Aloha and welcome to Hawaii, the most isolated population centre on Earth, a mere 2,390 miles from the coast of California and some 3,850 miles from Japan. As you can imagine, this is a place that takes a while to reach, but boy is it worth the effort. Hawaii is the land of colourful coral reefs, sun bleached surfers, vibrant green forests and a volcano or two, and the perfect place to slow down and embrace the chilled-out island lifestyle.
Comprised of eight major islands and a scattering of smaller islets, Hawaii holidays are guaranteed to have something for everyone. Be seduced by the tropical paradise that is Maui with its thundering waterfalls, tropical forests and transparent waters. Discover Oahu, the most famous island, where surfing enthusiasts flock to Waikiki Beach in Honolulu before moving to Kailua Beach, one of the most beautiful spots in the world. See the imposing volcanoes on Big Island and don’t miss Kauai, the most cinematic of all, with its majestic Waimea Canyon, crystalline sands and unbeatable diving spots. Whichever island combo you choose, there is plenty of indigenous culture to enjoy alongside the creature comforts that mainland Americans do so well, and speaking of the mainland, Hawaii holidays also dovetail beautifully with either California or the west coast of Canada to provide perfect combinations or an ideal multi-stop honeymoon.
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For travellers who want a taste of both nature and culture in the Polynesia of the United States, resting place of the Pearl Harbour war remains. For those who want to experience all nature has to offer from sugary beaches and dense forests to towering waterfalls and humbling volcanoes. For die-hard surfers and beach-bum wannabes who want to take to the waves to experience the thrill of big breaks or dive below them to discover a vibrant underwater world of coral reefs. For those who want to swing serenely in a hammock under the dappled shade of a palm tree or feel the spray on their faces while whale watching.
Which experiences is Hawaii best for ?
A beautiful blend of volcanoes, ocean and untamed nature, Hawaii holidays demand to be spent outdoors in the elements. Whether you’re hiking up a mountain, skimming down the face of a wave on a board or plunging into the water for a wild swimming experience, there are an abundance of nature-themed activities to enjoy. A Hawaii holiday also lends itself perfectly to learning about traditional culture and the island’s ancestors who travelled between the islands by canoe. Life on these idyllic islands is still very much linked to ancient tribal ceremonies from traditions and tikis to songs and tattoos. Make sure to set aside time on your Hawaiian holiday for a Luana evening where you can watch hula performances and captivating cultural dances to the soundtrack of traditional island tunes.
What is the best option for a Hawaii holiday?
The islands themselves are the remnants of massive volcanoes that burst from the ocean floor millions of years ago, and which are still growing strong. Seven of the eight main islands are inhabited, and because they are so easy to get between, we would highly recommend combining two or more on any trip, because they all have something different to offer.
Special things to do in Hawaii
The ocean is Hawaii’s beating heart and a holiday in this postcard-perfect part of the world inevitably involves the sea. For experienced surfers, Hawaii is the ultimate playground with its mythical beaches and impeccable tubes. Grab a surfboard, take to the waves and wait patiently for the perfect set to come along. For wildlife, dive beneath the water to swim with giant manta rays and sea turtles or hop aboard a whale-watching cruise. And if beach-bathing is more your thing, there are plenty of stunning spots to catch the sun from the bustling beaches of Oahu to the wind-swept sands on Kauai.
If we had to choose one island for a Hawaii holiday (don't do it!), it would most likely be Maui. Maui holidays allow you to explore an island home to 80 beautiful beaches and beginner friendly surfing conditions; a snorkeller's paradise in the vast submerged Molokini crater; wonderful trekking and riding country and the famously dramatic switchbacks of the Road to Hana. Take the ferry across to neighbouring Lana'i and the trip often also doubles as a whale watching trip.
Lana'i itself goes by the nickname of 'Hawaii's most enticing island', which might explain why billionaire Larry Ellison of Oracle fame splashed a cool $300 million on buying 98% of it. Lanai holidays are all about a wonderfully laid back vibe (the speed limit on the island's traffic light free 30 miles of roads is 30 mph) and the chance to swim with spinner dolphins in beautiful Manele Bay.
Next stop Kauai, the so-called 'Garden Island' that doubled as Jurassic Park in the movie and which is also home to Waimea Canyon. The American obsession with branding everything in sight means that sure enough this too has a strapline - 'the Grand Canyon of the Pacific' but branding or otherwise, Waimea, at 3,000ft deep is mighty impressive. Kauai holidays are all about activities from surfing and kayaking to mountain biking and, of course, hiking.
Honolulu on the island of Oahu
The observant among you might have noticed we haven't yet mentioned Honolulu. Well, it's on the island of Oahu and the only proper city in the islands. Honolulu holidays are about a lively nightlife and great (and very American) shopping but also Honolulu is also home to Pearl Harbour for history buffs to explore.
Finally, the big one - Hawai'i island itself, which is nearly twice as big as all the other islands combined. This is the place to see searingly hot molten lava and the vividly coloured volcanic sand beaches that show the massive geological forces still at work in the islands. Horses or helicopters are a great way to explore the bizarre lunar landscapes.
As you can see, there's plenty on offer on a Hawaii holiday and if (like us, if we're completely honest) you have preconceptions of a destination that long since sold its South Pacific soul to Americana, think again.