Hawaii; the unearthly surfers paradise renowned for it’s stunning natural beauty and world-class resorts. Whether you’re a thrill seeker or poolside sleeper, Hawaii’s network of unique tropical islands are abundant with remarkable attractions and sandy stretches of beach.
Regardless of if you’re travelling to get away or you’ve come for the adventure, Hawaii’s eight islands offer visitors a spectacular environment equipped for every kind of holiday. While the four islands of Oahu, Maui, Kaua’i and Hawaii Island (the Big Island), famous for their golden beaches and extraordinary surf, draw the most tourists, consider checking out the lesser known islands of Lanai and Molokai for ‘Hawaii off-the-beaten-track’.
Home to Hawaii’s capital city of Honolulu and the beachside neighbourhood of Waikiki, Oahu is a cultural melting pot with a thriving community. The third largest Hawaiian Island, Oahu fuses contemporary American culture with traditional Hawaiian values, making for dynamic holiday experience.
Known as the ‘gathering place’, the island of Oahu is the third largest and most populous Hawaiian island. Home to the state’s capital, Honolulu, the island also features well known destinations such as Pearl Harbour, Waikiki, Hanauma, North Shore, Kailua Bay and Diamond Head. Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and divided by rugged mountain ranges, the island fuses eastern and western culture in a distinct melting pot.
Steeped in the traditions and values of the local Hawaiian people, Oahu offers a unique contrast between ancient and contemporary customs, making it a popular holiday destination with tourists. Boasting the best of both worlds, Oahu enjoys traditional Polynesian culture while sharing in all of Honolulu’s modern conveniences.
Oahu offers a wide range of accommodation in close proximity to fantastic dining, world-class shopping, bustling nightlife and an exciting array of cultural events. Those seeking peace in paradise will be pleased to know that there are also plenty of secluded areas on the island where visitors can simply relax and enjoy Hawaii’s unique brand of tropics.
Beyond Waikiki, the two majestic mountain ranges of Koolau and Waianae offer spectacular natural sites and myriad hikes just a 15 minute drive from downtown Waikiki. An hour from the tourist centre, visitors will find pristine beaches, impressive winter surf and trendy beach towns dotted along Oahu’s North Shore.
Attractions in Oahu are abundant and offer entertainment and adventure for all. Hours in the water are consumed with surfing, diving, windsurfing and stand-up paddle boarding. Explore the psychedelic reefs offshore or hike up into the verdant mountain ranges. Those who prefer to keep their feet planted firmly on the shore will love the iconic drive through Oahu’s expansive pineapple fields or exploring the isolated alcoves and waterholes that just call for long afternoon naps.
The second largest Hawaiian island, Maui is renowned for it’s expansive beaches, breathtaking sunsets and verdant valleys. Offering myriad activities for the adventurers and beach-sleepers alike, Maui is a natural playground.
Accommodating a far more tranquil pace than her Oahu sister, Maui calls to travellers seeking the inspiring combination of remote beaches and intrepid adventure; enjoying everything from world-class mountain biking, extreme jungle ziplining and impressive waves for the surfers and wind-boarders among us. Explore the kaleidoscopic coral cities below or follow gently winding tracks through bamboo forests and over lava flows. Away from the hustling crowds of Honolulu, Maui’s Haleakalā is the ideal place to experience Hawaii’s famed sunrises as their yolky rays blaze spectacularly across the horizon.
Those in search of indulgence will find it aplenty in the myriad spas, private retreats and stunning golf courses that dot the land. Vibrant green fairways meet ancient lava streams on Hawaii’s second largest island, boasting over 80 pristine beaches for guests to enjoy.
One of Maui’s most popular attractions is Haleakala, a dormant volcano which takes up most of the island’s east. At 10,000 feet above sea level, Haleakala is much like a lunarscape and offers spectacular views of the sunrise. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can cycle down the 61 km long volcano or simply immerse yourself in Wai’anapanapa’s clear mineral waters.
Maui’s best snorkelling and diving takes place in the waters of Mololkini where you can explore the marine conservation area and volcanic crater, home to a vast array of marine life. If visiting Maui’s west coast during December to April, be sure to keep an eye out for the passing humpback whales. Surfers will find the best surfing conditions during the winter months at Ho’okipa, while windsurfers will prefer summer waters.
The Road to Hana, a popular scenic drive, draws visitors from around the world. Winding its way up through the jungle, the route offers abundant opportunities to explore waterfalls, lookouts and towns along the way. Be sure to leave plenty of time for the trip as much of the route is one way and can become congested.
Referred to as the ‘Garden Island’, Kaua’i offers visitors an unearthly experience as they enjoy jagged cliffs, plunging waterfalls and active volcanoes. Lush valleys and vast canyons collide on this extraordinary island, a seriously exciting place to experience.
Boasting awesome red-rock escarpments, great cascading waterfalls and world-class waves, Kaua’i is a natural haven for travellers seeking a break from the Waikiki crowds and isle of resorts. Known as Hawaii’s Garden Island, this verdant landscape enjoys sprawling mountain ranges and plunging cliffs – the ideal backdrop for travelling adventurers looking for their next thrill.
On land, visitors have the opportunity to explore the lush valleys by bike, foot or cable; swing through treetops on the popular zipline, cycle down the steep, winding trails, or discover the myriad hiking tracks that envelope the island. By sea, Kaua’i boasts outstanding snorkelling, diving, fishing and surfing – abundant opportunities to get onto and under the water.
One of the wettest places on earth, Mt. Waialeale offers stunning natural vegetation and impressive hikes, like the famously breathtaking Kalalau Trail. In the north, the iconic Na Pali coast extends for 27 kilometres, revealing vast beaches and immeasurable natural beauty. Appreciate the cliffs by sea or air for some of the worlds best views. Kaua’i’s north coast also plays host to fantastic surf during the winter months while the south coast is where it’s at in the summer.
A popular place to visit for nature and outdoor lovers alike, Kaua’i offers a great range of tours and activities, from the panoramic views of the Hanalei Valley to the gentle Kaua’i warmth and hospitality. For some of the world’s most captivating natural beauty, look no further than Kaua’i.
The largest island in Hawaii’s archipelago, Hawaii Island (known as the ‘Big Island’) offers visitors extreme diversity. Covering four unique climate zones, travellers can jump from snowy Maunakea to tropical rainforest, and encounter molten lava and mammoth waves somewhere in between.
Hawaii’s ‘Big Island’ is almost double the size of the region’s main islands combined and is home to a diverse climate and wild geography. Famous for the active volcanoes which make up the island; Kilauea in the east is the world’s most active volcano, increasing the land mass each day as molten lava flows into the ocean. Kilauea attracts tourists from all over the world with the Volcano National Park the islands most popular attraction. Scenic flights and night time tours are available for adventure-takers.
The west coast of the island, known as the Kona Coast, features dry and sunny conditions year-round. Landscapes of black lava rock and tropical flora offer spectacular scenes while myriad beaches and cultural attractions such as Kealakeku Bay (the site where Captain Cook was killed) give tourists plenty to see and experience.
The Kona Coast is also home to a lively shopping and resort district. Juxtaposed against the sea of coffee plantations that sprawl across the region, the Kona Coast supports over 100 coffee farms which produce and offer complimentary samples and tours of their coffee.
With such a diverse climate and terrain, the Big Island is popular with hikers and adventurers alike. One of the most challenging island treks, the Crater Rim Trail starts from the Kilauea Visitor Centre and follows the rim of the volcano for 18 km. This day-long trek is a must for hiking enthusiasts. Other activities available on the island include kayaking, sailing, whale watching, big game fishing, horseback riding, hiking, heli tours and scenic tours.
With 11 different climate zones, the Big Island is also home to an amazing array of scenery featuring everything from snow-capped mountains and golden beaches to lush rainforests and waterfalls.
A cosmopolitan metropolis, Honolulu is the vivid capital city of Hawaii. Home to the enormously popular Waikiki Beach, Honolulu is the first stop for visitors of the state, setting the scene for an exciting holiday. Boasting many of Hawaii’s favourite resorts and hotels, Honolulu also serves up some of America’s best cuisine.
The capital city of Oahu and Hawaii’s most developed and well-known island, Honolulu is home to the iconic neighbourhood of Waikiki Beach and is renowned as the ‘gateway’ to the Hawaiian Islands. One of the most popular holiday destinations in the world, Honolulu is a bustling hub of shopping, resorts, dining, entertainment and nightlife; a mecca for excited tourists.
Although it enjoys a beautiful tropical landscape, Honolulu is less of a relaxing island escape than a buzz of cosmopolitan activities and adventures. Including surfing, touring and a distinct nightlife, tourists are also invited to enjoy a number of contemporary shopping experiences, including Ala Moana, the largest open-air shopping mall in the world.
Waikiki’s tropical tourist hub is set against the backdrop of expansive crystal waters, calm swell and myriad surf shops offering beginners lessons. Shadowed by the majestic Diamond Head, visitors can stretch their legs on the local scenic hike, reaching a summit that rewards with panoramic views across the city and sea.
Oahu’s North Shore is just 2 hours by bus from Waikiki Beach resort and is reputed for its massive waves during the winter months. A huge draw card for those on a surfing holiday is that Waimea Bay, Sunset Beach and the world famous Banzai Pipeline are also located on the island.
A trip to Honolulu isn’t complete without visiting the Arizona Memorial and the Pearl Harbour exhibition. In fact, Waikiki is renowned for its many diverse cultural experiences and free history tours which include the Polynesian Cultural Centre, Hawaii Plantation Village and the world famous Honolulu Aquarium. Another must-do is the free ‘Sunset on the Beach’ outdoor cinema experience on Saturday and Sunday evenings, located just minutes from the best Honolulu resorts.
The island of Oahu has much to offer beyond the attractions of Honolulu. The best way to experience the islands abundance is to hire a car and explore the charming towns, secluded bays and intimate beaches beyond the city limits. Traverse the pineapple fields, try your hand at kayaking or cool off in the dazzling waters as you experience the true beauty of Hawaii.
Located almost 50km to Hilo’s southwest, the heritage listed Volcanoes National Park is home to some of the most active volcanoes on the planet, including Kilauea which has been consistently erupting since 1983.
Created by ancient volcanic activity, one of Hawaii’s most popular natural tourist attractions is the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Located almost 50km to Hilo’s southwest, this heritage listed park is home to some of the most active volcanoes on the planet. The perfect demonstration of creation and destruction, the park is also a sacred place to the Hawaiian natives.
Established in 1916, the park covers 333,000 acres and stretched from the peak of Maunaloa to the ocean on Hawaii Island. There are almost 250km of hiking trails passing through everything from burnt deserts to rainforests and volcanic craters. A museum, walk-in lava tube, petroglyphs and two active volcanoes are also found withing the parks bounds. These volcanoes are Maunaloa whose last recorded eruption was in 1984 and Kilauea which has been erupting since 1983.
Known as the only ‘drive-in’ volcano in the world, Kilauea produces 250,000 to 650,000 cubic yards of lava daily, which is enough to resurface a 30km long, two lane highway each day. Since 1994, 491 new acres of land have been created by the volcano on Hawaii Island. How long the eruption will last no one knows, it could continue on for another 100 years or it could cease tomorrow. Visitors to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park have the opportunity to watch as red hot molten lava flows meet the sea, depending on the volcano’s activity on the day.
The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park preserves the results of more than 70 million years of volcanic activity, migration and evolution and is home to a unique and diverse ecosystem which features a wide range of native flora and fauna. Thanks to the work of the park and research by scientists, Kilauea is one of the world’s best understood volcanoes. The park also offers visitors the opportunity to get up close and personal with a fascinating ancient active volcano.
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