Things to Do in Hawaii - page 3
Kauai, is green, and Kauai is wet—and that's why it's so beautiful. Parts of the island receive over 400 inches of rainfall every year, and all that rain means the Garden Isle is dripping in dozens of waterfalls. While some of these waterfalls require trekking through mud just to gain a glimpse of their splendor, others ones such as Opaekaa Falls only require stepping out of the car. Tumbling just over 150 feet, Opaekaa Falls is a year-round waterfall that is guaranteed to be flowing. The falls usually feature two separate streams that splash their way down the cliff face, but after periods of especially heavy rain, the two falls can merge into a single, explosive cascade. Whatever the size, the best time to visit is usually in the late morning when the falls are bathed in sunlight—and if it happens to be cloudy day, the falls are so close and easily accessible it’s easy to pay another visit.
Located a short distance offshore of Kualoa Point, Mokolii Island is one of Oahu’s most famous landmarks. This small, cone-shaped island attracts adventurous visitors with its secluded coves, rugged hikes, and views of Oahu’s windward coast and the Koolau mountains; the same mountains featured in scenes of the movie Jurassic Park.
Located on the east coast of Oahu, 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Honolulu, Tropical Farms Macadamia Nuts is set in the shadow of the mountains of the Koolau Range and is a stop on many circle-island tours. It’s a great place to enjoy a Hawaiian treat and shop for gifts and souvenirs.
The Oheo Gulch is a vibrantly green valley that has been naturally created by centuries of rain forest streams. Also called the Kipahulu Area, these lush lands became part of the Haleakala National Park in the 1940s. The main draw for visitors is the many tall waterfalls that feed into groups of large, tiered natural pools, sometimes called the Seven Sacred Pools of Oheo. Swimming in the fresh water is popular when water levels are safe.
Two streams, the the Palikea and Pipiwai, are the source of all of the water in this area. Visitors can hike the two-mile Pipiwai Trail (3-5 hours roundtrip) along the streams with view of the pools. Along the trail, there is one tranquil natural pool that can be less crowded than the Seven Sacred Pools area. The path ends at the 400-foot-tall Waimoku Falls, and you can always cool off in the pools after finishing the hike.
Many of South Maui's indigenous people originated from Makena, and it is heavily steeped in ancient history and culture. It’s a dry, volcanic stretch of rocky shore where travelers can still catch glimpses of the island’s past, and its proximity to some of the island’s best beaches makes Makena a base for outdoor adventure.
When the island of Kauai erupted from the sea between 4 and 5 million years ago, parts of the coastline were riddled with tubes where molten lava once flowed. One of those spots is the Spouting Horn on the island’s southern coast, where waves are channeled into the tube before violently erupting in a saltwater geyser over 50 feet in the air. Compared to other Hawaiian blowholes, what makes Kauai’s Spouting Horn unique is the guttural moan that precedes the powerful eruption. A second, smaller hole in the rocks funnels air as opposed to water, and the result is a sound that makes it seem like the rocks themselves are groaning. No wonder Hawaiians believed that amo’o was stuck inside of the rocks—a mischievous lizard of Polynesian lore that can still be heard to this day. Once finished admiring the geyser and feeling the ocean’s fury, peruse the homemade souvenir stalls erected by local vendors. Even if you don’t find that perfect give to bring back from your Hawaiian vacation, the locals are always a good source of friendly conversation.
The Napali Coast tops nearly everyone’s Kauai bucketlists with its sheer green undulating cliffs dropping directly into cerulean waters. The Kalalau Trail takes you back in and along Napali’s Valleys for 11 miles down to the beach and back up and out for another 11—a trip that takes most people at least two days to complete. Not for everyone. Enter the Kalalau Lookout, an easily accessible vantage from which to take in the deep expanse of Napali’s most recognizable Kalalau Valley and get a taste of Napali from land without all of the hiking. Sitting at an elevation of 4,000 feet, the lookout is perfectly positioned to take in the full two-mile-across valley and the ocean beyond.
The United States’ only official royal palace, Honolulu’s painstakingly refurbished Iolani Palace holds stories of Hawaii’s royal past. Queen Lili‘uokalani, the last Hawaiian monarch, ruled from—and then was imprisoned within—these walls. Browse ornate gifts to, and portraits of, the Hawaiian royal families, plus artifacts from their reigns.
Haleakala’s summit stretches 10,023 feet (3,055 meters) above Maui’s world-renowned beaches. Vast swaths of its slopes—33,000 acres (13.4 hectares) from summit to sea level along the Hawaiian island’s southeastern coast—are protected within Haleakala National Park, where visitors hike, bike, camp, and catch sunsets (and sunrises) of a lifetime. Now considered a dormant volcano, Haleakala last erupted sometime between the 15th and 17th centuries.
Oahu’s Nu‘uanu Pali Lookout offers panoramic views of the Ko‘olau Mountains. The windy perch, more than 1,000 feet (300 meters) above Oahu’s Windward (northeast) coastline, also overlooks Kaneohe, Kaneohe Bay, Kailua, and the island of Mokoli‘i. In the late 1700s, the viewpoint was the scene of a bloody battle won by King Kamehameha I.
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Surrounded by lush grounds, Oahu’s Byodo-In Temple is tucked away in the Kahaluʻu Valley at the foot of the Koʻolau mountain range. A replica of a temple in Japan’s Kyoto Prefecture, the landmark is a testament to the island’s strong Japanese community.
Otherwise and colloquially known as Punchbowl Cemetery, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific is a United States Armed Forces cemetery in Honolulu, Hawaii. Part of the National Register of Historic Places, the cemetery gathers millions of visitors every year, making it one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Hawaii. It is dedicated to Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard members who lost their lives in their line of duty.
The location of the cemetery wasn’t the fruit of coincidence; it is located on what Hawaiians called “Hill of Sacrifice,” which used to be an altar where they offered human sacrifices to pagan gods and where they installed a battery of two cannons used to salute prominent arrivals and signify noteworthy instances.
Since the site was established in 1949, approximately 53,000 World War I, World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans and their dependents have been interred in these grounds – including the sadly infamous USS Arizona victims during the Pearl Harbor attack. In addition to its vast burial grounds, the cemetery contains a number of small memorials, such as that of Honolulu, commemorating soldiers of 20th-century wars. The memorial is often regarded as the highlight of the cemetery’s visit, because of Lady Columbia’s statue erected at the top of the staircase in the Court of Honor; also known as Lady Liberty or Lady Justice, she is said to represent all grieving mothers.
Kilauea Volcano is the star of the Big Island’s Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii's only UNESCO World Heritage Site. Kilauea Volcano remains active, spouting orange lava, venting steam, glowing, and sputtering. When conditions are safe, it’s possible to drive around the volcano's edge on the 11-mile (17-kilometer) Crater Rim Drive.
When U.S. President Barack Obama shared that Sandy’s was his favorite Oahu beach early in his presidency, it went from a popular locals’ beach to just plain popular. This public stretch of white sand just north of the extinct Koko Head Crater is no languid oasis, however; it’s one of Oahu’s best—and most intense—spots for bodyboarding and bodysurfing. A fierce shore break best suited for experienced surfers sometimes wells into powerful barrels that can pummel riders trying to catch a wave.
The spot is often coupled with a visit to the neighboring Halona Blowhole, a lookout point where waves regularly blow spray up through eroded crevices in the lava rock. And when the wind kicks up, it’s not uncommon to see families flying kites on the spacious lawn fronting the sand.
The white-sand strand at Oahu’s Kailua Beach Park is a popular spot to watch the sunrise, and early risers are often out running the beach or swimming in the relatively calm waters before dawn. As it gets a good amount of wind, the beach is also a top destination for windsurfers, catamaran sailors, and kite surfers.
This 7.8-acre park is a popular stop along the Road to Hana, with several hiking trails, covered picnic facilities and scenic views of the coast. There are dozens of native Hawaiian plants and birds to see as you walk through the forested area, so take a break from the drive and get some perspective from an overlook of the Ke’anae Peninsula and the nearby village.
There are several scenic spots to catch views of the bright blue sea and the winding coastline. Trails lead down to the ocean and loop back around, so there’s space to stretch your legs while enjoying the tropical environment here. Bring your walking shoes, your camera or binoculars and a picnic to enjoy some time at this park on your way up to Hana.
The Banzai Pipeline, one of the most famous surf breaks along Oahu’s Seven Mile Miracle, is known by wave riders the world over. This is no beginners’ break: Pipeline has earned its reputation as one of the most intense on the planet. The danger here is the same thing forms its ridable tubes—an abrupt and shallow coral shelf that causes the water mounds to topple quickly and very close to the shoreline. Experts try their luck when Pipeline pounds between October and April with waves heights averaging 15 feet.
As one might imagine, with surf crashing close to shore, Pipeline is a sight to behold even for landlubbers. Gawkers come out in droves to see the spectacular sunsets over the tropical waves, but especially to see the pros shred it. The Billabong Pipe Masters’ challenge—the final competition in the World Surf League’s competitive season and culminating event of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing—selects its winner here each December.
In the summer months, it can be hard to recognize The Pipe. The ocean pulls a 180, the wind and the waves die down and the waters off Banzai Beach become a popular snorkeling spot.
There was once a time when the island of Kauai was awash in waving green sugar. When the last mill closed down, however, in October of 2009, the island was left searching for a new crop to step in and fill the void. Luckily for island plantation workers and caffeine lovers worldwide, coffee is starting to pick up on Kauai where the sugar cane industry left off.
Nowhere is this more evident than at Kauai Coffee Company in the town of Kalaheo, where over 4 million trees on 3,100 acres officially make this the largest coffee farm found anywhere in the United States. Take a guided tour through the coffee fields to learn the production process, or sample from over 20 different coffees at the large tasting room on site. Every bean that’s served and sold is grown right here in Hawaii, and when you’ve gotten enough of a buzz for the day, look out at the rows of waving green leaves that disappear over gentle hills to the tropical shoreline below.
The largest authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan, Liliuokalani Gardens present Japanese culture set on Hawaii’s Hilo Bay. Arched stone bridges, moats, stone lanterns, pagodas, and a tea house make up the gardens, which were named after Hawaii's last reigning monarch and dedicated to the immigrants who worked in the sugar fields.
Formed by a 5,400-foot volcano, Kohala is dominated by lush valleys, laid-back plantation towns, verdant pastures and ancient Hawaiian religious sites. The area is an outpost of cowboys and hippies with its beaches, valleys and architecture, the latter of which ranges from the modern resorts of South Kohala to ancient temples constructed entirely of stone. Although the land area only comprises 6% of the Big Island's total area, it could still take weeks to explore in its entirety.
Most visitors to South Kohala are familiar with the resort enclaves of Waikoloa and Mauna Lani, where golf courses sit in stark contrast to the surrounding black lava fields. The white sands of Hapuna Beach are a favorite of beachgoers, and history buffs will love stopping in to the Pu’ukohola Heiau, which was commissioned by the great King Kamehameha. While this national historic site sees thousands of annual visitors, only a mere handful will make the journey to the smaller Mo’okini Heiau on windswept Upolu Point; constructed in the 5th century AD by some of the earliest Polynesian voyagers, this is also where King Kamehameha was born.
Further up the road in the North Kohala plantation towns of Hawi and Kapa’au, travelers will find artisan outposts of craft stores and coffee shops. A massive statue of King Kamehameha presides over Kapa'au and is still draped in flower lei during the annual King Kamehameha Day celebrations each June.
On the eastern coast, rugged valleys with sing-song names such as Pololu, Waipio, and Waimanu form deep clefts into the lush mountainside, and are a favorite of island hikers and thrill-seekers. Waterfall trekking to jungle ziplining are popular in these outdoor playgrounds, and Waipio Valley is regarded as one of the most scenic corners of the island.
The Menehune Fishpond is scenic—set amid lush jungle where craggy mountains are close enough to frame the edges of a killer sunset photo shot. But this giant pool of green-brown water has been attributed mythical qualities that are evident even in its name. Menehune is a mysterious race of little people—some say they’re like Hawaiian leprechauns—that have been credited with building sites throughout the Hawaiian Islands swiftly and stealthily. Legend has it they built this particular 39-acre loko wai (freshwater pond) by passing stones to each other from the village of Makaweli more than two dozen miles away, damming up the Hule’ia River with walls 900 feet long and five feet tall. In a single night. To get up close and personal with the work of the Menehune, join a kayak tour of the Hule’ia—it’s the only way to gain access into the otherwise off-limits Hule’ia National Wildlife Refuge that surrounds the pond. Fishponds like this one are found throughout the Hawaiian Islands and were used to store and easily retrieve fish for the alii or ruling class. And, the Menehune Fishpond is one of the best preserved examples of a Hawaiian freshwater fishpond still in existence today.
Mauna Loa’s status as the largest active volcano in the world doesn’t stop travelers from flocking to the rugged mountain—in fact, it attracts them. With its last eruption occurring in 1984, the volcano is known for non-explosive activity, making it an inviting and worry-free destination to explore on scenic drives or backcountry trails.
Tracing the northernmost portion of the Big Island of Hawaii, the Kohala Coast boasts Hawaii’s most desirable characteristics, from white-sand beaches lined with resorts to lush mountains bursting with wildlife and waterfalls. Go beyond nature to explore the island’s culture and history at restored temples and ancient villages.
Welcome to one of the most iconic places on O’ahu Island! Combining popular culture, history and extreme sports, Waimea Bay simply does not disappoint. Its stunning panoramas alone, as seen from the Kamehameha Highway, are sufficient reason to visit the island’s northern end! The area’s international reputation emerged in 1779, when famous Captain James Cook was killed by native villagers after he tried to make the King of Hawaii captive. Staples of this period are still visible today at the Pu'u o Mahuka Heiau State Monument, the largest of its kind on the island.
Many years later, Waimea Bay beach once again gained popularity by becoming the top surfing destination in the world and officially starting the 1950s now-iconic surf phenomenon (as demonstrated by the Beach Boys’ famous song!). In fact, surfing is still very much in fashion in this neck of the woods, with numerous surfing events taking place throughout the year, especially during big wave season between November and February. Alternatively, it is a very nice place to swim and sunbathe during the calmer summer months. Waimea Bay beach even made it to the small screen as a filming location for acclaimed seriesLost.
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- Things to do in Big Island of Hawaii
- Things to do in Kauai
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