Destinations

Across The Hawaiian Islands: Experience The Iconic And Unexpected

sponsored by Hawai‘i Tourism Oceania

sponsored by Hawai‘i Tourism Oceania

Think you know Hawai’i? Think again.

Even the most well-travelled spots across Hawai’i’s six distinct islands can reveal unexpected finds if you scratch beneath the surface, with surprising experiences awaiting you at every turn.

Island of Hawai’i

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is well-known as a must-visit destination. But don’t be so sure you’ve ticked off all the best places to witness some of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders. Now visitors can experience brand new tours highlighting the dramatic landscapes that trail Kilauea Volcano’s lava flow that’s been active since 2018. 

Here’s another secret. The Island of Hawai‘i is home to four other National Park Service-managed parks and trails that are well worth visiting. Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site, Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park and the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail each have a unique story to tell of its importance and role in Hawaiian culture and history. 

Puukohola Heiau, District of Kohala

Now, you may have already heard of Akaka Falls and Waianuenue (aka Rainbow) Falls, perhaps you’ve already visited and gazed up to behold each cascade’s scenic splendour. But why not take chasing waterfalls to another level? 

Hiking and helicopter tours of the island’s HiloHamakua and North Kohala districts showcase countless interior and coastline waterfalls, streams and forest reserves within the vast east side slopes of Maunakea and Kohala mountains.

From bird watching tours in the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, ziplining at Umauma Falls, hiking into Pololu Valley to up-close helicopter tours of the North Kohala sea cliffs, there’s an adventure for everyone. 

Rope bridge near Umauma Falls


Kaua‘i

It wouldn’t be a visit to Kaua‘i without taking in the grandeur of Waimea Canyon. Our top for a sight-seeing experience away from the crowds? Hike along Kukui Trail to view Waimea Canyon State Park’s floor descending 2,000 feet. You can also hike the Iliau Nature Loop Trail which skirts the canyon’s west rim. 

Fancy a ride, instead? Take the sunrise or afternoon downhill bicycle tour with Outfitters Kaua‘i, and descend the canyon-hugging Kokee Road from its 3,600-foot elevation to sea level.

View from the Waimea Canyon Lookout

What’s next? The waters of Wailua River State Park is infamous – the hanging emerald flora even gave the lava rock cavern Fern Grotto its name. But have you heard of the beautiful Allerton Garden?

These tranquil gardens are abundant with ornamental and tropical flora, plus art and landscape design that leaves a surprise at each turn. Want more? Check out McBryde Garden, which has an extensive collection of tropical flora from the Hawaiian Islands and around the world.

Allerton Garden

O‘ahu

One of the Hawaiian Islands’ most celebrated natural landmarks is the volcanic tuff cone of Diamond Head State Monument. 

Visit the summit rim at the Waikiki and Honolulu observation platform, then spice up your experience by exploring the diverse eateries on Monsarrat Avenue at the foot of Lēʻahi  (Diamond Head’s given Hawaiian name). Some of our favourites include Diamond Head Market & Grill, da Cove Health Bar and Café, Pioneer Saloon, Monsarrat Ave Shave Ice, South Shore Grill, Banán, and Bogart’s Café. 

Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten our history buffs! While many travellers visit the Pearl Harbour Visitor Centre and take the popular boat tour to the USS Arizona Memorial, there are three additional World War II museums that are part of the Pearl Harbour Historic Sites. So if you really want to immerse yourself in the stories and relics of World War II, take the time to explore the Battleship Missouri MemorialPacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor (both on Ford Island) and USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park which neighbours the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. 

The newly added Top of the Tower Tour takes you to the top of the iconic Ford Island Control Tower offering an unforgettable 360 degree view from the observation deck. While on Ford Island, you can also visit the USS Oklahoma Memorial, which honours crew members who lost their lives when the battleship that was sunk during the 7th December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour.

Battleship Missouri and USS Arizona memorials

Maui

You already know about climbing to the summit of Maui’s Haleakala volcano for sunrise, an understandably popular option. But the 48 kilometre area of Haleakala National Park (with its 3,055-metre summit) also offers a range of hiking trails

These treks are a great way to experience the wonderfully diverse environments that exist within the national park, from high-elevation native shrub forests and cinder desert, to dense tropical rainforest. There’s something for everyone…

After a day-long escape? The Halemauu Trail is a solid bet! Something more leisurely? Explore a section of the Keoneheehee “Sliding Sands” Trail. And for the adventurers looking to submerge themselves into the varied wilderness, hike overnight on the Kaupo Trail. 

Iao Valley State Monument is also a must-see when visiting Maui. Within the lush West Maui Mountains, Kukaemoku (also known as Iao Needle) is a towering, vegetation-covered, stream-cut lava pinnacle and a notorious site to behold! But what the everyday tourist might not know is that there is also a foodie paradise to explore nearby. 

Indulge in some of neighbouring Wailuku’s mouth-watering local eateries, where every resident has a favourite (and authentic!) hot spot. For starters, check out Tiffany’s Bar & Grill, Sam Sato’s, Tokyo Tei, Stillwell’s Bakery & Café, or Geste Shrimp Truck. Fear not, when you’re hungry again, there’s plenty more!

 

Inspired by GoHawaii blog: Hawaii: From Iconic to Unexpected | Go Hawaii.



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