The personalities of these islands are defined by the classic elements: earth, wind, water and fire. Volcanic conflagrations shaped these oceanic mountaintops, and still issue forth on the Big Island. Elsewhere, evidence of historic heat is plentiful, from the towering profiles of the peaks themselves to black sand beaches and lunar-like lava fields. Trade winds, sweeping in from the east, are deprived of moisture as they meet the summits, creating both lush rainforests and arid rain shadows.
Rain and sun sustain life, and at one point transformed the island into an agricultural powerhouse. Today, the land’s fecundity is expressed in a revived local-food movement, and farm-to-table cuisines. Separated by more than 1,000 miles of water, Hawaii’s native flora and fauna have gone their own way. Ship and airship have ended this isolation, and created one of the world’s most storied island getaways. Whether honeymoon, golf vacation, family reunion, surf odyssey or just an impromptu escape, Hawaii is often the first choice of venue.