Safety Tips for Snorkeling in Hawaii

Oahu Snorkeling

Safety Tips for Snorkeling in Hawaii

Snorkeling in Hawaii is one of the most popular activities for tourists and locals alike – and with good reason. It opens up an entire underwater world, something most people on the mainland simply don’t have access to. People who snorkel get to experience life under the surface, see the vibrant wildlife that call the vast expanse of blue home, and simply get to explore something unique and new.

While snorkeling off the golden shores of Hawaii, there are some things to keep in mind to ensure you remain safe along your journey. Snorkeling tours always begin with an introduction to snorkeling safety, but here are a few tips to keep in mind that may not be covered in that overview.

Snorkel in Pairs

Snorkeling in HawaiiEven when you’re traveling with a tour group, it’s all too easy to get separated from the others. Always keep a buddy in sight and never snorkel alone.

Keep an Eye on Beach Conditions

If you’re snorkeling with a tour group, you won’t have to worry about this, but should you decide to go on your own, always know the conditions of the beach and water. You’ll want to know how the visibility is, if the current is too strong, if waves are too high – know what you’re diving into.

 

 

 

Sunscreen, Sunscreen, Sunscreen

Even if it’s cloudy and though you may be spending your time underwater, always wear sunscreen. The tropical sun is unforgiving, regardless of cloud cover. Many people even choose to wear a t-shirt when snorkeling in Hawaii, for extra protection from the rays.

Stay Hydrated

Snorkeling tours typically have a bottle of water and a lunch waiting for you. It doesn’t have to be a fancy feast, just enough to keep your energy up and to keep hydrated.

Respect Mother Nature

Snorkeling in HawaiiOceanic life thrives when not disturbed by too much human interference; while you’re below the surface, be respectful and don’t touch anything. Coral is beautiful, with some alluring textures, but it’s also very delicate and is vital to the ecosystem of the Pacific. Fish and other sea creatures can be equally enticing, but please admire them from a distance. And whatever you do, never touch the sea turtles you may see gliding through the depths. Not only is this harmful to them, it’s illegal.

 

 

 

 

Snorkel in the Morning

Not only does an early snorkel give you a better chance of watching Mother Nature at her best, it also helps you avoid the more unpredictable afternoon winds. While not necessarily dangerous, heavier winds can cause water to get cloudy, making it difficult to really enjoy your time underwater.

Conserve Energy

Snorkeling in HawaiiWhen you’re snorkeling, you may get the urge to start kicking and swimming at a faster pace. Really, though, snorkeling shouldn’t require that much energy. Just let yourself float and glide through the water. Enjoying the snorkeling experience is all about keeping relaxed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book a Snorkel Tour

There are so many options out there that you really shouldn’t have to snorkel on your own. A tour not only provides you with the equipment you need, it’s the best way to keep safe while you’re exploring the depths of the Pacific.

Unlike many tours that restrict what you can do, snorkeling in Hawaii with a tour lets you explore the Pacific as you want – within reason, of course. If there’s a sea cave or lava tube that’s enticing you, don’t hesitate to explore it, so long as you know your limitations, do it with a buddy, and are back to the boat ahead of the scheduled departure time.

Hawaii For Athletes

Hawaii For Athletes

Hawaii has something for everyone. While some people visit to unwind on exotic beaches, enjoy luxurious hotels, and discover cultural wonders, others like to take full advantage of the islands’ unique landscapes, which invite guests to climb, swim, hike, and explore outdoors. If you’re one of those who like to play outside, Hawaii has some truly unique treats to offer you.

Surf’s Up!

The first sport that comes to mind when thinking of Hawaii is, of course, surfing! The North Shore of Oahu is world-famous for its giant waves and the daredevils who ride them. Not quite ready to ride giants? No problem. The wild breaks such as Waimea Bay, Sunset Beach, and Pipeline become tame in the summertime. There’s always the rest of Hawaii to consider, too. Waikiki welcomes you with good longboarding conditions all year round. The west side of Oahu, as well as countless surf breaks on the other islands, offer less crowded surf spots for any style and skill level. Consider hiring a surf instructor or guide. That way you won’t have to worry about searching for the right break and hauling your gear. Surfing can be a fun and safe activity for children, too, if you know where to go.

Explore an Aquatic Wonderland

Maui Snorkel at Molokini Crater
Molokini Crater

Do you prefer being below the surface of the sea? Hawaii is sure to impress you with its world-class snorkel and scuba spots. There are plenty of reef areas near beaches easily accessible by car, especially on Oahu. Sharks Cove is popular for its shallow tide pools where fish teem and children can safely swim along. Don’t miss out on Two Steps on the Big Island and Hanauma Bay near Honolulu. Some of these famous reefs do tend to get crowded though. If you want to get away from the main beaches and enjoy a kaleidoscopic underwater universe more privately, book a cruise to Molokini Crater. This half-submerged volcanic crater is a perfect environment for countless varieties of fish, coral, and other colorful sea life. Molokini Crater is situated just off the golden shores of Maui and charter tours often include a hands-on sailing experience, lots of time to swim and play, food and drinks, snorkeling equipment, and experienced guides.

Explore on Horseback

Not only the shores of Hawaii tempt visitors to play outside. There are also dense jungles, lush green ridges and plains, and of course volcanoes for you to explore. The easiest way to get off the road and into the green is on foot. But you’ll get to see more in a day without sacrificing the tranquility of natural transportation if you bring an equine companion along. Several ranches in Hawaii offer horseback tours. Check out Kualoa Ranch for some picturesque horseback tours on the windward side of Oahu. Kualoa’s guides cater to experienced horse whisperers as well as kids and newcomers, and their territory reaches from the green ridges and plains down to the azure sea.

Experience a Volcano – Up Close

The hottest adventure in the Hawaiian Islands surely is a hike on an active volcano. The Big Island of Hawaii is continually growing and shaking with volcanic eruptions. This provides an ongoing stream of molten lava through the black deserts of newly-created land. But be aware of the hazards. The lava fields are constantly changing, with lava flows changing direction, brittle cliffs breaking, and caves appearing and disappearing. If you want to take a trip into this otherworldly landscape, make sure you come with an experienced guide. The tour guides are always updated on recent volcanic activity and they can bring you safely near the latest active lava flows.

 

Four Must-See Locations on Four Islands

kualoa valley

Four Must-See Locations on Four Islands

Usually, the only downside to a vacation is that, at some point, it has to end. As much as we’d love for them to go on for just a few more days, life and time constraints get in the way. That being said, any amount of time spent in the Hawaiian Islands is going to be time well spent and will become the source of memories you won’t soon forget.

If you find yourself in a time crunch and have to be extra selective about what attractions, adventures, and locations to focus on, here’s a list of one location on each of the four main islands that you should pay close attention to.

Whether you’re adventuring on Kauai, relaxing on the Big Island, enjoying the weather on Maui, or exploring Oahu, be sure to make time to experience these four incredible locations.

Kualoa Ranch, Oahu

Make a new Jurassic friend, Kualoa Ranch Oahu

On Oahu, it’s a toss-up between Pearl Harbor and Kualoa Ranch, but if it’s adventure and thrills you’re looking for, the Kualoa is a great choice.

The first things you notice about this Windward Oahu swatch of beauty are the exquisite vistas that await you. Large fields of rolling hills, dense stretches of forestry, golden sandy beaches – it’s no wonder many Hollywood studios have turned to the ranch as a backdrop for their films.

Some of the most recognizable blockbusters have scenes filmed at Kualoa, and if following in the footsteps of some of Hollywood’s biggest stars piques your interest, you can set off on an ATV journey across the ranch. Not only can you see instantly-recognizable locations of movies and TV shows shot here, you also get a first-rate view of the awe-inspiring beauty of Oahu.

Hana, Maui

Waterfall and a bridge on the road to Hana, Maui

The town of Hana takes up a small chunk of the eastern coast of Maui but what it has to offer makes it seem so much bigger. Beyond exploring the quaint town and enjoying plenty of local culture and flair, the drive to Hana may be one of the most exciting parts about visiting.

The road to Hana is a 68-mile excursion that takes you down a winding road of over 600 curves and plenty of places to pull off to enjoy the natural beauty of the island. The fun starts well before you hit town, as you’re likely to happen upon multiple hidden waterfalls.

When you come to Hana, you come for the view along the road there and stay for the fun of being in an authentic old Hawaiian town.

 

 

Hilo, Hawaii

Epic Lava Hickers
Hiking across an ancient lava field, Hilo Hawaii

Located on the eastern side of the Big Island, Hilo packs an incredible punch that’s brimming with Hawaiian culture, history, and plenty of attractions to see. The town of Hilo overlooks Hilo Bay and owing to it’s location on the rainy side of the island, it’s incredibly lush and green all year long.

When you’re ready for a break from the quaint town of Hilo and its beautiful surroundings, you can set off on a hike through the nearby lava fields or better yet, take a helicopter ride to get a bird’s-eye view of the ongoing eruption of Kilauea.

Hilo is also home to the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii, Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Company, Hilo Tropical Gardens, Mokupapapa Discovery Center, and the Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo.

 

 

Koloa, Kauai

Historic sugar mill, Koloa Kauai

If it’s an all-natural glimpse into the Hawaiian Islands you’re looking for, Koloa is the place for you. The attractions in and around this small town on Kauai showcase the beauty of the island along with its agricultural importance.

The Old Sugar Mill of Koloa may be the most important building on Kauai. Today, it’s a National Historic Landmark that tells the story of the first successful large-scale sugar operation in the Hawaiian Islands. You can also explore Makauwahi Cave, enjoy the view from Spouting Horn lookout, and be intrigued by the local culture at Kaneiolouma Heiau.

 

 

The Crater and the Party: Oahu’s Most Exclusive Luau

The Crater and the Party: Oahu’s Most Exclusive Luau

You’ve come to Hawaii for an authentic island experience and everywhere you look, there seems to be an opportunity to create another memory of paradise that will stick with you forever. One event that every visitor needs to experience is an authentic Hawaiian luau – one of the most culturally important activities the islands have to offer.

Oahu has no shortage of incredible authentic luaus, but there’s one that stands out among the myriad of options. The Diamond Head Luau expertly mixes Hawaiian culture with the natural awe of an ancient volcanic crater formed hundreds of thousands of years ago.

On the southern coast of Oahu, it’s impossible to miss Diamond Head. Located to the southeast of Waikiki and downtown Honolulu, the crater has long played a role in the island’s history. From ancient Hawaiian temples to military bases, the crater has been used through the years for a variety of purposes.

The Diamond Head Luau

Flower Lei Making
Flower lei making

Today, Diamond Head provides a stunning backdrop for what’s considered Oahu’s most exclusive luau. The guest list is short, so be sure to get your name on it before you even leave for your vacation. Those who do get to enjoy the Diamond Head Luau are treated to an experience that showcases some of the most colorful aspects of Hawaiian culture, from the delicious spread of traditional and modern food for all to enjoy to the introduction to local customs like basket weaving, lei making, and hula lessons.

 

 

 

 

 

The Luau Experience

Diamond Head Luau Polynesians
Polynesian dancers

The moment you arrive you’re immersed in an incredible culture with a lei greeting – a warm Hawaiian welcome. The smaller group of guests lets you mingle with those around you while you wait for the festivities to truly begin. Once the night is kicked off, it’s an endless stream of locally inspired music, lots of expertly prepared food, and a  healthy dose of Hawaiian culture.

Be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to try ukulele lessons or receive a (temporary) Hawaiian tattoo. Beyond the food, the Diamond Head Luau is alive with Hawaiian and Polynesian entertainment, including hula dancers who showcase the customary Hawaiian dance.

The Diamond Head Luau is one of Oahu’s finest experiences; one that serves as an introduction to the Pacific influences that have made Hawaii into the paradise it is today.

Aloha and Welcome to Oahu!

Aloha and Welcome to Oahu!

Oahu is known as “The Gathering Place,” which is fitting as it’s the most popular destination for travelers to the islands – and for good cause. From the North Shore to the southern beaches, the island is brimming with activities to enjoy and stunning sights to see, and to ensure every visitor to the island gets the experience they deserve, we’ve compiled this quick guide to the island.

The North Shore

Map of Oahu

When people talk about Oahu, they often mean the beaches of Waikiki. Of course they’re spectacularly beautiful, but limiting oneself the southern edge of the island means missing out on many hidden gems in other parts of Oahu.

The North Shore is a spark of natural beauty, brimming with expansive forest reserves, laid-back towns, and miles of golden, sandy beaches. Botanical gardens stretch across acres of land while waterfalls are tucked away in the deepest reaches of thick, lush jungles. For a look at old Oahu culture, take a stop at Waimea Valley for a string of cultural exhibits.

It’s pretty much the opposite of Waikiki, and also a terrific complement to it.

The Windward Side

Between the North Shore and the southern edge of Oahu is the Windward Side. Here, you can enjoy stretches of soft beach that overlook scenic islets like Mokolii, more commonly known as Chinaman’s Hat.

This is also the location of Kualoa Ranch, a popular excursion for travelers to Oahu. Familiar to visitors from movies like Jurassic Park and Mighty Joe Young, Kualoa Ranch hosts an array of fun activities, like ATV rides over rolling plains and ziplining over some of Hollywood’s favorite locations.

Pearl Harbor

Aerial View of Pearl Harbor
USS Arizona Memorial and Battleship Missouri

Before you hit the beach, make a stop at a slice of Oahu that’s of major historical importance. Pearl Harbor was the site of the December 7, 1941 surprise Japanese attack that marked the start of World War II for the US.

Though still an active military base, visitors can explore the Pearl Harbor’s many memorials and exhibits for an in-depth look at the events of that long-ago Sunday morning. Take a short boat ride to the USS Arizona Memorial to pay respects to the 1,177 men who lost their lives when the mighty battleship exploded and sank. Get a taste of what life was like aboard a submarine during World War II at the Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park. Stand on the deck of the Battleship Missouri where the surrender documents ending the war were signed.

 

 

Waikiki

No look at the wonders of Oahu would be complete without mentioning the place that’s the very symbol of Hawaii tourism. Waikiki is a tourist district extraordinaire just minutes from historic downtown Honolulu and Diamond Head Crater. Nestled between these historically fascinating settings, Waikiki offers fun in the sun and world-class dining and shopping along with some quirky adventures, like a visit to the Waikiki Aquarium or a boat ride to snorkel in the crystalline waters of the Pacific.

 

 

Activities That Keep Your Feet (Mostly) on the Ground

Activities That Keep Your Feet (Mostly) on the Ground

Everybody talks about ziplining and helicopter rides and hikes up 760 feet of volcanic crater, but if you’re not crazy about heights, these activities probably don’t sound very appealing to you. We’d love to be able to talk you into at least trying them, because they are truly unforgettable. For now, we just want to assure you that when you come to the Hawaiian Islands there are plenty of things you can do on the ground that are just as memorable.

ATV Excursions

Whether you’re cruising across the open plains of Kualoa Ranch or thundering down a technical track cut through Oahu’s dense forest, there’s plenty of fun to be had on an ATV. Ride side-by-side with a passenger or go solo, either way you’re in for some incredible views of the dense vegetation of the island, the vast open fields, the towering mountains – all of the features that give Oahu its natural beauty.

At Kualoa Ranch, you drive by spots used in filming Hollywood blockbusters, adding another layer of excitement to this Oahu escapade.

If it’s adventure you want, behind the wheel of an ATV is where you’ll find it. If strolling along at a leisurely pace doesn’t do anything for you, you’ll love the opportunity to zip around a dirt track, careening around turns and splashing through mud puddles as you race to the end of the track.

Lava Hikes

Lava hike

On the Big Island, you’ll find the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, a large swatch of land carved out for two of the island’s massive volcanoes. The site of historic and current eruptions, the park gives you the opportunity to trek over ancient lava that’s cooled and hardened over the years.

 

 

 

 

Snorkeling

Okay, your feet aren’t technically on the ground for this, but you’re also nowhere near a high altitude. And anyway, snorkeling gives you a look at the underwater world that surrounds the islands.

Explore the waters of the Pacific to get up-close and personal with some of Mother Nature’s most beautiful sea life. Colorful tropical fish go about their business while more curious creatures like green sea turtles swim by you, as if to say “hello, stranger.”

If you’re lucky, the true clowns of the sea, spinner dolphins, will stop by excitedly. They love newcomers and are happy to welcome them to their underwater world.

Shark Diving

Yes, sharks. Don’t panic! The creatures you meet through your sturdy steel shark cage are more nervous about you than you are about them. After spending a little while around you, they often get more confident and may swim closer so you can get a better look at their majestic beauty.

 

 

 

 

 

Top Tours in the Hawaiian Islands

Top Tours in the Hawaiian Islands

An island paradise brimming with complex beauty and a vast array of entertainment and adventure. The Hawaiian Islands are the ultimate vacation spot, providing guests with so much to do that it would require multiple trips to see and do everything each island has to offer.

Since you’re planning a Hawaiian experience of your own, we’d like to make your life a little easier and highlight a few of the top tours you should consider taking while you’re here. We’ve chosen experiences that will showcase the beauty of the islands, the rich history, the opportunity for fun and thrills, and even a peek at the underwater world surrounding the island chain.

Pearl Harbor Arizona Memorial and Battleship Missouri Tour

USS Arizona Memorial with Battleship Missouri

Arguably the most important place you’ll come across during your Hawaiian visit, Pearl Harbor, on the island of Oahu, is the site of the December 7th, 1941 Japanese surprise attack. When the two-hour assault ended, over 2,400 Americans had been killed.

These two Pearl Harbor locations embody two very different aspects of the attack and the war that followed. At one end of the arc of the history of World War II in the Pacific is the USS Arizona Memorial, dedicated to the 1,177 men who died when the mighty battleship exploded and sank to the bottom of the harbor, where she still rests today. The Battleship Missouri is a commemoration of the war’s end. Guests are able to stand on the very same deck where the Japanese signed the official documents of surrender.

This tour offers a broad look at the changes the United States went through, beginning with the moment the first bombs fell on Battleship Row.

Kualoa Ranch Zipline and ATV Tour

  ATV adventure at Kualoa Ranch

For something a lot more upbeat and thrilling, the Kualoa Ranch Zipline and ATV tour on Oahu sets you soaring high above the jungle floor on their state-of-the-art ziplines before embarking on a journey across the rolling plains and through the dense forests of Kualoa Ranch. Along your trek, keep an eye out for markers that indicate where Hollywood blockbusters were filmed. Expect to recognize locations from Godzilla, Jurassic Park, and the TV series Lost.

 

 

Maui Snorkeling Tour

Hawaiian green sea turtle

For an awe-inspiring introduction to the world of beauty and wonder that awaits beneath the glassy blue surface, embark on a short boat ride to Molokini, a small crescent island just off the coast of Maui. The crystal blue waters allow you to see everything, from the green sea turtles that have made the island’s reef their home to the colorful tropical fish that swim up to you out of sheer curiosity.

Watch and experience how the ecosystem nourishes and protects itself, and be amazed by the variety of wildlife coexisting peacefully.

 

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Tour

Big Island of Hawaii Volcano
  Kilauea Caldera

Ever wonder how the Hawaiian Islands came to be? As you walk across the rugged terrain of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island, you’ll start to understand the impact of molten lava on the chain’s formation.

The Jaggar Museum, overlooking the active Kilauea Caldera, gives you the chance to learn how violent forces of nature can completely alter the landscape, creating new land where previously there was nothing but ocean.

 

 

 

Oahu: The Gathering Place for Halloween

Oahu: The Gathering Place for Halloween

Think you know what a really good Halloween is? Oh sure, you’ve been trick or treating and hosting parties for as long as you can remember, but did you ever imagine you’d be celebrating with a trip to Hawaii?

It may seem weird trading the fun of crunchy brown leaves for the swaying palm trees of Oahu to celebrate Halloween, but don’t let the bright sun and bathing suits fool you. Folks on the island known as the Gathering Place know how to make the most of our Halloween and are happy to trade in our tan lines for fake blood.

The Gathering Place for Halloween

Aloha, pumpkin

Even though you’re probably only going to be on the island for a short amount of time, does that mean you should rob yourself of the fun of pumpkin picking? Let’s try that again: Does that mean you should rob yourself of the fun of pumpkin picking in Hawaii?

Of course not! And with Waimanalo Farm’s pumpkin patch, you can pick out a hefty pumpkin beneath the towering beauty of nearby Koolau mountain ridges. Every Saturday and Sunday throughout October, the farm is open to the public for a go at the orange orbs scattered across the ground.

If pumpkins are your thing and you enjoy the sweet treats of the season, Aloun Farms’ 17th Annual Pumpkin Festival is perfect for children and, of course, you adults. Every weekend from October 14th through the 29th, the farm hosts hayrides, pony rides, carnival games, and other Halloween activities. Should you be in town on the 28th, bring your best costume and take part in the costume contest!

For something truly unique this Halloween season, we recommend Spook Life Park. On October 21st, Oahu’s Sea Life Park transforms into a spooktacular showcase. From shows themed around the season, trick-or-treating around the park, costume contests, underwater pumpkin carving demonstrations, and a big dance party, the park shows that Oahu is the place to be on Halloween. And in case you missed it the first time, we did say underwater pumpkin carving.

Zombie!

In West Oahu, Coral Crater Adventure Park hosts a zombie apocalypse rescue mission. Take aim with state-of-the-art laser rifles, and pick off the zombies swarming through the park. You’ll ride a zipline, experience a heart-pounding free-fall, and ride on an off-road adventure to kill as many undead as you can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Halloween, there’s nothing better than walking around Waikiki and seeing how everybody has dressed up. If you’re with kids, trick-or-treating is available all throughout the city at selected locations so they can enjoy Halloween just as if they were at home.

Must-See Hawaii Attractions

Must-See Hawaii Attractions

Aloha and welcome to our island paradise! Well, the online version of it, at least. We look forward to hosting you here in the Pacific and showing you the good time you deserve, so let’s make sure you’re 100% ready for your tropical journey.

You may know some of the activities you want to take part in, like ziplining and scuba diving, but have you considered which attractions and sites you want to be sure to visit during your stay? You may be staying on Oahu or Maui or the Big Island, but seeing what the other islands have to offer is a breeze, thanks to convenient inter-island travel!

So, let’s pinpoint which of Hawaii’s stunning locations and intriguing attractions you’ll want to see, so you can best plan your days here in our sunny Paradise!

Pearl Harbor, Oahu

USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor

A most important historical location, the US naval base at Pearl Harbor was the site of the infamous 1941 Japanese attack. Within the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument and the associated Pearl Harbor Historic Sites are the USS Arizona Memorial and the Battleship Missouri, the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center with its exhibits dedicated to telling the complete story behind the attack, the Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, and the Pacific Aviation Museum.

All of these come together to provide a comprehensive look back to December 7th, 1941, for a better understanding of a crucial piece of American history.

 

 

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Big Island

Having formed the Hawaiian Islands, volcanoes are certainly an important part of your tropical vacation. A large swatch of the Big Island has been dedicated to education about the details of the islands’ volcanic history.

As you walk through ashen fields of hardened lava you can see, up close, volcanic remnants. The Jaggar Museum has a wealth of information about these powerful natural wonders, complete with an overlook that often offers views of bubbling lava pools.

Na Pali Coast, Kauai

Na Pali Coastline
Na Pali Coastline, Kauai

A stunning sight to behold, the Na Pali coast is a stretch of sea cliffs that overlooks the calm, blue waters of the Pacific. This ancient site is much more than an amazingly beautiful attraction, though; Na Pali has also become a hot spot for visitor fun. From snorkeling to a tour of the coastline, the Na Pali coast offers something for just about everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Road to Hana, Maui

You’d never guess that a road could be an “attraction,” but the Road to Hana in Maui is a tourist favorite. The twisty, 64-mile drive is best experienced on a narrated tour that provides you with insight into the area. Along the way, you’re privy to beautiful views, a stop at the natural pools of Oheo, and, finally, a stop at “Heavenly Hana,” one of Maui’s quaintest little towns.

Molokini Crater, Maui

Maui Snorkel at Molokini Crater
Molokini Crater, Maui

This tiny, stunning slice of paradise sits off of Maui’s coast and is the perfect spot for snorkeling. The ecosystem within the crater’s crystal blue waters is rich with marine life, giving guests an opportunity to swim alongside tropical fish, green sea turtles, and other forms of exotic sea life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diamond Head State Monument, Oahu

Formed during the Honolulu Volcanic Series over 200,000 years ago, Diamond Head crater, now a Hawaii State Monument, stands over 700’ tall and overlooks Waikiki, Honolulu, and the Pacific. On the slopes of Diamond Head are bunkers and a lighthouse that tell the story of the rocky structure’s military past.

A hike up the crater is rewarded with some of the most stunning views Oahu has to offer.

Sea Life Park: Oahu’s Pacific Experience

Sea Life Park: Oahu’s Pacific Experience

Unless you’re deathly afraid of even the idea of open water, chances are you have some interest in the deep blue ocean and the dizzying array of wildlife that calls it home. Maybe you don’t like getting wet or have a hard time being on a boat without feeling queasy; these are just a couple of things that can make it difficult for you to enjoy the beauty and awe of the Pacific Ocean. When you’re on the island of Oahu, there is an option for you that doesn’t involve getting sand between your toes or salt water splashed in your face.

Sea Life Park is the ideal alternative to a day out at sea. You may not get the experience of riding the high seas, but there’s more than enough to do that will ensure you feel like you’ve spent your day exploring the depths of the ocean, visiting with some of the varied wildlife that Mother Nature has to offer.

Sea Life Park: A Pacific Adventure on Land

Playful dolphins

At Sea Life Park, you have the opportunity to come face-to-face with some of the wonders of the deep. Friendly dolphins that love to perform for crowds; curious sharks that swim right up to the tank wall, as if you’re on display to them; playful sea lions that enjoy being the center of attention; and manta rays that generally keep to themselves but are still a wonder to see gliding around effortlessly.

 

 

Interactivity in the Pacific

If it’s playful interaction you want, you’ll love Sea Life Park’s opportunities to swim with dolphins. Several different experiences give you a taste of the life of dolphin trainers as you get right in the water with these marvelous marine mammals. With the Dolphin Royal Swim, Mother Nature’s majestic swimmers are more than happy to show you just how much fun the deep blue really can be.

Swimming with sharks

The Dolphin Encounter keeps your head above water but provides you with the same incredible look at how dolphins interact with people, from playfully dancing with guests to giving a small kiss on the cheek.

If you can muster the courage to dive deep with a feared predator, you’re in for a treat with the Shark Trek. Come as close as possible to the sea’s most misunderstood creatures in a 300,000-gallon tank, and see that sharks are really not much different from other, more docile tropical fish.

Exhibits and Habitats

Of course, you can view it all from a bit more distance through a myriad of exhibits and habitats. Five different displays showcase these incredible creatures, giving you the chance to see them in action behind the comfort and safety of a glass barrier.

Like any really good aquarium, along with the show-stopping dolphins, sharks, and rays, you’ll also see smaller tropical fish, the true beauties of the Pacific that seem to glow in vibrant colors.

While we recommend everyone take time to explore the wonders of the Pacific, places like Sea Life Park are fine alternatives for anyone not entirely comfortable with the vastness of the ocean.

 

The Beauty of Oahu – From Kailua to Hawaii Kai

The Beauty of Oahu – From Kailua to Hawaii Kai

The island of Oahu is full of natural beauty. From the Ko’olau Mountain Range to the crystal blue waters of Lanikai Beach, there’s a reason why thousands of people make the trip every year to bask in the beauty of the most populated of the Hawaiian islands. There really is something for everyone on the island known as the “gathering place,” whether you’re into action sports such as parasailing or surfing, or prefer more tranquil pastimes like poolside drinks and sunset finger food. There is a stretch of the island that truly encompasses the beauty of Oahu, which everyone agrees is worth checking out regardless of how you like to spend your vacation time.

There are many scenic stretches of coastline, of course, but one particularly intriguing part starts at Hanauma Bay in Hawaii Kai and stretches into Kailua town, located on the east side of Oahu.

Hanauma Bay is a famous and exceedingly popular beach for snorkeling and taking in the natural beauty. If it’s on your list, get there early, as the parking lot fills up quickly and there is a daily limit on the number of visitors.

Beauty of Oahu
Halona Blowhole

Continuing east, you come to the Halona Blowhole. This natural wonder was created by a lava flow millions of years ago. At high tide the blowhole erupts like a geyser, sending spray hundreds of feet into the air. When viewing the blowhole, stand behind the railing as one should never underestimate the power of the waves. If you’re visiting during winter, the lookout also serves as an excellent spot for whale watching. Our giant sea friends make the islands home every winter, and it is quite common to see them frolicking in our warm Hawaiian waters before starting the long journey back north to Alaska in March.

Looking down from the lookout, you can see a small beach inlet. This is the spot where the famous beach scene in the movie From Here to Eternity was filmed.

 

Another ten minutes or so down the road is Sandy Beach, a very popular body surfing beach. Known simply as Sandy’s by locals, the beach is always full of ocean lovers marveling at the power of the beach break. There is also a popular food truck, perfect for a local-style lunch. Be warned: Sandy Beach can be very dangerous, so enter the water at your own risk and only if you are a strong swimmer.

beauty of Oahu
Makapuu Beach

Further east is Makapu’u Lighthouse, which we discuss here. Makapu’u Beach is another gorgeous body surfing beach tucked under the Ko’olau cliffs. Baby Makapu’u is just another five minutes east, and is a great spot for learning to surf.

Oahu is a truly beautiful place, but don’t just take our advice. Come see for yourself and don’t forget to check out all the amazing tours—from historical to scenic—on our web site.

 

 

 

Beyond Kauai: The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

Beyond Kauai: The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

We’re all familiar with the Big Island, Maui, Oahu, and Kauai, but did you know that even more lies beyond this main grouping of islands? What we think of as the “big four” make up a small portion of the Islands of Hawaii.

Beyond this grouping lie what are known as the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The area of these islands totals 3.1 square miles and save for one, they’re all found outside of the Tropic of Cancer.

In 2006, President George W. Bush named the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands a Marine National Monument, called Papahanaumokuakea.

Travel to these islands is strictly regulated by the State of Hawaii, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and requires a permit. Even more than the main Hawaiian Islands, the Northwestern Islands are incredibly delicate ecosystems that haven’t been much affected by the presence of humans. To further protect these islands, travel is very limited and comes with a set of rules, including all clothing worn must be brand new and still wrapped prior to arrival. Other regulations require all equipment to be thoroughly cleaned and frozen for 48 hours. This is to prevent the introduction of any invasive organisms, and guarantees that only the most dedicated conservationists make the effort to come to these islands.

Nihoa

The only of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands located within the Tropic of Cancer, Nihoa—also known as Moku Manu—is the youngest of this side of the island chain. Named for its tooth-like appearance, Nihoa was once a much larger landmass, but has eroded through the centuries, leaving only the cliffs that are visible.

Necker Island

Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
Necker Island

Necker, or Mokumanamana, is thought to have been used by the Hawaiians for religious ceremonies. Composed primarily of volcanic remains, it has a barren landscape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

French Frigate Shoals

About a dozen small islands make up the French Frigate Shoals – Kanemilohai in the Hawaiian language – accompanied by 12 sandbars and a 120’ peak that serves as the only remnant of the volcano that formed it.

Gardner Pinnacles

The smallest of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Gardner Pinnacles, or Puhahonu, served as landmarks for mariners. The rocky terrain makes the area look barren, but the water surrounding the region is home to the largest number of fish species in the chain.

Laysan Island

Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
Hawaiian Monk seal on Laysan Island

Named for its egg shape, Laysan Island, or Kauo, is large enough to encompass a 100-acre lake in the midst of its otherwise unremarkable terrain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisianski Island

Reaching only 40’ above sea level, Lisianski (Papaāpoho) is geologically similar to Laysan, and its large reef is very rich.

Pearl and Hermes Atoll

This atoll, called Holoikauaua in Hawaiian, is almost completely underwater, with a surface land area of only .139 square miles. Its most striking feature is the reef that surrounds it.

Midway Atoll

Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
Millions of albatrosses inhabit Midway Atoll

Probably the best known of the Northwestern Islands, Midway Atoll, or Pihemanu, served as the site of a battle that was the turning point in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Located about halfway between the North America and Asia, Midway is the only one of these islands that isn’t considered a part of the State of Hawaii.

 

 

 

Kure Atoll

A unique-looking atoll, Mokupapapa is surrounded by a barrier reef six miles in diameter and has a shallow lagoon. With most of its landmass submerged, the highest point of Kure is only 20 feet above sea level.

Hidden Oahu: Hiking Makapu’u

Hidden Oahu: Hiking Makapu’u

Sunrise from Makapu’u trail is one of Oahu’s secret treasures. A paved road winds from the parking lot to the iconic lighthouse, giving you a panoramic view of the eastern coast with its beautiful beaches and deep blue sea. This trail is perfect for those who prefer an easy, smooth walk in the sun with the sea breezes on their faces. However, for those with a little more adventure in mind, you might enjoy Makapu’u as many locals do; just don’t tell anyone we told you.

Makapu'u Lighthouse
Makapu’u Lighthouse

The key to seeing the best of Makapu’u is timing. Its location on the easternmost point of Oahu makes it an idyllic spot for one of Hawaii’s treasures, our sunrises.

 

 

 

 

 

For the more adventurous visitor, there’s no better spot to watch the sunrise than the pillboxes above Makapu’u. These concrete bunkers were used as sentry lookouts during both world wars. To get there, you hike up the side of the hill, as opposed to the paved road that goes around it. While it’s a relatively short hike, about 20 minutes to the top, it is steep and rocky. It’s a far cry from the paved road used by most people. There is a semblance of a path closest to the cliff edge. This may unnerve those who are afraid of heights, as it is a long, long way down. You can also make your own path up the hill, just be wary of cactus and other thorny bushes on your way up.

Makapu'u
Makapu’u after sunrise

It should be noted this part of the hike is not for kids or those not physically fit. If you are unsure of yourself, stick to the paved road; it’s still a nice hike with beautiful views of Pele’s Chair and all of Waimanalo at the end. Whichever you choose, you’ll have a spectacular view of the stunning Hawaiian sunrise.

 

 

 

 

As we said, timing is key, and depends on the season when you visit. If you’re in paradise from September through March, you should arrive at Makapu’u by 05:45. In April through August, the sun rises earlier, so you should arrive by 5 at the latest. Be sure to bring flashlights and jackets, as it will be dark and chilly while you hike, before the morning sun warms you up. If you come during the winter, keep an eye out for humpback whales, as they make the islands home during their vacation. Seeing the sun peek over the water and create the most sublime and picturesque colors, regardless of where you do it, is an absolute must while in Hawaii.

One benefit to the early start is beating the crowds of tourists who arrive Makapu’u later in the day. Another is avoiding the scorching sun. It’s best to avoid hiking Makapu’u between 11-4, as that part of the island can get quite hot. Many tourists miss the east side of the island, which is unfortunate because Oahu has so much more to offer besides the better known tourist destinations. Start your day early with a sunrise at Makapu’u; you won’t regret it!

Getting to Know Your Destination: Facts About the Hawaiian Islands

Getting to Know Your Destination: Facts About the Hawaiian Islands

 

Think you know all there is to know about the destination you chose for your vacation? Believe it or not, the Hawaiian Islands offer a lot more than beautiful beaches and stunning scenery. So, to make sure you know some of the basic details and unique facets of this unique place, we’ve compiled a list of interesting Hawaiian facts.

Get educated before you go!

The Hawaiian Alphabet

English is the main language being spoken in the 50th state today, but long before contact with Europeans, there was a distinct Hawaiian language, a relative of the other languages spoken around Polynesia.

During the early 19th century, American missionaries devised a written form of Hawaiian using Latin letters so that they could print copies of the Bible in the local language. Hawaiian is written using only 13 letters, five vowels A, E, I, O, and U, and eight consonants H, K, L, M, N, P, W, and the glottal stop known as ‘okina.

A Most Delicious Economy

Hawaiian coffee

Planning to spend all of your time in Hawaii doing nothing but beach fun and ziplining adventures? Then you’d be missing out on the fascinating production of coffee, cacao, and vanilla beans. The Kona District of the Big Island of Hawaii is world-famous for its coffee, and you definitely don’t want to miss out on the chocolate tours available on Maui and Oahu.

Hawaii is the only state in the US where these delicacies are grown.

 

 

 

 

Breaking Down “Aloha”

Ever wonder where the common Hawaiian greeting came from? “Aloha” actually descended from the Proto-Polynesian word “alofa,” which means love, mercy, and compassion. The traditional meaning of “aloha” is as a greeting or an expression of love.

Volcanic Effects

Lava entering the ocean

The Big Island has been feeling the force of Kilauea, a massive volcano that’s been been active since 1983. This makes Hawaii the only state with an increasing land area. As lava flows into the ocean, it solidifies and builds up to enlarge the island’s size.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hula

Much more than just a dance for tourist entertainment, hula has a significant place in Hawaiian history and culture. Hula was used as a form of worship and storytelling. Suppressed by the missionaries and revived by King Kalakaua—the Merrie Monarch—the dance was, and still is, performed by both men and women.

A Stroke of Bad Luck

Want to leave this stunning paradise with something to remember it by? Whatever you do, don’t take any lava rocks. Many travelers who have disregarded this advice have come to believe the rocks brought them all kinds of bad luck.

Who’s a Hawaiian?

Unless someone is descended from the original Polynesians who settled these islands centuries ago, it’s inaccurate to call them “Hawaiians.” Most residents of Hawaii simply refer to themselves as “locals.”

Multi-Colored Beaches

Punaluu black sand beach

As you explore the beaches of the Hawaiian Islands, you’ll see that not all sand is the same. You’ll find black, red, green, and yellow sands on different beaches across the islands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ATV 101: Four-Wheeling Across Hawaii

ATV 101: Four-Wheeling Across Hawaii

There’s nothing like feeling the rev of an engine as you ready yourself to take a four-wheeled journey across the beautiful terrains of Hawaii. ATV adventures on these beautiful islands can take you on a leisurely ride over rolling plains or get your adrenaline pumping as you master muddy tracks carved into the lush rainforests.

No matter the level of thrills you’re looking to enjoy, there are some things you’ll want to keep in mind to ensure you have a completely safe and enjoyable time during your four-wheel adventure.

Don’t Get Fancy

ATV 101
Enjoy the scenery!

The point of your ATV experience is to have fun, enjoy the sights, and cruise across the tropical terrain as the warm air rushes over you. Even if you’re an experienced four-wheeler, don’t try to do stunts or attempt any fancy turns; just navigating over some of the more technical courses gives you the chance to show off your abilities.

Trust us, you’ll have the time of your life even without pushing your ATV or yourself to the limits. Just follow the path, enjoy the terrain and the scenery as you pass by, and respect the machine!

 

 

 

 

Get Comfortable Before Driving

Before you head out, make sure you’re comfortable with the ATV. Get a feel for the mechanics of the machine and how it handles.

As the first step on your journey, you’re be shown the ropes by certified instructors who know everything about these machines. If you have any questions, don’t get on the ATV without having them answered.

Dress Appropriately

Do pay attention to what you wear. Whether you embark on a gentle cruise across Kualoa Ranch or on a faster journey over a more technical course at Coral Crater, chances are you’re going to get muddied and dirty. Don’t wear something you don’t want to get dirty, especially since you’ll likely have limited clothing to change into.

Drive with a Passenger

ATV 101
Share the fun!

If you go for a ride along a more technical track, you usually have the opportunity to bring a passenger. If you know somebody you feel comfortable riding with, bring them along! Not only does it give you someone to enjoy the experience with, after your turn behind the wheel, you’ll have the opportunity to get in the passenger seat and enjoy the sights!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bring a Camera

There are lots of opportunities in all kinds of ATV experiences to snap pictures. As a general rule of thumb, it’s always a good idea to have a camera on hand when you’re anywhere in Hawaii! There’s plenty to see and plenty of memories you’ll want to capture, especially on your ATV adventure.

Ruins of Hawaiian History: Kaniakapupu

Ruins of Hawaiian History: Kaniakapupu

During your travels across the Hawaiian Islands, you may find yourself stumbling across relics from the distant past. Some of these are well preserved in museums and memorials while others have been left to fend for themselves against the harsh tropical sun and the salt-spray from the ocean.

Through the years, many of these artifacts collapsed, crumbled, and all but vanished while others have remained in place, resisting complete destruction, as if they were intended to remain standing forever, to give curious passersby a unique look at Hawaiian history.

One example of this is the ruins of Kaniakapupu, a stone structure high in Oahu’s Nu’uanu Valley that, at first glance, just looks like an old stone house that didn’t survive a heavy storm or raging fire. These stone walls, however, have a much more intriguing connection to Hawaiian history.

Exploring Kaniakapupu

King Kamehameha III

From 1825 to 1854, King Kamehameha III ruled over the Kingdom of Hawaii and faced pressures from external forces to modernize Hawaii. Ambivalent about deviating from what had been working best for the Hawaiian Kingdom prior to the arrival of Western missionaries, Kamehameha III decided to erect Kaniakapupu.

Previously called Luakaha, or a place of relaxation, Kaniakapupu served as a summer palace for the king and his court, allowing them a place to escape the Western influences that had started to change the culture of the islands. Everything that took place in Kaniakapupu was rooted in original Hawaiian customs and remained untouched by the influence of the outside world.

When the palace was first built, it was little more than four stone walls that enclosed one large room. Outside the main building, Kaniakapupu was complemented by a kitchen house, garden, a house dedicated to Lono – the Hawaiian god of agriculture, fertility, peace, and music. The whole complex was surrounded by a stone wall. Over the years, for reasons unknown even to Hawaiian historians, activity at Kaniakapupu ceased and the palace was left to fall to pieces.

Kaniakapupu Today

Kaniakapupu
Kaniakapupu

Much of the structures of King Kamehameha III’s summer palace have been demolished and broken down through the years, making it difficult to picture his court gatherings and lavish affairs like the 1847 luau—attended by 10,000 people—held in honor of Hawaiian Restoration Day.

Travelers who are willing to make the muddy hike to the ruins will be treated to a fascinating site that once played host to great royal affairs of one of the most significant rulers of Hawaii’s Kamehameha Dynasty.

 

 

 

 

*Please note, Kaniakapupu is officially off-limits to visitors, as the ruins are considered sacred. If you decide to hike to the protected and private ruins, please do not move or disturb any stones; be respectful to the land and the remaining structure. It’s been here for over 170 years and has the potential to last even longer if people take care to treat them as the historic relics of Hawaiian history that they are.

Historic Lahaina Maui: Home of Royalty

Historic Lahaina Maui: Home of Royalty

Today, Lahaina is one of the most visited towns on Maui. With its giant banyan tree, the beautiful storefronts and quaint harbor, historic Lahaina is always bustling with life. But what about the old times, when the Hawaiian Islands were still isolated from the rest of the world? Even then Lahaina was a sight to see. In fact, it was the home to the royal chiefs of Maui. Here, the Pi’ilani family ruled as far back as the 16th century.

King Kamehameha II Liholiho

An important change happened to the Hawaiian Islands in the 1790s, when King Kamehameha the Great united all of the islands into one kingdom. In order to solidify his power on Maui, he married women from the previous ruling family. When his son Kamehameha II settled with his court in Lahaina, the little town became the new capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

Kamehameha ruled until his death in 1819 and was succeeded by his eldest son Liholiho (Kamehameha II). Liholiho ruled for only short six years but many changes happened during his reign. The first whalers and missionaries landed in Lahaina, trying to establish trade relations and bring about religious changes. After Liholiho’s death in 1825, his younger brother Kauikeaouli (Kamehameha III)—only a boy at the time—ascended the throne.

The first half of the 19th century brought about immense changes to Lahaina and its inhabitants. Under Kauikeaouli’s rule the first Hawaiian Constitution was established, the first Mission School opened and the first printing press started. In 1845, the royal court, and with it the capital, moved to Honolulu. Lahaina finally lost its royal status when the remains of the King’s coral palace were used to build the Court & Customs House.

Lahaina was no longer the capital, but throughout its time as home to kings it had developed into a city with a busy harbor and streets humming with life. Whaling fleets stopped here to take on provisions and drinking water. Lahaina was rich in business and progressive in technology. One of the first sugar mills was built there in the 1860s and in 1877, Lahaina was the first place in the Hawaiian Islands to have telephone and telegraph lines.

The 19th century was the plantation era for Maui. Sugar and pineapple plantations, along with cattle ranches, brought lucrative business to the island, most of which was controlled from Lahaina. The first hotel on Maui opened its doors in Lahaina in 1901. Throughout the years, more hotels, restaurants and shops catered to more and more visitors. After Hawaii became the 50th state of the USA in 1959, many Hollywood celebrities chose historic Lahaina as their island getaway. With the increasing number of visitors, Lahaina became the center of tourism on Maui.

Historic Lahaina
Lahaina Banyan tree

Even though Lahaina has gone through enormous changes in the past two centuries, it never lost its charm for visitors and locals alike. Today, many of the historical landmarks are still visible along the main street in town, among them a real landmark – a gigantic banyan tree right in the middle of the city.

When you visit Maui, be sure to make time for a walking tour through historic Lahaina to discover its old and new attractions.

 

 

The Frugal Guide to Hawaii

Hawaii Expedition and Adventure

The Frugal Guide to Hawaii

Believe it or not, just because you’re traveling to a tropical paradise doesn’t mean you have to drop bushels of bucks to have a good time here. Once you’ve identified the tours and activities you want to embark on—like a ziplining experience at Kualoa Ranch or a night swim with manta rays—you can actually enjoy your time in Hawaii on a budget without sacrificing the thrill of being in such a beautiful place.

Whether you’re traveling to Oahu, Maui, Kauai, or the Big Island, there are more than enough activities to keep the enjoyment of your vacation flowing without breaking the bank – and you may be surprised how many of them can be all-day excursions.

Pearl Harbor

USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Oahu

The World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, which encompasses the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and the USS Arizona Memorial, is an in-depth experience that takes you back to December 7th, 1941, when a Japanese fleet flew into Pearl Harbor and mounted a surprise assault on the naval base.

Within the Visitor Center, guests explore the “Road to War” and “Attack!” exhibits, which detail the events leading up to Japan’s decision to attack and the attack itself through artifacts, relics, and newspaper clippings from the time.

A visit to the Valor in the Pacific National Monument is a trip through time accented by one of America’s most poignant memorials, to the USS Arizona and the 1,177 men who died when she sank.

 

The Diamond Head Hike

View from the top of Diamond Head

Every trip to Oahu should include an excursion through the natural beauty of the island. One of its most striking features is the Diamond Head Crater, a 700’-tall towering natural wonder formed by explosive volcanic activity over 200,000 years ago.

Diamond Head is one of the island’s most sought-after hikes, a trail that scales the side of the mountainous formation and finishes at its summit. Panoramic views and a sense of accomplishment await at the very top, and thanks to a nominal fee for entry, can be conquered at a very reasonable cost.

 

 

Botanical Beauty

Guided Botanical Garden Walking Tour
Botanical Garden trail

Home to some of the world’s most stunning plant life, it’s no wonder there’s a multitude of botanical gardens spread across the four main islands. Oahu alone has five incredible natural displays that are either free or have a very low cost of admission. Beyond Oahu, Maui has the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens, the Big Island is home to the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, and Kauai presents guests with Smith’s Tropical Paradise.

All of these are affordable options that open up the wondrous natural beauty of our islands. If you’re looking to explore the deepest reaches of the islands, there’s no better place to start than at one of these gardens.

 

 

 

 

Explore Kauai’s Royal Coconut Coast

Explore Kauai’s Royal Coconut Coast

There’s something about this Kauai location that just makes it sound like an incredible vacation spot. Exotic name aside, it really is one of the most recommended tourist destinations, whether you decide to stay in the area or just explore its sunny coastline at some point during your stay on Kauai.

The Royal Coconut Coast is the complete Hawaiian package, providing a list of fun activities, great food, and if you’re feeling in the mood for a story or two, some fascinating history. Take a day out of your Kauai vacation and head over to the Coconut Coast, located on the eastern edge of the island, facing a beautiful stretch of nothing but crystal blue water.

So much awaits you along the Royal Coconut Coast that we’ll just dive right into the best of it! You decide which parts you have time for and which you don’t.

Sleeping Giant

Royal Coconut Coast
Sleeping Giant, Kauai

If you’re looking for a hike in a lush environment of dense greenery, then Sleeping Giant should be on your schedule. This mountainous formation is home to one of the island’s greatest trails, Nounou Mountain Trail. A favorite among locals and tourists alike, the trail will take you deep into the island’s wilderness up to the summit of Sleeping Giant for a spectacular view.

 

 

 

Ke Ala Hele Makalae

Ke Ala Hele Makalae Hike/Bike Trail, Kauai

Travelers looking for a casual experience will love Ke Ala Hele Makalae. This walking/bike path takes you up and down the Royal Coconut Coast for a self-guided tour of the natural beauty all around. Cruise or stroll past sandy beaches as you ride the length of the path. Simply enjoy the scenery and the beautiful weather or stop off on the coast for a quick refreshing dip in the refreshing blue water.

 

 

 

Enjoy the Thrills

Like many locations on Kauai, the Royal Coconut Coast is full of exciting and adventurous activities to keep you busy. You can hop on the back of a majestic steed and ride up the coast, or take to the water with kayaking or SCUBA diving. If you want to test your skills on the waves coming in, rent a stand-up paddleboard and test your balance above a wondrous world of blue.

Oahu: The Gathering Place

Oahu: The Gathering Place

The world knows the Hawaiian island chain’s third-largest island as Oahu, but throughout its history, the popular tourist destination has been known by another moniker – The Gathering Place. Maybe a peculiar name when you first hear it, but take a look back through the island’s lengthy history and diverse culture and it all comes together.

If you’ve been to the Polynesian Cultural Center, which happens to be on Oahu’s northeastern shore, you know that the customs and traditions of the islands have been influenced by cultures all across the Pacific. Though Hawaii seems to be all by itself in the middle of the Pacific, that didn’t stop people from navigating across the cobalt blue waters.

The Gathering Place
Polynesian Cultural Center, Oahu

Responsible for giving the islands their rich culture are people indigenous to Fiji, Tahiti, Aotearoa (New Zealand), and Samoa, incredible lands of the Pacific that are rich with their own unforgettable traditions. When you think of the number of people from the many different lands who have settled in Oahu, it’s no wonder it earned itself the name of “The Gathering Place.”

In fact, that’s precisely where the nickname came from: the diverse population of people who came to Oahu to settle in and call the island home. As “The Gathering Place,” Oahu is not only a place rich in culture, it’s a place that abounds with activities that allow people to come together and keep the nickname alive.

Where to Gather for a Good Time

Want to see the diversity of Oahu in action?

The Polynesian Cultural Center hosts a Hawaiian luau that is considered one of the best across all the islands. From the moment you arrive to the very last performance in the Polynesian-style entertainment line-up, the Ali’i Luau is a one-of-a-kind experience.

Traditional Luau Food

This impressive display of Hawaiian culture features a spread of food to make your mouth water, a table filled with local flavors pulled straight from Hawaii’s land, fished from the deep Pacific, and picked from the towering foliage. Robust and flavorful dishes like lomilomi salmon, poke, and as the main course, tender, slow cooked pork prepared in the old Polynesian way.

The imu ceremony, a traditional unearthing of the pork, which is steamed in an underground oven known as an imu, is one of those traditions that brings people together. It may not be a large, boisterous celebration, but the ceremony draws people in, who gather around and watch the uncovering.

The fun continues with Polynesian entertainment, which brings diverse people together to experience the various musical and dance traditions of the islands. Just as Oahu’s nickname promises, the island truly is The Gathering Place, drawing in travelers of all backgrounds with its authentic offerings, such as the Polynesian Cultural Center’s Ali’i Luau.

The US National Park Service in Hawaii

Beautiful Kauai Coastline

The US National Park Service in Hawaii

When the first foreign explorers had the extraordinary opportunity to witness Hawaii’s snow-capped mountains, fiery volcanoes, colorful reefs, and dramatic shorelines, they knew they had found a rare ecological treasure. Hardly any other place welcomes its visitors with such extravagant sights as the lush green jungle, deep ocean, gentle slopes, fertile valleys, and magnificent peaks together in such a small area. Hawaii owes its unusual ecological aspects to its isolated location and its geographical features. Far away from any other land, the islands developed their own eco-system, unlike any other on the planet. Active volcanoes and mineral rich seas contributed to the creation of this beautiful land.

No wonder it didn’t take long for the National Park Service to discover this tropical gem and give it the special protection to preserve it for future visitors to enjoy. Even before Hawaii became a state of the USA, the active volcano Kilauea and the area surrounding it were already managed under the wings of the newly-established National Park Service in 1916.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Deluxe Volcano Experience
Kilauea Caldera

Lorrin Thurston, the publisher of the Honolulu Pacific Commercial Advertiser, was one of the first westerners to thoroughly explore the Big Island volcanoes. Together with Dr. Thomas A. Jaggar, he tried to establish the volcanic landscapes as a national park for many years. Even though Kilauea had long become a famous tourist attraction, they met strong opposition from the Big Island ranchers. With the help of naturalist John Muir and former President Theodore Roosevelt, they finally succeeded and founded the National Park on August 1st, 1916. Dr. Jaggar established and became the first director of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

What is now the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was the 11th national park in the United States and the first one established in a territory. Back in 1916 there was only one park in Hawaii, called “Hawaii National Park,” including the peak of Mauna Loa and long-extinguished volcano Haleakala on the island of Maui. After Hawaii became a state in 1959, Haleakala became its own National Park and until today is one of the most visited destination in the islands.

Kalaupapa National Historical Park

National Park Service
Kalaupapa National Historical Park

The barren volcanic landscapes, unique ecosystems and dynamic coastlines are a real treat for any visitor to Hawaii, but the islands have much more to offer than just their natural wonders. Underlying some of today’s most popular tourist destinations is a rich history and an ancient culture that’s very different from the other states. One relic from the time when Hawaii was still a Polynesian kingdom is Kalaupapa National Historical Park. This isolated peninsula on the island of Molokai was inhabited for centuries before it was first visited by European explorers. Once a rich community of farmers, many of the inhabitants fell victim to new diseases brought by the sailors from the old world. By 1865, Kalaupapa was only sparsely populated and the administration of King Kamehameha V decided to establish a leper colony on the peninsula. For decades the Kalaupapa area was inhabited by up to 1100 Hansen’s Disease sufferers, along with a few missionaries and administrators. Most of the unfortunate residents had to leave their families behind on the other islands and came here with the prospect of living the rest of their lives away from home. This tragic arrangement was felt deeply by local families that were broken because of the royal edict brought about by the terrible disease.

In the 1940s, scientists found a treatment for leprosy and the disease was slowly eradicated. In 1980 the Kalaupapa peninsula was designated as a National Historical Park. Today, visitors can see the old settlements and mission buildings while learning about the history of this remote, beautiful part of Hawaii.

World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument – Oahu

Pearl Harbor Visitor Center

Last—but far from least—in our look at some of the National Park Service’s sites in Hawaii is the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. This Monument, established under the Bush administration in December 2008, includes nine sites around the Pacific. The Hawaii sites are all situated around Pearl Harbor on Oahu, where in December 1941 a sudden attack from Japan stunned the residents and killed 2403 people, causing the active involvement of the United States in World War II. Visiting this Historical Park is a must for anyone who comes to Hawaii. Offering free admission, the Monument gives you the opportunity to learn about world history, and pay your respects to the fallen military who were lost on that tragic morning. The central feature is the USS Arizona Memorial, located right above the fallen battleship where she sank in the middle of the harbor, becoming a grave for most of her men.

While both Pearl Harbor and Kalaupapa have sad backstories, they are important reminders of Hawaiian and US history. Dedicate some of your island time to experience the unique history, culture, and natural wonders geology of the Hawaiian Islands.

The Wildlife of Hawaii

The Wildlife of Hawaii

There are so many incredible aspects to a Hawaiian vacation that it’s practically impossible to list all of them, but if we had to pinpoint one of our favorite parts of living in the tropics of the Pacific, it may be the wildlife that shares our paradise.

As you make your way through the islands, you may find yourself coming across some truly unique and special creatures, each of which call this magnificent land home. Should you want to know what to look out for ahead of time, we’ve put together this quick list of some of beautiful and fascinating wildlife of Hawaii, from the depths of the Pacific to the densest forests.

In the Depths

Dolphins – If you’re within Hawaiian waters, chances are you’ll happen across these majestic creatures. Swimming in pods, dolphins are playful and curious creatures, so don’t be alarmed if they come close. They’re just saying “Hi!”

Wildlife of Hawaii
Hawaiian Monk Seal

Hawaiian Monk Seals – These big guys like to bask on quiet beaches, but be careful around these unique creatures. Not only are they one of Hawaii’s critically endangered species, they’re also a little grumpy around people.

 

 

 

 

Honu – Also known as Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles, these gliding reptiles are about as docile as marine creatures come. These endangered turtles are aumakua (personal spirits) for many Hawaiian people. They’re also very shy, and may try to escape if you get too close, but they’re an amazing sight as they swim about the depths of the ocean.

Humpback Whales – If you’re out on the water during the winter months, you may catch a glimpse of these incredible behemoths from a distance. Listen closely as they communicate with one another in hauntingly beautiful song.

Wildlife of Hawaii
Manta Ray

Manta Rays – Fascinating creatures these are, you can actually enjoy some late-night snorkeling with manta rays.

 

 

 

 

 

On Land

Geckos – The best thing about our geckos is that they won’t try to sell you car insurance! Incredibly common throughout the islands, expect to see these guys scampering all over the place.

Mongoose – Don’t expect to get too close to these speedy mammals. They’re not looking to make friends and are often seen scurrying across roads on all the islands except Kauai, where they were never introduced.

Wildlife of Hawaii
Nene

Nene – Hawaii’s state bird, the nene is an endangered goose endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. After coming back from near-extinction, there are believed to be fewer than 2,500 nene alive. Please keep your distance, especially if you notice babies nearby.

 

 

 

 

 

In the Skies

Wildlife of Hawaii
Pueo

There are quite a few species of birds you can expect to see as you explore the islands, especially if you opt to go ziplining through the canopies of the richest rainforests. You may spot anything from day-hunting owls (pueo)—another Hawaiian aumakua—to honeycreepers and thrushes. Closer to the water, expect ducks, coots, tilts, and herons.

Enjoying Hawaii’s Speedy Thrills

Enjoying Hawaii’s Speedy Thrills

Are you the type who loves to feel the roar of an engine beneath you? Are you quick to jump at the chance of high-speed experiences wherever you go? Are you looking for an incredible thrill during your time in the Hawaiian Islands?

Well, you can stop looking, because we’ve narrowed down two amazing experiences that you’ll want to try out at some point while you’re enjoying our tropical islands. If it’s speed and adrenaline you’re looking for, then you’ll be pleased to hear that both can be found during an ATV trek across rugged terrain or a wave-jumping experience of jet skiing over the Pacific.

Take the wheel and enjoy the islands in a way that lets you enjoy Hawaii’s beauty while fulfilling those more primal needs with a high-speed, bumpy excursion.

ATVs around Hawaii

Kualoa Ranch ATV TrailsThere’s plenty of open land across the islands, and it would be a waste if some of it didn’t become the site of an ATV off-road experience. The rolling plains are just one of the many fascinating features of the island you can experience behind the wheel of your very own all-terrain vehicle.

Cruise across a huge diversity of different plant and wildlife as you careen over the different courses, all of which were cut into the dense jungles, over the rich stretches of green, and sometimes even near the coastline, where the roar of the engine of your ATV threatens to drown out the waves crashing against the shore.

A Hawaii ATV experience is one of the most-recommended activities for its combination of non-stop thrills and the awe and wonder of driving through a tropical rainforest. Blast an ATV over dirt paths, around tight corners, and through some of the most stunning sights Hawaii has to offer.

A Water-soaked Thrill Ride

Jet Ski Rental SingleA giant expanse of blue awaits those who want to explore it, and one of the best ways to do so is on the back of a jet ski. Why cruise aboard a crowded, slower-moving boat when you can tackle the open Pacific on your own, steering on a whim to get to where you want to be.

Not only do you get to explore the open water on a jet ski, you also get a thrilling ride to fulfill your need for excitement. Once you feel you’ve gotten the hang of handling your jet ski, don’t hesitate to jump over the waves left in the wake of passing boats for those added moments of excitement.

Jet skiing along the coast gives you unforgettable views you just can’t get from land. If you’re off the southern shores of Oahu, you can gaze back at Honolulu and Diamond Head Crater, or if you’re zipping along the waters surrounding the Big Island, you may be able to navigate your way close to the flow of lava surging into the ocean.

 

There’s a world of wonder out there. Will you let it pass you by or are you ready to grab on tight and enjoy either—or both—of these two high-speed thrill rides?

Hiker Safety in the Hawaiian Islands

Hiker Safety in the Hawaiian Islands

The Chain of Craters, Diamond Head Crater, Pololu Valley Lookout, Crater Rim Trail, Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden – it’s difficult not to find an incredible place to hike in the Hawaiian Islands. Like ziplining and lounging around on the golden sandy beaches, hiking is a pastime that travelers love to embark on. It’s important to remember, though, that the islands are a tropical environment and during the summertime, it can get a little hot and muggy, making even the easiest of hikes a potential hazard.

While we encourage all to try out any and all of Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island’s exciting walking excursions, we also want to stress hiker safety every step of the way. Whether you’re planning on scaling the 760-foot-tall Diamond Head Crater on Oahu’s southeastern coastline or just aim to stroll through the botanical gardens on the Big Island, there are a few things you should be aware of to remain as safe as possible!

Bring Plenty of Water

Hiking can be strenuous activity, especially if you’re making an uphill climb, like the one up Mauna Kea. The more energy you exert, the more water you’re going to need to drink! Unless you happen across another traveler who came with a hefty supply, there aren’t many places to refill during most hikes in the islands.

When you feel like you’ve packed enough water, throw in a little extra—it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

 

 

Dress Appropriately

Chances are if you’re hiking through the rainforests or up a volcanic crater, you’re not looking to embark on a leisurely stroll. Dress in clothing that you’re most comfortable in, typically shorts or a lightweight pair of pants, and a t-shirt. If you’re hiking up to a higher altitude, you’ll want to consider bringing a jacket, especially during the cooler months.

Never hike in open-toed shoes—especially flip-flops—as they can be extremely slippery. You’ll be walking along volcanic rock, known for being sharp and hard, and a variety of other terrain, so sturdy footwear is important.

Chances are you’re going to get dirty, so don’t wear your best clothes.

Know Your Limits

Hiker safety on strenuous trailIt’s not uncommon for people to look at a trail and assume it’s within their skill level. Just because something looks easy doesn’t mean it is. If you haven’t gone hiking in a while, consider a flat trail rather than one that takes you up slippery slopes.

Try to get a feel for the area, understand where you’ll be hiking to before actually setting out, and even ask locals for some tips about the best paths you can take. If you’re not confident in your skill or fitness levels, remember that everybody loves strolls along the beach!

The Many Hikes of Hawaii

There are many great hikes to embark on during your Hawaiian vacation, but some may be more appealing than others. Some of the more popular ones include the Diamond Head Hike, complete with an audio tour, the Manoa Falls Trail, Koko Crater Railway Trail, and the Crater Rim Trail in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

A Hawaiian Bachelorette Trip

Maui Surfer Girls Team

A Hawaiian Bachelorette Trip

You’ve finally decided to tie the knot and are already thinking about the bachelorette party festivities! We can’t really blame you, it’s one of the most exciting aspects about planning a wedding, especially when you have your eyes set on Hawaii for it.

Deciding you want to come to Hawaii for your bachelorette extravaganza is only the first part of the fun. Knowing what to do when you get here is just as important, especially considering you’re traveling with the people closest to you and this trip represents your final stretch of the single life.

So, what Hawaiian blasts can boost your bachelorette fun? There’s so much more than you might think…

A Bit of Ocean

It sure seems like a no-brainer that you should spend some of your time in the islands enjoying the refreshing waters of the Pacific. The vast ocean is actually a wonderfully diverse location in which to enjoy some time, and you’re going to find that there’s more to experience than can fit in a day.

Na Pali Snorkel & Sightseeing TourIf you have an adventurous spirit, you’re no doubt up for snorkeling in the deep blue. A great way to explore the underwater world that thrives beneath the surface, snorkeling is your ticket to a “meet-and-greet” with the finest wildlife, such as docile green turtles, friendly dolphins, and colorful tropical fish.

Maybe you’d like to stay above the surface and take on some of the rolling waves coming your way. Surfing, paddle boarding, sailing, water jet pack riding – pick your adventure and enjoy your day on the water! Whichever you opt for, a day on the ocean is a great means of enjoying your final days of singledom.

A Little Culture

You can’t come to the Hawaiian Islands and miss out on all the little tidbits of Polynesian culture that await. The best way to just dive head first into local culture is to enjoy an authentic Hawaiian luau. From the arrival and introductions to the festivities to the engaging entertainment pulled from all throughout the Pacific, a luau is your journey into the history and culture of the Hawaiian people.

Enjoy a glorious spread of food—authentic dishes cooked up with locally-grown ingredients—and watch as the main course, a whole roasted pig, is pulled out of the earth in the customary imu ceremony. Follow this up with a selection of desserts and you have yourself the ideal bachelorette dinner!

Fly High

Zipline Through Paradise Girl

Want to feel what real freedom feels like before tying the knot? Strap in to a Hawaiian zipline and let yourself soar high over the island’s changing terrain. Your feet dangle just over the canopies of the dense palms and forests as you zip across the rugged terrain, passing by everything from the golden coastline to the rolling plains.

It’s easily one of Hawaii’s most popular activities and would make a great closer for your bachelorette weekend in our tropical paradise in the Pacific.

Na Pali Coast Adventures for Everyone

Na Pali Coast Adventures for Everyone

The Hawaiian coastline is more than just a beautiful overlook of the sparkling waters of the Pacific, it’s a stretch of adventure for all the waterbugs who turn to the Hawaiian Islands for their much-needed vacation. Just off the coastline of each island of this tropical chain, a world of adventure awaits, and they’re all flush with choices. Take the Na Pali Coast, off Kauai. At the base of mountainous ridges is a hidden oasis of thrills and water adventures that enable visitors to embark on a series of exciting activities and unforgettable journeys.

On the northwestern edge of Kauai,  the Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park is a beautiful mix of greenery and blue ocean, but most impressive is the selection of things to do just in this one sliver of the island.

The Many Thrills of the Na Pali Coast

The crystal blue waters that lie just beyond the coast are as inviting as they come, so don’t be surprised if the urge to jump right in sneaks up on you. That’s where activities like snorkeling come in, as it lets you jump into the refreshing waters and explore the underwater world living beyond the island.

Na Pali Coast SnorkelingThe waters of the Pacific aren’t just filled with living coral, so expect to come face-to-face with some truly stunning creatures. Tropical fish, green sea turtles, and the occasional pod of dolphins are known to let their curiosity get the best of them when new faces enter their submerged world. Sight-see below the surface of the ocean after a comfortable ride aboard a rigid inflatable boat or catamaran—the Na Pali Coast isn’t accessible by car! Don’t be surprised to find some of these creatures have no fear as they swim right beside you.

If you’re the type who loves speed, you can couple your snorkeling adventure with some performance sailing. Whether you’ve touched a sailboat before or not isn’t important, as you learn everything there is to know about performance sailing off the coast of Na Pali. Cut across the smooth surface as the wind whips against you, giving you that sense of freedom you should experience during a vacation in the tropics.

Maybe it’s not thrills you’re looking for, but a little R&R. Some peace and quiet in the mid-morning sun. If that’s the case, then the Na Pali fishing charter is the experience that will fit you perfectly. Relax in the warm sun and wait patiently for the fish to start biting. With a full-day, 8-hour charter available, they will eventually bite!

Don’t Forget…

When you’re facing a day of thrills, adventure, and relaxation, you might not think of everything, but don’t forget to pack some sunscreen! No matter how you decide to enjoy the Na Pali shores, keep in mind that you’re in direct, tropical sunlight, which is known to give a nasty sunburn!

Historic Oahu: Top Places to See Hawaiian History

Historic Oahu: Top Places to See Hawaiian History

It’s not uncommon for people to come to the Hawaiian Islands with the sole intent of lounging on the beach and becoming great friends with the tropical sun. Maybe you’re looking for something more during your tropical vacation, however. The island of Oahu is more than up to the task of delivering.

Just because a place is outwardly beautiful doesn’t mean it can’t also provide an educational romp through history – and that’s another important aspect of the Hawaiian Islands. There is a multitude of historic spots you can stop at to take a journey through Hawaiian history. Dating as far back as over 200,000 years ago, these locations are Oahu’s most historic spots for travelers itching for more than just fun in the sun.

Iolani Palace

Hawaiian historyOnce the home of Hawaii’s kings and queens, starting with King Kamehameha III, this iconic palace serves as a reminder of a long line of island royalty. Known as the only royal palace in the United States, the building was used as the capitol building after the fall of the monarchy.

In the 1970s, Iolani Palace was restored and transformed into a museum that showcases many of the palace’s features and furniture. There’s a feeling of walking through time as you learn what Hawaii was like before joining the United States.

Located in downtown Honolulu, Iolani Palace is centrally located near other landmarks of Oahu’s history.

Bishop Museum

If it’s Hawaiian history you’re looking for, the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum is an amazing place to start. Filled with artifacts from Hawaii’s natural and cultural history, the Bishop Museum is a great way of getting to better know the Hawaiian Islands as more than just a tourist attraction.

With exhibits detailing the reign of chiefs and royals throughout Hawaiian history, the museum takes you all the way to the start of it all, when the first man set foot in this tropical paradise.

Pearl Harbor

Aerial View of Pearl HarborA place of enormous importance not just to the United States but for the world, Pearl Harbor was the site of the devastating attack in 1941. Japanese forces swooped in over the unsuspecting harbor and dropped a series of bombs and torpedoes on the vessels  lined up at Battleship Row.

Over 2,400 Americans died during the attack, which quickly became the cause of the United States entering World War II. Today, Pearl Harbor is home to the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. This major destination pays tribute to the men who perished during the attack, and to the veterans who survived and went on to fight in World War II.

A collection of artifacts and memorials gives insight into the attacks and the effect it had on the United States.

Diamond Head Crater

Kapiolani ParkMore than 200,000 years ago, the Honolulu Volcanic Series created Le’ahi, a towering crater that eventually became known as Diamond Head Crater. A staple tourist spot for the island of Oahu, Diamond Head earned recognition as a State Monument. Today, travelers can trek up into the crater to the summit and enjoy spectacular views of Honolulu and Waikiki Beach.

The trek up to the top is an engaging look into the history behind the crater, from ancient civilizations to American military involvement in later years.

Memorial Day in Hawaii

Memorial Day in Hawaii

For some people, it’s all about the family gatherings, the piles of hot dogs, and the smell of barbecue that permeates the air. Others look at Memorial Day as an excuse for getting away and enjoying some time separated from the worries of the world. Whichever category you fall under, you can get it all in the Pacific paradise of Hawaii. Especially on the island of Oahu, you can enjoy the celebrations of Memorial Day a short distance away from Pearl Harbor, a place where many men and women gave their lives protecting the nation.

If your sights are set on the Hawaiian Islands, there’s a lot you can do to enjoy your vacation and pay tribute to the military personnel Memorial Day is meant to honor.

The History

Punchbowl Cemetery Flag

Memorial Day is about honoring the men and women who fought—and continue to fight—to protect our country, and Oahu offers the best opportunity to do this. The most fitting spot to pay respects to the servicemen who lost their lives in the attack on Pearl Harbor is, of course, the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. Within this piece of history, visitors learn all there is to know about the terrible morning of December 7, 1941 through a series of exhibits.

Guests have the opportunity to visit the USS Arizona Memorial, located above the battleship that sank to the floor of the harbor during the attack. While the Arizona serves as the grave for those who died on board as it sank, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl Crater is where veterans from different generations and conflicts are buried.

Pay your respects at the gravesites of the thousands of brave men and women who gave their all protecting their country, and give them the recognition they deserve this—and every—Memorial Day.

The Beaches

Since you’re on a tropical island in the Pacific, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy the unbelievably beautiful beaches that encircle them. Whether you’re looking to take in the rays or engage in some water activities like surfing, paddleboarding, or parasailing, there’s nothing quite like the golden beaches of Hawaii.

Enjoy the warm air as you make the most of your Hawaiian Memorial Day and maybe even partake in some beachside barbecue!

The Adventure

Big Island ZiplineOne aspect of the Hawaiian Islands well worth taking advantage of is the many different adventures you can take part in. From ziplining down a series of lengthy courses to embarking on an ATV journey through the thick of the jungles, there’s plenty of activities to get yourself lost in.

Ziplining gives you an overhead view as you zip through the towering canopies while an ATV ride takes you deep into the dense forestry for an exciting ride over a technical course carved into the natural setting. Both give you unforgettable views of the island’s natural beauty, ensuring you walk away from your Memorial Day excursion with memories you won’t soon forget.

 

 

The Adventure of Kipu Ranch

The Adventure of Kipu Ranch

Long stretches of rolling grasslands, cut by dirt roads that disappear into rich, dense forestry. Towering mountains loom in the distance, providing an incredible backdrop to an already stunning region of Kauai, rightfully known as the Garden Isle. If you’ve come to Hawaii looking for thrills and memories that you’ll hold onto for years to come, Kauai is home to a stunning stretch of picturesque landscape, ancient history, and adventure that puts you in touch with the vast beauty laid out in front of you.

Kipu Ranch, this tropical stretch of open land and forests on Kauai offers a selection of experiences that cover a range of terrains, from the deepest reaches of nearby rain forests to the comfortable pastures of Huleia Valley.

Getting a Little Muddied

Not everybody enjoys the prospect of getting wet and dirty, but if you’re on the adventurous side and can’t wait to get your hands dirty, Kipu Ranch’s tour of the inner reaches of Kauai’s jungles is perfect for you!

Kipu RanchJump into an open ATV and trek over dirt roads that vanish into the dense greenery of the island’s tropical jungles. Almost as if you’ve entered a portal, once covered by the canopies of towering trees, you find yourself in an almost alien world of waterfalls, natural pools, and muddy, uneven paths.

Surrounded by colorful vegetation and spied on by curious wildlife, you can pull over and enjoy a swim in the refreshing pools at the base of the waterfalls you pass.

Rounding out the day is a deli-style buffet, complete with locally-made bread and seasonal fruits for a taste of the tropics!

 

 

Greenery and Scenery

Maybe you’re more into covering as much ground as possible and don’t want to make frequent stops. Kipu Ranch has you covered with a tour that, while a little more challenging, is incredibly rewarding. Explore as much of the surrounding area as possible, climbing to elevations of over 800′ above sea level. From this vantage point atop Mt. Haupu, the island opens up to you for expansive views worthy of a painting.

Continuing along your journey, you pass through the rain forests and drive along the Huleia River, where you can see the Indiana Jones Rope Swing. You may recognize some sites along the way from movies like Jurassic Park and The Descendants. Treat yourself to an unbeatable scenic tour.

 

The Guided Tour

If you’re not quite ready to take the wheel of an ATV, Kipu Ranch also offers guided adventures, where you get to kick back as a passenger and enjoy being driven by an expert guide. You’re treated to the same amazing views, the same incredible thrills, and the same unforgettable sights on any of Kipu Ranch’s adventure tours!

Off the Beaten Path: Oahu’s Valley of the Temples

Off the Beaten Path: Oahu’s Valley of the Temples

 

There are the staple locations that travelers are encouraged to go when they land in Oahu, and then there are locations that are equally as important but tend to get overlooked. Not nearly as well known as places like Pearl Harbor and Diamond Head Crater, there is a hidden gem known as the Valley of the Temples, a memorial park that is far more than a picturesque spread of landscape. Founded in 1963, the Valley of the Temples is a peaceful place that appeals to a variety of faiths while also serving as a lovely stop-off for curious travelers.

The History

At the base of the Ko’olau mountains, just outside of the town of Kane’ohe, the Valley of the Temples is a great expanse of greenery that serves as the final resting place for thousands of Hawaiian Buddhists, Protestants, and Catholics. The main purpose of the memorial park is to provide restful repose to those interred there, but the construction of the Byodo-In Temple in 1968 gives it appeal to outsiders who may have no connection to those resting peacefully within the grounds of the park.

The Byodo-In Temple

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAThis replica of the 11th-century Phoenix Hall pays tribute to the temple complex in Uji, Japan and was constructed to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants in Hawaii. Guests who visit the Byodo-In Temple are encouraged to ring the sacred bell, or bon-sho. The oversized bell, which stands at 5’, is believed to bring happiness and longevity to those who ring it prior to entering the temple. Inside, visitors find a 9′ tall Amida Buddha statue sitting atop a gold lotus leaf. The temple is surrounded by a koi pond and is also home to other wildlife including peacocks, swans and frogs.

Off the Beaten Path

The Valley of the Temples is not what one would consider a typical stop-off for a tropical vacation, but for travelers interested in immersing themselves deep into the island’s culture and history, it’s a must-see. Statues of the Passion of Christ and the Virgin Mary are located in the Catholic section of the long stretch of rolling plains and scattered palms.

If there’s time in your itinerary to see something that’s not a typical tourist attraction, the Valley of the Temples should be a stop-off during your Oahu visit.

Etiquette at the Valley of the Temples

While the valley is an attractive facet of Oahu and was even featured on the television series Lost and Magnum P.I., it is still a place where family members come to visit and pay their respects. When you come to enjoy the breathtaking panoramic views of the park, the surrounding mountain range, and the scattered religious symbols scattered about, don’t forget to be respectful of the grounds and the men and women interred here.

 

The Action Heroes Hawaiian Adventure

Big Island Zipline

The Action Heroes Hawaiian Adventure

Ever watched an adrenaline-fueled action movie where every five minutes, something is exploding or someone is doing something awesome? Have you ever wanted to just jump through the screen and join in on the Hollywood thrills? What if we told you that you could join the ranks of the greatest action heroes by traveling to the tropical paradise of Hawaii? Suspend your disbelief, because it’s absolutely true!

By embarking on these incredible activities on the Big Island, Oahu, Maui, or Kauai, you can finally find out what it feels like to have adrenaline fueling your every movement!

Flying High

What better way to feel like an action star than to fly high over the island’s dense forestry and rich scenery? Strap into a safety harness and soar over thousands of feet of terrain in the adrenaline ride of a lifetime. Spread your arms and let the warm tropical air rush against you over each exhilarating foot of cable and enjoy the unbelievable sights that unfold around you.

Zip from platform to platform, launching yourself off of each one like a superhero on a mission! One of the best parts of this thrill ride across the islands is that it is completely safe. You can feel like an action hero without putting your life on the line thanks to state-of-the-art harnessing, braking, and construction.

It’s one of the Hawaiian Islands’ most popular activities and it won’t take you long to realize why. So suit up and experience the excitement of flying high over the island.

 

High-Speed ChasesATV Rentals on Kauai

High-speed chases have nothing on Oahu’s off-road adventure! On a technical course cut through the awe-inspiring beauty of the island, you steer your own all-terrain vehicle across a variety of terrains. Thick rainforests pass you as you rip across dirt terrain, flinging dust and mud in every direction. If you’re traveling with someone, your two-person ATV can accommodate your “partner in crime”!

 

 

Nature’s Montage

What’s an action movie without a break from the high-intensity thrills to enjoy a montage of beautiful Mother Nature and the wonders she hides. Gear up and swim in the depths of the Pacific Ocean to explore a hidden world of amazement.Dolphin Snorkeling Swim

Swim alongside the tropical wildlife, including vibrant green sea turtles. You may even glimpse curious dolphins and manta rays as they swim by to inspect the newcomer to their vast world. There is plenty to see below the surface of the Pacific, from lava tubes to colorful coral reef. Just remember to be respectful of Mother Nature and leave everything as you found it. Even action heroes follow simple guidelines like these.

 

The History and Present of Diamond Head

Aerial View of Diamond Head

The History and Present of Diamond Head

When you look at the profile of the island of Oahu, beyond the high-rises of the city, you find your eyes gazing up at a large mountainous formation in the distance. Towering over the vast greenery, the volcanic tuff cone of Diamond Head overlooks the southeast coast of Oahu. To locals, it’s known as Le’ahi for its resemblance to an ahi tuna’s dorsal fin, but its common English name came from 19th-century British sailors who believed the calcite crystals they found on the nearby beach to be diamonds.

The massive crater—which soars 762 feet high and covers 350 acres—was formed along with Punchbowl Crater and Manana Island after the Honolulu Volcanic Series that started with the eruption of the Ko’olau Volcano. By 1968, well into the crater’s 300,000-year timeline and shortly after its use as a military lookout and installation, Diamond Head was awarded the status of a National Natural Landmark.

From afar, Diamond Head may look like your average oversized crater, but within this incredible feature lies another breathtaking piece of Hawaiian adventure that calls out to thrill-seekers and sightseers. Travelers looking for unique aspects of Hawaii to add to their vacation, a trip to Diamond Head is ideal.

Diamond Head State Monument and Hiking Trail

Aerial view of Pearl HarborIn addition to its status as a state monument, Diamond Head is also a state park open to the public. Visitors can embark on a trail that brings them right to the rim of the crater. From that vantage point is an incredible view of the Pacific Ocean, perfect for beautiful panoramic photography.

The trail to the top of Diamond Head is ¾-mile trek, which sounds short, but it’s a straight climb that can prove challenging to some beginning hikers. After the steep ascent, 99 additional steps mark the end of the trail, ensuring hikers have to work for the fantastic view that awaits. To best enjoy the climb, travelers are advised to wear light clothing with comfortable walking shoes, and bring plenty of water.

The beautiful park at the base of Diamond Head is equipped with concession stands, water fountains, and plenty of picnic tables to take a break and enjoy a quick bite.

Beyond Diamond Head

At the base of the massive monument, a stretch of beach and crystal clear coast provides an entirely different experience. After you’ve worked your way up Diamond Head, give yourself the pleasure of brisk breezes and refreshing waters. Plan your day perfectly and you can catch the sunset and view the stars as waves crash against the coast.

To the northwest of Diamond Head sits Waikiki, an amazing resort area with access to the Honolulu Zoo and plenty of adventure and leisure activities.

Water Activities for the Extreme Traveler

Water Activities for the Extreme Traveler

You’re not the “sit on the beach and let the sun kiss your skin” kind of traveler. You’re more of a “red meat” thrill-seeker eager to forgo the usual frills of a vacation and get right down to the adrenaline-pumping excitement. That’s why you decided to come to Hawaii, not to lounge around nestled in a soft robe and fall asleep to the soothing sound of crashing waves, but because you know that everywhere you go, adventure awaits!

Take the Pacific Ocean, for example. While some people see a place to wade around and swim with the fishes, you see an opportunity to get wet and wild. Consider these more extreme Hawaiian activities to fuel your need for enthralling experiences and you’ll find the thrills you’ve been looking for.

Aquatic Jet Pack

Flyboarder-Man-croppedEver watch a James Bond movie and get insanely jealous over his jet pack? Envy no more thanks to your Hawaiian vacation! You, too, can soar above the waves on a state-of-the-art water jet pack. Typically attached to a Jet Ski by a long hose, the pack straps to your feet via boots and, with the roar of the engine, you’re hovering over 10’ above the water.

Listen closely to the instructor before taking to the water and you may be able to impress yourself and other travelers with impressive tricks like backflips and dolphin dives. Unlike jet packs, when the experience is over, you’re gently lowered into the comfortable waters of Hawaii.

Bodyboard + Kite = Fun Thrills

On land, the act of flying a kite may not interest you too much, but what if you could amplify that experience by strapping you to a board and moving into the Pacific? Kiteboarding allows you to use the power of the wind and the height of waves to create an exhilarating ride.

Before stepping onto your board, you learn some fundamentals, including the best ways to gauge the wind and how to control the kite for an optimal experience. After the short introduction, you’re out on the water, shifting and manipulating the kite and waves for high jumps and airborne tricks.

Parasailing and a ViewParasailing on Oahu

It’s difficult to get an encompassing view of the island from ground level. Airborne, however, is an entirely different story. Imagine being lifted into the air while a boat pulls you across the blue water for one of the most heart-racing adventures of your life. With our parasailing experience, you enjoy a panoramic view of the island and its finest features, including Honolulu and Diamond Head.

With up to 1,000 feet of towline, you feel the rush of refreshing Hawaiian air as you’re pulled along beaches like Waikiki. Drink in both the excitement of the ride and the unbeatable view. As your parasailing tour concludes, you’re lowered into the inviting crystal blue waters.

Oahu’s Food Specialties and Where to Find Them

Oahu’s Food Specialties and Where to Find Them

Oahu can easily be called one of the most multicultural areas in the United States. On this unique island, original Hawaiian culture intertwines with a variety of Polynesian, Asian, Mainland US, and European influences. While Honolulu greets you with a colorful mix of smiling faces, the multitude of traditional and newly-created cuisines will be a culinary adventure for your palate. Here’s a sample of some of Oahu’s most popular food specialties.

Fresh Hawaiian Seafood

With the deep sea just a mile away from your lunch table, tuna in Hawaii is one of the freshest options. Ahi (tuna) poke (pronounced “po-kay”) is a dish of raw tuna, marinated with your choice of sauce. Some favorite varieties include limu (seaweed), soy sauce, and sesame oil. Topped with sesame seeds or green onions, ahi poke makes a healthy and light snack. Add rice to your plate and you have a filling lunch. You can pick up some poke at most groceries and diners, but one of the best places to get it, along with other island specialties, is Ono, a Hawaiian traditional restaurant on Kapahulu Avenue in Waikiki. For a taste of some more festive Hawaiian cuisine, join a Luau tour and enjoy the special atmosphere as well as entertainment in a unique setting.

Plate lunch

PlatelunchThere are many variations of plate lunch, but they all have in common the two scoops of rice, a scoop of mac salad, a good serving of protein and a flavor that feeds the soul. These heavy lunch dishes always hit the spot after a good morning hike or surf. The main part of the meal is often pork, chicken, or mahimahi. A well-known favorite is loco moco – a hamburger patty on rice smothered with gravy and a fried egg on top. Visit Kakaako Kitchen in Ward center or Rainbow Drive-In on Kapahulu Avenue to get a taste of this local fusion cuisine. If you’re in the mood for a sweet drink, guava juice or POG (Passionfruit, Orange, Guava) is the right choice.

 

Kahuku shrimp

When you take a circle-island trip, this meal is a must-try part of your North Shore exploration. All through the North Shore area, especially around Kahuku, you’ll find a number of food trucks that offer local shrimp. Fried up with butter and garlic, served with fresh lemon and a scoop of rice, this food demands your complete attention as you dig in with your spoon or local style, eating with your hands. Keep your eyes open for these roadside treats when you make your way north, heading for the famous surf beaches, ziplining, or historic Haleiwa town.

Spam musubi

spam-musubi-655The Hawaiian Islands are the most remote archipelago on the planet. With nothing but deep sea for thousands of miles around, canned meat was one of the most readily available staple foods for a long time before freezers and airplanes became common. This circumstance, paired with a strong Japanese culinary influence, led to the creation of Spam musubi – a thick slice of fried Spam on top of a portion of rice, wrapped together with nori seaweed. This snack is a perfect addition to your beach picnic, a satisfying pick-me-up on your next hike and a hangover breakfast that hits the spot. Small, simple and affordable, you can get some at Iyasume Bento shop on Seaside Avenue in Waikiki. If you get hungry during a tour, Spam musubi is available at most convenience stores and many diners.

While this selection is far from complete, it does give you a starting point for a culinary exploration. Get inspired by what these rich and fertile islands have to offer you and treat yourself to a truly unique dining experience that doesn’t require a large budget.

Museums and Historic Locations All Tourists Should Visit

Museums and Historic Locations All Tourists Should Visit

Sure, people come to Hawaii for the tropical beauty, amazing food, and the potential for thrills and adventure, but what many don’t realize is that the islands are rich with their own interesting history. Starting as far back as 1,500 years ago, the recorded history of the islands started when Polynesian voyagers from the Marquesas Islands traveled here, launching a lengthy timeline that’s captured in the local culture and the many museums spread throughout Hawaii.

While you’re experiencing the beauty of the islands, treat yourself to a journey through Hawaii’s extensive history by visiting these great museums and historic locations.

Hawaii’s Great Museums

Pacific Aviation Museum
Pacific Aviation Museum

One of the most recommended Pearl Harbor tours includes a visit to the Pacific Aviation Museum. Located on Oahu, this museum complements the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, offering a look at the aircraft once stationed here and used in wartime efforts around the globe.

When in Hilo, on the Big Island of Hawaii, visit the East Hawaii Cultural Center, which dives into modern art and culture with workshops and classes. On Maui, the Bailey House Museum gives insight into the history of this tropical paradise. On Oahu, explore Pacific culture at the Polynesian Cultural Center, which is a living museum of the cultures of Polynesia.

One of the best museums to explore Hawaiian culture is the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu. This 127-year-old attraction is filled with a vast collection of Hawaiian cultural artifacts, making it the most in-depth look at the history of the islands. Also, be sure to visit Iolani Palace, the only royal residence in all of the United States.

 

Hawaii’s Great Historic Locations

Accompanying the many museums across the islands are must-visit landmarks that tell their own stories about Hawaii. From the Sugar Mill of Koloa on Kauai, once a part of the most successful sugar plantation in Hawaii, to the statue of Captain Cook on the Big Island, which memorializes his arrival in the islands in 1778, there are many standing structures for travelers to visit on their historical wanderings.

Diamond Head Slopes
Diamond Head

Of course, not all of Hawaii’s history is man-made, as can be seen at Diamond Head, not far from the resorts of Waikiki on Oahu. This towering natural wonder is the product of the volcanic activity that occurred long after the Koolaus were formed. Created at the same time as the Punchbowl Crater, which now houses the National Cemetery of the Pacific, Hanauma Bay, and Manana Island, Diamond Head is a striking feature of Oahu that can be seen from the city and the Pacific. You can explore this tuff cone through hiking tours up the side of the crater, which allow you to scale one of the island’s oldest features.

Getting a taste of Hawaiian history is never a drab experience. With all of these exciting, fun options at your disposal, why not integrate a little local history into your Hawaiian journey?

Lingo You Should Know: Common Hawaiian Words and Phrases

Lingo You Should Know: Common Hawaiian Words and Phrases

Aloha, e komo mai!

We’re delighted you’ve decided to come to Hawaii and we know that you and your keiki are going to have a wonderful time. If you haven’t noticed yet, it’s a very different world here in the islands and while we’re very much a part of the United States, a lot of the culture is carried over from the natives who inhabited these beautiful lands long before it became a tourist destination.

Among these differing customs, many travelers will find themselves facing bits of a language they’re completely unfamiliar with. In fact, we’ve already tossed in a couple of common Hawaiian words and phrases. If you haven’t turned to Google yet:

Aloha, e komo mai! – Hello, welcome!

KeikiChildren

Throughout your Hawaiian travels, as you get more involved in everything that’s going on outside your hotel room, you’re going to find yourself wishing you had a Hawaiian dictionary. Here are some common words and phrases you’ll want to know and keep an ear out for:

Greetings, Farewells, and Courtesies

Whenever you enter a new establishment or meet new people, you may hear:

Aloha kakahiakaGood morning

Aloha ‘auinalaGood afternoon

Aloha ahiahiGood evening

Aloha ‘oe – Aloha to you

Kipa hou maiCome visit again

A hui hou kakouUntil we all meet again

Mahalo – Thank you

Jot these down as they may be some of the most common things you hear!

People

Imagine walking along in downtown Honolulu and the need for a restroom hits. When you find it, you’re faced with two options: Kane and Wahine. Anyone unfamiliar with these common Hawaiian words would be confused, but it’s quite simple. Kane is man and wahine is woman, and should you happen to forget, just remember that both woman and wahine start with a “w.”

If you have children, you may also hear kamali’i, keikikane, or kaikamahine, which mean children, son, and daughter, respectively. Other words worth knowing include makua for parent, makuahine for mother, and makuakane for father.

Directions

Should you get lost and ask a local for directions, don’t be surprised if they answer with mauka or makai. Don’t worry, they’re not derogatory terms making fun of you. The two are used as a means of saying towards the mountain or towards the ocean and, seeing as how you’re surrounded by mountains and oceans, they come in handy a lot.

Miscellaneous Words to Know

You may be asked if you want to enjoy some poke (say it like the locals: “po-kay”) on the lanai, which would mean enjoying a raw seafood dish on the patio. Someone may suggest that you explore the kai and swim with honu, or explore the ocean and swim with green sea turtles. You may be offered ono ohana-style food, or delicious family-style, or even be offered a malasada, or a Portuguese donut.

There are many beautiful aspects of Hawaii and the local language is one of them. This starter guide will get you through the door, but part of the fun of exotic travel is learning as you go.

Enjoy the islands and kipa hou mai.

The Beaches of Kauai: Coastal Paradises Perfect for All

The Beaches of Kauai

The Beaches of Kauai: Coastal Paradises Perfect for All

The northern-most island of Kauai is probably best known for being home to the filming locations for films like the Jurassic Park trilogy, Godzilla, the Pirates of the Caribbean series, and many other hits, but travelers that look at it as a tropical Hollywood wind up missing some of the finer facets of this Pacific beauty.

Being an island, the fact that Kauai is comprised of dozens of beaches is no secret, but which of these coastal paradises are best for tourists may not be so evident. We’re exploring the outer rim of this incredible oasis to give you a look at the beaches you’ll want to make time for on your Kauai vacation.

Kalapaki Beach

On the southeastern edge of Kauai, right within Nawiliwili Bay, you’ll find Kalapaki Beach. Soft sand, stretches of comfortable greenery, and a perfect view into the bay make this beach a great hideaway for visitors to Kauai.

Swimmers get to enjoy a safer environment to swim due to a break wall separating it from the ocean while more adventurous water bugs can still get their taste of open water. Surfboard and catamaran rentals are available for visitors hoping to explore beyond the soft sandy beach.

Waimea Beach

Complete with fishing and plenty of soft beach to walk across, this southwester coastal area is a rarity of the Hawaiian Islands. Making up the surface is rare black sand, outlined by grass lawns and shadowed by coconut palm trees.

Secluded from city-life, Waimea is the ideal spot for Kauai visitors hoping to find seclusion from the everyday business of life. Romance is abundant on this beautiful, black sanded beach as the sunset glows on the horizon.

Waimea Beach

Lawai Beach

On the south shore by Poipu, Kauai’s explorative visitors will find a very small sliver of beach that delivers far more than it looks like it could. A short rock wall overlooks the edge of the coast and the rocky shoreline. At the base of Lawai Beach resort, Lawai is best suited during calmer weather as high tide completely hides the beach itself.

Turtles and the Hawaiian monk seal frequent this region, giving snorkelers and incredible look at the local wildlife within their own habitat.

Lydgate Park

While Waimea offers the perfect view of a beautiful sunset, the eastern beach of Lydgate is where you’ll want to go for an early morning sunrise. Along with access to views of the open waters, Lydgate provides swimmers two enclosed ponds to safely enjoy swimming with smaller reef fish.

Abundant with amenities, Lydgate offers lifeguards, picnic areas, a playground perfect for children, and over 2 miles of paved walking paths.

Polihale State Park

Seclusion is key at Polihale State Park, thanks to it being harder to access than other beaches. Adventurous travelers will need to traverse down a rough, 5-mile road to get to this beautiful stretch of sand. Expect to need 4-wheel drive, but the bumpy journey is more than worth it.

The hidden beach is ripe with sand dunes that can reach as high as 100-ft, so be sure to wear comfortable walking clothes. Swimmers will enjoy Queens Pond as it provides a safer spot away from the stronger currents.

Polihale State Park

Beaches galore cover Kauai’s coast, each offering their own experience and sense of adventure. If it’s something exhilarating you’re looking for, be sure to rent a surf board to catch those Pacific waves.

Oahu Travel: Surf’s Up!

Beach Sunrise on Oahu Island

Oahu Travel: Surf’s Up!

Oahu is home to the majority of Hawaii’s population for a reason. From the crystalline waters of Kailua Beach to the legendary North Shore, Oahu offers something for everyone. Whether you want to hike to the top of Diamond Head or wander small towns like Haleiwa, Oahu is one of the top destinations in the Hawaiian Islands. For history lovers, Pearl Harbor and Iolani Palace are top tourist sites. Meanwhile, top shops and boutiques can be found within Honolulu.

Traveling to Oahu

The majority of visitors arrive at the Honolulu International Airport. Most domestic carriers and international carriers serve the airport, so it is fairly easy to get to Oahu from any location. Once you arrive on the island, you can get around using a taxi, car rental, public transportation or a shuttle bus. Many hotels and tour groups offer complimentary shuttles, so this option is fairly inexpensive for visitors.

For public transportation options, visitors can check out the “Bus”. The fare rates are reasonable and it is easy to find a route to your favorite attraction. If you are less concerned about routes, the trolleys are ideal for checking out the major destinations. Both public transportation options include options for multiple-day tickets or unlimited rides that reduce the cost of traveling.

Other than car rentals, visitors can check out moped and motorcycle rentals. Taxi stands are also available at most major shopping malls and the airport. You can also ask your hotel concierge to call for a pickup from your hotel.

Sleeping on Oahu

Sleeping on Oahu

Once you arrive at the island, you will have a number of options for accommodation. Depending on what you are looking for, you can find luxury resorts, boutique hotels, bed and breakfasts and budget inns. In east Honolulu, the Kahala Hotel & Resort is the most popular luxury resort. On the Leeward Coast, make sure to check out the Ko Olina Resort area. Meanwhile, the Turtle Bay Resort is the most luxurious accommodation that you can find on the North Shore.

Top Attractions

Paradise Cove: Enshrined in dozens of Hollywood films, luaus are a large part of Oahu’s identity. At Paradise Cove, visitors can enjoy an authentic luau that features taro bread rolls, lomi salmon, kalua pork and cold haupia. Activities like weaving headbands, making a lei and throwing spears offer a unique way to understand the island’s history and culture.

Iolani Palace: Iolani Palace is the only official home to royalty in all of the United States. Before the 1900s, Hawaii was ruled by a monarchy that lived at the palace. Today, you can tour the palace and see where balls were once hosted and the king once played cards. Make sure to check out the Imprisonment room where Queen Liliuokalani was placed under house arrest for nearly half a year.

North Shore: Whether you want to relax or enjoy world-class surfing, the North Shore is the place to go. If you get hungry while you are there, check out the Mastumoto’s Shave Ice and Romy’s Kahuku Prawns. For non-surfers, take a leap off of the infamous Waimea Bay Beach Rock.

Surfs up on Oahu

Pearl Harbor: The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was the start of World War II. Today, visitors can see the USS Arizona and historic sites from the attack. Pearl Harbor tours offer somber reminders of the past and an unforgettable way of experiencing history firsthand.

Dole Plantation: At the Dole Plantation, check out the garden maze and train tour. This attraction is popular with children.

Aloha Stadium’s Swap Meet: At this location, you can check out more than 400 merchants as you shop ’till you drop. From sweet plums to beach towels, visitors can find low-cost gifts for their family members back home in the states. Better yet, you can sip chilled coconut water directly from the coconut.

A World of Adventures: Traveling on Hawaii’s Big Island

Traveling on Hawaii's Big Island

A World of Adventures: Traveling on Hawaii’s Big Island

First-time visitors to Hawaii Island always leave feeling impressed. Beneath the majestic, snow-topped pinnacle of Maunakea, green rainforests and sandy beaches flow in an unusual mix of sand, sun and cool waters. Nicknamed the Big Island, the Island of Hawaii is nearly twice as large as all of the other islands combined. Altogether, it plays home to nearly all of the world’s climate zones. From historic Kailua Village to Wailuku River State Park, the Big Island offers a blend of everything that a traveler could want from their vacation.

Traveling to the Big Island

Most visitors arrive through the Hilo International Airport in Hilo or the Kona International Airport in Kona. It is also possible to take a 35 to 40-minute flight from Honolulu International Airport to the Big Island. Direct flights are readily available from Canada and the United States to Kona International Airport, especially from western cities like Seattle, Phoenix, Anchorage, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Since the island is so enormous, visitors may want to arrive at Kona’s airport on one side of the island and depart from Hilo so that they have more time to experience everything in between.

Once on the island, mass transit is easily available via the Hele On bus. Guided tours, limos and taxis are also available. For the best experience, you should consider renting a car. Sometimes car reservations fill up completely, so reserve your car rental before you arrive on the Big Island.

Sleeping on the Big Island

With so much land area, the Big Island easily offers every type of hotel or condo rental that you could possibly want. The most popular resorts are found at Keauhou, Kohala Coast and the Historic Kailua Village. Meanwhile, visitors to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park can easily stay nearby in Puna or Hilo. In between all of these options, you can readily find hostels, condominiums, rental cottages and bed and breakfasts.

Big Island of Hawaii Beach

Top Attractions

Kona Coffee Living History Farm: The Big Island is known for Kona coffee, and visitors can still experience a coffee farm first hand. From Portuguese stone oven baking to off-road jeep tours, the history farm offers a unique way to experience Hawaii’s past and present. Make sure to stop by the H.N. Greenwell Store Museum before you leave. If you have time, schedule a walking tour of Kailua Village or arrange a historical boat cruise.

Pacific Tsunami Museum: Located in Hilo, this museum is dedicated to the tsunamis of 1960 and 1946. It helps to educate the public about tsunamis and is a unique stop for science aficionados.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: If you want to experience Hawaii, you have to go to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. At the park, you can check out one of the most active volcanoes on earth. Surrounding the volcano, you will find 333,000 acres of scalded deserts, verdant rainforests and volcanic craters. With a unique natural diversity, this park has been named a World Biosphere site by UNESCO.

Akaka Falls State Park: If you love waterfalls, you will love this park. Start out along a 0.4 mile hike through bamboo groves and rainforests. As you near the top, you will see the 100-foot span of the Kahuna Falls. From here, walk around a loop in the path to the Akaka Falls. This phenomenal waterfall plummets 442 feet to the gorge and is well worth a trip. Altogether, the hike takes about an hour.

Akaka Falls on the Big Island of Hawaii

Waimea: Check out the gorgeous Kahua Ranch in Waimea, zoom along ziplines and ride through the countryside on horseback. Afterward, check out the Kahiku Theatre for the best musicians, artists and dancers on the island.

Historic Kailua Village: This ancient seaside town is the site of a thriving culture and lively nightlife. Check out local Hawaiian temples or spend your days pampered at the Kona Beach Resort.

Pololu Valley Lookout: If you take highway 270 along the Kohala Coast, you can reach the Pololu Valley Overlook. From the small parking lot, check out the steep, green cliffs and dramatic coastlines. You can either enjoy the view from above or take a steep hike down to the floor of the valley.

Beautiful Kauai: Cascading Waterfalls and Quaint Small Towns

Beautiful Kauai Coastline

Beautiful Kauai: Cascading Waterfalls and Quaint Small Towns

Known for its cascading waterfalls, visitors to Kauai can enjoy a thrilling kayaking trip down the Wailua River. Fishponds can be found on the island that have existed for 1,000 years. Meanwhile, shoppers can explore the quaint towns of Old Kolia Town and Hanapepe.

Kauai Overview

Kauai is the fourth-largest island in the Hawaiian Islands. Nicknamed the Garden Isle, it is filled with jagged cliff faces, steep mountains and verdant valleys. Over the centuries, tropical rainforests have taken over the islands as cascading waterfalls cut into the steep slopes. Some of the remote sections of the island can only be accessed by sea or air.

Other than exceptionally beautiful vistas, the island is home to snorkeling at Poipu Beach and hiking trails in the Kokee State Park. From ziplining over the valleys to driving along ancient roadways, Kauai is one of the most alluring islands in Hawaii. Presently, the island is home to 67,091 people, and the most populated town is Kapa’a.

Kauai Highlights

Wailua River: The Wailua River is the only navigable river in Hawaii and a top destination for kayakers. Bring along your camera because the Daniel K. Inouye Kilauea Point Lighthouse is at the northern tip of the island and is exceptionally photogenic.

Napali Coast: Whether you want a boat or air tour, the Napali Coast is a beautiful place to photograph the ocean and towering cliffs.

Waimea Canyon: This canyon is nicknamed the Grand Canyon of the Pacific due to its striking appearance and size.

Kauai Beaches: Whether you go to Poipo or Hanalei Bay, you can experience top sunbathing and swimming on Kauai’s beaches.

Waimea Canyon

Weather in Kauai

The average yearly temperature in Kauai ranges from 69 to 84 degrees. Meanwhile, the ocean remains a balmy 71 to 81 degrees throughout the year. Mount Waialeale receives 400 inches of rainfall a year, while western parts of the island get as little as 18 inches of rainfall annually. Many of the rain showers occur at night, so you can enjoy beautiful daytime rainbows and sunshine. Even on the hottest days, cool trade winds keep away the humidity and make Kauai a comfortable place to relax.

Famous Sites

For the adventure seeker, Kauai offers kayaking along the Wailua River and ziplining above tropical rainforests. Visitors can enjoy horseback riding along Princeville’s green pastures or hiking in the Waimea canyon. Meanwhile, mountain tubing can be enjoyed at Lihue, and boating can be done along the Napali Coast’s seaside cliffs.

According to the Hawaiian tradition of malama aina, it is important to take care of the land. With this in mind, Kauai travel tours offer eco-friendly tours and destinations for visitors. For the eco-minded tourist, farm tours can be found at the Hanalei Town where you can watch how taro is cultivated. For some of the world’s largest botanical gardens, videos can check out the Limahuli Garden on the North Shore, Allerton Garden and McBryde Garden.

Kauai Lush Rainforest and Waterfalls

To learn about animal conservation, visitors can check out the Hawaiian monk seals swimming and sunbathing on Poipu Beach. Currently, there are just 1,200 Hawaiian monk seals in existence. During the wintertime, the island’s waters are also home to humpback whales as they make their annual trek through Hawaiian waters.

For amateur photographers and adventurers, the Hanapepe Swinging Bridge is a favorite spot. Based in Hanapepe Town, it was constructed in the early 1900s and looks like something out of Indiana Jones. Afterward, visitors can check out the Art Walk that is hosted every Friday evening in Hanapepe Town. For the true adventure lover, check out the Maniniholo Dry Cave or the three wet caves in the Haena State park. The drive cave is easy to explore if you have a flashlight. Meanwhile, the Maniniholo, Waikapalae and Waikanaloa Wet Caves are are beautiful for photographs. Filled with water from an underground spring, these caves are not safe for swimming, but perfect for photographs. One of the caves, Waikapalae cave, was used during the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise.

The Valley Isle: Maui Island’s Unique Culture and Beaches

Maui Island's Unique Culture and Beaches

The Valley Isle: Maui Island’s Unique Culture and Beaches

Nicknamed the Valley Isle, Maui is filled with artist communities and unique small towns. From small bakeries in Wailuki to farm-to-table cuisine, visitors can enjoy delicious dining opportunities. Home to humpback whales and sandy beaches, Maui has been ranked as the best island in the Conde Nast Traveler for over 20 years.

Maui Overview

Maui is the second biggest island in Hawaii, although it has a fairly small population. Hana highway is a popular for its gorgeous views, waterfalls and hairpin turns. Meanwhile, you can watch large whales breach on the shorelines of Lahaina or stand amid the clouds on top of Haleakala. As the largest island in Maui county, this beautiful isle has 144,444 residents.

Maui Highlights

Beaches: In total, there are 80 different beaches that sit on 120 miles of shoreline.

Whale Watching: Whale watching remains one of the most popular tourist activities in the winter. The whales migrate through the Auau channel, which makes Maui a top spot for whale watching.

Lahaina: In the 180ss, Lahaina was known as a whaling port. In modern times, it is a vibrant gathering ground for the best entertainment, dining, art and shopping that the island has to offer.

Haleakala National Park: Explore the verdant jungles or catch a breathtaking sunrise from 9,740 feet up at the Haleakala Crater.

Hana Highway: With 54 bridges, countless waterfalls and 600 curves, this highway is one of the most scenic in the entire world.

Maui Whale Watching

Maui Geography

The diverse landscapes of Maui make this a dream vacation for visitors. Volcanic cones formed the island over millions of years until miniature islands overlapped into a single island. The highest peak in the West Maui Mountains is Pu’u Kukui at 5,788 feet. The younger volcano, Haleakala, encompasses over 10,000 feet in height. This tall volcano is one of the tallest mountains in the world. Fortunately, the last eruption on the island was in 1790, so you can enjoy the phenomenal view without the worry.

Maui Weather

The leeward side of Maui is generally drier, while the Iao Valley is wetter. Maui has a winter that lasts from November to April that has temperatures in the low 70s to 80s. Summertime sees temperatures around the low-90s. Fortunately, the trade winds that cool the island keep the climate at a pleasantly warm level.

Maui’s Top Destinations

Kaanapali Beach: Spanning three miles on the northwest coast, Kaanapali beach offers shallow waters that are perfect for snorkeling. Designed as Hawaii’s first planned resort, it includes an open-air Whalers Village for shopping and two championship golf courses. Plus, cliff-diving can be found on Kaanapali Beach’s Puu Kekaa (Black Rock) cliffs.

Red Sand Beaches: If you check out enough beaches, you will find white, black and red colors. Made by the island’s volcanoes, the red sand beaches can be found on the east coast.

Haleakala National Park: The summit of Haleakala is the perfect place to watch the sunrise over Maui. After leaving the sea of clouds, enjoy some banana-macadamia nut pancakes at the Kula Lodge. Encompassing 30,000 acres of upcountry land, this park is visited by one million tourists every year. If you hike to the top of Haleakala, you can keep hiking into the mouth of the volcano. Bring your camera because the desert-like environment in the crater is gorgeous. Afterward, hike the Pipiwai trail to sea level and tour Waimoku Falls or the Seven Sacred Pool of Oheo Gulch.

Haleakala National Park

Hula: Hawaii is known for hula dancing and local halaus (hula schools) in Maui often have demonstrations.

Wailea Beach: For visitors who just want to relax, Wailea Beach is the perfect destination. Palm trees shade the way along a paved walkway from the shops to the beach. If you left your snorkel or swimming gear at home, water sports equipment rentals are available. Best of all, the beach is free to enjoy throughout the day and night.