Hawaii, the island state, is a magnificent, lush group of islands that feature an array of outdoor pursuits. Staying active and getting in touch with nature is easy as visitors find themselves either on a beach, in a mountain or a rainforest. Each island is unique to it’s landscape and highlights, but one thing is certain, bring your sunblock. With eight main islands, it is challenging to choose what islands to visit and what activities to pursue. Below are the best of the best of Hawaii, and a must experience at least once.
Kauai is known as the “Garden Isle.” Fertile, lush and pure, Kauai is an island favorite for those who enjoy true island beauty without commercialized towns. The famous, Napali Coast, soars high above the ocean and spans along 17 miles of jagged shoreline. The Napali Coast is located 90 minutes north of Lihue and is the Kalalua Trail is accessible at Kee Beach. The trail is 11 miles each way, and day hikers enjoy the best aspects of Napali. For those who overnight camp must purchase a pass from Hawaii Parks State Division located in Lihue. Hanakapiai beach is a popular destination to setup camp and enjoy the views.
Maui, “The Magic Isle,” is gateway to some of the best whale watching in the world. Get your camera ready for an opportunity to view Humpback whales, dolphins, sea turtles and more. Whale watching season is December through May with the peak season occruing between January through early April. Packages can be purchased at one of the various vendors in Lahaina town. The shallower waters surrounding Maui is a perfect area to spot whales lingering around the less than 600 feet waters. Get ready to snap your camera fast, as a breach occurs in seconds.
Molokini Crater is a Marine Preserved destination that is well known for exquisite scuba diving. The crater is located a short boat ride south of Maui, and features opportunities to view octopus, sea turtles, exotic fish, eels and reef sharks. The crater offers some of the best visibility in Hawaii. Divers may be lucky enough to view schools of dolphins traveling along the crater. There are four dive spots located “inside” the crater and one spot adjacent to the perimeter.Explore Volcanoes National Park | Hawaii Island
Located 30 miles southwest of Hilo is Volcanoes National Park. Home to one of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kilauea, which produces over 250 billion cubic yards of lava per day. There are over 150 miles of hiking trails located in the park, and visitors have the opportunity to drive the 10.6 mile Crater Rim Drive. This pathway circles the Kilauea Caldera to present picturesque attractions such as Kilauea overlook, Devastation trail, Thurston lava tube, Halemaumau Crater and more.Swim with Manta Rays | Kona Coast, Hawaii
It’s not everyday that humans get the opportunity to get up and close with marine life. The manta ray is one of the ocean’s largest fish,which has a wingspan of approximately 20 feet. These gentle giants are best visible at night, with a spotlight, and have the opportunity to come inches near these creatures. Diving or snorkeling with manta rays is a year round activity that does not have a peak season. This is a once in a lifetime experience, which may result in a spiritual awakening to be one with nature.Surf the Perfect Wave | Oahu
Surfing in Oahu is rad and features various opportunities to catch the perfect wave. Only the highly skilled and elite surfers can conquer the colossal North shore waves. This go-to battle ground attracts visitors to view man beat water. November through
Mule Ride Kalaupapa National Park | Molokai
Molokai is the fifth largest and least populated of the Hawaiian Islands. Take a step back to the early 1900’s where there are no traffic lights, cars and a simple way of living. Hawaii is often viewed by land, sea or air, but not too often can you ride a mule. Visit the Kalaupapa National Park on your mule as the group meanders amongst jagged peaks and scenic shoreline. The trail is just under three miles long and features 26 switchbacks.
View sunrise or sunset above this volcano for a quintessential outdoor experience. Various tour operators drive travelers to the top of the road for a view, then sent on a bike to coast down to the bottom. Take it slow as the views maybe so beautiful you may find yourself coasting on the wrong side of the street. Bring warm clothes as the wind and temperature are strong and cool. Drink your coffee as sunrise is as early as 5:38am during the summer months. Therefore, tours leave before 5:00am to make way up the long, steep drive.
The Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Waimea, is a geological wonder in Hawaii. Stretching 14 miles in length and 3,600 feet deep, Waimea’s colors make for beautiful and vibrant photographs. Waimea Canyon Drive features various lookout points, or hike one of the many trails located in the park to view some of the interior.
Whether you want to swim, picnic or snorkel, dolphins and sea turtles frequently visit this white sand beach. The area is protected and features calm waters, but swimmers should be cautious of riptides. This is one of the safest Lanai beaches. At low-tide, beach go-ers may notice other sea creatures such as crabs, starfish and various shallow water fish.
Elizabeth is a fitness professional, workshop presenter and freelance writer. She is an active traveler who treks the globe looking for interesting stories to write and places to photograph. Her most significant travel achievements include living and volunteering in Australia twice and studied yoga in India.