8 Things to Do in Hawaii
Featured destinations: Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, Honolulu
Published 24 June 2016
Blessed with blissful beaches and fringed by soft powder sands and warm waves which conceal a multitude of vibrant corals, Hawaii really does live up to the tropical island stereotype. Its interior is not short on sights either, with active volcanoes, lush national parks and plenty of outdoor activities to choose from. So check out our list of things to do in the Aloha State, grab a freshly squeezed pineapple juice, find a palm tree… and relax.
Watch an eruption in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
Established in 1916 on the Big Island, this geothermal park showcases Mother Nature’s raw beauty at its finest. Strewn with pit craters and lava tubes, the landscape is also flecked by five volcanoes, including Kilauea, the most active volcano in the world. Aside from encircling its caldera on the 11-mile Crater Rim Drive, you can watch lava spewing from Kilauea before slowly creeping down the mountainside towards the sea.
Pay your respects in Pearl Harbor
On the outskirts of Honolulu, Pearl Harbor is synonymous with the 1941 navy base attack by the Japanese that led to the USA’s involvement in World War II. Today, the harbour is a place of history and quiet reflection, with the USS Arizona Memorial, built over the hull of the sunken battleship, the main attraction. To reach it, take a boat, then stand over the hull itself, peering down to the wreckage where the bodies of around 900 sailors remain entombed.
Drive the Road to Hana
Along the northern shore of Maui, among lush tropical forests and glinting waterfalls, lies the much travelled Road to Hana, a 40-mile highway linking Kahului, in the north, to Hana, in the south. But the destination is not important here; what matters is the long, winding journey crossing more than 50 bridges, numerous waterfalls, plunging cliffs, and passing the occasional black sand beach. Take your time, stop for photos, hike the forests and dive into the swimming holes you pass along the way.
Watch the sunrise in Haleakala National Park
Sticking with Maui, if you drive the Road to Hana beyond Hana itself, you reach the lava flows and cinder cones of Haleakala National Park, a moon-like landscape with the yawning crater of Haleakala volcano at its heart. Watching the sunrise from the rim is all the rage, but don’t overlook hiking and mountain biking in the rest of the park, where you can stop to look offshore for whales, dolphins and turtles.
Gaze across Waimea Canyon
Over on Kauai, Waimea Canyon is known as the ‘Grand Canyon of the Pacific’. If you’re into scenery and awe-inspiring views (and let’s face it, who isn’t?), then Waimea is the place for you. At 14 miles long and one mile deep, the canyon is huge. Stand on the edge and look out across deep gorges and rugged cliffs, splashed with bright red rock faces and the deep green of the trees. Do not miss the Pu‘u O Kila Lookout, where the views stretch all the way to the ocean.
Sail the Napali Coast
The Napali Coast’s extraordinary beauty attracts adventurous tourists keen to explore its craggy peaks and velvet green forests. Much of the 17-mile coastline, found on the northwest shore of Kauai, is inaccessible by land due to its sheer cliffs, so it’s best to arrive by boat, kayak, raft or, if you’re feeling flash, paraglider. If you want to hike your way in, you’ll need to follow the 11-mile Kalalau Trail, a challenging, energetic route reserved for the fittest among us only. For something more relaxing, try snorkelling – and look out for turtles!
Laze on the beaches
Let’s face it; Hawaii is all about the beach. Yes, it might have its fantastic scenery and an intriguing culture, but the white sands and cerulean waters are what drew people here in the first place. Beaches all over the state range from quiet patches of sand to surfing havens, with a few black beaches, formed from volcanic rock, thrown in too. Particular favourites include Oahu’s Waikiki and the surfing mecca of North Shore, as well as Lahaina Beach in Maui - the location for many a luau.
Dive the coral reefs
Hitting the beach doesn’t have to mean sunbathing, as just offshore a whole underwater world awaits below the surface. Divers visiting Hawaii will be spoilt for choice, with numerous wrecks to explore, plus the fish-rich Molokini Crater and various caverns too. Look out for eagle rays, puffer fish, green sea turtles and manta rays, which are best spotted on a night dive off Kona on the Big Island. Look carefully and you may also spot Hawaii’s state fish, the unpronounceable humahumanukanuka'apua'a, or lagoon triggerfish to you and me.
If you'd like to hike, sail or dive Hawaii, then take a look at our tailor-made Hawaii holidays and give our Experts a call to book your trip.
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