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Few places inspire the imagination like Hawaii. It’s easy to picture weeks spent exploring the lush jungles, the misty mountain tops, the bubbling lava flows and, of course, the tropical paradise beaches. With hundreds of islands spread out over 1,500 miles, there is indeed a lot to see and experience in arguably the most luscious American state. 

If you’re lucky enough to have a Hawaiian holiday pencilled into the calendar, make sure you don’t leave without visiting these hot spots.

hawaii

Hawaii (The Big Island)

The largest of the eight main islands, the Big Island - as it is known - is beautifully diverse in its terrain and experiences. Exploring the island is as easy as renting a car and getting onto one the island's highways. A road trip will take you around the island’s five volcanoes, up close and personal to more waterfalls than you can count, and past stretches of rugged coastline and beaches. The island is home to 8/13 of the world’s climate zones which makes for a surprise around each corner.

Where to go on the Big Island

Kauna'oa Beach (Mauna Kea Beach) is the white sand beach of your dreams. Pop down a towel, crack open a book and get yourself a hydrating coconut because no one is going to judge you if you stay put on the beaches warm sand for the better part of a day. Whether you have the family in tow or an agenda of absolutely nothing, Mauna Kea beach has something for everybody. With gentle waves, which are great for the kids, and a colourful seascape for snorkelling, when you tire of being face down on the sand, there is plenty of fun to be had.

Spending time luxuriating on Punalu’u Black Sand Beach is a must-do for everyone looking to experience this natural phenomenon in Hawaii. With charcoal coloured sand, a result of the island's volcanoes, and plenty of sea life, make sure you come armed with your snorkelling gear and a keen eye - you might spot a couple of different species of turtles.

volcano park

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is highly regarded as one of the most impressive things to see in Hawaii. With lava flowing out of the ground and two molten lava-spurting volcanoes, you won’t see anything quite like the park anywhere else in the world. Pick a hiking trail, clear your camera roll, and revel in the volatility of the natural world.

maui

Maui

The second largest island in Hawaii is Maui. Known as ‘the Valley Isle’, Maui has beautiful beaches, fresh produce galore from the island's farms, and lush rainforests. The rugged beauty doesn’t stop with the Big Island, Maui has it in spades. Fly into Kahului, the biggest city, and then explore from there.

Where to go in Maui

Keawakapu beach is a popular, and beautiful, stretch of sand in Kihei. From sunrise to sunset, ambitious Yogis, regular swimmers, and sun-bakers fill its generous shores. With soft sand and gentle surf, it is a beach for everyone.

haleakala national park

Best seen at sunset, or if you’re keen, sunrise, Haleakalā National Park is a beautiful expanse of colourful volcanic rock. The landscape is eerie and Mars-like, and you’ll no doubt fill your camera roll with the surreal surrounds. Like the rest of Maui, the landscape changes quickly, and if you’re in the mood for a dip, there are plenty of waterfalls in the more lush parts of the park.

Oahu

Two-thirds of Hawaii’s population lives in Oahu with a lot of the island's inhabitants clustering around the city of Honolulu. For a flashier, resort-heavy experience, you can’t go past the iconic Waikiki; You either love the bustling vibe, or you’re itching to leave for a quieter, more authentic version of Hawaii. Kaka’ako, a cool neighbourhood between downtown and Waikiki, offers a beautiful respite if that is the case.

Hawaii beach

Where to go on Oahu

Learning to Hula on Waikiki beach is one of life’s most iconic moments, and even the sternest of non-dancers will be swaying their hips by the time the night is through. Let yourself drift away in a tropical haze with the rhythm of the music and the flickering of torchlight. If you’re not set on dancing yourself, there is plenty to see as the best Hula dancers in Hawaii perform for crowds of onlookers.

The North Shore is a surfer’s paradise, and thousands of surfers flock to these remote shores to surf the perfect waves that roll in. With swell ranging from absolute beginner to extreme ‘Big’ wave surfing, there is a wave for every level of surfing aptitude. Rent a car and a surfboard and plan your adventure, or put your roots down in a place like Haleiwa town for a longer stay.

While daydreaming of Hawaii might come easy, the beautiful American state will live up to even the wildest hopes. It really is that beautiful.

hawaii surfer