Hawaii is well-known for its spectacular landscape and amazing beaches. Immortalized many times in popular TV shows such as Hawaii 5-0 and Magnum PI, Hawaii welcomes around nine million visitors each year. That’s approximately 220k each day.
Who can blame them! Hawaii has a wealth of wonderful things to see and do. With a diverse culture, spectacular volcanoes and lush, tropical gardens, you’ll have a ball when you visit America’s most beautiful state. So, before you start looking at luxury Hawaiian rentals and booking flights, here are a few ideas for your travel itinerary. It should help you narrow down which of the Hawaiian Islands you want to stay on.
1. Stand-Up Paddleboarding
Paddleboarding is a national sport in the Hawaiian Islands. The calm, warm waters make paddleboarding a fun and safe sport for all ages. Renting a SUP is a great way to explore the islands and see the sights. Kona on Big Island is a popular spot for stand-up paddleboarders. You can explore sea caves and watch out for yellowfin tuna and friendly dolphins. Visit Kealakekua Underwater Park on Big Island and on a calm day, you can easily see 100 feet below the surface. The Lanikai Islands are more secluded, with heavenly beaches. Head to Kailua Bay and paddle out to the small off-shore islands.
2. Visit Pearl Harbour
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour played a key role in WW2. 1,177 people lost their lives on that fateful night and today, you can visit the USS Arizona Memorial, tour the USS Missouri, and spend a few moments commemorating the events that pushed America into the Second World War.
3. Take a Lava Tour
The Hawaiian Islands are the product of volcanic activity in the region, so there are continual lava flows. You can visit the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park and take a guided tour of the lava flows. The best time to visit the park is at sunrise, but tours run all day long. Lava tours are not suitable for very young children, seniors, or pregnant ladies, as the sulfurous smell is overpowering at times.
If you can stand the smell, the Volcanoes National Park is fascinating. Kilauea is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. When the lava flows at night, sending red-hot molten rock into the ocean, the pyrotechnic show is amazing. There are some hiking trails around the park but pay close attention to park safety guidance at all times.
4. Visit a Coffee Farm
Coffee is a big crop in Hawaii. The hot, humid climate of the Hawaiian Islands is perfect for coffee growers and there are several coffee plantations. Kuaiwi Farm runs tours of its coffee plantation. Visitors can learn how coffee is made from coffee berries and sample some delicious locally brewed coffee. The plantation also grows cacao, macadamia nuts, and some tropical fruits. If you have a sweet tooth, sign up for the chocolate making class. It’s chocolate heaven!
5. Visit a Meadery
If coffee is a bit tame for your taste buds, head to the Nani Moon, Hawaii’s only Meadery. For those unfamiliar with this heavenly concoction, mead is a tasty alcoholic beverage, somewhere in between beer and wine. Much loved by entrepreneurial monks and nuns in other cultures, mead is brewed from fermented grains or hops with honey, fruit, and spices. It is sweet and sublimely delicious. Honey wines made at Nani Moon contain no nasty additives, so they are an ideal gift for discerning friends and relatives back home. Book a tour of the brewery and imbibe in a mead tasting session. For obvious reasons, this is an adults-only tour!
6. Visit the Piʻilanihale Heiau and Kahanu Garden
You can’t visit Hawaii without taking at least some time to better understand Hawaiian culture. The Piʻilanihale Heiau Temple is an important part of the islands’ culture. The origins of Piʻilanihale Heiau are shrouded in mystery, but archeologists believe it was once an important religious shrine, which was finally completed in the 14th century. The Piʻilanihale Heiau temple is in a corner of the botanical gardens. The best way to learn more about the temple’s history is to take a guided tour. Reserve a spot on the tour to avoid disappointment. Your tour guide will also tell you more about the wonderful plants in the garden.
Ahu’ena Heiau is another important cultural spot on Big Island. Ahu’ena Heiau was used as a religious temple by King Kamehameha the Great; he was later buried there. It was also the spot where US missionaries landed in the 19th century.
7. Take a Bike Tour
One of the most entertaining ways to explore the islands is on two wheels. Maui and Big Island are very bike friendly and you can hire bicycles from a number of local bicycle hire companies. Most roads on the islands are very wide, so there is plenty of room for bikes as well as motor vehicles. One of the most popular routes for cyclists is a downhill tour from Haleakala Crater. Start at sunrise and freewheel down, enjoying the fabulous views along the way. Hardcore cyclists can book a week-long bike tour, which takes you on a circular route of Big Island.
8. Go Surfing on Waikiki Beach
It wouldn’t be much of a trip if you don’t try surfing on Oahu’s famous Waikiki Beach. If you have no clue about surfing, book a lesson with an experienced instructor. Most guarantee their pupils will manage at least one ride standing upright on their board. Make sure your companions have their camera ready, so they can post the footage on Instagram and Facebook!
9. Attend a Luau
Luaus are a traditional island party, with dancers, flower garlands, great music, and plenty of delicious seafood. Sit back and enjoy the hula dancers. There are regular Luaus on all the islands, but they are very popular, so book a place well in advance.
Other activities include visiting some of the many glorious beaches and taking a helicopter ride to get a bird’s eye of the spectacular scenery.