Say ‘Aloha’ to Hawaii

Yellow Ginger - Hedychium FlavescensPalm trees swaying in the gentle trade winds of the Pacific Ocean, endless stretches of sandy coastline, volcanoes, rainforests and more – the Hawaiian Islands are the ultimate dream destination.

The journey to Hawaii is not to be underestimated – it is a long way. So when you finally get there you need to make the most of this incredible group of diverse and beautiful islands strung out like pearls in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. With the advent of low inter island flights it is easier than ever to spend time on at least one other island. There are countless itineraries and combinations with each island offering a different holiday experience and its own individual charm.

Arriving into Honolulu on the island of Oahu immediately gives you a sense of anticipation. The warm air greets you as it wafts through the mainly open buildings and the atmosphere is laid back and relaxed. Honolulu is the centre of business and culture and the capital of Hawaii. It is a bustling city with a strong Polynesian influence and is home to museums, galleries and elegant public gardens all steeped in the history of the islands.

View from Princes Kaiulani Hotel, Waikiki Beach, HawaiiThe world famous resort of Waikiki Beach is just a few miles along the coast. At first glance not quite the tranquil tropical resort you would expect but this is a town that welcomes a huge number of tourists each day. Modern skyscraper hotels front the pristine beach set against the magnificent backdrop of Diamond Head volcanic crater. At night Waikiki comes alive with Sunset Hula shows, street performers, lively bars and restaurants. A velvet breeze wafts in from the ocean, mixes with the  soft sound of the Hawaiian guitar  and beckons the crowds to linger amongst designer boutiques and street markets.  As soon as dawn breaks the surfers take to the water to catch the waves that roll in throughout the year. Sit on the beach and be amazed by their prowess or take a lesson and have a go yourself, there are plenty of beach boys happy to give surfing classes and surfboards can be easily rented

When it is time to move on to another island, a great contrast to Oahu is Maui, known as the Magic Isle. Although it appears at first glance to be flat and uninteresting, travel away from the airport and you will find the dormant volcano of Haleakala Crater with its lunar landscape, or take the scenic road to the town of Hana through rainforest and waterfalls. The picturesque town of Lahaina was once the heart of the Hawaiian Islands where the whaling ships docked.  Today the town attracts the tourists with quaint shops, galleries and restaurants housed in the old wooden shop fronts that were once the saloons and brothels of times gone by. Set along a pretty coastline with a dramatic mountainous backdrop and with spectacular sunsets over the small offshore island of Lana’i – the town is picture postcard perfect.

Northern Oahu, HawaiiIf it is adventure you are after then the island of Kuau’i beckons visitors with a host of exciting activities, watersports, 4×4 land tours, mountain tubing and zip line tours to name just a few.  Take a helicopter tour to appreciate the awesome interior of Kaua’i.  The imposing Waimea Canyon is more than 3,000 feet deep and known as the ‘Grand Canyon of the Pacific’. The Waimea River flows through the canyon and is fed by cascading waterfalls swollen by the almost daily rainfall. When the sun shines through shimmering rainbows appear giving the area a truly magical feel.  Hold onto your seat because the experienced pilots know how to get really up close and personal to some of the highest waterfalls and deepest valleys.

In common with the other islands, Kauai has its fair share of stunning beaches. Holiday makers flock to the eastern and western shores but only intrepid hikers or sailors can access the secluded hidden coves, nestling beneath the dramatic cliffs along the Na Pali Coast on the western side. With its lush, rainforest interior and above average rainfall Kaua’i is aptly named the Garden Isle and has been the setting for many famous movie locations over the years.

Volcanic Big IslandThe largest island is confusingly named Hawaii – or Big Island. You could easily spend your entire holiday here as it has an amazing diversity in geography and climate. Take a drive around the island and you will pass through tropical rain forests, lava fields, volcanic mountains and rolling hills. At Kona on the west coast and you will be amazed by huge expanses of black lava stretching into the sea. The area is famed for diving and snorkelling and a visit to Kealakekua State Park is a must. Further along the coast the land is dotted with coffee plantations, each producing the world famous Kona Coffee and most are happy to give tours to visitors and sell the freshly roasted beans. The active volcanoes for which the island is so well known can be explored at fairly close quarters from the Volcanoes National Park. Check current conditions with the park rangers at the Kilauea Visitor Centre where you can also pick up maps and guides to the area.

Hawaiian Green Sea TurtleThe island capital is Hilo, situated along the crescent shaped Hilo Bay  on the East Coast where frequent and heavy rainfall has created a tropical environment of lush valleys and gushing waterfalls. Hilo is a commercial centre but does have an attractive ‘old town’ area full of shops, galleries and restaurants as well as museums, parks a cultural centre and a great programme of seasonal festivals and events. It makes a great base for exploring the Volcanoes National Park and the beaches along the coast.

So pick one or pick ‘em all, whichever islands you chose to visit, I guarantee you will want to return to see the rest. 

For more information on the Hawaiian Islands, please visit Hawaii Tourism Europe.

Silver Travel Advisor recommends American Sky, who offer a Hawaii Four Island Adventure.

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Sally Dowling

Travel writer

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