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Hawaii: The 50th State of Mind

by Travelbag on 26 November 2019, 10:11AM

Hawaii

Hawaii offers unparalleled natural beauty with all the creature comforts you expect from the USA. With year-round temperatures averaging 30 degrees, luxurious sandy beaches, thick rainforest and active volcanoes, it’s easy to see why Hawaii is one of the world’s top holiday destinations. Vicki Power selects the best islands to visit in this Pacific paradise.

Oahu

Oahu is the most populous of the six main Hawaiian islands and the most visited. Chances are you’ll land in Honolulu, so make time to explore the capital city before heading on. Remember, Hawaii was the last state to join the US (in 1959) and not long ago had its own kings and queens. Tour the Iolani Palace – the royal residence until a coup d’etat in the late 19th century. It’s an opulent castle that tells the story of forward-thinking Queen Liliuokalani, the Kingdom of Hawaii’s last ruler. Check out the city’s famous Waikiki beach, an expanse of white sand with warm blue waters. Head there at sunset to avoid the masses and enjoy the view of the dormant Diamond Head volcano. You’ll probably spot some surfers and possibly even a few celebrities. Honolulu is also a shopping mecca. Ala Moana is the world’s largest outdoor shopping mall, while Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki is a high-end shopping street set against the beauty of the beach. History buffs should head to the Pearl Harbour National Memorial, which commemorates Japan’s attack on the US Navy on 7 December 1941. Exhibits and films explain the attack and there are memorials to the battleships that were destroyed.

The North Shore

With a laidback vibe, this stretch of coast with big waves is a surfer’s paradise. Check out the action on Waimea Bay and Pipeline and Sunset Beaches with a shave ice – a traditional Hawaiian treat – in hand. Stop by Haleiwa Town to browse local art galleries and trinket shops. For snorkellers, the Pupukea Marine Life Conservation District has calm water, so even beginners can view coral, colourful fish, sea turtles and occasionally seals. Stop by the Dole Plantation to see up close how one of Hawaii’s most famous crops is cultivated. Take the Pineapple Express Train Tour or wander through the maze and its eight different gardens.

Honolulu Hawaii 

Maui

With 30 miles of beaches, a mild climate and crystal-clear waters, Maui beckons visitors into the sea. Molokini is its most popular snorkelling destination. This volcanic caldera about two miles offshore offers clear waters and a reef – you may even see sea turtles and dolphins on your trip. Maui’s shallow Auau Channel is one of the best whale-spotting areas in the world. Between November and May each year it’s estimated that over 10,000 humpback whales migrate from Alaska to Hawaii to breed, so don’t miss this astonishing natural spectacle. Embark on your whale-watching tour from towns like Lahaina and Wailuku to see these amazing mammals frolic in the wild. Admire the sunset from the Haleakala Crater in Haleakala (‘House of the Sun’ in Hawaiian) National Park – a drive of hairpin bends that will take you from sea level to 10,000 feet in under 40 miles. Because of its particularly clear air and lack of light pollution, crowds flock here to see spectacular sunrises and sunsets, and some stay on for stargazing – Hawaii is uniquely positioned so that you can view stars from both the northern and southern hemispheres. Or spend the whole day there hiking and admiring the local landmarks – the park’s Pipiwai Trail leads you three and a half hours to Wailua Falls and back.

 

The Big Island

Its official name is Hawaii, but to avoid confusion the state’s largest land mass is referred to as The Big Island. Its varied terrain boasts three active volcanoes, beaches of stunning coloured sand, beautiful waterfalls and lush rainforest. Kick off with a visit to Volcanoes National Park, where you’ll find the active volcanoes Mauna Loa and Kilauea – the latter being the most active in the world. Park officials keep a close eye on volcanic activity and visitors are allowed to ascend Kilauea and look into its steaming vents and lakes of lava.

Beach Life

The Big Island is famous for its black-sand beaches, created by volcanic activity. Punaluu is one of the most popular, where lucky visitors can catch a glimpse of Hawaiian green sea turtles in the surf. Or check out Hawaii’s newest black-sand beach, Pohoiki Beach. This is the result of a 2018 eruption of part of Kilauea, in which 13.7 square miles of land were flooded by lava. Papakolea Beach is one of only four green-sand beaches in the world; its unusual colour comes from the mineral olivine that has eroded from the volcanic cone which encircles it. Hapuna Beach is the state’s biggest white-sand beach and its small waves make it perfect for families, while Kahalu’u Beach Park is a popular snorkelling site.

Volcanoes National Park Hawaii 

Lana’i and Moloka’i

The least populous of Hawaii’s inhabited islands, Lana’i and Moloka’i offer very different experiences. Lana’i – once a wall-to-wall pineapple plantation – is a paradise isle home to five-star resorts like the Four Seasons Resort at Manele Bay. It’s a place to splash the cash at the pricey boutiques in Lanai City and on the championship golf courses. You can also visit pristine beaches such as Hulopoe Bay, a stunning arc of sand perfect for swimming. The Bay is also a marine sanctuary where spinner dolphins congregate to give acrobatic displays. A 45-minute hike from Manele Bay takes you to iconic landmark Puu Pehe – a rugged summit where it’s said a heartbroken warrior once jumped to his death. Shipwreck Beach, on Lanai’s north shore, is a photographer’s dream. The hazardous waters surrounding it mean that in the past 200 years numerous ships have been wrecked there, or deliberately run aground. Along the six-mile stretch of coast you’ll spot at least a dozen barges, schooners and ships, the two most prominent being two World War II navy vessels scuttled on purpose – YOGN-42 and YO-21 – the latter of which was also present at the attack on Pearl Harbour. Shipwreck Beach is especially popular for beachcombing.

Moloka’i boasts heritage sites and has a rugged natural beauty. Its most famous site is Kalaupapa Overlook in Palaau State Park. Perched atop a cliff overlooking the stunning Kalaupapa Peninsula – which is surrounded on three sides by ocean – it offers a gorgeous panorama of Moloka’i’s north coast. It also contains a natural rock formation, Kaule O Nanahoa, considered a symbol of fertility. On the east side of the island is Halawa Valley, home to two stunning waterfalls – Moa’ula and Hipuapua Falls. Take a guided hike (the only way allowed) through lush foliage and pass by an ancient burial ground and stone temple. If you can’t face the four-and-a-half mile round trip on foot, the falls can also be spotted from vantage points along Highway 450.

Lana'i Hawaii 

Pop into your nearest Travelbag shop to speak to one of our experts and start planning your American adventure.

Or, if you’ve already ticked Hawaii off the list, find out which Caribbean island is best for you.


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