Hawaii has a lot to offer holiday makers, from sun-soaked beaches and world-class surf breaks to lush rainforest interiors and excellent hiking.
You could travel to Hawaii year after year, hopping from island to island, and still find new things to do.
Here’s a look at our Top 10 things to do in Hawaii to get you started.
Stargaze atop Mauna Kea
Stargazing at the atop Mauna Kea on the Big Island is an out of this world experience, literally. With near-perfect stargazing air and the advantage of 9,000+ feet, Mauna Kea provides stellar astronomy viewing.
Join one of the stargazing tours on offer where you can peer at the glitter-filled sky through large telescopes, stay snug in warm jackets provided, and learn about the night sky.
Explore Kauai’s Waimea Canyon
Known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Waimea Canyon is as impressive as its epithet suggests. Crisscrossed with hiking trails, peppered with hidden waterfalls, and impressive vantage points around every corner, Wimea Canyon is like nirvana for those who love to immerse themselves in nature.
The gargantuan canyon, which was formed from a combination of volcanic activity and the Waimea River, is home to a number of endemic plant species and native birds.
If you’re a sucker for life-changing views, or if you simply prefer to witness this spectacular feat of nature without getting in amongst it all, there are scenic helicopter tours over the canyon so you can take it all in.
Spend the day with Honu at Maui’s Turtle Town
Turtles, or Honu when you’re in Hawaii, can be found at just about every beach in Hawaii, so you’re practically guaranteed to see at least one while there; but Turtle Town is THE place to see honu.
Located on Maui’s south coast, Turtle Town is a series of underwater caves where turtles rule and spotting one is as easy as dipping your head into the water. Snorkelling alongside them as they cruise the deep blue sea is an unforgettable experience. And at Turtle Town you’re likely to be surrounded by them.
There are a number of snorkelling tours on offer that can take you to Turtle Town – located between Nahuna Point and Black Sand beach – or you can swim out from Maluaka Beach if you’re comfortable.
Marvel at the red-hot glow of lava in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Witnessing one of the most active volcanoes on earth, Kilauea volcano, in action is an incredible sight. The park’s most popular volcano has been erupting since the eighties so smokey, fiery scenes are common as is the molten glow of fire-red lava creeping its way across the earth – or if you’re lucky, the spectacle of lava flowing into the ocean.
There are a number of hikes in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park where you can traverse smoking craters, clamber over lava-covered roads, and lava tubes. It’s an impressive barren landscape and will likely leave you in awe of mother nature’s force.
Stay on after dark for a truly spectacular show of mesmerising molten fires dancing across the earth. It’s eerie and beautiful at the same time.
Whale watch off Maui
Every year between December and May humpback whales take refuge in the protected and shallow waters off Maui to breed and calve.
Ideal conditions allow for spectacular whale watching tours where you can witness these gentle giants as they perform their spectacular ballerina-like dances.
The quality of the tours on offer is outstanding, many of which have at least one dedicated marine biologist on board who will give informative talks and whale tidbits as you sit back and enjoy the show.
Eat you way around Oahu
Hawaii knows good food, period. Fresh food abounds, traditional fare is more delicious than you’d expect, and modified cuisines – such as Japanese and Mexican – are reborn into new finger-licking existence.
While each Hawaiian island has its fair share of yummy fare, Oahu has a very diverse range of eateries on offer. Take a look at Lonely Planet’s guide to Oahu for food lovers.
You won’t be disappointed and you’re guaranteed to finish your round-trip with a very full, very satisfied belly.
Drive the road to Hana
It may be a tad cliche but the road to Hana is still one of the most beautiful drives in the world, and a must-do for anyone visiting Maui.
The picturesque route hugs the coastline traversing through pristine rainforest, past cascading waterfalls, countless surf breaks, and boasts a whole range of roadside stands selling everything from fruit smoothies to fresh produce.
There are many places to stop and stretch your legs along the way, pause for a picnic, or hike a nature trail.
At the end is the sleepy, relatively undeveloped tropical paradise of Hana, home to gorgeous beaches, epic surf breaks, and chill locals.
Walk the painted forest in Maui
While you’re on the road to Hana be sure to stop at the enchanting painted forest. The forest is a pretty cluster of rainbow eucalyptus trees covered in colourful paint-stroke-like markings in shades of pink, green, red, purple, and yellow.
It’s a beautiful and quite peaceful walk through the forest, and a great way to stretch your legs en-route to Hana.
Shop like a local for fresh produce at a farmer’s market
It’s no secret Hawaii can be a bit of a strain on the wallet, especially when it comes to food, but if you go it like a local and shop at one of the many farmer’s markets on offer you’re likely to save money while treating yourself to some seriously delicious and fresh nosh.
Farmer’s markets are a big deal in Hawaii, and for good reason. Not only is it an opportunity for locals to sell their goods and grab some fresh fare, it’s an opportunity to socialise and get back to basics.
Each island has its favourites, find yours at this handy guide to Hawaii.
Explore the kaleidoscopic under water world at Molokini Crater
Exploring the incredible under water world at Molokini Crater is a must-do for divers and snorkelsers visiting Maui. This crescent shaped volcanic caldera is suitable for all levels due to its sheltered ‘bay’, calm waters, and excellent visibility.
It is Hawaii’s only island marine sanctuary so the fish are plentiful and the colourful coral remains in good nick.
There are many, many tours operating to the crater every day due to its popularity. Be sure to book an early morning tour for better conditions and to avoid the crowds.
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