of America» Laila and Abdelhafiz Ajam made a beautiful journey, punctuated by very enjoyable sensations but also thrills. A dream week in the discovery of six islands, during which they lived a unique experience, attending the first sunrise in the world, between three and ten in the morning. A gentle breakthrough of the sun hidden by clouds, sometimes unveiled, over 3000m. Hawaii is beautiful. As usual, Laila and Abdelhafiz tell this wonderful getaway to Prestige.
The Hawaiian Islands
Blue tropical lagoons, white sand beaches, black or gold, wonderful waterfalls, majestic mountains, active volcanoes, Hawaii has all the advantages of a dream destination … With an area of 16,600km2 and 1,212,000.00 inhabitants, this archipelago of coral and volcanic islands of Polynesia, located near the center of North Pacific Ocean since 1959 is the 50th state of the United States, the only one that is not part of the American continent. The archipelago, which celebrates its National Day on August 16, has eight major islands including the Big Island of Hawai, Maui, Hilo, Kona and Kauai.
For the little story
It was around the year 1000 that the Hawaiians, from Tahiti, arrived in the archipelago. From the Vth century, it is populated by Polynesians who developed an original culture, like the outrigger canoes, woodwork and bone. In 1778, the British navigator James Cook landed there and gave it the name of Sandwich Islands, in honor of the First Lord of the Admiralty. In 1820, American missionaries introduced writing and printing and helped spread Christianity. In1866, the American writer Mark Twain landed in the archipelago and said that Hawaii «is the most beautiful fleet of islands anchored on the ocean surface.» In 1898, the archipelago was annexed by the United States. Its population is composed of Polynesians 1.5%, 13.5% of Métis and immigrant groups the most important being the Japanese 75%, Anglo-Saxons and Filipinos. The development of economic infrastructure and the use of the island as a military base, Pearl Harbor, made the fortune of Hawaii.
© Archives Ajam
The most beautiful natural scenery in the world
The primitive forces of nature have combined to form the most beautiful scenery in the world, Hawaii. Volcanoes, born from the depths of the ocean have shaped islands one by one, yet now projecting their glowing magma in fountains or streams. The work of the erosion started, former Hawaii cones exploded in deep valleys lined with lush vegetation and waterfalls zebra,and the undertow reduces tirelessly the surf and rocks washing powder on colored sandy beaches.
It is not surprising to see while walking black stones, they are volcanoes lava. © Archives Ajam.
The island of Hawaii or Big Island
This island of 10.400km2 (less than 52km2of the area of Lebanon) and 92,000 inhabitants, is the southernmost of the main islands, forming a triangle defined by five volcanic elements: the chain in North Kohala, Mauna Kea at the highest northeast, southwest Hualalai, Mauna Loa huge lava dome that gives more than any other volcano, which last erupted in 1914 and Kilauea, the largest and most active crater.
Dense population, small area
Leaving by plane from Beirut to Los Angeles and Honolulu, Abdelhafiz and Laila Ajam continued their journey by boat, on board the cruise ship «Pride of America». Oahu is the most populated island of the archipelago of Hawaii, with its 876,156 inhabitants, but also the smallest in terms of area, 1564 km2. Oahu is home to the capital of Hawaii, Honolulu, the historic naval base at Pearl Harbor and the famous Waikiki beach. Nature is beautiful, clean and all green…
The cruise ship «Pride of America.» © Archives Ajam
Modern and picturesque town
This modern city of the Oahu island, on the south coast, is the capital of the State of Hawaii. With its 365,000 inhabitants, whom 70% are Asian, Honolulu is a port, a major tourist center and one of the busiest stops in the Pacific. Renowned for its production of sugar cane and pineapple, and for its tourism, it is located in tropical and picturesque surroundings and enjoys a temperate climate with average monthly from 23 to 24oC. Honolulu offers visitors a myriad of interesting activities. The Iolani Palace, the only royal residence in the United States is to visit as well as the Arizona memorial at Pearl Harbor, and Bishop Museum where tourists can enjoy the best collection of Polynesian artifacts in the world. Do not miss also the exploration of the reef Atlantis in submarine.
© Archives Ajam
To the west of Honolulu is Pearl Harbor, a harbor of the Hawaiian Islands, the famous US Naval Air Station, part of the Pacific Fleet was destroyed there by surprise by the Japanese, December 7, 1941 without declaration of war, which provoked the intervention of the United States in World War II. The naval base, one of the largest in the Pacific was founded in 1907.
© Archives Ajam
First sunrise in the world
Maui is a wild island, the wildest, but an enchanted island. Its beaches are the most beautiful of the archipelago. Formed by two large extinct volcanoes and separated by a lush valley, it is inhabited on barely a quarter of its territory. The crater of Mount Haleakala is the largest dormant volcano in the world. World windsurfing capital, Maui is the place to surf. You can also embark on a catamaran to snorkel off the island of Molokoni, an island crater housing a very rich life underwater, swim under a waterfall, hike at the bottom of the Valley of ao or relax on white sandy beaches, red and even black. And why not upgrade the tropical vacation with a round of golf or a visit to a vineyard, before delighting yourself with a tasting of mai tai on the beach? The Waimea Canyon is also one of the most spectacular landscapes of the archipelago. But the best of the best is probably the fabulous spectacle of the first sunrise in the world, the tourist being perched atop a volcano. Passionate about marathons, Laila Ajam lived this unique adventure of its kind. By bus First, thousands of vacationers headed the top of the mountain. In a dream panorama, they were privileged to witness a wonderful sunrise, waking up gently, sometimes overshadowed by the clouds, now revealed in all its splendor. The spectacle is fascinating and long. About seven hours, from 3 am until 10am. When at last the sun rises and the sun’s rays warm the mountain, it is time to return. Vacationers will make the descent by bike from the top of a steep and dangerous mountain. The way back is organized and synchronized to perfection. The swarms of cyclists riding in rows perfectly ordered and respected, are escorted to the front and rear, to avoid a possible incident. The descent is punctuated with photos breaks, taken at the discretion of the tourists.
Capital and port of call
Hilo is the capital of the largest island of Hawaii, in the sparkling bay. This volcanic island is located not far from the impressive crater of Kilauea volcano overlooking the scenery with the Mauna Kea volcano. The beauty of the site and its mild climate make of Hilo a port of call par excellence. The landscapes are varied and its attractions, the top. Beaches of gray, brown and white sand, alternate with mountains and majestic waterfalls, like the Akaka Falls. But it is in Richardson Beach Park, the only black sand beach of Hilo, that you can see sea turtles bask safely. And in the Pana’ewa forest, you can visit the unique American zoo located in a tropical rainforest, while the snowy peaks of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa welcome visitors with observatories to over 3.300m. However we must not forget Kilauea Caldera, the active volcano or the Park and Japanese Gardens of Liliuokalani. Nicknamed the «island of life», the small island Mokuola is connected to the Park by a pedestrian bridge, perfect for a picnic. Do not miss also the farmers’ market, restaurants, shopping and banyan trees planted by celebrities and politicians, as well as the famous Pacific Tsunami Museum and the Botanical Gardens. As to the Volcanoes National Park is a flagship attraction to explore on foot, by car or to fly by plane.
90% of plants in Hawaii exist nowhere else. © Archives Ajam
Fantastic view on the ocean
First capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii, Kailua-Kona offers the best view on the ocean and the island. At Hawaii National Park, one of the most active volcanoes in the world still pouring lava into the sea and coastline. Kona is famous for its premium coffee,tea, flowers and fishing, and craft products and the garment industry are exported. The factory of pearls Market Place, Tahitian pearls Akoya and those of fresh water and culture make the region’s reputation. To visit also, the temple Heiau, the first Christian church Haui, the Summer Palace, the Royal Kona Coffee Visitor Center, the mill and the museum. Kona is also renowned for its local products: honey, salt, macadamia nuts, padded jackets and blankets handmade crochet, batik fabrics and Hawaiian.
Peaceful and sober island
Kauai is the last stop of Hawaiian cruise, before returning to Beirut. This island, which is the northernmost and fourth largest of the archipelago, has an airport, Lihue. Abdelhafiz and Laila remember celebrating at that time in Kauai Thanksgiving Day or Hau’oli The Ho’omaika’i in the language of the country! «Pride of America» did not fail also to party, to its special and fun way. Thus, entertainments and pleasures galore, hula dance class, Tequila tasting and workshop with an illusionist, Thanksgiving Trivia, Turkey Trot in the pool, music, «mele», and karaoke. A fantastic atmosphere.
Hawaii and celebrities
Hawaii is a place of unique cinematic shooting and ideal, the best background since 1923 with The White Flower until Pipeline in 2006, among others. Film legends like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas have long taken up residence there. For many stars, these islands are the place of their birth, like Nicole Kidman on June 20th 1967. For others, Hawaii was the great witness of their conjugal union. The spectacular wedding of the king of the computers Bill Gates was celebrated in Hawaii. Speaking of King, note that the queen of American talk show Oprah is the proud owner of land in Maui, on the slopes of Haleakala. While many others acquired splendid properties to spend beautiful days there.