A visit to Hawaii is like no other. Whether you’re surfing your first wave at Waikiki Beach or hiking through the misty forests of Volcanoes National Park, the island’s natural landscapes and ocean life have a magical allure. Many visitors are also intrigued by the Hawaiian culture and tradition that permeates island life. And that’s especially true when you take part in a luau or feast on kalua pig and poi at a local eatery.
When Polynesian navigators first settled the islands in their voyaging canoes, they brought with them a distinctly Polynesian way of life and a kinship with nature that was expressed through the practice of “Aloha
Hawaii’s enchanting diversity is revealed in its volcanic landscapes, tropical rainforests, lava deserts, and fern and bamboo forests. Its diverse topography is dotted with misty plateaus, craggy ocean cliffs, and sandy beaches.
On the Big Island, a vast network of coastal hiking trails leads to some of the world’s most spectacular black sand beaches. These sands are formed when lava flows meet the sea, cool down quickly and shatter into fragments of black volcanic glass.
Other popular outdoor activities include scuba diving, snorkeling, and whale watching. The state’s most populated island, O
Those seeking an active vacation can hike to the summit of Mauna Loa or Kilauea, two of the world’s most active volcanoes in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Alternatively, they can trek through the Waimea Canyon State Park or visit the Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park.
For those who want to slow down, the Road to Hana on the island of Maui is a classic Hawaiian experience. This scenic drive meanders along the eastern side of the island, stopping at waterfalls and pristine beaches. It’s the perfect way to enjoy the island’s lush tropical scenery and to experience Hawaiian village life.
Molokai, the oldest and largest of the Hawaiian islands, has an intriguing history. The remote peninsula, hemmed in by steep sea cliffs, once served as a natural prison for those with Hanson’s disease—later called leprosy. Those with the disfiguring disease were quarantined here until Father Damien, an American missionary who died from the illness himself, came to the island in 1873 and changed the course of history.
While Hawaii offers many unique experiences and attractions, some stand out as the best of the best. Here are our top picks.