On a recent trip to Maui, I got my first taste of life some 100-plus feet below the sea on the Maui Atlantis Submarine Adventure.
In this guide, we’ve handpicked the very best of what makes this chain of islands so special — both on and off the beaten path — so you can travel like an insider in Hawaii!
On my recent island-hopping trip around Hawaii, the Big Island was my favorite destination. But if I had my time back, there would be so many things I’d do differently. Here’s a list of things not to do on the Big Island, so you can make the most of your time there!
Of all the islands in the Hawaiian chain, the Big Island of Hawaii is the most enchanting, and in many ways, the most alive. Everything here is a just a little bit raw and a little bit closer to the surface, from the waterfalls thundering through fern-lined valleys with a grandiose sense of fury, to Hawaiian goddesses who make physical appearances in the everything from lava to snow. Marine life gathers off the Kona coast in spectacular pelagic abundance, and mysterious Hawaiian historical sights seem too spring up by every turn. With its wealth of activities and size, however, the number of things to do on the Big Island can sometimes feel overwhelming. It is, after all, the largest island in America, and can take the better part of a day to drive its entire perimeter. So, if you only have a week on the Big Island—or even a couple of days—here’s a list of 7 of the Big Island’s must do experiences.
Before we begin, let’s get one thing straight — there isn’t one day of the entire year that’s a bad time to visit Maui. Voted”World’s Best Island” for a stat-busting 20 years straight, it’s fair to say the Valley Isle has a yearlong ability to please. That said, some months are better in terms of weather, prices and crowds. Historically, the slowest two weeks of the year on Maui are from December 1-15 — sandwiched right between Thanksgiving and the busy Christmas holiday. October and November are similarly great months for escaping to the island. Here are some reasons why fall is the best time of year to visit Maui.
Tourism in Hawaii started right here on Oahu. Early writers, such as Twain and London, traveled on steamship from California, always stopping in Honolulu en route to islands next door. Today, even though islands such as Maui and Kauai see millions of visitors per year, Oahu remains the beating heart of Hawaii’s tourism industry. In fact, in 2014, over five million tourists from around the world spent time on Oahu’s shores, which is more visitors than all the other neighbor islands combined.
One of the reasons for the numbers, of course, is the international airport, but so are classic island experiences visitors find on Oahu. And, while some of the spots will definitely be crowded, there’s something lovely about standing in a spot you’ve dreamt about for years — living the postcard tacked on your wall or floating in your head. If you’ve never been to the island before but are starting to plan a trip, here are eight iconic Oahu experiences to place you in that magical space where tropical dreams become reality.
With its multi-hued fingers of eroded earth seemingly crawling up from the sea, the Na Pali Coast is one of the world’s most dramatic stretches of coastline. Formed by millions of years of erosion by wind, water and waves, it has the stoic and wise appearance of a landscape sculpted by time. It’s completely undeveloped and largely inaccessible. Luckily for travelers, though, there are numerous ways to enjoy the coastline, if often from a distance.
For 364 days of the year, driving the Road to Hana on Maui is a serpentine journey through paradise. Waterfalls splash through bamboo forests that creak in the afternoon breeze, and roadside stands sell loaves of banana bread that were freshly baked at dawn. On the second Saturday in September, however, visitors might encounter some additional sights that aren’t part of the regular drive, such as a group of women all dressed as fairies or a band of rowdy mariachis. No, this isn’t Halloween in Lahaina—it’s the annual running of the Hana Relay, one of the most popular events on Maui.
Depending on your travel style and what you’d like to do during your vacation, it’s a good idea to know what each island is all about in advance. Here’s how to choose which Hawaiian Island you should visit.
North of the white sand Waikoloa shoreline and the Mauna Lani resorts, and west of verdant Waipio Valley and Hi’ilawe Falls, is one of the Big Island’s most under appreciated, and least visited corners.
Kohala—as understood by Big Island locals—comprises the island’s northwestern tip from Kawaihae to Pololu Valley. The “Kohala Coast” is South Kohala and is well known to island visitors, since this is the site of large scale resorts and many of the Big Island’s best beaches. North Kohala, on the other hand, is where the scenery turns rural, the towns becomes smaller, and parts of Hawaii’s ancient history are a little bit closer to the surface. It’s an outpost of art and blustery beach parks and winding, single lane roads—and a part of the island you should definitely visit if based on the Kohala Coast. For an idea of some of the places to stop if you embark on a Big Island road trip, the following are some of the best sights in Kohala to experience the beauty and culture.