The Big 4 of Hawaii
Ah, Hawaii! Sun-kissed beaches, stunning blue waters, lush tropical forests and glorious weather. Why wouldn’t you want to holiday there? With its diverse culture, adventurous outdoor activities, exotic flavours and laid back atmosphere, you’ll definitely want to say ‘Aloha’ to Hawaii for your next holiday.
The multiple islands offer endless activities to experience, and you can trust the Travel Partners team to help you plan the perfect trip to Hawaii. Here, our experts bring you an overview of Hawaii’s best islands and their must-dos and must-sees for your visit to the paradise islands.
Known as “The Gathering Place”, the island of Oahu earned its nickname as it’s the most popular destination for most Hawaiian vacations. And with good reason too! There are plenty of iconic places to visit – Pearl Harbor, Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head and North Shore to name a few. With a perfect blend of east meets west, Hawaii’s most populated island provides you with a taste of the good life with native Hawaiian influence mixed in.
Honolulu, the state’s capital is a bustling beachside precinct full of great shopping, delicious food, high-risers and luxury resorts. And Waikiki Beach – that’s the little slice of paradise that runs along the oceanfront.
If you’re looking for a break from city life, the laid back North Shore is where it’s at. With much history, a stunning backdrop of dramatic mountains and so many things to do and see,, you’re guaranteed a fun-filled trip.
Whilst you’re there you need to see:
No trip to Oahu is complete without a visit to Pearl Harbor. The floating USS Arizona Memorial allows visitors to pay their respects to those who lost their lives during WWII. You can also view the sunken ship from the water’s surface and learn about the people and events that surrounded that iconic day in history. A truly wonderful experience that will inform you and inspire you.
This is the place to hang out with the laid back locals and get a taste of the true Hawaii. North Shore offers visitors the chance to cruise the coast in your topless mustang or 4WD jeep, discover beachy coves, sleepy towns and pineapple fields. Grab some snorkelling gear from the beach shacks or rent a board and learn to surf during the spring and summer months when the waves are perfect for beginners. During the cooler months, seasoned and professional surfers flock to the home of ‘Big Wave Surfing’ to ride some of the largest waves in the world.
This picturesque island is often considered the favourite to most visitors to Hawaii. With lush forests, deep valleys, artsy towns, peaceful beaches and farm-to-table delicacies, it’s become a popular destination for honeymooners and romantic getaways. Play a round of golf or look for migrating humpback whales and take in everything Maui has to offer.
Whilst you’re there you need to see:
ROAD TO HANA
Considered as one of the last unspoiled frontiers of Hawaii, this peaceful town is a must stop on any visit to Maui. What really puts it on the map is the 83km drive to get there and the awesome stops along the way. The ‘Road to Hana’, also known as Highway 36 is filled with hairpin turns, rocky cliffs, narrow bridges and captivating views. Every bit of it certainly makes it worthwhile getting a hire car and doing the drive. Whilst the drive will only take 3 hours, you’ll want to take the day to linger around and explore the little treasures along the way.
It’s important to plan ahead as it’s impossible to make all the stops in one day, but here are the ones that we love: (MM is for ‘Mile Marker’ – the little street signs along the road)
- MM 2: Twin Falls
- MM 4.5: Huelo Lookout
- MM 9 : Waikamoi Ridge Forest Trail and Overlook
- MM 10.5: Garden of Eden
- MM 17: Keane Peninsula
- Aunty Sandy’s (on the Peninsula)
- MM 18: Wailua Overlook
- MM 19: Upper Waikani (3 Bears)
- MM 27 & 28: Nahiku Ti Gallery and Coffee Shop
- MM 32.2: Wainapanapa State Wayside Park
- MM 34: Hana
- Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach (in Hana Town)
- MM 45: Wailua Falls
- MM 42: Oheo Gulch (7 Sacred Pools) and Pipwai Steam Trail Hike
IOA VALLEY STATE PARK
Take a hike through this state park and lose yourself in the beauty of the “Valley Island”. You’ll be transported to another world among the lush green flora and babbling creeks and rivers. Rest in the mists of a waterfall while gazing up at the Iao Needle, a lava relic rising 1,200 feet in the sky.
Heaven for nature lovers, and an outdoor playground for sports enthusiasts, the untouched landscapes, the natural wonders and historic towns of Kauai are a huge attraction for visitors. Referred to as the “Garden Isle”, Kauai’s forests, valleys and beaches have made ideal destinations for filming and have appeared in a number of movies, including Jurassic Park.
Whilst you’re there you need to see:
Offering unparalleled views of the 22km monument that is Waimea Canyon, the Waimea Canyon Lookout is just one of many stops to make along the main drive. There are also a number of hiking trails suitable from beginner to expert should you wish to explore further.
Whether by land, sea, or air, you need to see Kauai’s Napali Coast. Board a boat and cruise along the scenic coast, or hike the 18km trail that runs through the heart of its valleys. Gaze in awe at the emerald cliffs rising from the azure waves of the Pacific Ocean, or be captivated by the majestic waterfalls that crash into the clear pools in the valley below. But by far, the best views are certainly from the sky on a guided helicopter tour.
Best known as the ‘Big Island’, it’s the largest, yet youngest island in the chain of Hawaiian Islands. Offering truly unique experiences, this is certainly the place to visit if you’ve ever dreamed of swimming with gentle giants or watching lava flow right before your eyes.
Whilst you’re here you need to see:
HAWAII VOLCANO NATIONAL PARK
The Hawaiian Islands were born from the volcanic depths of the sea and cooling lava created the lands we love today. The National Park allows visitors to see the volcanoes in action. One of the most active volcanoes in the world, Kilauea, erupts a steady flow of glowing lava over the land before pouring into the sea. Hear the lava hiss as it hits the sea on a boat tour or hike through craters on one of the 150 trails. Top tip: Take a helicopter tour from Hilo and see from the air the bubbling lava and shear size of the National Park.
MANTA RAY NIGHT SWIM
As the ocean’s gentlest creatures despite their intimidating size, Manta Rays can measure as wide as 7 metres from wing to tip. And although visible during the day, the best time to see them is at night when they are most active. Tours depart each night from Kona offering you the chance to dive in and swim with these majestic creatures of the deep.
With the abundance of activities and experiences offered at each of the Hawaiian Islands, we understand it can be hard to choose. We recommend taking the time to plan and allowing yourself the opportunity to discover as much as you can of each destination. Plan less to see more!
Speak to a Travel Partners expert today to start planning your Hawaiian adventure. Check out some of the incredible deals that are currently on offer here.
Safe travels from Travel Partners Australia ✈️