With COVID restrictions easing and the weather improving, it would be no surprise if you were starting to think about planning a vacation in the upcoming months. There are so many amazing destinations to choose between, from the ancient streets of Kyoto in Japan to the stunning wilderness of Norway and modern metropolis of New York City. However, if it’s a tropical getaway you’re looking for, Hawaii might just be the perfect choice. Read on to find out why this paradise state deserves to be at the top of your vacation spot wishlist. You’re guaranteed to be searching for flights by the time you’ve finished reading!
A quick overview
Hawaii is an archipelago of islands situated in the Pacific Ocean, approximately 2,000 miles off the west coast of the United States. This gives the state a completely distinct identity from the rest of the country, with a laidback and welcoming vibe that you are certain to fall in love with the moment you arrive.
Speaking of arriving, there’s no bad time of year to visit Hawaii, because the temperatures are warm all year round. October and November tend to be the quietest time of year, meaning you can often get considerable bargains on airfare and hotel rooms. Conversely, winter is the ideal time for activities such as surfing and whale watching.
There are six main islands in Hawaii to visit during your stay, with frequent flights connecting them all:
- Hawaii – home to the world’s most active volcano, Kilauea, this island is a hiker’s paradise and also a great location to spot marine life such as humpback whales, sea turtles and dolphins
- Kauai – the ‘Garden Island’ is as pretty as a postcard, with cascading waterfalls, lush tropical rainforests and jagged mountain peaks to explore
- Lanai – this remote island is ideal for those who want to get away from it all but still enjoy a luxurious vacation
- Maui – known for its stunning beaches, Maui is a mecca for surfers and fans of other water sports. Inland, it also offers excellent hiking opportunities
- Molokai – residents of this island work to preserve their rural lifestyle and native culture alongside the gorgeous scenery on offer
- Oahu – this is the most popular island with tourists, and home to the capital city of Honolulu. It boasts beautiful beaches, fascinating museums, and an epic food scene
You can spend all your time on one island, or hop between them all depending on the type of trip you want – the choice is yours!
The best things to do in Hawaii
There’s no shortage of fun experiences to be had on these picturesque islands. Here are a few ideas to get you inspired:
Hit the beach
The beaches are almost certainly the biggest attraction for tourists coming to Hawaii, and it’s easy to see why. The islands offer pristine stretches of sugary soft white sand to relax on, where crystalline turquoise waves lap at the shore. In fact, there are a huge variety of beaches here – making it easy for you to find the perfect one. For example, Sunset Beach on Oahu’s North Shore is a hotspot for surfers, while Waikiki Beach on the island’s South Shore is one of the most popular beaches in the world. Meanwhile Maui is famous for also offering striking black sand beaches. If you’re after true seclusion, North Lanai’s Polihua Beach and East Molokai’s Kawili Beach are both idyllic choices.
In order to have the ultimate experience, it’s best to book accommodation at one of the top Kona, Hawaii resorts located right on the coast. That way you’ll not only enjoy amazing service, but also stunning ocean and beach views from your window.
Don’t be concerned that staying in a luxury hotel will somehow make your vacation less authentic, because most also offer wonderful cultural tours plus arts and crafts workshops for interested guests. This means you can immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture while simultaneously enjoying a spot of pampering. Talk about getting the best of both worlds!
Have a go at water sports
There is nothing wrong with visiting the beach simply to sunbathe or relax with a good book. However, if you’re interested in something to get your adrenaline going a bit more, why not try your hand at the many water sports on offer? Surfing is of course the most famous option, and there’s no better place than Hawaii to learn how to ride the waves. There are also annual surfing competitions that take place on the North Shore of Oahu in November and December, so be sure to check those out if you want to see the pros in action. Yet surfing is far from your only option here. Why not give windsurfing, stand-up paddle boarding or kitesurfing a go? You could even try parasailing if you truly want unrivaled views and an unforgettable day.
Explore below the waves
Hawaii is just as stunning below the water as it is above it. Snorkeling and scuba diving allow you to get a glimpse at this amazing underwater world, and there are trips available for both complete beginners and those with more experience. Some of the many species of marine life you can expect to see beneath the waves include gentle green sea turtles (known as honu), graceful manta rays (hahalua), and an abundance of colorful tropical fish. Don’t worry if you’re not confident in the water though, because it’s also possible to take a boat tour where you can spot leaping spinner dolphins and majestic humpback whales (during the winter).
Take a hike
The Hawaiian islands are quite literally a paradise for those who love hiking, with everything from mountain peaks to lava deserts and verdant rainforests to wander through. There are trails to suit all fitness levels, allowing you to find the perfect route for your needs. Some of the best include the Pipiwai Trail that leads you past waterfalls and through an ethereal bamboo forest, and Kilauea Iki that crosses glowing lava fields in the Hawaii Volcanos National Park.
Whichever you choose, be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen in addition to wearing comfortable and supportive footwear (preferably walking boots). Don’t forget that if you’re hiking a mountain, it will be cooler at the summit so bring a light outer layer. Lastly, always plan your route in advance and keep an eye on the weather forecast. Tired of walking? You might like to have a go at ziplining through the treetops instead!
Experience the mouthwatering food scene
Hawaiian cuisine is a delicious blend of local ingredients and global influences. Unsurprisingly, you can expect plenty of seasonal fruit and vegetables as well as fresh seafood to appear on the menu. One of the most famous foodie experiences is of course the luau, an epic feast with music and dancing plus a wealth of dishes featuring taro root, poke bowls, and coconut pudding. Plus don’t miss the chance to taste unique rum made from pure sugarcane juice on Oahu.
Immerse yourself in the local culture
In addition to the food, Hawaii has a rich cultural background to explore during your trip. The Bishop Museum boasts a wide range of fascinating Polynesian artifacts and natural history exhibits as well as a planetarium, plus the Hawaiian Hall that leads you on a journey through the different realms of Hawaii – from the ones where humans live to the realms of the gods. Meanwhile the Honolulu Museum of Art is home to a stunning collection of diverse works from around the world, including Impressionist paintings and Japanese woodblock prints. Another site worth visiting before you head home is the Iolani Palace, which used to be home to the Hawaiian monarchy.