E komo mai and welcome to the beautiful islands of Hawaii. Whether you want to have fun in the sun with a buzzing atmosphere by the beach in Honolulu, hike across the untouched landscape of Kauai or delve into Polynesian culture, Hawaii is a destination which will surpass all of your expectations.
Written by: Joanna Kamenou / 28 May 2016
Wherever you choose to stay, you'll be greeted with a warm aloha and traditional lei of flowers from the Hawaiian locals. Each isle of Hawaii has its own distinct character and so it can be difficult to choose where to stay and what to do. So, here is our ultimate guide on what you must see on your Hawaii holiday.
Visit the film location for Jurassic Park
On Oahu, the world-renowned Kualoa Ranch and Private Nature Reserve is spread over 4000 acres and has featured in hundreds of movies but perhaps most famously Jurassic Park. Upon arrival you’ll feel like you’re on the set of one of Hollywood’s favourite backdrops - the best way to immerse yourself in this 650-year-old setting is by taking a tour on horseback or by driving through the bumpy terrain on a quad bike. You can also book a tour which stops for lunch at the Gyrosphere station which featured in Jurassic World. Don’t miss the WWII army bunker built into the side of the mountain range which features memorabilia from films and TV series that have been made at the reserve, such as Lost, 50 First Dates and Godzilla. Couples looking for an idyllic wedding venue won’t find many destinations with a more romantic scene than Kualoa which features 7 different wedding venues across the reserve.
Ride the surf
If you take a walk along Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, the first thing that you’ll notice is the sheer number of surfers riding the waves. This is surfing central and a must-try for any tourist! With Diamond Head as a scenic backdrop and the plentiful surf schools along Waikiki beach, there really is no better place to introduce yourself to the surf. Turtle Bay, on the northern side of Oahu, is another popular surf spot. If you want to try something different from the norm, paddleboard yoga and beachside Zumba activities are becoming the ‘must-do’ across the whole of Hawaii.
Remember Pearl Harbor
Step into Pearl Harbor and take a step back in time. The history of the "day which will live in infamy" is told through a number of dedicated memorials and museums which is worth spending around half a day to take a guided tour. Plane enthusiasts can head to the Pacific Aviation Museum and the USS Arizona Memorial is one of the most frequently visited locations in Hawaii, commemorating the lives lost on the battleship on 7 December 1941. You can also tour the USS Missouri or "Mighty Mo", where WWII officially ended, and stand on the platform where the agreement was signed.
Step foot on an active volcano
For jaw-dropping volcanoes, Big Island is the place to go to. Mauna Loa is the largest active volcano in the world and takes up over half of the island’s land mass. The chances are that if you are walking around the island, you’ll set foot on this volcano without even realising it! Kilauea volcano is one of the world's most active volcanoes and since it began erupting in 1983 the lava flow is still ongoing - this means that Big Island is one of the only islands on the planet to still be growing! A visit to the crater makes the perfect stop for a holiday photo.
Discover the islands by helicopter
Helicopter tours over the Hawaiian terrain are the best way to take in the iconic scenery of Hawaii, especially on the island of Kauai. On the "Garden Isle", 80% of the island, with its incredible canyons, waterfalls and forests, is inaccessible by road; this means that a helicopter tour is a must. The Napali Coast is indescribable - simply awe-inspiring. Jurassic Park fans will recognize Manawaiopuna Falls from the original film. Tours last around 45 minutes but are over before you know it, with pilots giving an engaging, personal view of the landmarks in Kauai.
Try some local delicacies
Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, Hawaiians will always offer you a delicious slice of fresh fruit – even if you’re eating something savoury with it. With a constantly changing climate where it can rain or shine at any given moment, there is everything from juicy pineapples to succulent apple bananas. Malasadas are another must-try snack - they are doughnuts originating from Portugal, but have been a part of Hawaiian culture since Portuguese workers from Madeira and the Azores arrived in 1878 to work on plantations. After a day of activities like surfing or ziplining, there is nothing more relaxing than sitting by the beach with a cocktail and, in Hawaii, there is no cocktail that beats a refreshing Mai Tai.
Zipline over the islands
Zipline tours are an exhilarating way to see Hawaii’s landscape from above. On Big Island, you can zipline on Mauna Kea, one of the island’s dormant volcanoes – a once-in-a-lifetime experience! As part of some tours, you will be given a GoPro on your helmet so that you can take back home memories of the cascading waterfalls and hidden forests.
Make your own coffee
Hawaii is the only state in the USA that can grow coffee to sell commercially so Kona coffee is popularly sold across the state. Although coffee can be harvested year-round in Hawaii, highest production begins in late summer through to early spring. So if you are a coffee lover, then a coffee making tour in the mountains is the perfect activity for you.