by Leslie To
Why do we love Hawaii so much? For one, it’s absolutely beautiful, but it’s not just the lovely surroundings that entice us all to make the trek. The distinct characteristics and personalities of each island within the chain are so diverse and unique, how visitors spend time there is as varied as the people themselves. In short, the 50th state offers about as many ways to vacation as it does for saying, “wave,” which is pretty much infinite.
A seasoned Hawaii traveler myself, I’ve put together a few distinct trips – adventurous or Zen-like quiet and reflective, vacation in a snap, wide-eyed wandering or adrenaline junkie fixes.
Oahu- Everything at Your Fingertips
Oahu has everything that’s good about Hawaii – prime beaches, snorkeling and scuba sites, art and cultural exhibits, romantic dining experiences and nature at arm’s reach, all conveniently located near the urban hub of Honolulu. Places like the Maile Sky Court and other Waikiki hotels offer what feels like instant Polynesian immersion with incredible accommodations, world-class cuisine and informative staff to guide you. You can easily wake up at your own pace, have an unhurried breakfast, amble out to the beach or to a hike at one of the many trails (Diamond Head Crater is a personal favorite – lead photo), then head out for any shopping or museum trip that’s calling you. Oahu can be a quick, no-fuss, full vacation within three days.
Maui – The Divine Sound of Om
You don’t have to belong to a faith to have a religious experience in Maui. The unspoiled terrain deserves to be experienced in a slow, meditative manner, so I recommend spending at least five days in Maui. Start with a drive along the Hana Highway and see what it’s like to travel through Eden. Fifty-two miles of lush rainforests, waterfalls and tropical flowers along spectacular coastline should take a full day if you are taking the time to appreciate it. If you’ve seen one beach, you’ve seen them all, right? WRONG. There’s nothing like the Waianapanapa Black Sand and Kaihalulu Red Sand beaches, made so by the dynamic volcanism that shaped the islands. Up the enlightenment factor when you visit the Seven Sacred Pools(O’heo Gulch) a fantastical series of waterfalls and tranquil pools that start two miles inland and flow into the ocean. Inhale deeply and experience the life force of Maui, and the next thing you know, you’ve got a Zen mindset.
Lanai- Is Anyone Here?
Tranquil, quiet Lanai is for lovers: Lovers of nature, lovers of silence, lovers of romantic time away from the world. The super slow pace of Lanai isn’t for everybody, but those who live or travel to the island, that’s preferable. There are no traffic lights, shopping malls or municipal public transportation, and most attractions outside of the hotels and town can only be visited via dirt roads. Away from the hustle and bustle of the more popular islands, quietly take in pineapple fields, mountains, and the lunar-like landscape of the Garden of the Gods. Go kayaking in Hulopoe Bay or rent a 4-wheel drive vehicle to cruise the unspoiled terrain of Hawaii’s most enticing island.
Kauai –Get Back to the Roots
It’s no surprise as to why the geologically oldest of the island chain is regularly tapped to serve as the backdrop for films and TV shows. Kauai lays claim to Hawaii’s most dramatic and awe-inspiring landscape. White-sand beaches, jagged cliffs and unforgettable flora and fauna set the tone for this sparsely populated, laid-back piece of paradise. While you could stroll reflectively through farmland and serene beaches all day, be sure to experience Kauai’s more energetic activities such as kayaking, snorkeling and hiking. The Na Pali Coastline Trailis my number one hiking destination in Hawaii. An ancient footpath traces along the bluffs for a few hours of unbelievable coastal views and strenuous climbs.
No matter how you choose to experience Hawaii, you’ll be enthralled with the diverse styles of vacation and adventures. What’s more, you’ll be like be – a repeat customer who keeps coming back to sample more!