Hawaii Travel Blog & GuideThe Ultimate Guide to Hawaii – All You Need to Know Before Getting there
Hawaii is a place with a lot of surprises, beauty, and diversity. These remote islands continue to be defined by the pervasive spirit of Aloha, the vibrant culture of the people, and the revered and storied traditions handed down through the ages. Mother Nature worked tirelessly to create this amazing location.
Hawaii is the most diverse place you’ll ever see, with everything from lush rainforests to desolate deserts. People go from all over the world to visit Hawai’i because of its endless beaches, active volcanoes, lush rainforests, delicious cuisine, and diverse flora and fauna.
Hikers, honeymooners, surfers, and anybody else seeking to relax and take in the slower pace of island life frequent this destination. The land (or Aina), people, and native culture of Hawaii are what make it so beautiful. Understanding Hawaii’s complicated and difficult past is crucial for tourists, and they should treat the island with the utmost respect as they would any other location.
Hawaii has a variety of islands, so there is an option for any type of traveller. Hawaii offers a limitless tropical retreat, with surfing on O’ahu, the wonders of Maui, the beauty of Honolulu, and the hidden gems on Lana’i. Beautiful beaches, spectacular jungles, breathtaking waterfalls, first-rate diving, and world-class surf might all be found there.
Hawaii’s top 5 attractions and activities
Check out Hawaii Pearl Harbor
In 1941, the Japanese attack on the American navy at Pearl Harbor propelled the country into the Second World War. The USS Arizona, the devastated ship that served as the final resting place for 1,102 marines and sailors, is the focal point of the Pearl Harbor National Memorial on the Hawaiian island of O’ahu. You’ll need to ride a ferry that is free but requires bookings in advance if you want to see the sunken ship and the memorial that has been erected on top of it. These sell out quickly, and lineups for tickets purchased on the day of the event may extend for hours. The full site is free to visit.
Take a tour of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Two of the largest volcanoes in the world, including the extremely active Kilauea, are located on the Big Island. From the Halema’umau crater, one of the most active volcanoes on Earth, you can see its light at night. The Thurston lava tube, a lava-formed cave you can explore, is next to the parking lot. A number of notable and current eruption sites can be seen while travelling along The Chain of Craters. As the road is frequently coated in ash, take careful to verify the daily report on its state beforehand.Due to the national park’s exceptional ecological importance, it is both an International Biosphere Reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For $30 USD per vehicle, admission grants you seven days of park access.
Honolulu, the state’s capital and largest metropolis, is Hawaiian for “sheltered harbour.” It provides a distinctive fusion of Asian, Hawaiian, and American cultures and is known as a wonderful gourmet city because of the abundance of low-cost noodle shops and establishments serving fresh seafood. You can participate in one of the several street parties if you’re in town on First Friday, which is the first Friday of the month. While staying in Honolulu, go for a trek up Diamond Head, tour the Iolani Palace, wander around the hip Kaka’ako neighbourhood, and relax on the beach. Just stay away from Waikiki, where the beach is artificial and there are a lot of tourists.
Stargaze from Mauna Kea
With a height of 13,796 feet (4,207 metres), this dormant volcano is the highest point in Hawaii and a holy place for the indigenous Hawaiians. It last erupted 4,000–6,000 years ago, over a million years ago. The largest collection of telescopes in the world are housed in a variety of observatory domes on Mauna Kea, but they aren’t accessible to tourists. Instead, go to the visitor centre and use the telescopes there to view the night sky or go to a free stargazing event You must either take a trip or rent a 4WD vehicle if you want to get to the summit.
Go diving or sunbathing in Hawaii
Snorkeling and scuba diving are essential activities when visiting Hawaii. Swim in the clear water and get an opportunity to see amazing species, such as manta rays, sea turtles, and schools of colourful fish. Popular snorkelling locations include Kealakekua Bay, Poipu Beach Park, and the North Shore, while some of the top dive locations are Kailua-Kona, Golden Arches, and The Cathedrals. While two-tank dives begin at $125 USD, snorkel tours begin at $90 USD.
Other Attractions and Activities in Hawaii
Explore the Waipio Valley.
Hawaiian rulers once lived in the beautiful wilderness of the Waipi’o Valley (Big Island). It is now covered in taro fields. The river that passes between the valley walls, leading to waterfalls before emptying into the ocean at a black sand beach, bears the name Waipi’o. There are numerous trails here, but the major one leads to the black sand beach and back up the valley. It is 6.5 miles (10 kilometres) long and taxing, but it is worthwhile.
Diving with manta rays at night
Take a sunset cruise from Kona on the Big Island to the Manta Ray Village. You may swim with enormous manta rays here, some of which are up to 1,600 pounds (725 kilogrammes) in weight and measure 18 feet (5.5 metres) in length! One of the best places in the world for swimming with mantas is there. The phytoplankton and zooplankton are what the manta rays consume, and bioluminescence gives them the appearance of glowing underwater. While single-tank night dives begin at $149 USD, snorkel tours begin at $125 USD.
Take a chopper tour.
Take a helicopter tour to see the islands from above and experience their breathtaking scenery. Admire the turquoise ocean from above as you soar over the luscious jungles and dramatic volcanic mountains. Although they aren’t inexpensive, they are a worthwhile investment for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Rides typically last 45 to 60 minutes and concentrate on a specific island. The beauty of the Big Island, O’ahu, and Kaua’i is breathtaking. The cost of a helicopter tour begins at $325 USD per person. Two of the largest and most established tour companies are Paradise Helicopters and Blue Hawaiian.
Attend a sunset luau in Kaanapali
A luau is a customary Hawaiian celebration or meal that frequently includes entertainment. Men and women would dine separately at luaus prior to 1819 because of this gender separation. A traditional Hawaiian dance ceremony, a Samoan fire dance, and a traditional Hawaiian buffet—the majority of which is prepared in an underground oven—are all featured during the Kaanapali Luau. Additionally, you’ll have a beach sunset as a backdrop the entire time. Prices begin at USD $125.
Hike the Napali Coast and Waimea Canyon in Hawaii.
Hike one of the many trails along the west side of the island to see why people refer to Kaua’i as “The Garden Isle.” The well-marked trails provide breathtaking views of the canyon and coast in addition to intriguing tropical vegetation.
Here, you can even go on lengthier, multi-day adventures. The Kalalau Trail, with its 22 miles (35 kilometres) of pathways through valleys, streams, and shoreline, is regarded as the most picturesque hike in Hawaii.
You’ll need to apply for a multi-day camping permit if you want to complete the full trail. $35 USD is the daily per-person fee for permits. Only 60 licences are issued each day, and they are quickly taken (reservations go up 90 days in advance).Another option is to purchase a day-use pass, which entitles you to a 6-hour time slot for $10 + $5 for admission per person with restricted parking. In the event that it is sold out, you must use the shuttle, which costs $35 USD and includes admission.
Visit the Bishop Museum.
The Bishop Museum on O’ahu is a Polynesian anthropological museum that displays the artwork and artefacts of Hawaii. It houses the largest collection of Polynesian items in the entire globe and is the biggest museum in Hawaii. Its principal exhibit is the Hawaiian Hall, which features Hawaiian mythology (it has a stunning interior with beautiful wooden architecture). A kids’ science centre is also present. The museum was established in 1889 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. On weekdays, admission is $26.95 USD, and on weekends, it’s $29.95 USD.
Do some river tubing
Backcountry river tubing is a popular activity on Kaua’i. After driving through deserted sugar cane estates, you’ll float through a network of canals in an antiquated irrigation system from the 19th century. Dark caverns and rich jungle scenery are encountered as you descend the river. The duration of a three-hour Kaua’i Backcountry Tour starts at $149 USD. Lunch and beverages are included.
Take Hana’s scenic drive to get there.
Driving the winding road to Hana is a must if you’re on Maui. The route down the coast is winding and has many waterfalls and picturesque overlooks. To reach the 400-foot (121-meter) Waimoku Falls, stop at the Oheo Gulch and spend some time ascending the Pipiwai Trail. You only have to travel four miles (6.5 kilometres) and get to see some enormous banyan trees. Look into the Kahekili Highway for yet another beautiful journey. It contains hairpin twists, is less crowded, and offers a variety of scenery (such as the Nakalele Blowhole).
Experience a coffee plantation
One of the few states in the USA where coffee is grown is Hawai’i. Visit the Kuaiwi Farm in Kona, Hawaii, for a thorough look at a coffee plantation. You’ll discover everything there is to know about the production of coffee, as well as how bananas, cocoa, pineapples, and other organic necessities are grown. Samples are included in the $35 USD tours. A chocolate-making lesson is also available for $85 USD.
Study surfing in Hawaii
Hawaii has a huge surfing scene. O’ahu Major competitions are frequently conducted on the North Shore, which is particularly well-liked by surfers of all skill levels. Do some classes if you want to learn how to surf (or even a multi-day surf camp). The average cost of a group class is $100 USD. Great teachers are available at North Shore O’ahu Surf School, which also provides private lessons for $200 for a two-hour session. Around the islands, you may rent surfboards for about $25–35 USD per day or $100–130 USD per week.
At Haleakala, observe the sunrise.
On Maui, at a height of 10,023 feet (3,055 metres), the dormant volcano Haleakala offers one of the most breathtaking sunrises you’ll ever witness. The views of Maui from the summit are worth the risky trip up and the bitter cold at the top (bring gloves and a hat). The strenuous 12-mile (19-kilometer) volcano climb can be completed by hiking through flower farms, pine forests, and pebbly volcanic landscapes. Even though it’s very simple to do on your own, excursions are also offered (they run 6 hours and start at $210 USD). Do this on one of your first days if you are going from the mainland because your jetlag will help you and you will be able to wake up early with ease.
Diamond Head hike In Hawaii
The most well-known sight in O’ahu is Diamond Head, which is situated on the eastern end of Waikiki. This dead crater and dormant volcano were both formed by a volcanic explosion more than 300,000 years ago. For sweeping views of Honolulu, trek to the picturesque lookout point at the summit. Wear the most comfortable shoes you can since even though the trail is only.8 miles (1.2 kilometres) long, it is extremely steep. Since the climb is so well-known, you should set off as early as possible (before the busloads of tourists show up). Although admission is only $5 USD and parking is $10 USD per vehicle, reservations are required (you can reserve up to 14 days in advance).
Walk along Ka’iwa Ridge
Due to the presence of military observation stations from the 1940s (which are not technically pillboxes because they were never utilised for defensive purposes), this hike is most commonly referred to as the Lanikai Pillbox Trail. A 1.8-mile (2.9-kilometer), moderately steep trek will bring you to a ridge with views of the emerald-colored waters of Lanikai and Kailua beaches. Since there is no shade, it is better to take this climb in the morning or late in the day. Although staying in Waikiki may make Diamond Head more convenient, the drive out to this trek is definitely worthwhile.
Hit the beach
In Hawaii, it’s difficult to find a lousy beach to relax on. Most of them include spectacular sunsets, swaying palm trees, and fine, white sand beaches. Take a look at the beaches on the Big Island’s Papakolea Beach/Green Sand Beach, O’ahu’s Kailua Beach, Ala Moana Beach Park, Maui’s Makena Beach, Kaua’i’s Hanalei Beach, Lana’i’s Polihua Beach, and Maui’s Kaanapali Beach, to mention a few. Hawaii has an incredible coastline, and you can frequently stop your car and unwind on any nearby beach without having to worry about it getting too crowded.
On the Big Island, Hilo is the busiest town, and its historic centre is teeming with art galleries, museums, boutiques, and eateries. The Farmer’s Market, which is open seven days a week but has particularly sizable markets every Wednesday and Saturday, is one of its must-see highlights. Fresh fruit, smoothies, handcrafted jewellery, as well as frequently appearing musicians and street entertainers, are all available here. Walk around the Liliuokalani Gardens and take in the Japanese rock gardens and pagodas while you’re there (admission is free). The best and freshest mochi (Japanese rice cake) you can find outside of Japan can be found at Two Ladies Kitchen, so make sure to check it out.
Discover Hawaii’s Islands.
Maui – The Valley Island
Because Maui epitomises the ideal tropical retreat, it has long been a popular travel destination. There are a tonne of activities in Maui that will truly charm you thanks to its stunning coastal views, unique volcanoes, neighbouring wildlife sanctuaries, and a large portion of the island that has been left wild and undeveloped.
It’s not surprising that tourists from all over the world travel to this lush island to see what Hawaii is actually like with its resorts along the coastline, picturesque beaches, majestic palm trees, and rich agriculture.
With a surface area of around 727 square miles, Maui is the second-largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago and the second-most popular tourist destination in Hawaii. It is, in our opinion, a fantastic option for first-time tourists.
Kauai – The Garden Island
The island of Kauai is rich in culture, natural beauty, and splendour. It is the perfect example of the true meaning of aloha. The island is undoubtedly a sort of undiscovered gem. Roads cannot be used to access more than 90% of the island. The spectacular Na Pali Coastline, which is the most stunning area of the entire island, is actually far from any roads, and most people who adore Kauai prefer it that way. The island, perhaps, has more coastline than any other island in the chain and loaded with gorgeous beaches. This is the island for you if you appreciate hiking, lush landscapes, and a more authentically rural Hawaiian experience.
The oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands, Kaua’i is thought to be 5.1 million years old. The island’s 533 square miles of land give it a form that is almost round. In terms of both size and number of visitors, Kauai is the fourth-largest island in the Hawaiian chain.
Oahu – The Gathering Place
Hawaii’s most populous island, Oahu, is also known as the “Gathering Place,” and many consider it to be the epitome of paradise. Pearl Harbor, Waikiki Beach, and Honolulu, the state capital, are what most people think of when they think of Oahu. Every day, thousands of people visit these places. It would be an enormous understatement to suggest that Oahu is bursting at the seams with incredible sights and attractions. On Oahu, there is almost always something interesting to see.
Although Oahu is the third-largest island in Hawaii, it is undoubtedly the most populous. Almost a million people, or nearly three-quarters of the state’s population, live on the 600 square miles of mountains and beaches that make up Oahu. Of all the Hawaiian islands, Oahu receives the most visitors.
Hawaii – The Big Island
Hawaii’s Big Island appears resolved to defy convention—specifically, the notion of the typical tropical island. The constant conflict between the blue ocean, the rain, the black lava plains, and the green trees is almost inexplicable here. It’s best to always be prepared for the unexpected on the Big Island. Here, not even the beaches abide by the rules. Black sand beaches are usually always easier to locate than white ones, and if you’re feeling particularly daring, you might even dip your toes into one of the few green sand beaches that exist.
The Big Island of Hawaii, which is naturally the largest island in the state, is the third most visited island in Hawaii. The Big Island’s landmass is about 4,050 square miles, the same size as the state of Connecticut, and it is still expanding due to the Kilauea volcano on the eastern coast of the island.
The sixth-smallest island in Hawaii is Lana’i, often called Pineapple Island. It’s also the smallest inhabited island that is visible to the general public. Beautiful beaches, picturesque nature trails and a few golf courses can be found on the island, which can be reached by ferry from Maui in around 45 minutes. If you want to avoid the throng, it’s a tranquil location to get away for a day or two. Think about going on a hike along the Kealia Kapu-Kaunolu Village Heritage Trail or renting a 4×4 jeep. Take the first ferry in and the latest ferry out if you are visiting for a day trip to make the most of your time.
This island, which is the fifth-smallest in size, is perhaps the “most” Hawaiian because it has the greatest concentration of native Hawaiians. It feels quite rural and is very different from the tourist hotspots of the larger islands because there are only 8,000 people living here. It’s a nice area to come if you want to experience Hawai’i’s calm way of life; it’s located just north of Maui. Kepuhi Beach is a well-known location for surfing and swimming.
What is the Best Time to Visit Hawaii?
As Americans on the mainland attempt to escape the harsher winter months at this time, peak season in Hawaii begins in the middle of December and lasts until the end of March or mid-April. During this season, the daily average high is 78°F (26°C).
Low season travel (mid-April to mid-June/mid-September to mid-December) provides pleasant weather and fewer tourists (and slightly cheaper prices). The typical summer daytime temperature is 85°F (29°C).
There is actually never a terrible time to travel here because it is constantly hot and sunny!
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