Western Oahu and Kailua Bay from Nu’uanu Pali Lookout
Hawaii’s diversity beckons with Aloha spirit
With hundreds of isles in the Hawaiian Archipelago, the main islands at its southern end (excluding Niihau and Kahoolawe) are populated and offer a variety of experiences.
Yes, there are the famed Big Island volcanoes, but you’ll also love snorkeling the waters of Honaunau Bay near Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, an ancient refuge that includes temples and villages. In Kauai, you’ll marvel at colorful Waimea Canyon or the valleys and waterfalls as you hike the 35.5-kilometer Napali Coast. Stroll through the lunar landscape of Keahiakawelo (Garden of the Gods) on Lanai, or visit the Kaunolu Village Site, a prehistoric Hawaiian fishing village.
One of many highlights on Maui is the Hana Highway, a winding road with breathtaking vistas. Breaching whales can be spotted near Lahaina, once a famed whaling port. The island of Molokai is home to the Kalaupapa National Historical Park, which preserves the leprosy colonies that operated there until 1969, near some of the tallest sea cliffs in the world. The most-populous island (Oahu) with the most-populous city (Honolulu) features many popular attractions, including Honolulu’s Iolani Palace, the renowned Waikiki Beach and the Polynesian Culture Center.
Must-Visit Parks and Monuments
Among the incredible natural and historic sites in Hawaii, Haleakalā National Park, the “House of the Sun” on Maui, is a massive shield volcano that offers spectacular views of the sunrise. You can hike around and into Hawaii’s active Kilauea volcano on a guided tour, then visit the museum and stay at the hotel near the summit. At the Pearl Harbor monument, now known as World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, a somber air surrounds the USS Arizona Memorial, dedicated to those killed in the infamous 1941 attack. The striking power of erosion is on view at Kauai’s Waimea Canyon State Park. The “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” was created by the collapse of the volcano that formed the island.
Hawaii’s spectacular beaches and lush valleys offer a variety of experiences for lovers of the outdoors, including surfing, hiking, skydiving, helicopter tours, paddle sports, whale-watching and zip lining.
But did you know you can also swim with manta rays, dolphins and sea lions at Honolulu’s Sea Life Park, or float down flumes and through tunnels on Kauai’s former sugar plantations?
Only in Hawaii
For a taste of classic Hawaii, take a private hula dance lesson at your hotel or at the Hawaii Hula Company’s group classes on Maui and Oahu. You’ll find slack-key guitarists (kī hō‘alu) performing at the Outrigger Reef on the Beach in Waikiki or the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach. The Bishop Museum in Honolulu features comprehensive exhibits on Hawaiian culture and houses the world’s largest collection of Polynesian artifacts, and the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu’s northeast coast offers visitors an authentic luau dinner and show.