Hawaii, the 50th US state, is a paradise like no other. It’s home to stunning beaches, tropical flora, amazing surfing and the funnest parties.
There are six out of eight major islands to explore, and while you’re there, you can take in the islands’ native culture and unique cuisine. Each Hawaiian island has its own unique set of adventures, activities, sights, and attractions, including walking across dramatic volcanic landscapes. There really is something for everyone!
Maui is nicknamed ‘The Valley Isle’. If you visit the Iao Valley in the West Maui Mountains you’ll see why. There are dramatic ridges and pinnacles to admire. Or maybe you’d prefer to see the sunrise atop Haleakala volcano.
If you want to head to the beach, there are beaches for every mood. You can go kiteboarding, swimming, surfing, or snorkelling. Or you can simply relax on the sand at Makena Beach, one of the island’s largest beaches. Better yet, chill on the black sand beaches at Wai’anapanapa State Park.
If you’d like you could drive along the famed Hāna Highway, where you’ll pass through many bridges, a tropical rainforest, sacred swimming pools, and boutique shops at the hippie town of Paia. If you’re up for more adventure, you can hike through a bamboo forest, climb up a ridge, or wander past waterfalls. Or maybe you’d like to stroll through historic Lahaina town, the island’s main tourist town.
The food here is also one of the best the state has to offer with ingredients ranging from grass-fed beef to fresh fish and organic food.
Maui is best for its beaches, hiking, and food, and especially if you want a classic beach vacation.
Oahu is nicknamed ‘The Gathering Place’ as it’s home to the state’s capital city, Honolulu, and there are many people here, both tourists and locals alike. There are also lots of family-friendly activities, so if you have children hop to Oahu.
Want to learn about the culture of Hawaii? Head to the Polynesian Cultural Center. You can also stop by the Bishop Museum (it has the largest collection of Polynesian artefacts) and the Iolani Palace (the former residence of Hawaii’s royal rulers). You can also visit the iconic Pearl Harbour and the Aloha Tower lighthouse.
Haleiwa, a surf town, and Oahu’s North Shore are perfect places for those who love surfing. Or you can swim and relax on the beaches of Waikiki and Lanikai. For hiking opportunities, go to Diamond Head volcano.
For food lovers, there are farmers markets, shrimp trucks, shave ice shacks, and fusion menus by Hawaii’s star chefs. There are also plenty of shops, bars, and restaurants.
Oahu is best for its beaches, food, and culture, and if you want to spend some quality time with your family.
Lanai is nicknamed ‘The Pineapple Isle’ because the island used to grow a lot of pineapples. It’s a small, mostly rural island that’s only a short ferry ride from Maui. It’s also a bit off of Hawaii’s beaten path, which is perfect for secluded romance.
You’ll find many unpaved roads, along with three golf courses and just two resorts. The island balances restful luxury with rugged terrain.
Hulopoe Beach, a long crescent of sand on a bay, is great for snorkelling. There’s also a tidy, uncrowded park nearby.
Lanai is best for is remoteness, history, and beaches, and if you want a romantic trip.
Molokai is called ‘The Friendly Isle’ because even if there’s not a lot of people here, you’ll be greeted with a genuine welcome. It’s also known as ‘The Most Hawaiian Island’ because nearly 50% of the people living here are of native Hawaiian descent. You can visit by ferry from Maui or Lanai.
Want to learn the hula dance? Molokai is the birthplace of the hula dance and hosts a hula festival every year.
The island has a more rural vibe than Oahu and produces a lot of pineapples. It’s also home to the tallest sea cliffs in the world, as well as Hawaii’s longest continuous fringing reef.
Other places to see include the Kalaupapa National Historical Park for a time-travel adventure, the Molokai Forest Preserve, and the Kapuaiwa Coconut Grove. At the Halawa Valley, your guide will take you on a trail past ancient temples to waterfalls pounding into pools.
Molokai is best for its culture, history, and adventure.
Kauai is called ‘The Garden Isle’ due to its rugged terrain and abundance of verdant flora. Kauai also offers a more laidback lifestyle than the other islands – relaxing in Limahuli Garden.
If you head to one of the beaches like Poipu Beach, you’ll be rewarded with plenty of postcard sunsets. If you’re looking for some beach adventure, Tunnels Beach is an excellent place for surfing, snorkelling, and diving.
Other things you can do on the island include zip-lining in the forest, sailing along Na Pali Coast’s dramatic cliffs, peering into Waimea Canyon from inside a helicopter, and kayaking Hawaii’s only navigable river. You can also hike through the dense mountain terrain of Kalalau Valley at Nā Pali State Park. The park also provides access to a virtually untouched shoreline.
Kauai is best for its beaches, landscapes, and lifestyle, and if you want more adventure.
Hawaii Island is called ‘The Orchid Isle’, as you’ll find orchids growing along the edge of volcanic craters. It’s also known as ‘The Big Island’ because it’s the largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago.
There are plenty of things to do here, such as golfing, kayaking, snorkelling, sailing, and canoeing. The island is also home to Hilo, Hawaii’s oldest city. It hosts the Merrie Monarch Festival every year, where you can create a lei and learn the hula dance.
If you love history, you’ll find the remains of an ancient temple at the Puʻukoholā Heiau National Historic Site. If you love black sand beaches, Punaluu and Kehena beaches are the best places to go. You’ll see dolphins, turtles, and colourful fishes. If you visit in winter, you’ll catch a glimpse of humpback whales. If you want to see more wildlife, go to Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge.
Want to walk across dramatic volcanic landscapes? Head to the Volcanoes National Park. Want to go for a hike? Kilauea, the most active volcano on Earth, is the perfect spot. You’ll walk through green valleys, pass icy waterfall pools, and climb up some of the loftiest summits. Or you can head to Ka Lae, a rocky wind-blown cliff.
Hawaii Island is best for its hiking, culture, and wildlife, and if you want a little bit of everything.
Ready to explore the islands of Hawaii? Each Hawaiian island offers different types of experiences, so whether you’re looking to relax, sightsee, or go on an adventure, there’s an island or two to suit your solo travel needs.