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What are the eight islands of Hawaii?

Hawaii is an archipelago of eight major islands, atolls and smaller islets. Here are the eight major island names and nicknames, along with some quick facts about each.

Chromolithograph map of the Hawaiian Islands, 1899.

1. Hawaii—“The Big Island”

Also known as “The Big Island,” Hawaii Island is over 4,000 square miles and encompasses 63 percent of the Hawaiian archipelago’s combined landmass and is the largest island in the United States. The island has five volcanoes, including sacred dormant volcano Mauna Kea.

2. Kahoolawe—“The Target Isle”

The smallest island, Kahoolawe was used by the United States military during World War II. Today, the island is still prohibited to the public.

3. Kauai—“The Garden Isle”

The third largest island of Kauai, known as “The Garden Isle,” earns its name for its lush foliage, valleys and jungles. With lots of precipitation and undeveloped land, nature flourishes, making it home to several botanical gardens.

4. Lanai—“The Pineapple Isle”

Lanai once produced 75 percent of the world’s exported pineapples.

5. Maui—“The Valley Isle”

The second largest island, Maui is divided by two mountain ranges—the Haleakala and West Maui Mountains. Maui is well known for its tourist attractions, such as Haleakala National Park and the Road to Hana.

6. Molokai—“The Enlightening Isle” or “The Friendly Isle”

Molokai has the highest percentage of native Hawaiians and is believed to be where the hula began. It is known under several names by the local population: Molokaʻi ʻĀina Momona (land of abundance), Molokaʻi Pule Oʻo (powerful prayer) and Molokaʻi Nui A Hina (of the goddess Hina). It has also been called “The Friendly Isle.”

7. Niihau—“The Forbidden Isle”

With a population of roughly 200 people, the island of Niihau has become known as “The Forbidden Isle.”

8. Oahu—“The Gathering Place”

Oahu has the highest population count in the state and is home to the majority of Hawaiian residents. The island is home to the city of Honolulu, Hawaii’s state capital.

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