Just a mere mention of Hawaii and images of paradise islands, crystal clear waters and soft, sandy beaches pop into my head. And, it turns out, that while my imagination has got it pretty spot on, Hawaii is a pretty multifaceted kind of place. There’s lush green sides, mountainous sides, desert-filled sides and sides that are packed with history to boot.
I asked some of my fellow STA staffers who’d been to this magical group of islands what they thought. With responses like “It totally surpassed expectations – I wanted to go back straight away” and “I would move there in a shot, and open a peanut farm!”, I got the feeling that Hawaii just might be close to the paradise it is in my head.
So, I’m giving Hawaii a sturdy High Five, and counting down five incredible experiences to have while you’re there.
High (Hawaii) Five-O
Five amazing things to do in Hawaii
1. Big experiences on the Big Island
Don’t miss a trip to the originally named Big Island. Not only is it the largest island in the Hawaii chain, it’s also home to some very big things indeed. Think the world’s most active volcanoes (Kilauea), the tallest sea mountain in the world (Manaukea), and the world’s tallest, err, normal mountain (Maunaloa), too. It’s also an island of contradictions: you’ll find rain forests, deserts, snow covered mountains and sprawling black sand beaches all in one place. Definitely one to explore.
2. The Road to Hana
Hit the road and take a drive along the Hana Highway on Maui – it may just be the most beautiful drive you ever take. Every twist and turn along the 68-mile road will take you through lush rainforests and past countless waterfalls, which, if you’re lucky, you may even get to yourself, à la our marketing executive Neil, below.
Go on a solo swim in a waterfall | Image courtesy of Neil Hassall
3. Life’s a beach
I couldn’t write a feature about Hawaii without mentioning the beaches. White sands, turquoise waters – it’s all true. Head to Lanikai Beach on Oahu or Hanalei Bay on Kauai for the picturesque beach lazing of your dreams. If watersports are your thing, check out Kaanapali on Maui and Hulopoe Beach in Lanai for some serious snorkelling.
Make your mark on one of Hawaii's beautiful beaches | Image by Shannon Reese
4. A climb with a view
Experience breath taking views of Waikiki and get your walk on with a climb to the summit of Diamond Head, a volcanic tuff cone on the island of O’ahu. Not only will be you be rewarded with a scene like the one below, it’s also a great day trip away from the tourist hoards of Honolulu.
The view from Diamond Head is so worth the climb | Image by InSapphoWeTrust
5. Luau in Lahaina
Before Honolulu rocked up and stole its thunder, Lahaina was the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Today, the old whaling village is a beautiful historic spot, bursting with one-off shops, art galleries and unique restaurants. Don’t miss a beach side luau, where you can chow down on some kalua pig and watch some traditional Polynesian dances. If you’re paying a visit in the winter, get your whale watching goggles on – Lahaina is one the best places in the world to spot humpback whales.