Earth Foundation

Stewards of the Land, Sea and Native Cultures

Location and Topography

Physically and psychologically, Hawaii stands apart from the U.S.A. The island group of Hawaii lies 2,400 miles (3,860 km) off mainland America. It comprises 132 islands and atolls of which seven are inhabited and make up the State itself. The state consists of five principal islands as well as four smaller ones.


There is a variety of environmental wonders of the Islands, such as volcanoes, coral reefs, sea and land animals, and flora. The Hawaiian Islands are volcanic formations of basaltic lava flows. The terrain is often hilly. There are many sensational, large, sandy, beautiful beaches – the kind that people have in their finest dreams. There are white sand beaches, black sand, red sand, and even green sand beaches. The sand can often feel like silk between your toes and under your feet. Yet, much of the coastlines are often rocky and rough.

Hawaii’s lush, green islands are the visible tops of a chain of submerged volcanic mountains that stretch 3,100 miles from Hawaii, all the way to the Aleutian Trench in the North Pacific Ocean. Most are now inactive stumps of volcanic rock, encircled by coral reefs. The youngest volcano Kilauea, in Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island, is in constant lava flow, spewing lava and creating new land. Maui’s Haleakala volcano is still considered active, but is not currently erupting. Oahu’s Diamond Head, the most famous landmark in the island chain is a large volcanic tuff cone formed by a series of explosive eruptions an estimated 100,000 years ago. Ironically, in this tropical paradise, the tops of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea volcanoes on the Big Island are snow-capped. Numerous sea cliffs fringe the outer edges of the islands, and rugged valleys, crater remnants, canyons and waterfalls are commonplace.