Not only heaven for surfers: nature’s adventure playground with volcano-hiking, manta ray-snokelling, a beach for every desire and the best sunsets on earth.
It’s the ultimate too-good-to-believe travel cliché: with crystal-clear waters, white-sand beaches, volcanic peaks and picturesque bays, this stunning archipelago in the middle of the Pacific will take your breath away with its spectacular scenery and infinite adventures.
Famed for their rugged landscapes, each of the six Hawaiian Islands differ in personality, but they all call for a life lived outdoors to make the most of their natural beauty. With so much on offer, it can be tricky to decide what should go on your to-do list. So we’ve done the work for you. Here’s our take on the top things to do on Oahu, Kauai, Maui and of course, the island of Hawaii.
Oahu – the heart of Hawaii
The third-largest Hawaiian island – dubbed the ‘Heart of Hawaii’ – Oahu is home to the state’s gateway airport Honolulu National Airport, making it the hub for travel to the other islands. But there’s plenty to wow you in Oahu itself.
Hike to the top of the Diamond Head Crater for amazing panoramic views over the island, as well as the chance to get close to one of Oahu’s most iconic landmarks. Formed over 100,000 years ago, the crater gets its nickname from a group of 19th century British sailors who thought they had discovered diamonds on its slopes. You won’t find any diamonds on the moderately challenging trails leading to the top of the tuff cone, but when you reach it you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views across Waikiki and Oahu’s south shore.
Oahu’s legendary North Shore is a must-see: the big wave surfing capital of the world, North Shore’s perfect waves attract surfers from around the world. It’s also home to one of the most spectacular bays on the island, Turtle Bay. This picturesque cove is one of the last places on Oahu where you can spot green turtles and Hawaiian monk seals frolicking in the waves. Embrace North Shore’s laid-back vibes and snack like the locals by taking a road trip to Haleiwa Town, a charming historic surf town filled with surf shops and food trucks serving up local fare.
Kauai – the Garden Island
A 25-minute flight from Honolulu Airport takes you to Kauai. Bejeweled with cascading waterfalls, tropical rainforest and jagged cliffs, the dramatic beauty of the ‘Garden Island’ is captivating: with sections of it only accessible by sea or air, this island hides surprises around every corner. Kayak the river Wailua, swim the crystal-clear waters of Poipu Beach or, best of all, set sail along the Napali Coast.
Defined by astonishing natural beauty, the Napali coastline is the perfect representation of Hawaiian landscapes: set sail from Port Allen to be gobsmacked by the lush cliffs towering above the Pacific, revealing pristine beaches and waterfalls that plunge dramatically into the sea. During summer, guided kayaking tours take you even closer to the cliffs and with the right conditions, raft tours will guide you to hidden sea caves and remote beaches accessible only by sea.
Kauai holds another surprise for its visitors: the majestic Waimea Canyon, ‘the Grand Canyon of the Pacific’. On the western side of the island, this extraordinary geological wonder – measuring over 16km in length and up to 900 meters in depth – is famed for its spectacular colours, sweeping views over the canyon’s deep valley gorges and thundering waterfalls.
Maui – the Valley Isle
Home to some of Hawaii’s most popular beaches and celebrated for magnificent sunrises and sunsets over Haleakala’s volcanic peak, Maui is a Hawaii must-visit.
Overseeing the island’s landscape is the majestic Haleakala Crater, a dormant volcano standing proud at over 3,000 meters above sea level. Part of the sprawling Haleakala National Park, this impressive peak is considered one of the best locations anywhere in the world to watch the sun rising over the horizon. Not a morning person? Never fear: sunsets from the top of Haleakala are just as remarkable.
For a snorkel in Maui’s pristine waters, head to Kaanapali Beach for over 4km of soft white sand and crystal-clear waters brimming with colorful marine life.
Island of Hawaii - Island of Adventure
Welcome to the island of Hawaii, commonly nicknamed as the Big Island. The youngest and largest in the archipelago, the island of Hawaii is blessed with unique geological features, lush valleys and jet-black beaches setting the stage for amazing adventures. Just a 40-minute flight from Honolulu, this is the place where where you can swim with manta rays, step on a black-sand beach and admire an active volcano.
To grasp the imposing size and contrasting environmental wonders of the island, there’s no better way than from a helicopter: fly over lush valleys, spotting cascading waterfalls and secluded beaches, then catch unparalleled views of Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park.
A haven for marine life, the Big Island boasts ideal conditions for any water activity: kayaking, surfing and diving are all on the go-to list. But if you’re looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, swimming with manta rays might do the trick. Swim in unspoilt Pacific waters alongside rays with wingspans up to five meters, watching the island's colourful underwater world float before your eyes – a quintessential Hawaiian adventure.