Hawaii (Regional Travel Guide)

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There are minimal crowds, easy to explore natural areas, and just enough adventure to keep your teenagers happy. It is also known for its locally grown foods and its fun Asian fusion restaurants, which are perfect if you are traveling with little kids. The island has many lavish resorts, but also peaceful private rentals. TIP : Maui is one of the warmest and windiest islands of Hawaii, so dress accordingly during your adventurous stay.

Not only is the Big Island the largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago, but it is also the largest island in the whole U. In a land area of 4, square miles, which is more than all of the other Hawaii Islands combined, the Big Island offers incredible natural diversity. It has everything from pristine beaches and lush rainforests to snowcapped mountains and lava deserts. Around the coast, you can partake in some of the world's best deep sea fishing. If you like active sports, the clear and warm ocean is excellent for snorkeling and diving, as you can see manta rays, dolphins and vibrantly colored tropical fish.

If you are into astronomy or just love to observe the nighttime sky, Hawaii has the best site for astronomy on Earth. The Kailua Kona area is popular for visitors who enjoy shopping and dining out, as the restaurants offer local specialties such as pineapple smoothies and rich, darkly roasted locally grown coffee.

If you are seeking a bit of luxury, the Kohala beaches have many marvelous accommodations. The park's volcanoes, Mauna Loa and Kilauea, will inspire your kids' imaginations and be the topic of adventure stories and legends for their lifetimes. From the verdant green surroundings of the forested areas to the challenging hiking and horseback riding trails, there is something for everyone to do. TIP : If you are sensitive to the heat or have breathing issues, you may want to stick with the areas in the north and center of the island.

When people think of Hawaii, Kauai is often what comes to mind. This island is the northernmost and oldest and has rare natural beauty that is unparalleled anywhere else in the world. The unspoiled beauty of panoramic rainbows lingering over graceful waterfalls, untouched sunny beaches, soaring cliffs hovering over dramatic canyons, and misty purple mountains topped with lush forests draws more than 1. If you desire a quiet and secluded getaway with plenty of relaxation and privacy, Kauai is the place for you.

Visit some of the laid back small towns as you stay at private bungalows or small hotels that deliver personalized service and food and drinks to your heart's content. Drink in the layered colors of the Waimea Canyon, or explore the delicate and vibrantly colored flowers at the Limahuli Garden. You will enjoy the easy going beaches and the slow pace of the island, as well as the natural play areas, child-friendly playgrounds, and shallow waves close to shore.

TIP : If you do not like rain, be sure to stay off of the island's north shore. Lanai is a small island that is surprisingly quiet and out of the way of any crowds. It is an ideal place for luxury, romance and privacy. You will find much to do, including excellent snorkeling and driving through the Garden of the Gods, which is a beautiful field of boulders that glow in jewel tones of red and purple at sunset. The dusty back broads of Lanai will take you through a former pineapple plantation and to Lanai City, where most of the island's permanent residents live.

You can stay in family owned and operated bed and breakfasts or one of the two luxurious all-inclusive resorts. TIP : Lanai is out of the way and may not be the best choice for families with young kids or budget travelers. If you want to immerse yourself in the ancient cultures and traditions of Hawaii, Molokai is a must-see as most of the island's residents are Native Hawaiians. You can explore this mostly undeveloped tropical island's authentic culture by attending a luau and truly relaxing away from the crowds.

This is the ideal destination for people who want to immerse themselves in Hawaiian life, including the local tastes, sounds and activities. From horseback riding on a bumpy trail to fishing along the secluded beaches, you can really rest your soul here. Adventurers who are ready for an incredible challenge can climb the world's tallest sea cliffs while staying at the affordable local accommodations with traditional Hawaiian foods.

TIP : This is the place to go if you do not want to fall into any tourist traps or deal with lines or traffic. That can give you a good idea of what kind of weather to expect during different times of the year. This chapter offers information about the best time of the year to go to Hawaii based on usual weather and climate patterns, as well as the high and low tourist seasons.

Keep in mind that weather conditions can be unpredictable so it is nevertheless advisable to consider up-to-date forecasts before and during the trip. Hawaii's weather patterns are much different than those of the mainland United States. Because the state is located 2, miles from the nearest large land mass, winds and rains behave differently. The Pacific Ocean exerts a considerable influence on the weather, delivering year-round mild temperatures that are generally consistent from season to season.

Light to moderate northeasterly winds tickle the islands most of the time, making strong storms a rare occurrence. One of the interesting characteristics of the Hawaiian climate is that there are areas like small pockets on each island where the winds, elevation and geography make dramatically different weather conditions than in places that are just a few miles away.

This is why your exact destination will determine the type of weather that you should plan for while visiting the Hawaiian Islands. For example, Mount Waialeale on Kauai is the wettest spot on the planet while Waimea Canyon, less than 10 miles away, is nearly a desert. On the island of Hawaii, Hilo receives an astonishing inches of rain annually, while Puako, just 60 miles away, receives less than 6 inches. Because of Hawaii's latitude near the equator, it really only has two seasons. The warm and dry season, which corresponds to summer in the mainland United States, takes place from about April to October.

The locals call this season Kau. If you like warm, dry and sunny weather, you should visit Hawaii during this time. The rainy and cool season runs from November through March. Hawaii's diverse topography also plays a big role in the weather conditions. Hawaiian winds are more complex than the simple breezes that develop on the mainland.

The trade winds blow most of the time in a northeasterly to east northeasterly direction and, thanks to them, Hawaii enjoys natural weather moderation and humidity control. The winds essentially act like an air conditioner by refreshing and dehumidifying the air. The greatest impact of these trade winds occurs on the north and eastern coastlines of the Hawaiian Islands, leaving the rest of the area warmer. The winds are at their peak during the summertime, while only affecting wintertime weather about 40 to 60 percent of the time.

In the absence of any trade winds, there may be no wind at all or a southerly breeze known as Kona winds. In the summertime, Kona winds create hot and humid weather, while during the winter months they deliver occasional storms and cloudier conditions. Overall, Hawaii boasts mild and comfortable temperatures all year long. The coolest weather is in February and March, though by no means will visitors need woolen socks and caps. The warmest months of the year are August and September, but the differences between these times is only about 8 degrees Fahrenheit.

At the southern beaches, daytime summer highs average 85 degrees Fahrenheit, while wintertime highs are 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Nighttime low temperatures are just 10 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the daytime highs. Each island's high temperatures differ slightly from the next, with the northern islands being cooler on average than the southern islands. Elevation also exerts considerable effects on the temperatures. For each 1, feet you climb in elevation, the temperature decreases by 3.

If you plan on a hike to the peak of Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii, the temperature could drop by 35 degrees from the base to the peak of the mountain. If water sports are a big part of your vacation plans, you are in luck, as the ocean temperatures remain remarkably constant throughout the year, averaging a pleasant 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and 74 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter. Hawaii has a high travel season, which is typically from the middle of December through the middle of April each year. This is also the whale migration period, which is a popular sightseeing event for tourists.

The peak tourist season is during the last two weeks of December, when people visit the islands for a holiday getaway. You can expect big crowds in Honolulu's public beaches and prepare to pay higher rates for hotel rooms, rental cars, airfare, and equipment rental. Many resorts fill to capacity, so you will need to reserve your accommodations early. Another high season takes place from June through early August, when families travel because their kids are on summer vacation.

There are actually two other, shorter high travel seasons, which include the week around American Thanksgiving and the last week of April through the beginning of May. This period is the Golden Week and includes three popular Japanese holidays. The slower travel season is mid-April through mid-June and September through mid-December.

September, October and November are widely considered to be the best time of the year to visit Hawaii because the weather is generally fantastic, airfare and accommodation rates are low, and the beaches and other attractions are less crowded. In this chapter, you will learn everything that you need to know in order to get to your Hawaiian vacation and make the most of your travel time. This includes all the details about available transportation and accommodation options, entry requirements, travel visas for international guests, and the best ways to get around each island or travel from one island to another.

Due to Hawaii's remote location in the Pacific Ocean, there are only two ways to get there: via plane or boat. Most people prefer flying as it is faster and you can time your flight so that most of your travel time is overnight. Most travelers in the United States can take a plane from the nearest airport to their home and arrive in Hawaii on the same day. From the West Coast of the United States, the flight is about 5 to 6 hours, non-stop. If you are flying from New York, Miami or another East Coast city, your flight will take about 12 to 14 hours.

The primary airport for passenger airliners is Honolulu International Airport on the island of Oahu. It serves as the main gateway to Hawaii for most of the state's visitors. A few airlines offer direct flights to Kona International Airport on the Big Island, but if you have plans to visit Molokai or Lanai, which have no direct flights, your best bet is to fly into Honolulu and then use a ferry service to get to your desired destination. Once you do land at the airport of your choice, you will likely experience some jet lag.

Depending on the timing of your visit, you will gain anywhere from 2 to 6 hours of time compared to the time when you left the U. To mitigate the effects of jet lag on your body, plan to spend your first day on the island resting and relaxing. Try to eat and sleep at the local time, as this will help to get your body on the Hawaiian schedule. As a citizen of the United States, you do not need a passport to enter Hawaii. However, you will need to bring along your driver's license or state identification in order to board your plane. Citizens of every other country, including Canada, will need to have a valid passport to enter Hawaii.

If you are a citizen of a country that belongs to the U. Department of State's Visa Waiver Program, you may be able to come to any of the Hawaiian Islands without a visa and stay for up to 90 days. In order to do this, you will need to meet the program's eligibility criteria and have a return ticket back to your home country or an onward ticket to your next travel destination. To participate in the program, you will also need to register online at the Department of State's website at least three days before your visit to Hawaii. All other visitors to Hawaii will need to obtain a tourist visa from a U.

Note that if you enter by way of port while on a cruise ship, the rules for your entry may be different than if you enter through an airport. You will need a U. Traveling within the Hawaiian Islands is easy to do and generally affordable. Each island's transportation modes are different, but you can get around to most tourist attractions, shopping centers and cities by way of shuttle bus, taxi, mass transit bus, rental car or ferry. Oahu has the greatest amount of transportation options because it is the most populous island. Significantly smaller, Molokai and Lanai have the fewest options so you will need to make your plans in advance to ensure that you have a method of local transport.

Overall, cars and buses are the most widely used forms of transportation once you are on one of the Islands. Hawaiian Islands generally have low car rental fees, even though fuel prices are much higher than on the U. The lone exception is the island of Lanai, where rates are considerably higher than on the other islands. Most of the major car rental services are available at Honolulu International Airport and the other major airports throughout the islands. To rent a car, you need to be at least 25 years old, have a valid, unexpired, and non-suspended driver's license and be a holder of auto insurance.

You must also have a credit card to pay for the rental and deposit. That way, you will enjoy lower rates and you are more likely to get the size and style of vehicle that you prefer. To avoid incurring a hefty fine and putting yourself and other passengers at risk, be sure to buckle your safety belt and use an infant car seat for children.

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Keep your eyes on the road at all times and remember that pedestrians always have the right of way — even if they are not in a designated cross walk. Public transportation by bus is available on Oahu, Hawaii, Maui and Kauai. On the Big Island, you can use Hele-On Bus to ride for free from the south at Ocean View all the way north to Kawaihae, but the bus does not serve the airport. On Maui, the public bus system runs from upcountry to Haiku and through the southern, western and central areas of the island.

The fastest and simplest way to get from one Hawaiian island to another is by flying. There are three inter-island airlines, namely Hawaiian Airlines, go! You can also use a cruise ship or ferry between islands, although this means that your ability to explore each of the islands at your leisure will be limited. In Hawaii, you can take advantage of all sorts of accommodations. You can choose from hotels, luxurious resorts, quaint vacation homes, leisurely bed and breakfasts, rental condominiums, and youth hostels.

But before you make arrangements on where to stay, it is important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each type of accommodation. There is a wide range of hotels on Hawaii. Most of them offer daily maid service, free parking, on-site laundry facilities, and a pool, but you can expect to have a short walk or drive to the beach. Resorts offer everything that hotels do, plus more. They typically have direct private beach access with cabanas and chairs, as well as pools, spas, fitness centers, and on-site bars and restaurants.

Many have their own golf course and programs for children so that adults can have some private time together. Practically everything you could want is right there — at a significantly higher price, though. Condominiums are like multi-bedroom apartments and are ideal for families. They come with fully equipped kitchens, laundry rooms, and living spaces, and sometimes offer additional optional services like child care.

Condominiums provide all the space you need and a great deal of privacy at an affordable price. Still, the lack on-site restaurants and the location of condominiums in densely packed resort areas might be a turnoff for some. They offer a lot of space and complete privacy, and are usually equipped with a kitchen for cooking your own meals, a phone, and laundry facilities. In Hawaii, bed and breakfast can mean different things.

Some of the main advantages of staying at a bed and breakfast are definitely their affordability, friendly atmosphere, and built-in tour guide or concierge through the hosts. On the other hand, you will have a general lack of privacy and will need to follow the host's timeline for breakfast and bedtimes.


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Nearly every traveler faces a dilemma of figuring out what to pack for a trip to Hawaii. Airline fees and restrictions, activities you will do, climate and weather conditions, and the dress code for locations on your itinerary all play an important role in the decision-making process.

Taking all these factors into consideration, this chapter will provide information about the must-have items for traveling to Hawaii, including clothing, footwear, personal care items, and more. It will include guidance on dressing for Hawaii's micro-climates as well as tips on special items you will need if you are traveling with kids. Since Hawaii's weather is generally the same from season to season, you can rest assured that this packing list will be valid no matter when you plan to visit the islands.

Daytime highs are usually in the mids to the mids, which means that most people will feel comfortable wearing casual clothes made of cotton, rayon or linen. These breathable fabrics help to wick away perspiration and are easy to iron and launder. For men, tee shirts, polo shirts, shorts, and a pair of long trousers is an ideal set of clothes for a Hawaiian trip. Ladies can also bring tee shirts, polo shirts, breezy blouses, tank tops, casual shorts, capri pants, sundresses, and a pair of slacks. Unfortunately, short, flouncy dresses are not a good idea due to the strong breezes blanketing the islands.

Because the Islands have a relaxed vibe, these casual clothes will be fine for most locations in Hawaii. Having a pair of long trousers is helpful for outdoor activities like zip lining, hiking around the volcanoes, and horseback riding. If you climb up the mountain peaks or go out in the evening when the weather is cooler, you will feel more comfortable with your legs covered. You may also wish to bring a cardigan sweater or shawl for watching the stars in the evening hours. If you plan to visit the islands' rainforests or have mountain hiking on your list of activities, bring along a lightweight rain jacket or plastic poncho to help you stay dry.

Haleakala and Mauna Kea often have regular daytime rain showers. Bring the same items for kids as you bring for yourself. For children who are still in diapers, a few extra pairs of pants can be helpful in case of accidents. Your choice of footwear will be important for your comfort throughout the vacation.

Bring a pair of flip flops, which are great for visiting the beach and pool. You can also wear them through airport security lines so that you do not have to remove shoes and socks. Since removal of shoes is traditional in the Native Hawaiian and Asian cultures of the islands, flip flops are also easy to take on and off when visiting a home or entering a bed and breakfast. Flip flops, sandals, and other comfortable, lightweight shoes will allow your feet to breathe as you explore the islands, but you will also need to bring a pair of close toed shoes. These will be essential if you plan to do some hiking or zip lining, as this type of activity is unsafe with open toed footwear.

TIP : Avoid buying a new pair of shoes right before your trip, as trying to break them in could be painful to your feet, giving you blisters that make it hard for you to walk. Most people going to Hawaii plan to spend a considerable amount of time on the beaches. Bring along two swimsuits per person so that one is dry and ready to wear while the other is in the laundry or drying.

A cover-up or sarong is also essential, as most of the resort areas request that guests be dressed modestly in common areas such as the lobby or bar. If you want to go diving or swimming, a pair of reef shoes will help to prevent cuts to your feet. You can leave all of the sports equipment and specialty gear at home, as the beachfront stands and tourist shops have ample supplies at affordable prices or for a small rental fee for items like boogie boards and snorkeling gear.

Sunscreen is a must-have, as the sun's rays are intense at Hawaii's near-equatorial location. The peak intensity of the sun is from am until pm, although the sun is stronger in Hawaii than people in the mainland U. Even on cloudy days, the UV index can be high enough to cause a sunburn on unprotected skin. While shopping for sunscreen, choose a type that is biodegradable and safe for coral reefs. Traditional sunscreens usually include ingredients that are damaging to the precious coral environment.

Consider taking polarized sunglasses to help cut glare from the ocean and a hat to shade your face and scalp from sunburn. A water bottle is also essential as it will help to keep you hydrated while outdoors. In addition to some warm layering clothes and waterproof garments, you will also benefit from having a backpack to carry your hiking essentials.

One of them is certainly mosquito repellent. A hike through the rain forest may turn you into a feast for mosquitoes, so definitely remember to purchase some repellent once you reach your destination. For any mosquito bites that you do get, have an anti-histamine cream or stick.

Also, in case the sun sets before you complete your hike, have a flashlight in your backpack to ensure you get back safely. If someone in your travel party experiences a small injury, having your own mini first aid kit can avoid an emergency trip to the pharmacy or paying a premium in a hotel gift shop. The Transportation Safety Administration allows travelers to bring a zipper top, quart size bag with small containers of medicines in their original containers.

You can include your prescription medication, over-the-counter pain reliever, antacids, allergy medication, vitamins, ginger candy if you get motion sickness, antibiotic cream, and bandages. Be sure to have cash and your credit card, as well as all the important documents including driver's license, passport, flight tickets, rental car details, and health and car insurance cards.

If you are older than the age of 21, you may bring in up to 1 liter of wine or liquor to Hawaii, cigarettes, non-Cuban cigars or 3 pounds of smoking tobacco. Hawaii prohibits the import of any foods, including fruit, cooked meat and canned food. Also banned from entry to Hawaii are live plants, including flowers, tropical plants and vegetables, as well as seeds. These regulations related to the import and export of uninspected plants and animals are enforced by the USDA so expect to be screened by agricultural officials.

Sums more than that must be declared to the U. Customs service upon entering or leaving Hawaii. You will also need to complete form CM. Deciding where to go and what to see can be difficult, so this chapter details some of the most interesting sites and sights on four most visited Hawaiian Islands — Kauai, Oahu, Maui and Hawaii.

You will learn about natural wonders as well as popular tourist attractions that will leave you with memories that will last for a lifetime. Your visit to the Garden Isle should include a stay on the Napali coast , which offers velvet green cliffs and cascading waterfalls that race into deep and narrow valleys.

Along the water's edge are vividly colored flowers. At the top of the cliffs, you will enjoy panoramic views of the crystal blue Pacific waters. You can even see some relics of the past Polynesian residents, including their agricultural terraces and sophisticated barrier walls. At Waimea Canyon , which is often referred to as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, you can look in awe at the lava beds, which plummet more than 3, feet.

The canyon stretches on for 14 miles and boasts over 40 miles of trails with incredible lookout points for your viewing pleasures. The nearby road will take you into Kokee State Park. This park offers dense forests with additional places to explore and learn about the islands. Kokee Natural History Museum is a must-see, as there are inspiring exhibits of plants unique to Kauai. In the small, relaxed town of Hanalei , you can visit some of the oldest settlements on the island, pick up a few fun souvenirs at the shops and enjoy some fresh fruit and cool drinks at the local restaurants.

There are art galleries where you can spend a quiet afternoon.

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If waterfalls are on your wish list of things to see, then be sure to spend a day at Hanalei Bay. From the golden sand to the volcanic ridges interspersed with waterfalls, your eyes will delight in the beauty. The coastal waters boast colorful coral reefs and glistening aquamarine water that is perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving. See if you can spot the sunken ship and discover a new treasure! Just a short drive away, you can visit one of the best beaches in the United States: Poipu Beach. The tombolo sandbar and a lava rock peninsula create a shallow, sandy pool ideal for kids to splash in while the adults relax nearby.

Try out your skills at fishing, surfing or swimming or pull out your binoculars to spot pods of humpback whales or playful Hawaiian monk seals. Kauai is also home to many of Hawaii's splendorous waterfalls. The silvery rushing water of Wailua Falls is one of Kauai's most popular destination, while the rushing water of the 40 foot Opaekaa Waterfall creates breathtaking pools of fresh water ideal for swimming. Oahu's best destinations live up to the island's name as The Gathering Place. Waikiki is a lively city that used to be the place where Hawaiian royalty came to relax. There are world-class hotels, vibrant night clubs, luxury shopping and fine dining.

However, Waikiki is most famous for its Waikiki Beach. Though narrow, its See if you can spot a few Moorish idols or sunfishes as you explore the coastal waters. At Pearl Harbor , you can see the large oysters for which the area is named. The harbor continues to be the home of the U. Navy's Pacific Fleet and the National Historic Landmark and memorial serve as an important remembrance of December 7, If you enjoy nature, a visit to the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is much deserved.


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It is the island's most popular place to go snorkeling because it has a volcanic crater that breached the water, creating a warm and calm place to swim and snorkel. At the northern shore , there are 7 miles of pristine beaches that have perfect conditions for surfing. In the summer, conditions are ideal for beginners, while in the winter, professional surfing competitions take place on the 30 foot waves that roll into the shore.

Nearby Haleiwa Town offers a historic plantation where you can enjoy a gourmet meal. Be sure to explore the quaint galleries and eclectic shops during your visit. If you are up for an adventure, the jagged cliffs of Nuuanu Pali Lookout offer you a 1,foot view of the island's coast, making you feel sky high. Thanks to the typically beautiful weather, you can see the neighboring Kaneohe and Kailua, Mokolii, and Coconut Islands from the stone terraces.

As the mighty winds blow across the cliffs, you will feel like you are the king or queen of the world. Maui, also called the Valley Isle, is home to the ancestral village of Lahaina Town , which once functioned as the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom. It then became a famous whaling village and today belongs on the National Register of Historic Places. Lahaina Town has abundant charm and rich history. Its charisma and culture reflect the people who live there.

You can explore more than 40 art galleries with exquisite pieces made by the locals and natives of the Hawaiian Islands. You will find works made of ceramic, scrimshaw and woodwork. This community is also a great starting point for whale watching from December through May each year. Any time of the year is excellent for snorkeling, sailing and taking sightseeing cruises to spot the pods of dolphins. Strap on your hiking boots and set foot on the Lahaina Historic Trail and take a self-guided tour.

You can learn about the history of whaling and plantation management as well as the ways that the Hawaiian economy blossomed in the 20th century. At Makena Beach State Park , referred to by the locals as the "Big Beach", you can enjoy the sparkling blueish green waters as the golden sand beacons you to build a castle or two. There are places for playing tennis and great restaurants to satisfy your hunger after a full day of swimming. You can also take in the spectacular view of Molokini, which is a volcano with a half sunken crater.

Walk off your dinner with a challenging hike on the rock-paved and deep green foliage lined trails. In nearby Iao Valley State Park , you can explore more than 4, beauty filled acres of this mile-long park. It is the home of the Iao Needle , which is Maui's most recognized natural landmark. At 1, feet high, its vibrant green color and bountiful foliage are backed by clear pools and majestic mountain peaks.

Through the clearings, you can see the richly colored floral gardens and enjoy a snack in the well-appointed picnicking areas. This park is of cultural and historical importance also, as it is the site of the Battle of Kepaniwani. In this battle, reigning King Kamehameha defeated the army of Maui in its attempts to bring the Hawaiian Islands together under a sole leader. You may also want to add Haleakala National Park to your list of places to visit in Maui. While on the park's trails, you can see endangered and rare plants and animals, including flightless birds like the Hawaiian goose.

The park has the highest peak at 10, above sea level and is the home of the world's largest dormant volcano. You can see its glorious, sometimes snow-capped peak from everywhere on Maui and from some of the other islands on clear and dry days.

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The mountain's name of Haleakala means House of the Sun and it is the best place on the island to see the sun rise. This moniker is derived from Hawaiian folklore about a minor god called Maui who lassoed the sun as he stood on the mountain's peak. When you are ready to head back to civilization, take the Hana Highway. This scenic roadway takes you to the peaceful little Hana Town on the rugged eastern coast of Maui. The highway is known for its challenging drive, which includes an astonishing hairpin turns to keep you awake.

Be sure to take your turn on the 59 narrow bridges that span across the little streams, rivers and canyons of the island. Your awe-inspiring scenery will include lush rain forests, deep natural pools at the bottom of towering waterfalls, and dramatic views of the stunning Pacific Ocean. Get a feel for the earthiness of Hawaii at the Kailua-Kona Village.

This is a historic and exciting town centered on the Kona Coast. While it used to be a relaxing retreat for royalty, today it offers a diverse array of water, land and air sports to challenge and stimulate you. Along Alii Drive, you can stop for a bit of shopping and linger on for the live music and dancing after dark. In the Waipio Valley , you can set your eyes upon lush cliffs that soar more than 2, feet into the air, broken up only by glistening waterfalls that cast rainbows on the pooled water below. You can ride on horseback along the trails and get to know each of the area's residents.

In addition to having the largest dormant volcano on the planet, Hawaii is also home to one of the most active. Lace up your hiking shoes and set foot to the miles of trails through craters, deserts and tropical rain forests. Immerse yourself in the natural history of Hawaii at the Thomas A. Jaggar Museum of volcanoes after visiting the Nahuku or Thurston lava tubes.

If you stay after dark, the Halemaumau crater casts a marvelous glow. At Ka Lae , climb to the top of stark cliffs which overlook the never ending waves of the Pacific. This area offers ancient temple ruins, carved lava rock loops, and statues for good luck with fishing.

Finally, visit Hilo , Hawaii's most metropolitan village. The area surrounding it has the Rainbow Falls, incredible orchid fields and rain forests awaiting your exploration. Stop in to the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and see rare Bengal tigers and exotic flowers known only on Hawaii. In this chapter, you will learn about some of the best activities and adventures that Hawaii has to offer.

Whether you are a beach lover and enjoy building sand castles and combing for seashells or you are looking for the adventure of your lifetime, you will find it on the Hawaiian Islands. Beginners and experts alike can glide through the unblemished coral reefs, view the sea turtles hiding among the rock formations and follow along the vibrantly colored fish as they zigzag through the pristine waters. As you swim through the crystal blue Pacific Ocean, see if you can spot the Hawaiian state fish, which is the Humuhumunukunukuapuaa. If you are a bit more adventurous, scuba diving around the continental shelf of Hawaii's lively marine environment may be the activity for you.

You can delve into the sea's deepest secrets, spotting colorful corals and getting up close and personal with Moorish idols and more. You might find yourself diving alongside of a dolphin or going at a more leisurely place next to a honu sea turtle.

Where to Eat, Sleep, and Explore in Hawaii

As one of Hawaii's most popular water sports, kayaking allows you to explore the quiet secluded bays, pristine sand bars and glistening beaches. You can paddle through the spectacular coastal marshes and forests as well as the underwater lava tubes. See what creatures might be awaiting you around the next bend of the sea caves.

places in Hawaii

As you paddle along the shore, try to spot some of the majestic tropical birds, spinner dolphins, and sea birds. If you are visiting between December and April, you may be able to catch a glimpse of humpback whales as they breach. And if your itinerary includes Kauai, you can also do some river kayaking with rain forests within touching distance from the sides of your vessel. Even if you have never surfed before, this is the ultimate activity to do in Hawaii.

The islands have just the right winds, tides and geography for any level of surfer. You can take a quick lesson on technique, positioning and safety and then get right on your board and revel in the view and thrill of the ride. If you want to become a better surfer, there are well-seasoned professionals who will work with you to make your wave riding dreams come true.

Relish in the view of the seaside cliffs and spot pods of dolphins as they playfully swim alongside of the boat. If you would like something a little more romantic, a sunset cruise allows you to see the rich jewel tones of the evening sky as you enjoy a glass of wine and candlelit dinner for two. Shortly after the sun sets, you can count the stars, relax on the comfortable deck and enjoy the salty ocean breeze tickling your skin.

Whether you are a nature lover at heart or you are simply interested in the fauna of the Hawaiian Islands, whale watching is one of the most memorable activities you can engage in during your stay. Humpback whales are an endangered species and travel through the region from December through April each year. They have their babies in the warm Hawaiian waters, so you can spot their whole family groups frolicking together at sea.

Try out a tour on a glass-bottomed boat for an awesome experience. The landscapes of Hawaii are like nowhere else on Earth. There are amazing lookout points where you can view the land and sea for dozens of miles. Try out challenging forest paths through lush foliage where ground dwelling birds and beautiful butterflies abound. Coastal trails offer a challenge that is welcome for seasoned hikers. Explore everything from volcanic craters and deep valleys to rain forests and waterfalls.

There are easy hikes for the whole family and challenging tours where you can see incredible exotic flowers and rare animals. Honeymooners and couples celebrating a special anniversary could partake in a hike that ends at lookout where the breathtaking sunsets are leisurely enjoyed. If you want to see more of the islands, a bike tour is a great start. You still get to see all the natural wonders but at a faster pace.

Honolulu Travel Guide

The rugged terrain will give you a great workout. You can then head into a town at a more leisurely pace and take a break at a family owned shop for a cool and refreshing drink to revitalize your body. Get up close and personal with nature by camping in Hawaii. Fall asleep to the sound of the waves crashing to shore and wake up to the joyful singing of the birds calling to one another. At night, you will have an uninterrupted view of the Milky Way.

Rent some camping gear and add a bit of spark and excitement to your vacation. Zip lining is one of Hawaii's most popular activities. You can go it alone as a thrill seeker or watch the faces of your travel companions as they delight in the experience.

Honolulu Vacation Travel Guide - Expedia

You will soar above the Hawaiian rain forests, glide over waterfalls, and breathe in the warm island air. There are zip tours for beginners that include platforms, while experts can make their hearts pitter-patter with faster and longer lines. Parasailing allows you to soar above the Pacific blue water. As a high speed boat tows you, you'll be treated to a bird's eye view of turtles, underwater reefs and schools of fish.

The wind rushing around you will be the only sound you hear.

Hawaii Tourism

A thrilling helicopter tour allows you to see almost all of Hawaii's spectacular geography and learn about its history. By helicopter, you can get a glimpse into places that are otherwise inaccessible, such as the live lava flows. Well, this chapter has the answer to your question. It will present to you Hawaiian cuisine in all its richness and show you all the incredible dining options that Hawaii offers. From local foods to Hawaiian Regional Cuisine, you will learn how to choose the best dishes from each restaurant's menu and how to appreciate Hawaiian culinary tradition, its rich history, and diverse ethnical influences.

When they embarked on a journey that would eventually land them on the Hawaiian Islands, the Polynesians brought with them a few basic staples that included niu coconut , taro, chickens and pigs. These foods formed the base of Hawaiian cuisine. Many centuries later, in the s, Chinese, Portuguese, and Japanese plantation workers brought distinct flavors from their own backgrounds.

All of these influences would meld together into what is known today as local cuisine. You will notice that most Hawaiian local foods share four major characteristics:. These foods are inexpensive and filling and create the mainstay of what is eaten by the natives on a daily basis. Some of the best options can be found at small, out of the way shops, locally owned and family operated diners, public fish markets, and sidewalk food carts and trucks in the larger cities of Honolulu and Hilo. Even the shopping center food stalls offer a broad array of these hearty meals, served in disposable plates to be eaten with chopsticks.

When visiting a new place or an old favorite, indulging in the local foods is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the culture and location. Even if you are not a foodie and are generally cautious, trying some of these great options may help to expand your culinary horizons. So, while in Hawaii, be sure to try some of these unique specialties:. Spam musubi : This is the gold standard of Hawaiian snacks. It is a combination of rice, fried canned ham, and dried seaweed. Manapua : This is a basic of what the locals eat. It is similar to dim sum and consists of fluffy steamed buns that are filled with sweet roasted pork, chicken or beans, as well as chopped onions, peppers, and sometimes cabbage.

Loco moco : This filling dish is made of rice, a hamburger without the bun, and is topped with a fried egg. Brown gravy is ladled all over the top and a sprinkle of shoyu soya sauce decorates the edges. You can request a healthier option by replacing the beef patty with fish, a veggie burger or brown rice. Shave ice : Cool off on a warm day with this local favorite which combines finely shaven ice with flavorful syrups such as passion fruit, salted plums, and coconut.

You can eat it with ice cream, condensed milk, frozen and blended azuki beans or mochi balls. Plate lunch : This is Hawaiian fast food and consists of sticky white rice, pasta salad, and a meat of your choice, such as grilled mahi mahi common dolphinfish or fried chicken. Malasadas : This delightful pastry from the Portuguese culture is a deep fried doughnut coated with white sugar and sprinkled with cinnamon. Poke : This is a rich dish made of chopped raw fish, seaweed, and is served on a bed of rice. Ahi yellowfin tuna is the most commonly used fish in this dish.

A dressing of sesame oil, onion, salt and roasted kukui candlenut is drizzled over the top. Saimin : This filling meal is a soup made of egg noodles and chicken or fish broth. It is topped or served with green onion, dried seaweed, steamed fish cakes, barbecued pork, and a vegetable egg roll. This is the ultimate multicultural Hawaiian dish. Luau : Named after the party, this dish is a combination of vegetables and a meat such as pork or chicken or salted butterfish.

These are wrapped up in taro leaves and then a layer of ti leaves and slowly steamed to create a savory flavor. Kalua : This is a traditional Hawaiian celebration food. This 9th edition will lead you through the best of this paradisiacal island state, revealing secret beaches, deep canyons, plunging waterfalls, cultural and local insights, and top surf spots for each main island as sleuthed out by a Surfer magazine writer!

Lonely Planet guides are written by experts who get to the heart of every destination they visit. This fully updated edition is packed with accurate, practical and honest advice, designed to give you the information you need to make the most of your trip. In This Guide: Color Outdoors chapter explores Hawaii, from coral to crater to canyon Events Calendar features major festivals and cultural events Green Index directs you to environmentally and culturally friendly listings.

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