Whether you’re a surfer, golf fanatic, nature lover or sun worshipper, Hawaii should be high on your list of potential vacation spots. But knowing where to go is another matter entirely, as between the spectacular sunsets and impressive volcanic mountains to miles of breathtaking coastline and plenty of lively nightlife; it can be difficult to name any place in Hawaii as being better than another.
There are, however, a few places that stand out for their diversity and uniqueness, so if you want to experience the best that the islands have to offer, here are seven must-see places in Hawaii.
1. Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park, Big Island
One can hardly travel to Hawaii without seeing some of its awe-inspiring volcanoes, and Volcanoes National Park is the perfect place to do just that. The best way to see the volcanoes is by helicopter, but if your budget doesn’t allow it, there are 60 miles of paved roads and 120 miles of marked trails where you can do your own exploring.
Kilauea and Mauna Loa are two of the world’s most active volcanoes, and if you didn’t think fire and ice could co-exist, this park is here to prove you wrong, as it has both snow fields and molten rivers of lava. If you have time to spare, you’ll find it to be a truly unforgettable experience.
2. Na Pali Coast, Kauai
The magnificently rugged coastline of Na Pali is a definite must-see. Its natural splendor attracts not only tourists but filmmakers as well, and a number of movies have been shot there, including the 1958 musical classic “South Pacific.”
Na Pali Coast is thought to be the first part of Kauai that was settled by the early Hawaiians, and the stone-walled terraces and ancient temple ruins are part of its current attraction. But sightseeing is not all you’ll be doing, because the private beaches, mysterious caves and towering waterfalls are best seen when sailing, snorkeling, rafting or hiking.
3. Sea Life Park, Oahu
Sea Life Park is great for anyone who loves animals and marine life, or any families with children. At the Hawaiian Reef Aquarium, you can see some of Hawaii’s amazing underwater life close up. You can even swim with dolphins and Hawaiian Rays, and observe seahorses close up.
The park is also a sanctuary for the rare Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, although kids will especially love the animal shows, with dolphins, penguins and other lovable sea creatures.
4. The Road to Hana, Maui
Who ever thought that driving along a road could be adventurous? The Road to Hana is a 68-mile stretch of winding roads, bridges and blind turns. Aside from the eccentricity of the road itself, the scenery you’ll enjoy along the way is almost indescribable.
It’s the perfect way to see a lot of Hawaii’s natural beauty in a fairly short amount of time. You’ll see everything from waterfalls and bamboo forests to fields of pineapples and, of course, a magnificent ocean view for as far as the eye can see.
5. Canoes, South Shore, Oahu
Since Hawaii is known for its surfing opportunities, this list would be complete without mention of a great surf location. This area is known for being great for beginners as well as those with some experience, so if you need a place to try out the water before taking on more challenging waves, Canoes is your spot.
Once you’ve found your feet, so to speak, you can venture out into other nearby surf areas, which makes this the perfect starting point for your surf vacation. The waters here are also great for other water sports like kayaking, boating, fishing or just paddling about.
6. Waimea Canyon, Kauai
Waimea Canyon is often called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, and although it is quite a bit smaller than its namesake at 12 miles long and 3,567 feet deep, it is equally impressive. Along with the trademark red soil, there are plenty of picturesque waterfalls and streams cutting through the landscape.
The canyon is accessible by car, although you’ll probably want to get out before you reach the vantage point and hike for a while to get a better feel for the area.
7. Waikiki, Oahu
If you are out to experience some of Hawaii’s upbeat city life, then Waikiki is undoubtedly one of the best places to do so. It was once used as a gathering place for Hawaiian royalty, and still gives off that vibe today, with its high-end clubs and swanky bars.
For those who appreciate live music, the Rumfire in Sheraton Waikiki or Duke’s Canoe Club both offer a great nightlife atmosphere with good drinks, live music and dancing. Club goers should hit the Kalakua or Kuhio Avenue for a taste of some of Oahu’s nightlife.
The possibilities for dining out are endless, and most restaurants are located near the Waikiki Beach Walk, where you can walk off the calories by doing some shopping for authentic Hawaiian wares.
About the Author:
Tess Pajaron is part of the team behind Open Colleges, Australia’s provider of tourism and travel agent courses . She has traveled to many different countries and loves to discover new places.