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Coastlines of the United States, Hawaii Coastline
Nawiliwili Harbor, leading port, island important, black sand beaches, island of Kauai
Hawaii has a coastline totaling 1,210 km (750 mi) in length. The scenic vistas and tropical beaches of Hawaii’s shores attract millions of tourists each year and have contributed greatly to the state’s economy. Because the islands are composed of fairly soft volcanic rock, which erodes quickly, the coastline is generally rocky. Areas of sheer cliffs, such as the rugged Na Pali coast on the island of Kauai, tower above the sea and beaches of white coral sand often lie tucked between the headlands. Several black sand beaches, worn from lava, dot the southeastern shore of the island of Hawaii, where the most recent lava flows meet the sea.
The scenic vistas and tropical beaches of Hawaii’s shores attract millions of tourists each year and have contributed greatly to the state’s economy. Although the coastline is extremely beautiful, it can also conceal hidden dangers. Large waves often break over the coral reefs that form just offshore of many beaches. These waves create perfect conditions for surfing, which originated in Hawaii and nearby Pacific islands, but it can also cause treacherous undertows that threaten swimmers. On rare occasions, offshore earthquakes trigger tsunamis, or giant sea waves, which can reach heights of about 9 m (about 30 ft). Tsunamis can cause extensive damage to low-lying coastal areas.
Hawaii is one of the world’s most isolated island chains. It is impossible for imports and exports to travel by land and expensive for them to arrive by air. Consequently, ships carry most of the commercial trade among the islands and between Hawaii and the mainland. Honolulu on Oahu is by far the leading port of the islands. Other important ports include Barbers Point on Oahu, Kahului on Maui, Hilo on Hawaii, and Nawiliwili Harbor on Kauai. Hawaii’s strategic mid-Pacific location also makes the island important to United States naval defense. Pearl Harbor naval base, a major military installation, is situated on Oahu.
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