Guest Author - Lisa Shea
National Geographic has a reputation when it comes to travel. This book isn't an in depth step by step review of the islands of Hawaii. Instead, it has a lot of large, glossy photos as well as cultural background on the items you will see.
This is a gorgeous armchair book to sit and page through, to get you excited about your trip to Hawaii or to dream about going. The photos are well done and really capture the beauty of these islands. Every island has its own charm and atmosphere. You get a great sense of that in the book.
Where other travel books talk about "go to mile marker X and turn right to see Y", the National Geographic book goes into the background of why the location is important, what its cultural significance is, and it makes the visit much more memorable and meaningful. On the down side, if you had ONLY this book, you might not find the locations :) It is very short on the how-to-get-there information. Their entire section on the Volcano National Park - a *huge* park with a plethora of fascinating locations - is maybe two pages of text long. They miss out on critical pieces of information that are important to really enjoying this part of the trip, too.
There are few maps in here, and none are really helpful. Again, this is where other books do a better job for practical visit information.
Still, it's true that no one book can really meet all the needs of a location. I found this to be a perfect supplement to the other books on Hawaii that I already had. When we took our Pride of America cruise to the islands, National Geographic Traveler Hawaii was definitely on our cabin bookshelf the entire time, so I could reference it each evening before we hit our next destination. It was easy to scan, provided helpful background information and got me ready for the next day.
A great book whether you're going to Hawaii sometime soon, or just dreaming about it! Even if you just get the book to admire the photos of the area, and to learn more about the culture of this fascinating region, it really is quite an interesting read.