Immerse yourself in the lush tropics of Hawaii
Bustling Honolulu is the island’s capital and business centre. Hawaii’s history is apparent throughout the city, from the royal palace to hectic Chinatown and the Pearl Harbour memorial.
Start by learning the history of the islands. Iolani Palace is the only royal palace in the United States. Built by King David Kalakaua in 1882, it was a modern palace for its time and was the seat of the Hawaiian monarchy before American businessmen overthrew the kingdom in 1893. You can take either a docent-led or self-guided tour of the palace, which features exhibits of royal regalia.
Pearl Harbour is a sad but important visit. Located 40 minutes outside the city centre, the memorial and accompanying museums are among Hawaii’s most popular tourist attractions. On December 7, 1941, the surprise Japanese attack on the military base prompted America’s entry into World War II. Don’t miss the USS Arizona Memorial.
Enjoy some retail therapy on Kalakaua Avenue, Waikiki’s premier shopping street. Shop ‘til you drop from a line of luxury brands, with Waikiki’s beautiful beach in the background. Stop for refreshments at the Moana Surfrider, Honolulu’s oldest hotel. Every afternoon the Surfrider puts on a delectable afternoon tea on its shaded verandah.
Maui is consistently voted one of the world’s best and most romantic islands, for good reason. Maui really has it all — hike through hidden valleys, relax on golden sand beaches and experience spectacular snorkelling.
Snorkel with the turtles at Malu’aka Beach, also known as Turtle Beach. These graceful creatures feed on the coral and, if you’re lucky, will let you get as close as a metre away. One of the best beaches on Maui is Big Beach, which stretches for more than 1.6km.
At night, experience an authentic Hawaiian luau at the Old Lahaina Luau. A luau is a traditional Hawaiian feast with hula dances for entertainment. Expect a warm welcome and high-quality food, including kalua pork, tuna poke and an array of side dishes.
You’d be forgiven for thinking you had stumbled into paradise upon arriving on Kauai. Nicknamed The Garden Island, the sheer number of shades of green almost hurts the eyes. To truly appreciate the local flora, check out Allerton Garden. The garden was once a private residence, the owner of which spent three decades creating a tropical paradise with an abundance of botanicals.
Kauai is the island for the outdoors lover. Verdant mountains just beg to be explored, and trails will, more likely than not, lead to a waterfall. Surfers will enjoy riding world-class waves while accompanied by playful wild dolphins.
The Big Island (Hawaii)
Nicknamed The Big Island to differentiate it from the state, Hawaii the island contains all things quintessentially Hawaiian. Watch red hot lava flow from the earth at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and walk on brand new land. Or kayak with wild dolphins in Kealakekua Bay, where Captain Cook was killed. The coral reef in the bay makes for some fabulous snorkelling.
On the south coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, near the former town of Kalapana, lava from the Kilauea volcano meets the the waters of the Pacific Ocean, and new land is born.
Kona is the tourist centre, set on the sunny side of the island. There are quite a few historic sites here, like Ahuhena Heiau, a temple complex where King Kamehameha died.
On the other side of the island is Hilo, often considered Old Hawaii. The downtown is lined with well-preserved historic buildings and fewer tourist shops than Kona. More rain falls in Hilo than Kona, but when the sun shines the town’s greenery lights up.