Hawaii Island Story Ideas
World Heritage Site
World Heritage sites are extraordinary places around the globe that have been recognized by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) for their outstanding natural and cultural value. There are 911 such sites around the world, but only 21 in the United States, and only two in Hawaii. Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument lies in the remote Northwest Hawaiian Island chain. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the only World Heritage site within the main Hawaiian Islands.
In 1987, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was named a World Heritage site because of its amazing diversity of geological, biological and botanical wonders. Its 333,000 acres stretch from sea level to the 13,677-foot summit of Maunaloa, the planet’s most massive volcano. Many rare and endangered native plants and animals thrive in the park, and it is also the traditional home of the volcano goddess, Pele.
With more than 150 miles of hiking trails going through coastal lava plains, lush rainforests and alpine desert—not to mention its own currently erupting volcano, Kilauea—it’s no wonder that UNESCO also tapped the park as an International Biosphere Reserve.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is also a treasure of native Hawaiian culture, both ancient and contemporary. Archeological evidence shows how Hawaiians lived on these lands. And today’s Hawaiians still come to the park to dance hula and chant in honor of Pele, as well as to gather materials for traditional healing, ceremonies and crafts (only native Hawaiians are permitted to take any natural materials from the park).