Hawaii is a state unlike any other in the U.S. With six visitable islands, there is so much to see and experience with each island offering a completely unique experience. Unless your stay is a long one, we suggest sticking to the main four islands for your visit. These four will offer an endless amount of sights, foods and experiences for your stay, no matter how long it is.
The Big Island is quintessential Hawaii. There is the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, filled with incredible volcano hikes; the Onizuke Center for International Astronomy, with stargazing tours of 13,796-foot Mauna Kea; or Panaewa Rainforest Zoo, the world’s only zoo of its kind and home to some truly exotic animals (like Namaste the white Bengal tiger and Spike the giant anteater).
Maui is where natural wonder and Hawaiian sophistication meet. The 10,023-foot volcano Haleakala is one of Hawaii’s finest places to view the magnificent sunrise. There is also the world-famous Hana Rainforest, on the eastern tip of the island. An unspoiled tropical oasis filled with flowers and waterfalls, Hana has been heralded as quintessential paradise by the likes of Mark Twain, Jack London, and Charles Lindbergh, who is buried on a nearby sea cliff.
Oahu is where city life melds with paradise. Cosmopolitan Honolulu is filled with upscale shopping and dining; Chinatown; theatre; and opera. In Laie, on Oahu’s North Shore, there is the Polynesian Cultural Center, featuring everything from music and dance to lei-making. The North Shore is also home to Waimea Valley, where you will find some of Hawaii’s best bird watching and cliff diving at the 60-foot Waimea Falls. In southeast Oahu near Waikiki is Hanauma Bay, the sea-filled crater of an ancient volcano. Its crescent shape protects it from rough surf and its status as a protected nature preserve makes it a perfect place for swimming and snorkeling.
Kauai is Hawaii’s natural wonder. Mind-boggling, multicolored Waimea Canyon is hikers’ heaven. The hiking trails of Waimea’s Kokee State Park run along the canyon’s rims before dipping down inside its walls. Wailua, on the eastern coast, offers horseback-riding tours that last from a few hours to an entire day, with picnics and swims beneath rainforest waterfalls. Northwestern Kauai’s famed Napali Coast, surrounded by 4,000-foot cliffs, caves, and waterfalls, is perfect for snorkeling and whale-watching. Considered one of America’s best beaches for rest and relaxation, Poipu Beach is famous for its throngs of vibrant tropical fish.