Oahu certainly lives up to its nickname as "The Gathering Place." The third largest island is home to the majority of Hawaii’s diverse population — a fusion of East and West cultures rooted in the values and traditions of the native Hawaiian people. This is an island of activity. Whether you’re learning to surf in legendary Waikiki, hiking through the rich rainforests of Waimea Valley, or watching the brilliant pastels of dusk fade off of Sunset Beach, you’ll find variety at every turn on Oahu.
Oahu Quick Facts:
1. Travel to the Hawaii Maritime Center, where you can find out all about Hawaii's thrilling maritime history — from the seafaring canoes to the Matson steamships.
2. Come to Mauna Kea Street and see how the Hawaiian leis are constructed for use throughout the islands for welcomes and celebrations.
3. There are many arts & crafts fairs to be found at Kapiolani Park, Thomas Square, and Ala Moana Beach Park.
4. Drive the scenic Pali Highway for gorgeous views of Hawaii, stopping at the Nuuanu Pali Lookout for a true panoramic vista.
5. Visit Pearl Harbor to see the Arizona Memorial, built to honor the men who lost their lives on the first day of World War II, on the USS Arizona.
6. See how the first missionaries lived in Hawaii at the Mission Homes Museum.
7. Spend a blissfully serene time at the Valley of the Temples amongst the brightly-colored peacocks that light up the amazing Hawaiian landscape.
8. Take a trip to Dole Cannery Square and learn all about the colorful history of the pineapple in Hawaii, through the excellent multimedia 'James Dole' story.
9. Visit the only royal palace on American soil at Iolani Palace, as well as the Queen Emma Summer Palace!
10. See a traditional Hawaiian tiki-lighting ceremony and hula show on Waikiki Beach at sunset, close to the statue of Duke Kahanamoku.
Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands. It has a population of around 144,000 people and is 727 square miles (1883 km²) in size. The famous Road to Hana stretches 52 miles from Kahului to the small town of Hana. Maui is part of Maui County, Hawaii. The better-known towns include Kahului, Wailuku, Lahaina, Hana, and Wailea. Main industries are agriculture and tourism.
Maui was named for the demi-god Maui. In Hawaiian legend, he raised all the islands from the sea. Maui is also known as "The Valley Isle" for the large fertile isthmus (narrow land connection) that is between its two volcanoes.
Maui is a volcanic doublet — an island formed from two volcanic mountains that are joined together. The older volcano, Mauna Kahalawai, is much older and has undergone much erosion — and is referred to, in common talk, as the West Maui Mountains. The larger volcano, Haleakala, rises just above 10,000 feet (3,050 m). The last eruption of Haleakala happened over 200 years ago, and the remnants of this lava flow can be seen between Ahihi Bay and La Perouse Bay on the southeast shore.
1. Go to the Old Lahaina Luau and sample amazing Hawaiian food like Kalua pig, cooked in an oven made of earth, accompanied by poi and coconut pudding. Listen to Hawaiian music while watching hula and authentic fire dancers.
2. Get a bike and cycle the island. Maui is very bike friendly and there is even a way to get from the East End of the island to the West End. There are bicycle rentals available all over the isle of Maui.
3. Dive Maui. Maui is a scuba diver's paradise, featuring dozens of trusted operators. The two marine conservation areas offer a variety of snorkel and dive excursions, and there are also glass bottom boats and a genuine submarine.
4. Whale-watching takes place November through May, when the humpback whales come back to Maui's waters to mate and give birth. Licensed tour companies give excursions to see these majestic and amazing animals.
5. The Hana Highway is one of the most scenic drives in the world and it is located on Maui. It has 59 bridges interspersed over 52 miles of road that loop along the edge of a volcanic shoreline.
6. There are so many ways to enjoy the water: jetskiing, bodyboarding, paddleboarding, surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, scuba diving, snuba diving, snorkling and swimming. Be sure to at least dip your toes in the water when you are on Maui!
7. Charter a boat from Lahaina — at Ma'alaea Harbor or Mala Wharf — to go out on the ocean and catch mahi-mahi, kawa-kawa or even the big Blue Marlin. Hawaiian fishing is a somewhat different than some big-game fishing styles, so expect to learn a lot.
8. There are plenty of spas in Maui, and if your muscles are aching, there is nothing better than getting your aching muscles relaxed. Try a hot stone massage, or get a seaweed wrap.
9. Take a horse ride through the seven-mile Haleakala crater and see a landscape that seems out of this world. The trip takes four hours and can include a picnic lunch on the crater floor.
10. Watch turtles. The most commonly seen turtle on Maui is the Green Turtle (Honu). There are different places on Maui where you can find turtles. On Maui's North Shore you can watch them (up to 80 per day) coming on shore every evening at the world-famous surf beach at Hookipa Beach Park. On the south side of the island of Maui, near Makena, is a place called "Turtle Town". This is a great location to snorkel and encounter the turtles in the water. More of these amazing creatures can be found in Olowalu, along the coastline to Lahaina.
The tropical paradise of Kauai basks amidst the sparkling blue waters of the Pacific Ocean about 20 minutes by air from Honolulu. Formed some six million years ago, the island encompasses roughly 550 square miles and is the oldest and northernmost of the main Hawaiian Islands. This is where the Grand Canyon of the Pacific is found — Waimea Canyon.
To visit Kauai is to quickly lose yourself in the quiet majesty of the island's lush tropical setting and extraordinary natural heritage. Come discover the legendary "Aloha Spirit" that abounds in this friendly garden island paradise.
1. Catch a view of the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle. Growing up to four feet in length and weighing up to 400 pounds when fully grown, these gentle sea-going adventurers are protected by the Endangered Species Act — so give them room if you encounter one when swimming.
2. Kauai is a scuba diver's paradise, with all levels accommodated from beginner to expert. Expert divers will want to charter a dive around Ni'ihau, where there is wildlife found only in this location. Coral varieties and different species of wildlife exclusive to Hawaii are found here, including the Hawaiian monk seal, and many sharks.
3. Kauapea Beach, also known as "Secret Beach," is one of the most secluded beaches in Kauai, located between Kalihiwai and Kilauea. A ten-minute hike will take you down to a golden sand beach with a little waterfall, with calm waters in the summer months. Known for the wide range of different people it attracts, you could meet pretty much anyone at this interesting little hideaway.
4. If you like golf, Kauai has a great variety of the most beautiful courses to challenge every level of golfer — the Kiahuna Golf Club and the Poipu Bay Resort Golf Course, both designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., are both extraordinarily beautiful courses that will challenge your game as well.
5. Bodyboarding is the easier cousin of surfing, and there are many beaches on Kauai that suit the more laid-back style. Kealia Beach, north of Kapaa on Highway 56, is a good place to start, but watch out for the rip currents and undertow.
6. There are so many beaches that surround Kauai that it makes it easy to find one that suits your taste. Poipu Beach Park on the South Shore has lifeguards and amenities, and is safe and sunny. On the North Shore, Kee Beach sports a long beach with a lagoon packed full of reef fish.
7. Take a kayak up the Wailua River with a guide who will tell you about the spirits of the dead that leap from the cliffs on the opposite side of the river into the land of the dead. There are temple ruins and other secret sites that will thrill you on this relaxing and fascinating tour.
8. Take an Ultralight flight from the Port Allen airport, on the South Shore of Kauai. Be amazed as the sense of weightlessness contributes to the awe you will feel as you fly and dip over this extraordinary landscape.
9. The Na Pali Coast State Park — a 6,175-acre state park inaccessible to vehicular traffic — is a spectacular site for hiking and camping, and best reached either by air, or just as spectacularly from the ocean by boat. You might see humpback whales, dolphins, sea turtles or seals.
10. Seashell collecting can be the most relaxing thing in the world. A paradise of a beach, pristine conditions and a large variety of shell types make collecting shells a superb experience, especially on the beaches around Haena.
Famous for the active Kilauea volcano, Hawaii’s Big Island is home to a list of fascinating anomalies. Eleven different climate zones generate everything from lush rainforests to arid deserts, black sand beaches to snow-capped mountaintops. The Big Island is Hawaii’s biggest playground.
What can I do on Hawaii’s Big Island?
1. Tour around the island by bike. The Big Island is perfect for bike touring, providing the most spectacular vistas and oceanfront cycling. Rentals are available island-wide.
2. Try snuba. Snuba is a combination of scuba diving and snorkeling, where the tank remains on the surface, but you can breathe underwater. A safe alternative, and easier to pick up than scuba diving. Hang out with the fish!
3. Explore volcano trails. Hike the lunar landscape of Big Island up close at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
4. Surf in Kona. Enjoy the ocean where surfing was invented — rent a surfboard, get lessons and harness the power of the ocean to ride to the shore.
5. Go kayaking. Kayaking is an excellent physical activity, and the variety of trips on Big Island make it possible for all skill levels to have a great time kayaking the waters. There are guided tours available, but there is also the option to take a kayak 'to go'.
6. Visit Mauna Kea. The Hawaiians call this mountain the White Mountain, named for the snow that covered it nearly 2000 years ago when they first named it. It stands as the tallest mountain in the world when measured from the ocean floor to its impressive peak. With 13 telescopes the Mauna Kea observatory makes up the largest observatory in the world.
7. Experience hot springs. All along the Puna Coast on the Big Island, thermal pools can be found. This is where water from hot springs travels through rock pools, while forming naturally heated tubs on its way to the ocean. In 2018, some of the pools were covered by lava — so check in advance which ones are currently available and accessible.
8. Taste the treats of Hilo. When you get done with all the lava and steam, come back to Hilo and explore the macadamia nut factory, or make a trip to Big Island Candies.
9. Enjoy the Beaches. Big Island's beaches are stunning, and there are many to choose from: the White Sands Beach Park with its constantly shifting beach deposits, Kahalu'u Beach Park which offers great snorkeling, and Coconut Island Park by the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel which is pleasant for fishing and swimming.
10. Parasailing is an amazing experience, and Kailua Bay is a perfect location to soar like a bird above the bay taking in the mind-blowing Hawaiian landscape.
The State of Hawaii — with its different islands and their varied landscapes — offers a holiday for everyone. Its nicknames — "The Aloha State," "Paradise of the Pacific" and "The Islands of Aloha" — perfectly express the warm and welcoming spirit of Hawaii. It stretches across almost the entire volcanic Hawaiian archipelago and consists of the eight main islands Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, Maui, and the Island of Hawaii.
Discover the many different routes on the Hawaiian Islands that are perfect for road trips. Drive along Big Island’s East Coast to reach Hawaii Volcanoes National Park or follow Maui’s Kahekili Highway through lush valleys.
Hikers love Hawaii and each of its islands is full of beautiful hikes to go on. From volcanic landscapes to beaches to tropical forests, there is an abundance of scenic wonders to discover.
Enjoy the tropical climate at the world-famous white, black, red, and green sand beaches. From Oahu, the most populated island, to the small gem of Molokai, there are perfect beaches everywhere.
Hawaii’s massive shield volcanoes are impressive natural spectacles. Maunaloa is the world’s biggest volcano and covers half of Big Island. Drive up to Diamond Head on Oahu and hike up the volcano to enjoy the breathtaking view.
Hawaii’s tropical climate combined with its multitude of mountain peaks creates spectacular waterfalls. The best islands for waterfalls are Big Island, Maui and Kauai. Hike through the beautiful landscapes and spend some time enjoying a dip in the waterfall swimming holes.
Experience Hawaiian culture and explore the beautiful coastal villages and bustling towns. Whether you decide on Oahu with Hawaii’s capital Honolulu and the famous Waikiki Beach or you decide on visiting the green paradise that is Kauai, discovering the chosen destination by car is always a great idea.
Hawaiian cuisine is a mixture of Polynesian and Native Hawaiian cuisine with strong American, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Puerto-Ricans and Portuguese influences. Try Poke, the local dish of diced raw fish.
For bigger shopping trips, Oahu is your best destination. Honolulu’s Alo Moana Center is the world’s largest outdoor mall. If you prefer discovering special little gifts and souvenirs, check out the many little shops and boutiques on Molokai.