Experience a variety of off the beaten path adventures on Molokai. Go on a sports fishing adventure out of Kaunakakai Harbor. Hike or take a mule ride to Kalaupapa National Historical Park. Or explore Molokai’s botanical preserves, macadamia nut or coffee farms. Browse the links below to see all that Molokai has to offer.
From award-winning beaches to award-winning cuisine, Maui has it all. Dance and dine at a luau in Kaanapali. Take a quiet stroll in a flourishing botanical garden in Kula. Discover Maui’s thriving art scene in Makawao and Lahaina. Catch a show, catch a wave, or catch up on some rest. On Maui, anything is possible. Browse the links below to see all that Maui has to offer.
Ride a longboard in the gentle surf of Waikiki Beach. Browse historic and contemporary art in Oahu’s museums. Sample Hawaiian food and learn how to dance the hula at a luau. On Oahu, you'll find an activity and attraction for every inclination from the North Shore to the Makapuu Lighthouse on the island’s southeast tip. Browse the links below to see all that Oahu has to offer.
Many visitors come to the islands to simply lie in sun. But your choice of Hawaii activities goes far beyond sunbathing. There are whales to watch, streams to be navigated by kayak or canoe, lush rainforests to be traversed, waves to be surfed, underwater caverns to be explored, hiking trails to walk, and cultural sites and sanctuaries to be discovered. You won’t be able to resist.
"Hawaii's Most Enticing Island," is small enough for activities that feel more intimate and personal, but big enough for a variety of adventures. Lanai’s luxurious resorts offer activities ranging from world-class golf to clay shooting. But to really see the unexpected side of Lanai, explore the island's 89,600 acres of countryside and remote beaches by 4-wheel drive. Browse the links below to see all that Lanai has to offer.
Sail the Napali Coast or kayak on the Wailua River. Golf on a resort course or hike the trails of Waimea Canyon and Kokee State Park. Explore Kauai’s historic places and learn about Hawaii’s culture, from attending a local festival to enjoying hula at an authentic luau. Whether you’re enjoying a romantic sunset on Poipu Beach or zip lining through the island’s lush valleys, Kauai is a tropical playground waiting to be explored. Browse the links below to see all that Kauai has to offer.
Lounging at the pool is always nice, but why not feel the sand between your toes and enjoy the warm waters of Hawaii? From surfing and canoeing on Waikiki beach to swimming with manta rays on Hawaii’s Big Island, get out and experience an unforgettable water adventure in Hawaii. Learn about some of the best places to explore the crystal blue waters of the Hawaiian Islands:
Kauai The oldest and northernmost island in the Hawaiian chain, Kauai is known for the breathtaking cliffs of the Napali Coast. Take a boat tour and don’t forget your camera as you witness this spectacular natural wonder. While you’re there, don’t forget to spend some time relaxing on the picturesque beaches of the North Shore. And while Kauai may be best known for kayaking along the tranquil Wailua River, the truly adventurous should try mountain tubing in the irrigation ditches of Lihue.
Oahu Oahu is the metropolitan heart of Hawaii. It’s also known as a mecca for the sport of surfing. The legendary North Shore is home to Waimea Bay, the birthplace of big wave surfing and every winter, the best surfers from around the world compete along the North Shore at the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (November - December). You can also learn how to surf yourself or go on a canoe ride on the gentle waves of historic Waikiki Beach. And for snorkelers, the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is one of the most popular snorkeling spots in the islands.
Maui From Kaanapali Beach to Makena Beach (Big Beach), Maui is famous for its many idyllic beaches. Hookipa Beach is also known as the windsurfing capital of the world. But Maui is probably best known as being one of the best places in the world to see humpback whales. Go on a whale watching tour from December to May departing from Lahaina or Maalaea Harbor for an unforgettable whale encounter.
Lanai Just across the channel from Maui, Lanai is a secluded getaway known for its resorts and4-wheel drive adventures. But for scuba divers, the lovely lava caverns off the south coast called the Lanai Cathedrals, cannot be missed.
Molokai Also a short ferry ride across the channel from Maui, Molokai is an island firmly rooted in Hawaiian culture. Molokai is best known for fantastic sports fishing. Fishing enthusiasts can take a charter boat from the charming town of Kaunakakai for the catch of a lifetime.
Hawaii’s Big Island The calm, clear waters along the Kona Coast make Hawaii’s Big Island a special place for snorkeling and scuba divers. Kona is also known as a great place for deep-sea sports fishing, with many fishing tournaments held throughout the year. But one of the most unique water adventures the island has to offer is manta ray diving. Take a charter boat off the Kona coast at sunset and scuba or snorkel with friendly mantas. Having an otherworldly manta ray glide within inches of you is an experience you’ll never forget.
Welcome to golf heaven. Blessed with breathtaking scenery, unforgettable signature holes and championship caliber course design, it's no wonder why Hawaii attracts so many golfers from around the world. Discover a variety of unique course layouts on Hawaii's six, geographically distinct islands—from greens lined with volcanic rough to stunning seaside water hazards. And with more than 70 amazing golf courses to choose from, it won't be difficult to find the perfect course for you.
Art Across the Islands
Observe the work of Hawaii’s artists and you’ll see and feel the poetry of the Islands expressed in color, light, and shadow – painted, printed, sculpted, etched, photographed, and filmed. Likewise, the artisans and craftspeople, create masterpieces that are both timeless and timely – every one infused with the generous spirit of aloha that’s as much a part of their nature as the sun itself. The art experience – and the products of that experience – varies from island to island. The lush, natural landscape of Kauai inspires painting and crafts that are as sophisticated as they are direct. Painters, sculptors, and crafts-people thrive on Maui where the whaler’s art of carving on ivory is still quite popular. Oahu’s art scene is both steeped in tradition and wildly contemporary. And it won’t surprise you that creativity on Hawaii, the Big Island, can be fiery indeed. Best of all, no matter where you go in the islands, you’ll find that artists are just as accessible as the art they create.
Hawaii has more than its share of museums, celebrating everything from Hawaii’s history and culture to its contemporary art. The Bishop Museum on Oahu is the largest museum in Hawaii dedicated to studying and preserving the state’s history and is also considered the premier natural and cultural history institution in the Pacific. At the Lahaina Heritage Museum, visitors can literally feel the historical and cultural, vitality of Maui’s legendary whaling town. And at the Kauai Museum, it’s possible to view galleries showcasing the work of multi-cultural artists, sculptors and craftsmen as well as learn about the geological formation of the Hawaiian Islands, early Native Hawaiian life, and the Hawaiian Monarchy.
On the other side of the spectrum, the Contemporary Museum overlooking Honolulu has an awesome display of cutting-edge painting and sculpture. And for those interested in seeing the future, Hilo’s Imiloa Astronomy Center features a variety of space-age, interactive exhibits as well as an IMAX-style theater.
The Art of Film
Year in and year out, Hawaii contributes its vast natural resources to the art of film, providing settings and backdrops that are truly beyond compare. More than 60 box office features – including South Pacific, King Kong, and Jurassic Park – have been shot on the island of Kauai alone and Oahu is currently home base for the re-born Hawaii 5-0. No matter where you travel in the islands, you’re likely to see film crews, actors, and actresses, and in several cases, it’s possible to take tours of famous locations.
The Art of Hula
When words fail, they turn to a more ancient art of communication to express the beauty of Hawaii. Hula is as much an expression of Hawaiian life in general as it is a spiritual language. Local children and adults learn hula in schools called halaus and the dance is performed at parties and celebrations on an almost daily basis throughout the islands. If you’re lucky, you’ll visit the islands during one of the many hula competitions – most notably, the Merrie Monarch Festival on Hawaii, the Big Island, held every spring and considered by many to be the Olympics of hula.
Other Forms of Dance in Hawaii
The Hawaiian Islands provide a setting in which to witness, not just Hawaii’s hula, but also the dances of New Zealand, Samoa, Tahiti, and other Pacific islands. Hawaii’s dancers also celebrate a wide range of contemporary expressions, from hip-hop to jazz, ballroom, and postmodern. What’s more, there is also a thriving classical dance company – Hawaii Ballet Theatre – that has a repertory of eight full-length ballets, seven one-act ballets, and 38 shorter works. The HBT also dances with the Royal Hawaiian Band and offers an annual presentation of The Nutcracker at Christmas time.
When you take a walking tour of Hawaiian culture on Kauai, you’ll feel the spirit of aloha in the air. Hawaii’s Island of Discovery is proud of being the oldest island in the Hawaiian chain and a sense of pride is infused in Kauai’s history as well as in the beauty of its hula.
You can learn about the history and culture of Kauai by visiting the Kauai Museum or Grove Farm Museum in Lihue, the Waioli Mission House in Hanalei Town and the Kokee Natural History Museum on the West Side. Visit Kauai small towns like Hanapepe, Koloa, and Waimea to get a taste of local flavor and culture. Kauai’s many festivals (www.kauaifestivals.com) and events give you a chance to see the island from a local’s perspective. Explore beyond Kauai’s luxurious resorts to experience the true culture of Kauai.
If you’re looking to meet the people of Hawaii, Oahu is a good place to start. There you’ll discover a true melting pot of diverse ethnicities, cultures and lifestyles bound together by the spirit of aloha.
The history and majesty of the Native Hawaiian people are evident throughout the historic places of Oahu. Significant landmarks like Iolani Palace, the King Kamehameha I Statue across the street, the Duke Kahanamoku statue on Waikiki beach, and the Bishop Museum celebrate the accomplishments of the people of Hawaii.
Today, Oahu has diverse cultures that have blended and transformed the island’s traditions, festivals and foods. As agriculture boomed in the late 19th century, workers from China, Japan, Russia, Korea, Puerto Rico, Portugal and the Philippines were brought to the islands to work and live on plantations. Today, you can experience this blend of cultures by enjoying Oahu’s local food or attending the island’s many festivals during your stay. To learn even more about Hawaii’s multicultural roots, take an educational tour through venues like the Hawaii Plantation Village or visit Oahu’s many fine museums.
The Oahu of today is a fascinating mix of the past and the present. Businessmen meet farmers and artisans. Eastern philosophies meet western technology. Music, dance, theatre and the arts in general are community treasures. Visitors from around the world meet locals still perpetuating Hawaiian traditions and customs. And while the people of Oahu blend the rich legacy of Hawaiian culture with the world of the 21st century, you’ll find the spirit of aloha remains as timeless as ever in the Heart of Hawaii.
Molokai legends speak of the hula beginning at Kaana near the present day town of Maunaloa. Every May, the people of Molokai gather together on the Hula to celebrate this personification of the aloha spirit at the Molokai Ka Hula Piko Festival on Papohaku Beach Park. Some of the best dancers in the state gather to share their traditions. Every chant and dance tells a story. Of love. Of the gods. Of a history never to be forgotten. This commitment to perpetuating the past sets Molokai apart from the other Hawaiian Islands.
History’s roots run deep on Molokai, from 13th century Hawaiian Fishponds to the living classroom of historical sites in Halawa Valley. Whether you’re talking with a local in Kaunakakai or soaking in the island’s natural wonders, the past reaches out to touch each person who visits, like the graceful fingers of a hula dancer.
Early Hawaiians didn’t inhabit Lanai until the sixteenth century. And today, its population is that of a small town. You can experience the intimate atmosphere of Lanai by taking a stroll around Dole Park in Lanai City, browsing the shops and eating at its local restaurants. You’ll quickly discover that this is a very special island with a profound sense of aloha, where everybody seems to know your name.
Most people living on Lanai are descended from plantation workers who first went there when the “Pineapple Island” was the world’s largest pineapple exporter. Ranching was also a key part of Lanai’s past adding to the rustic feel of destinations like the Hotel Lanai and the Four Seasons Resort Lanai, The Lodge at Koele. Today, this unique getaway offers many visitors the chance to experience the relaxation that’s a fundamental part of everyday life on Lanai.
From the forces of King Kamehameha defeating King Kahekili in Iao Valley to the rowdy whalers of 19th century Lahaina, this island’s intangible mystique has been drawing visitors throughout history.
To step back in Maui’s past, visit the Whalers Village Museum for an historic account of the whaling industry, discover Maui’s agricultural past at the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum or follow the Lahaina Historic Trail to explore this thriving seaport’s heritage.
Today, Maui reveals its cultural past through a thriving arts scene infused with the life-embracing spirit of aloha. From the events and exhibitions at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center and the Hui Noeau Visual Arts Center to Art Night every Friday in Lahaina, Maui continues to pay homage to its rich history. Local artists and artisans are also expanding their influence by creating a wide range of products, from hip fashion to traditional and contemporary crafts.
Hawaii’s Big Island
The Merrie Monarch Festival (follows Easter Sunday in March - April) is the world’s premier hula event held in Hilo. This weeklong celebration of the native art of the hula happens every Easter with halau (hula schools) from every island and the mainland practicing year-round for the event. This moving expression of music, dance and storytelling is part of how the people of Hawaii Island continue to perpetuate and interpret the Hawaiian culture and its uniquely affirmative spirit of aloha.
Hilo town is also home to an array of museums, galleries, and performance venues where you can admire the work of local painters, sculptors, musicians, storytellers, and crafts people.
The Merrie Monarch Festival is just one example of how the people of Hawaii Island locals live comfortably in the present but with great respect for the past. The mana (spiritual power) is still strong at important historical places like Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, Puukohola Heiau Historic Site and Mookini Heiau State Monument. Today, with an active volcano still shaping the land at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the people of Hawaii Island continue to forge their own history.
The Festive Islands of Aloha
Dive deep into Hawaii’s local community and you’ll discover a culture alive with “paniolo” (cowboys), Chinese dragons, fire dancers, ethnic festivals, culinary events, and an exotic collection of celebrations unique in the entire world. Throughout the year, you’ll also encounter parades, street parties, food and craft fairs, concerts and family activities that honor every aspect of Hawaii’s diverse culture.
Many of Hawaii’s most memorable celebrations occur like clockwork, every year. Some, like the Honolulu Marathon (December) and the Hawaii International Film Festival (October), draw visitors from around the globe. Others, like Oahu’s Prince Lot Hula Competition (July) or the Eo E Emalani I Alakai Festival (October) on Kauai, are primarily local events that also have a strong allure for visitors who want to experience “authentic” Hawaiian culture.
Likewise, events that feature local foods and agricultural products attract both locals and visitors. Kapalua Wine & Food Festival (June) on Maui is Hawaii's longest-running and most prestigious food and wine event and hosts world-class winemakers, master sommeliers and chefs for thousands of wine and food lovers. And the Big Island’s Annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival (November) has something for everyone with nearly 50 events over 10 days.
From Traditional to Contemporary
The roots of Hawaiian music go back a thousand years and you can still hear echoes in today’s rhythms, percussion instruments, chants, and vocal styles. Traditional music is generally simple in its structure and both reverent and haunting in the way that it’s presented. But today it’s also possible to hear variations of Hawaiian music that are diverse as the islands’ mix of cultures – everything from rock ‘n roll and rap to jazz and a Hawaiian form of reggae known as Jawaiian.
Every year, Hawaiian music is celebrated in music festivals that celebrate the uniqueness of Hawaii instruments, musicians, and songs.
The Ukulele Festival (July) at Kapiolani Park Bandstand in Waikiki honors what many visitors believe to be a hand-me-down from ancient Hawaii, but in reality, the ukulele was brought there by Portuguese immigrants at the end of the 19th century. Today, the uke is still a fundamental part of the musical landscape, not simply on stage but also at family picnics or on the beach.
The Big Island’s Kona Slack Key Festival (September) pays tribute to a uniquely local way of playing the guitar – another Hawaiian music staple. Slack key is a “slacked” or loosened tuning or technique that reflects the breezy, flowing quality of both local climate and culture.
Imagine you and your family viewing one of the most active volcanoes on earth on Hawaii’s Big Island; watching humpback whales leap from Maui’s warm waters; flying happy dragon kites in the trade winds of Molokai; exploring the tide pools of Hulopoe Bayon Lanai; witnessing the grandeur of Kauai’s Waimea Canyon; or exploring the fascinating exhibits at the Bishop Museum on Oahu. You’re sure to create lifelong family memories on your vacation to Hawaii.
You’ll find the culture of Hawaii is very family friendly. The Hawaiian word for “children” is “keiki” and fun for your keiki isn’t hard to find no matter which island you visit. Build sand castles with your kids on one the islands’ beautiful beaches. See their eyes light up as they play with interactive exhibits in Hawaii’s finest museums. Or explore Hawaii’s many National Parks and Historic Sites and learn about the islands together. Check with your hotel or resort for keiki programs that may include lei making, ukulele playing, and hula lessons.
So charge up your digital camera, pack some snacks, and bring plenty of sunscreen. And don’t be surprised if your family vacation to Hawaii becomes a brand new family tradition.
Hawaii Regional Cuisine
From dawn until well past dusk, Hawaii offers visitors a dizzying menu of culinary wonders including the islands’ own Regional Cuisine which blends the islands’ diverse, ethnic flavors with the fruits of Hawaii’s farms and plantations. Originally created by an even dozen Hawaii chefs, this is a movement that leverages the freshest island ingredients including locally-raised cattle, fish from local waters, and fruits and vegetables grown in volcanic soil.
Farm to Table
You can actually witness the entire farm to table process in Hawaii by taking walking tours of farms, gardens, ranches, and pasturelands. On an upcountry farm on Maui, you can pick a sweet Maui onion; you can take a taro farm tour on Kauai and sample fresh Waimanalo greens at dozens of Oahu restaurants; on Hawaii, the Big Island, you can take a coffee tour along the upland slopes of Kona; and throughout the islands, you can visit some of America’s most lavish farmers’ markets. Needless to say, no tour is worth the effort unless you get to sample the food (fortunately, that’s the case almost 100% of the time).
Eating Like a Local
In Hawaii, their palates have been influenced by generations of immigrants from around the globe, so it’s no surprise that their melting pot is filled with countless ethnic specialties. Local tastes are as varied as you’ll find anywhere in the world but there are local delicacies that are more or less exclusive to Hawaii residents. Street food in the islands reaches its zenith in the plate lunch, served on a paper plate and featuring everything from teriyaki beef with two scoop rice to the Japanese hybrid, spam musubi. Locals are also drawn to loco moco breakfasts (white rice topped with a hamburger, fried egg, and brown gravy), exotically-flavored shave ice (finely-shaven ice), and custardy, coconut haupia. One more thing you need to know: the Hawaiian word for ‘delicious’ is ‘ono!’
Witness the unique differences between our six Islands of Aloha by visiting these amazing geographic wonders.
Waimea Canyon, Kauai Known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” this dramatic, 3,500-foot deep canyon offers remarkable views.
Napali Coast, Kauai
Located on the pristine North Shore, the towering cliffs of Napali are unforgettable. Hike along this scenic coast or explore the sea caves by zodiac.
Leahi (Diamond Head), Oahu
This state monument has become an iconic symbol of Hawaii. Hike to the top to see amazing views of Waikiki and east Oahu.
Hanauma Bay, Oahu This Marine Life Conservation District on the southeastern tip of the island is Oahu’s most popular snorkeling destination.
Papohaku Beach Park, Molokai At three miles long, this secluded beach is one of the largest white sand beaches in Hawaii.
Puu Pehe (Sweetheart Rock), Lanai
Take a short hike from the Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay to this iconic Lanai landmark springing from the sea between Manele Bay and Hulopoe Bay.
Hana, Maui The journey is the destination during this scenic (and notorious) drive to the peaceful town of Hana.
Haleakala, Maui Maui’s highest peak, at 10,023 feet, is the spot to see incredible sunrises and rare indigenous life like the Nene (Hawaiian Goose) and the silversword plant.
Maunakea, Hawaii’s Big Island
Take a stargazing tour atop the largest sea mountain in the world, measuring over 33,000 feet from the ocean floor.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii’s Big Island Home to one of the world’s most active volcanoes, this park gives visitors the rare opportunity to witness new land forming right before them.
The oldest and northernmost island in the Island chain is graced with dramatic, natural beauty. Outdoor adventures and romantic escapades flourish on Kauai. Explore the beaches of the Coconut Coast, see Waimea Canyon, "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific," or take a boat ride to marvel at the towering cliffs of the Napali Coast.
Wailua River –Hawaii’s only navigable river.
Napali Coast – Spectacular sea cliffs on Kauai’s north coast.
Poipu Beach Park – Voted one of America’s best beaches.
Waimea Canyon – Nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”
Home to the state capitol and the majority of Hawaii's population, Oahu is a vibrant mix of natural and cultural wonders with the modern arts, entertainment and amenities of the 21st century. See pro surfers charge the big winter waves of the legendary North Shore, relive American history at the memorials and museums of Pearl Harbor, or soak up the sun and take a surfing lesson on Waikiki Beach.
Waikiki – Iconic gathering place for visitors from around the world.
Pearl Harbor – Explore the historic sites recounting the Pearl Harbor attack.
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve – One of Hawaii’s premier snorkeling sites.
Nuuanu Pali Lookout – Historic spot with fantastic mountain views.
North Shore – Legendary birthplace of big wave surfing.
With almost half of its population being of Native Hawaiian ancestry, Molokai is an island that has preserved its connection to the past and its love for the outdoors. Step back in time to the sleepy town of Kaunakakai, view the verdant flora in Halawa Valley, or learn about the works of Saint Damien at Kalaupapa National Historical Park.
Kaunakakai – Molokai’s main town and seaport.
Kalaupapa National Historical Park – Historic seaside settlement.
Papohaku Beach – One of the largest white sand beaches in Hawaii.
Without a single traffic light, Lanai is a true island getaway for luxury, romance and privacy away from crowds. Get away from it all at Lanai’s opulent resorts in Hulopoe Bay and Lanai City, see the rock formations at Keahiakawelo, or 4-wheel drive amongst the pine trees along the Munro Trail.
Hulopoe Bay – Once named America’s Best Beach.
Lanai City – Central town with local shopping and dining.
Keahiakawelo (Garden of the Gods) – Otherworldly barren landscape.
The second largest island is home to what some believe are the best beaches in the world. The waters off of Maui are also some of the best places in the world to whale watch every winter. Wake up early to catch the Haleakala sunrise, stroll through the historic hot spot of Lahaina town, or drive the long and winding road to Hana for spectacular scenery.
Lahaina – Whale watch, shop and dine in this historic hot spot.
Makena Beach State Park (Big Beach) – One of Maui’s largest beaches.
Iao Valley State Park – Historic site home to the iconic Iao Needle.
Haleakala National Park – Scenic home to Maui’s highest peak.
Hana – Famous for the scenic drive to this small, charming town.
Hawaii's Big Island
Larger than all of the other islands combined, the island of Hawaii, or Hawaii's Big Island, is vast enough to hold 11 of the world’s 13 climactic zones—from sandy beaches to snowcapped mountains. See waterfalls, rainforests and botanical gardens in Hilo, explore the calm and clear water off of Kona, or view Kilauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes, in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Hawaii's Big Island Highlights:
Historic Kailua Village (Kailua-Kona) – Historic seaside hot spot.
Coffee Plantations – Get a rich taste of fresh Kona coffee.
Downtown Hilo – Discover local treasures in the island’s capital city.
Hamakua Coast – See waterfalls on this spellbinding scenic drive.
When you visit Hawaii, you’ll want to shop for something to take home. There’s actually a very good chance you can meet the person who makes it, which makes Hawaii shopping extra special. From the bustling boulevards of Waikiki to the quaint shops, lively bazaars, and tranquil art boutiques that dot all the Hawaiian Islands, you’ll find that shopping in Hawaii is an adventure all to itself.