A Polynesian paradise 2,000 miles from the south-west coast of the US mainland, Hawaii feels a world away from the rest of America. Its combination of tropical weather, beautiful beaches and unique natural landscapes makes Hawaii a coveted destination for vacationers – and it’s also a great place to spend your student years.\r\nRead on for information about universities in Hawaii, popular locations for students, and what treats are in store if you choose to study in Hawaii…\r\nUniversities in Hawaii \n \n \n \n \n \n \n \r\nIf you are looking to study in Hawaii, chances are you will first discover the University of Hawaii at Mānoa. This institution enjoys the strongest reputation among universities in Hawaii, and is the state’s sole entry in the QS World University Rankings® 2018.\r\nThe University of Hawaii at Mānoa is ranked joint 341st in the world (66th in the US) in the latest edition of the rankings. It was established in 1907 on a campus of 320 acres in Mānoa valley, just outside of downtown Honolulu on the island of O‘ahu. This location means students are just minutes away from the beachfront town of Waikiki and other O‘ahu attractions such as the Ala Moana Center, the largest open-air shopping center in the world.\r\nThe University of Hawaii at Mānoa is the flagship institution of the University of Hawaii system, which incorporates three universities and seven community colleges across the Hawaiian islands. The University of Hawaii at Mānoa is both the largest and the oldest in the system, offering more than 240 degree programs and boasting wide diversity among its student body of 18,056 (4,924 of whom are postgraduates).\r\nThe school has a strong research focus and is considered to be among the leading research universities in the US. It identifies its own areas of excellence as environmental law, eastern philosophy, international business, second language studies and athletics. It also boasts the highest percentage of students from minority backgrounds earning postgraduate degrees.\r\nAlthough it’s the only institution included in the world rankings, the University of Hawaii at Mānoa isn’t the only option for those wishing to study in Hawaii. As well as the other universities under the University of Hawaii umbrella – the University of Hawaii at Hilo and the University of Hawaii at West O‘ahu – universities in Hawaii also include a number of community colleges and private universities, including Hawaii Pacific University, which has campuses in Honolulu and Kaneohe.\r\nWhere to study in Hawaii \r\nInaugurated as an official US state in 1959, Hawaii retains a distinct culture which is influenced heavily by its Polynesian roots. Although largely modernized, Hawaiian culture has retained some traditional aspects, such as Hula (a traditional dance) and Luau (a party or feast).\r\nThe only US state made up entirely of islands, the high quality of life here is reflected across the state’s islands, with residents enjoying the natural beauty of white sand beaches, vast coral reefs, rainforests and volcanoes.\r\nHonolulu \n \n \n \n \n \n \n \r\nAn affluent city, Hawaii’s capital Honolulu is a popular stopping point for tourists and home to famous destinations including Waikiki Beach and Hanauma Bay. The city is highly diverse, with a vibrant mixture of ethnicities, languages and foods. Meaning “place of shelter” in Hawaiian, Honolulu is on the island of O‘ahu, the third-largest Hawaiian island and probably top of the list for those wishing to study in Hawaii, since it’s home to the state’s only institution to feature in the QS World University Rankings – the University of Hawaii at Mānoa.\r\nMaui \n \n \n \n \n \n \n \r\nThe island of Maui is the top whale-watching spot in Hawaii, thanks to the surrounding sheltered waters. In winter, humpback whales shelter and mate in the warm channel, leading to some of the most amazing sightings of these creatures. Maui is also perfect for watersports, particularly surfing, with a coastline that caters to both pros and newbies. \r\nInland, the island offers even more opportunities for adventure, with the chance to trek along the cratered terrain of the world’s largest dormant volcano or take a ride down Hawaii’s longest zip wire. Even if you’re not based in Maui, it’s a great place to visit during university holidays, especially if you want a break from the touristy scene of Honolulu. It was even voted the world’s best island by Condé Nast Traveler for 19 years in a row, surely an endorsement that cannot be overlooked.\r\nHawai’i (The Big Island)\n \n \n \n \n \n \n \r\nOften referred to as the Big Island to avoid confusion, Hawai’i is the largest Hawaiian island. It’s almost double the size of any of the other islands, and is the island the state of Hawaii is named after.\r\nThe Big Island is home to two active volcanoes, one of which has been erupting molten lava since 1983. The geography of the island is varied and diverse, one side is characterized by vast, lava-created desert and the other by weathered valleys and rolling grasslands. Its sheer size means the island feels relatively untouched by tourism and spacious, and the majority of towns here have a very laid-back feel, home to many born-and-bred Hawaiians. \r\nAlthough there are no internationally ranked universities on Hawaii’s Big Island, there are a number of immense reserves and parks that students may wish to explore during their study breaks. These include the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, the Kau Forest Reserve and the Upper Waiakea Forest Reserve.\r\nFacts about Hawaii \n \n \n \n \n \n \n \r\n\r\nLocated off the south-west coast of the US, it’s the only state composed entirely of islands\r\nCapital and largest city is Honolulu\r\nThe eight main islands of Hawaii are Ni’ihau, Kaua’i, O’ahu, Moloka’i, Lana’i, Kaho’olawe, Maui and Hawai’i\r\nHawaii is the only US state which grows coffee\r\nPopulation: 1,428,557 (2016 estimate)\r\nMore than 90 percent of the native plants and animals living on Hawaiian soil are found only in Hawaii\r\nThe Big Island is getting bigger, thanks to active volcanoes Kilauea and Mauna Loa\r\nThe earliest written record of surfing is from 1779, describing Hawaiians using wooden boards to ride the waves\r\nFamous people born in Hawaii include former US president Barack Obama, actress Nicole Kidman, and singer-songwriters Bruno Mars and Jack Johnson\r\nFamous British explorer Captain James Cook died on the shores of Kealakekua Bay, Hawai’i, after a fight with Hawaiians in 1779\r\n\r\nThis article was originally published in March 2014. It was updated in February 2016 and again in December 2017.