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The Islands of Hawaii 

Here is an overview of the main islands and their attractions:

Known as the Big Island, Hawaii is twice the size of all the other islands combined. The variations of geography and climate are striking, even for an island so large.

This Land of Fire and Ice is home to the active Kilauea Volcano, which thrills visitors with its pyrotechnics, as well as the dormant Mauna Kea, which attracts skiers. Visitors experience the Big Island's contrasts as the lush tropical port of Hilo and the arid, sunny port of Kona. Hilo has an annual rainfall of more than 250 centimeters, earning it the title of America's Wettest City. The result is some of the most spectacular flower gardens, waterfalls, and rainbows anywhere.

This island has been featured in films such as South Pacific, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Jurassic Park. The Garden Isle, as it is known, is a natural paradise, with verdant foilage covering every mountain and valley. Green sea cliffs line Kauai's Na Pali Coast and make a spectacular panorama when viewd from a helicopter or boat.

This island is home to Waimea Canyon, the Grand Canyon of hte Pacific, as well as Mount Waialeale, the wettest spot on earth. Rainfall in that area is almost nonstop, while surrounding areas remain clear and sunny. Dozens of waterfalls originate from Waialeale and offer spectacular sights.

On this island you'll find the world's largest dormant volcano, Haleakala. Its vast crater is the size of Manhattan and its summit offers stunning views.

In whale-watching season, December through April, humpback whales frolic off Maui's coast. The city of Lahaina, one-time whaling capital of the world, now features dozens of shops, art galleries, restaurants, and nightclubs.

This popular island is known as the Gathering Place. Visitors from the U.S. mainland, Japan, Canada, and Europe flock to Honolulu and add to its multi-cultural mix. Honolulu's skyline is that of a modern city. But the high-rises are dwarfed by Diamond Head, the city's most famous landmark.