For years I’ve dreamed about going to Hawaii. I mean, doesn’t everyone? Unlike the Caribbean islands, and Mexican resort locations, Hawaii seems to have that special euphoria about it that sets it apart from other tropical destinations. Maybe it’s the Hawaiian culture with the iconic hula dancers in grass skirts, or perhaps it’s the Hawaiian leis that are often put around visitors necks as they first step foot on a Hawaiian Island. Whatever the mystery is, it’s the ultimate American paradise. That’s probably the reason it’s one of the most popular honeymoon destinations.
In 2009 my father-in-law requested to fulfill a dream of his to have all his children and grandchildren meet my mother-in-law and him in his favorite destination in the world – Hawaii. Up until this point in our lives we had never been, so the idea was definitely exciting! We immediately started researching all that Hawaii has to offer, and what we found was very interesting! In this post I discuss what makes Hawaii such a popular destination and why you should think about heading there!
Hawaii is made up of eight major islands, several atolls (ring shaped coral reef), numerous smaller islets (tiny islands), and seamounts (mountains that rise from sea floor but don’t break the surface of the water). Together in all, the Hawaiian Islands stretch for some 1,500 miles (2,400 km) from one end to the other in the center of the Pacific Ocean. The 8 major islands (from largest to smallest) are made up of Hawai’i (aka “The Big Island”), Maui, O’ahu, Kaua’i, Moloka’i, Lānaʻi, Ni’ihau, and Kaho’olawe.
It may come to surprise some that Hawaii is not marketed the same way Caribbean and Mexican resort areas like Cancun and Cabo are. While some people usually love it, others prefer other tropical locations. The short explanation for this is that Hawaii is a adventurer’s destination. If you enjoy going to an all-inclusive resorts to lay on the beach day after day drinking cocktails and essentially doing nothing but relaxing – Hawaii may not be for you. Well, you may be able to find some resorts like this on the Hawaiian Islands, however you’ll probably pay a lot more than you would just in the Caribbean or Mexico. Also, the Caribbean is generally known to have more white sand beaches and turquoise waters than Hawaii. While Hawaii DOES have beautiful tropical beaches, there are many other things to do and see in Hawaii which is what makes it so unique. So, you may ask…
What can you do in Hawaii?
Good question! The short answer is – a lot, and then some! Here are just some of the many options:
1 – Surfing – Hawaii is home to many of the world’s best surfers and is revered as a top surfing destination world wide. Every year top surfers come to Oahu’s north shore to compete in some of the worlds top competitions. (No, the below picture is not of me, though I wish it was. I tried and it’s not as easy as it looks!)
2 – Zip-lining – Hawaii has a bunch of choices of amazing zip-line adventures. All 4 of the major island offer amazing scenery to zip-line high above a beautiful tropical canopy of trees. (Again, not me in the picture)
3 – Beaches – Of course Hawaii has a ton of beautiful beaches, though mostly with golden sand, many are strewn with palm trees and other natural décor such as coral reefs.
4 – Luau’s – One can’t go to Hawaii without going to one of these. These traditional Hawaiian feasts are usually accompanied by entertainment that truly makes the Hawaiian experience.
5 – Lava Viewing – With 3 active volcanoes in Hawaii, lava viewing is an experience you don’t want to miss! (The below picture is one I took during our first lava viewing experience at Mt. Kilauea on Hawaii’s Big Island.)
6 – Mountain treks – Hawaii is home to many mountains, with plenty of areas to hike, climb, camp, and explore the great outdoors!
7 – Canyon hiking – If you don’t like going up, how about down? Hawaii is home to the grand canyon of the Pacific in Waimea Canyon on Kaua’i!
8 – Cliff diving – The Big Island’s South Point has 40ft cliffs where you can jump off and plunge into the Pacific if you are daring enough. (I actually did this! – Picture below is me jumping!)
9 – Waterfalls – Hawaii has some of the most amazing waterfalls I’ve ever seen – and they have A LOT!
10 – Memorials – Oahu is home to the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor and the experience is extremely moving.
11 – Coffee Farms – The Big Island is loaded with coffee plantations which offer free tours and tasting!
12 – Pineapple Plantations – Oahu is home to the Dole Pineapple plantation which is massive and has available tours.
13 – Shopping – You can find places to shop almost anywhere, however Waikiki is home to Hawaii’s best!
14 – Culture & History – There are many places in Hawaii that offer Hawaiian historical experiences as well as cultural centers. One of our favorites is Pu’uhonua o Honaunau on the Big Island!
15 – Unique Beaches – Hawaii is home to some very unusual beaches – including black sand and green sand beaches which are all natural. The trip is definitely worth the experience!
16 – Fishing – If fishing is your game, Hawaii has something for you. With deep sea fishing charters, perhaps you can catch one of Hawaii’s tastiest fish (in my opinion), the Wahoo (Ono Malani)… known best as “Ono”. Mahi mahi is another very popular catch along Hawaiian shores.
17 – Food – Hawaii has some excellent choices of restaurants, both high-scale and low-scale. This is where I’ve had the most interesting grilled-cheese sandwich I’ve ever had! Or, if you prefer to cook yourself, many resort areas have grill areas for you to filet your catch, grill it up, and relax on your lanai enjoying a Hawaiian homemade meal.
18 – Road tripping – While many people mistakenly label Hawaii as the smallest state, it is actually the 8th smallest and offers many miles of roadway which is actually extremely fun and scenic to drive.
19 – Golfing – There are plenty of beautiful golf courses all over the Hawaiian Islands. Nothing will beat this scenery!
20 – Relaxing – Hawaii has some stunning resorts with just amazing scenery. Many have apartment-like setups and offer private lanais or hammocks for you to kick back and enjoy Hawaiian life.
21 – Exploring – Sometimes the best adventures are the ones you stumble upon by accident! Below are pictures of this hole in the ground at South Point on the Big Island which the ocean rushed into from the cliff-side near by.
Our 1st experience in 2009 lasted 7 days, which I feel was pushing the envelope to be enough time. We spent 6 days on The Big Island, and we took an island hopper over to Oahu for 1 day.
I highly recommend seeing more than one island if you can manage it, as the islands are all very different from one another. To date we have been to 3 of the islands (Hawai’i, Maui, and Oahu), and each island was very different in its own way. Below are some links to other great posts on Hawaii!
I hope this article inspired you to want to visit Hawaii. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop me a line below. Mahalo!
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This Post Has 11 Comments
we were lucky to spend 3 weeks in Hawaii (Big island and Maui) last year. Love all of these activities – dont forget snorkeling! That was our favorite! There is also a great aquarium on Maui – The Ocean Center the kids learned so much about Hawaiian sea life. Which we then saw in tidal pools one day at the beach.
Some how I managed to forget snorkeling! Haha. It could be because my wife doesn’t like it, therefore we didn’t do it here. But it slipped my mind. Wow, 3 weeks must have been really nice! We have been to Hawaii twice now and looking forward to our 3rd trip! 🙂
We are planning a 14 day trip this spring. Now wondering if 14 days will be enough, so many things to do. Thanks for all the tips.
Thanks for your comment Kellee! 14 Days I think will be plenty of time. 7 days was tough, but I think 2 weeks should be enough to get a good taste of what Hawaii has to offer. Enjoy your trip! 🙂
You know a few years back when I lived in Bali, I had the chance to go over to Hawaii for my birthday but because of the route I had to take I decided against it and went to New Zealand for a second time instead to see friends but I really wish I had just sucked up an extra few hours on the plane and gone to Hawaii. Like you say, it’s a place we all dream of going to and i hope to get out there some day for me just the volcanic nature of of the Islands is worth getting out to see. I love volcanoes lol
I get so jealous every time I read about someone’s travels to Hawaii! We have been talking about a trip to Hawaii for such a long time but just haven’t done it yet. I think the lava and waterfalls would be exciting! And, I’ve always wanted to visit the Pearl Harbor Memorial. I had never considered touring a pineapple or coffee plantation though. That would also be neat. Someday we will make it out there… *sigh*
We’ve been very blessed that we’ve gotten to go twice (along with many other wonderful places). When you do get to go, let me know which island you’re headed to. The coffee plantation tours are usually FREE! I need to write about this in another post, haha. Of course we usually buy stuff, so it’s not totally free – haha, but the admission is! We’ve been to 2 so far and they were both unique and had different processes. Pretty cool. Even the kids enjoyed it! Thanks for commenting April. 🙂
We are heading to Hawaii in just a few weeks, and we are definitely planning for an adventure! Lots of lava viewing, hiking, and visiting black and green sand beaches 🙂
Excellent! Great to hear it! Hope you’ll get to see some lava. The 2nd time we went we weren’t able to see anything because the area was closed. Bummer 🙁 Hope you have a blast! Thanks for your comment!
The pictures looks so breath taking…I was planning on visiting there, now I am even more excited to try all these!!