Newcomers to the Hawaiian Islands can choose from bustling urban neighborhoods to quiet villages or secluded rural properties where the rest of the world seems to disappear. The Island of Oahu is home to the densely populated state capital of Honolulu and its equally famous tourist destination of Waikiki Beach. Nearly 70 percent of Hawaii’s residents call this “gathering place” their home. Those who are interested in suburban living can choose from several districts, including Hawaii Kai in southeast Honolulu, Kailua or Kaneohe on the windward side, Kapolei or Waikele on the leeward coast, or Mililani in central Oahu. While Maui is less populated and less developed than Oahu, it has often been dubbed the “honeymoon capital” of the islands and remains a highly favored destination for visitors. Many Maui residents are employed in the adjoining cities of Kahului and Wailuku or the resort area of Kaanapali, frequently commuting from the more serene outer areas like Kihei.

Shifting toward the quiet side, Kauai is known for diverse and spectacular scenery. The dramatic Napali Coast has made the island a choice site for Hollywood filmmakers, but Kauai is favored by vacationers and visitors as well. Most Kauai residents live and work in the districts of Hanalei, Lihue, Koloa, Wailua, or Waimea. The Big Island of Hawaii covers more than 4,000 square miles with rain forests, lava fields, world-famous beaches, and one of the earth’s most active volcanoes. Residential development is primarily clustered in Kailua-Kona on the leeward side or Hilo on the windward side. The smallest of the populated islands are Molokai and Lanai, where rush-hour traffic and crowds are replaced by swaying palm trees, rich agricultural land, and quiet beaches.

Each island has a “wet” or windward side to the east and a “dry” or leeward side to the west, creating remarkable differences in topography. With such a varied landscape, the opportunities for outdoor adventure, sports activities, and recreation are virtually unlimited. Water-sports including world-class surfing, sailing, boating, and riding personal watercraft are shared passions for many islanders. Others prefer the passive recreation of long walks on tranquil beaches. Cultural attractions and amenities are abundant, from ethnic celebrations to the Honolulu Symphony or intimate community theater. The housing choices are varied and attractive, from cozy bungalows and cottages to elegant estates, waterfront manors, and vibrant suburban developments. For a vacation lifestyle that spans 365 days of every year, the breathtakingly beautiful Hawaiian Islands provide the finest of urban, suburban, rural, and recreational settings.

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