It doesn’t matter what you’re on the lookout for in a trip – journey, leisure, romance, cultural experiences, meals – Hawaii has all of it. Each island has its personal type of vibe, from the laid-back serenity of Kauaʻi to the bustling seashore cities of Maui.
There are such a lot of distinctive experiences, too, like mountaineering to an lively volcano on Hawaiʻi Island and watching monster surf crash on Oʻahu’s North Shore. With so many choices, right here’s a shortcut to one of the best experiences you possibly can have within the Aloha State.
1. Waikiki, Oʻahu
Waikiki on Oʻahu’s sunny south shore is the state’s most well-known resort city. Through the years the neighborhood has developed to be much less kitschy and extra genuine. Resorts provide lei-making lessons of their open-air lobbies and conventional hula is showcased on the tiki torch-lit hula mound on Kuhio Seashore. Take browsing classes from modern-day seashore boys or bask in afternoon tea on the historic Moana Surfrider. Among the island’s finest eating places are positioned in Waikiki, too.
Planning tip: The Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Seashore Resort has been placing on a fireworks present each Friday evening since 1988 (with a two-year break in the course of the pandemic). Deliver a picnic dinner and discover a spot on the seashore to observe the skies mild up. The present begins at 7:45pm in the course of the winter and 8pm in the summertime.
The volcanic panorama of Hawaiʻi Island is in contrast to some other place within the USA © Tec Petaja / Lonely Planet
2. Hawaiʻi Volcanoes Nationwide Park, Hawaiʻi Island
The 323,431-acre Hawaiʻi Volcanoes Nationwide Park on Hawaiʻi Island is a spot in contrast to wherever else in Hawaii (or the US). This is among the few locations on the planet the place you possibly can drive as much as safely view an lively volcano. Kilauea, an lively protect volcano had been, up till 2018, repeatedly erupting and altering the panorama since 1983. It’s at the moment not lively however that may change any day. The nationwide park – one among 5 on the Massive Island – stretches from sea stage to the summit of the 13,679-foot Mauna Loa, one of many largest volcanoes on the planet. Trek alongside one among dozens of hikes within the park and see outdated lava flows and tubes, steam vents, and native bushes and birds.
Detour: Cease at Volcano Village, a country city in the course of a lush rainforest stuffed with native hapuʻu fern and ‘ōhiʻa bushes simply exterior the park. You could find quaint trip leases right here, a handful of eating places, a farmers market on Sundays, a small vineyard that sells regionally produced wine, an orchid farm and the Volcano Artwork Heart, a working arts studio and gallery.
3. The Island of Molokaʻi
Undeveloped and sometimes missed, Molokaʻi gives among the most original experiences of any of the Hawaiian Islands. Spanning 38 miles lengthy and 10 miles throughout at its widest level, this island – the fifth largest in Hawaii – is house to the world’s tallest sea cliffs, the longest waterfall within the Islands and one of many state’s largest white-sand seashores, Papohaku Seashore.
There are not any massive resorts or site visitors lights right here; as a substitute, you’ll discover the windswept Moʻomomi Dunes, the two,744-acre Kamakou Protect with its distinctive montane lavatory, and the secluded Kalaupapa Peninsula, as soon as an remoted group of sufferers with Hansen’s illness. Cease at Kanemitsu Bakery in Kaunakakai for freshly made Molokaʻi candy bread proper out of the oven.
Planning tip: Many imagine the hula was born on Molokaʻi, and each summer season the island hosts its largest competition, Na Hula Piko (anticipated to return in 2023.) Hula teams from across the state carry out at this occasion.
Hawaii is ideal for brief however adventurous highway journeys just like the Street to Hana © Matt Munro / Lonely Planet
4. Hana, Maui
The 53-mile Hana Freeway – often known as the Street to Hana – is as scenic as it’s winding. The highway twists throughout 59 largely one-lane bridges, alongside plunging cliffs, previous waterfalls and round 620 turns to the unspoiled city of Hana on Maui’s northeast coast. The drive itself – which might take a number of hours – is a part of the journey. As soon as in Hana, take pleasure in hala tree-lined Hamoa Seashore, sunbathe at Waiʻānapanapa State Park’s black-sand seashore, or hike to the 400-foot Waimoku Falls within the Kīpahulu finish of Haleakalā Nationwide Park.
Planning tip: In the event you’re planning to go to Waiʻānapanapa State Park, you’ll must ebook reservations which may be made as much as 30 days prematurely. It prices US$5 per particular person and US$10 for parking per non-commercial car.
5. Nāpali Coast, Kauaʻi
The towering inexperienced cliffs of the fabled Nāpali Coast rise 2000ft from the ocean and stretch 15 miles alongside Kauaʻi’s rugged northern shoreline. You may expertise these verdant valleys and razor-edged cliffs aboard a catamaran, on a kayak, from a helicopter or alongside the 11-mile Kalalau Path.
Planning tip: To get to Keʻe Seashore, the beginning of the Kalalau Path, you’ll have to make advance reservations to enter Hāʻena State Park. It prices US$5 for out-of-state guests to enter the park, US$10 for every automotive.
Be a part of the sundown swimmers at Sundown Seashore on Oʻahu’s North Shore © JJM Images / Shutterstock
6. North Shore, Oʻahu
In winter – from November to February – among the world’s finest surfers (and 1000’s of spectators) flock to Oʻahu’s North Shore and its seven miles of well-known breaks, from Banzai Pipeline to Sundown Seashore. On occasion the waves are large enough (persistently bigger than 40ft, measured from the entrance of the wave) at Waimea Bay to carry the distinguished, invite-only Eddie Aikau Massive Wave Invitation. Summer season brings calmer ocean circumstances, nice for swimming and snorkeling. The colourful seashore city of Haleʻiwa options cute boutiques, eateries and the well-known Matsumoto Shave Ice store.
Detour: To get a chook’s-eye view of this well-known shoreline, take the 2-mile ʻEhukai Pillbox hike. The path climbs the facet of the northern Koʻolau Mountains to World Battle II bunkers that provide panoramic views of the complete North Shore shoreline.
7. Haleakalā Nationwide Park, Maui
Catching the dawn on the high of Haleakalā, a dormant volcano that rises to 10,023ft above sea stage, is among the hottest actions on Maui. Reservations are required for dawn – and the payment doesn’t embody entrance into the nationwide park – and may be onerous to get. Think about viewing the sundown as a substitute and staying for the stargazing. The park additionally has quite a few mountaineering trails by otherworldly landscapes and the possibility to see the endangered ʻāhinahina (silversword) and nēnē (Hawaiian goose), the state chook.
Planning tip: The park gives pristine darkish skies – with minimal mild air pollution – good for stargazing. Temperatures can drop rapidly on the summit, so costume warmly and convey layers. You’ll additionally need to carry your individual snacks, as there are not any meals or drinks out there within the park.
Broadly seen as one among Hawaii’s finest seashores, Hanalei Bay on Kaua’i is ideal for surfers and seashore loungers alike © Glowing Earth Images / 500px
8. Hanalei, Kauaʻi
On Kauaʻi’s quiet north shore is the sleepy city of Hanalei, marked by emerald inexperienced mountains, kalo loʻi (flooded taro fields) and among the island’s finest seashores, together with the breathtaking Hanalei Bay with its historic pier. Browse artwork galleries and boutiques, eat recent poke from Hanalei Poke and plant-based taro doughnuts from Holey Grail, and stroll round a farmers market.
Detour: About 2 miles west of Hanalei Bay is Lumahaʻi Seashore, made well-known by the 1958 basic movie South Pacific. That is the place Mitzi Gaynor spent her time “washing that man proper out of her hair.”
9. Maunakea, Hawaiʻi Island
Maunakea or “white mountain” is, at 13,802ft above sea stage, the world’s tallest mountain when measured from its base. (Greater than half, or 19,698ft, of Maunakea lies underwater, making it 33,500ft from base to summit.) It’s thought-about probably the most sacred of all Hawaiʻi volcanoes and is thought by Native Hawaiians as a area of the gods. It‘s additionally a hub of astronomical statement with greater than a dozen large telescopes from world wide. You may ebook guided stargazing excursions with outfitters like Hawaiʻi Forest & Path.
Detour: In April, Hilo, which is about half-hour west of Maunakea, hosts the annual Merrie Monarch Competition, a aggressive hula competition that includes among the state’s finest dancers and performers. You need to ebook tickets prematurely to attend the occasion, however the craft present, which is a big draw, is open to the general public.
10. Upcountry Maui, Maui
On the slopes of Haleakalā are the quaint cities of Kula and Makawao, collectively referred to as Upcountry Maui. Up right here, the air is crispier, the vibe is slower. Choose recent strawberries in season at Kula Nation Farms, wander across the aromatic Aliʻi Kula Lavender Farm, or feed goats at Browsing Goat Dairy. This space is known for its paniolo, or Hawaiian cowboys.
Detour: Not many guests know that grapes are grown right here. Open since 1974, MauiWine produces wines constituted of estate-grown grapes, pineapples and raspberries. Go to its tasting room on the picturesque ʻUlupalakua Ranch.
11. Pearl Harbor, Oʻahu
Recognized for the 1941 assault on the USS Arizona, which launched the US into World Battle II, Pearl Harbor attracts tens of millions of holiday makers annually to the memorial erected in honor of the 1102 males who’re nonetheless entombed within the metallic hull of the battleship. You may catch a ship to the USS Arizona Memorial, tour the plane hangars of the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, and stand on the decks of the “Mighty Mo” battleship the place Imperial Japan formally surrendered in 1945. Pearl Harbor was as soon as referred to as Wai Momi, or pearl waters, due to its ample oyster beds.
Often known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” Kaua’i’s Waimea Canyon is price a visit © Alexander Howard / Lonely Planet
12. Waimea Canyon, Kauaʻi
Known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”, Waimea Canyon with its buttes, crags and earthen colours, stretches 10 miles lengthy, is 1 mile extensive and is greater than 3600ft deep. Cease on the Waimea Canyon Lookout for sweeping views of the canyon and the 800ft Waipoʻo Falls. However you too can expertise the canyon by way of quite a few mountaineering trails, on horseback and from a helicopter. Any manner you see it, it’s breathtaking.
Detour: The most effective trails are positioned throughout the 4,345-acre Kōkeʻe State Park. The associated fee is US$5 per particular person (nonresident) and US$10 per automotive. From the park, you possibly can cease on the Kalalau Lookout at 4120ft above the Nāpali Coast, with commanding views of the luxurious, amphitheater-headed Kalalau Valley. Tenting is obtainable and the restaurant is price a cease (however observe: it solely serves breakfast and lunch.)
13. South Kona, Hawaiʻi Island
Head south from Kailua-Kona and also you’ll be in espresso nation. This space – Kaʻawaloa (Captain Cook dinner), Hōnaunau, Kāʻu – is thought for its high-quality espresso grown solely on this excessive elevation and volcanic soils on the slopes of Hualālai Volcano. There are a whole lot of farms right here, and lots of provide guided excursions and free tastings. Hōlualoa is a small artsy city with cute retailers. Kealakekua Bay within the area of Captain Cook dinner offers among the island’s finest snorkeling. And Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau Nationwide Historic Park is a sacred place of refuge that you just tour.
Detour: In Keauhou, you possibly can dive at evening with the light manta rays that swim alongside this shoreline. Seeing these sleek giants glide and twirl within the water with you is an expertise you gained’t doubtless neglect.
‘Iolani Palace was as soon as the residence after which a jail for Queen Liliʻuokalani © Randy Faris / Getty Pictures
14. ʻIolani Palace, Oʻahu
Inbuilt 1882 beneath King David Kalākaua, ʻIolani Palace in Downtown Honolulu is the one royal residence within the US. It took three years to finish at a value of US$343,595, with Hawaiʻi’s first electrical mild system, flush bathrooms and intra-house telephones. The final two monarchs of the Hawaiian Kingdom – King Kalākaua and his sister and successor, Queen Liliʻuokalani – resided right here till the overthrow of the dominion in 1893. You may tour this American Florentine-style palace and see its throne rooms, eating rooms and the personal residing quarters of the royal household.
Detour: Stroll to close by Chinatown and browse the markets or eat at one of many many eating places – starting from Korean takeout to poke bowls to eating places run by James Beard Award winners and nominees – on this neighborhood.
15. Molokini, Maui
Three miles off shore from Wailea on Maui is Molokini Crater, identified for its deep, crystal-clear waters teeming with marine life. This crescent-shaped islet is a marine protect, house to greater than 250 species of tropical fish. The one technique to get to this well-liked snorkeling and diving website is by boat.
Planning tip: Whereas the boat journey out to Molokini is often easy, the journey again may be tumultuous. In the event you’re vulnerable to seasickness, both sit within the heart of the boat the place it’s extra steady or take some motion-sickness cures.
16. Kailua, Oʻahu
A fast 15-minute drive from Honolulu, Kailua looks like a world away. The seashore city is constructed round Kailua Seashore, a powdery-white stretch of sand that runs 2.5 miles lengthy. Individuals fish, surf, kayak, swim and paddle canoes in these waters. Close by Lanikai Seashore, with its unobstructed views of the Mokulua Islands, is one other well-liked cease for seashore lovers. It’s smaller and extra secluded than Kailua Seashore, however usually extra crowded due to its fame for calm waters and beautiful vistas. The city itself boasts well-liked eating places, boutiques, native breweries and an incredible regionally owned unbiased bookshop referred to as Bookends.
Planning tip: Think about exploring Kailua city by bike. You may hire one from The Bike Store. (There’s no city-run bike-sharing on this facet of the island.) The store has a spread of cruisers, mountain bikes and highway bikes for hire, full with helmets and bike locks. Electra cruises – the most well-liked bikes – begin at US$18 for as much as 4 hours. You may ebook on-line and decide it up on the store.
17. Outdated Lahaina Lūʻau, Maui
Open in 1986, the regionally owned Outdated Lahaina Lūʻau on Maui has been a favourite lūʻau for many years, showcasing conventional hula, music and meals. It’s positioned proper on the ocean off Entrance Avenue in Lahaina with nice sundown views. Tickets embody reside leisure, an open bar, historic storytelling and chanting, and an all-you-can-eat buffet with Hawaiian staples like lau lau, kālua pig, poi and poke.
A Hawaiian inexperienced sea turtle swimming over a reef © OverboardDadPhotography / Getty Pictures
18. Hanauma Bay, Oʻahu
This protected nature protect in East Honolulu is among the finest spots to snorkel on Oʻahu. About 400 species of fish inhabit this bay, together with honu (Hawaiian inexperienced sea turtles), and the occasional endangered Hawaiian monk seal. The pandemic introduced new restrictions for the favored bay: on-line reservations are required and it prices US$25 per particular person for non-Hawaii residents 13 years and older. Parking is one other US$3 per automotive. The bay is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Planning tip: You may hire snorkel gear on the bay, so that you don’t must lug your individual. When you can stroll down the steep highway to the seashore, you too can choose to take the free tram (we suggest that on the best way again to your automotive).
Least identified of all of the Hawaiian Islands – and the smallest inhabited island – Lanaʻi is a perfect escape. Keep in luxurious resorts with world-class facilities fronting the attractive and secluded Hulopoʻe Seashore, a chosen marine protect stuffed with colourful fish and generally spinner dolphins. Or discover the remainder of the island – the wild and windswept 8-mile Shipwreck Seashore (full with an precise shipwreck), the traditional fishing village of Kaunolū, or go to the unusual panorama of Keahikawelo (Backyard of the Gods).
Planning tip: If you wish to enterprise exterior the resorts of Lanaʻi Metropolis, you’ll have to hire a four-wheel drive car. There’s no public transportation or ride-sharing on the island.