Visiting the United States? There are 50 states in all.

Hawaii is America’s tropical paradise, a favorite destination for honeymooners, surfers, golfers and hikers.

This archipelago of eight islands was formed by volcanoes millions of years ago. Trade winds warm it day and night, and the air is fragrant with orchids and other flowers, including those in leis draped around visitors’ necks.

It is rich in mythology and historical events, a place where warrior tribes fought and worshipped Pele, the goddess of fire, and where Kilauea, the world’s largest active volcano, still sends spectacular lava flows seaward.

It is by far the most diverse U.S. state, with a population almost two-fifths Asian and nearly a quarter multiracial. More than a quarter is white, 10 percent Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders, 10 percent Hispanic and 3 percent black.

The Aloha State — “Aloha” is Hawaiian for both hello and goodbye — is famous for feasts called luaus, hula dancers and ukulele-strumming musicians in colorful shirts.

U.S. map with Hawaii highlighted (State Dept./J. McCann)
(State Dept./J. McCann)


Lava flowing down volcano into water (ThinkStock)
Lava flows into the Pacific from Mount Kilauea on the Big Island of Hawaii. (ThinkStock)

It’s no longer news when Mount Kilauea on the Big Island of Hawaii erupts. It’s been belching red-hot lava from vents for decades. Mauna Loa is another magnet for visitors to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. The volcanoes are safe for curiosity-seekers — from a distance.

Hawaiian culture

Three women dressed in hula attire, holding jugs and dancing (Shutterstock)

Hula dancers are part of the quintessential Hawaiian experience. The dance has roots in traditional religion, with flowing movements that are a form of storytelling.

Learn more about Hawaii’s history through such sites as the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum or Iolani Palace, residence of the islands’ last monarchs, who ruled Hawaii for most of the 19th century.

Pearl Harbor

Flag in foreground on boat cruising away from memorial (© AP Images)
(© AP Images)

The words “Pearl Harbor” evoke memories of a dark day in U.S. history, the Japanese aerial attack on December 7, 1941, that caught the Pacific Fleet by surprise. The iconic white USS Arizona Memorial floats on a platform above the wreck.

Surfing and hiking

Surfer riding wave (Shutterstock)

Surfers seek thrills at famous spots such as the Banzai Pipeline. Surfing great and Olympian Duke Kahanamoku (1890–1968) popularized the sport once reserved for Hawaiian royalty. Great hiking trails are everywhere, none more breathtaking than the Kalalau Trail on the Na Pali Coast of Kauai.

Getting hitched and honeymooning

White wedding chapel sitting near palm trees (Shutterstock)
Grand Wailea Resort Seaside Chapel on Maui (Shutterstock)

Hawaii is a favorite “destination wedding” and honeymoon spot. Some beachfront resorts have their own chapels or stage nuptials under floral arches on the water’s edge.

Learn more about Hawaii and check out the other 49 states. If you need a visa to visit, here’s how to get one.