Lovely Hawaii. Travelers have been flocking to her fair shores for thousands of years, many choosing to settle in paradise permanently. Hawaii is like no other place. Home to an extremely vocal volcano, it may surprise visitors to know it also claims the worlds tallest sea mountain. What is a sea mountain you ask? A sea mountain is a mountain rising from the ocean seafloor which does not reach the waters surface and thus does not form an island.
Modern day surfing had it’s start here, as did the hula dance, and the invention of a grilled Spam sandwich. A short flight from the West coast of the United States, why not go all out and charter a private jet to make for an extra special holiday to a Hawaiian island?
Many are drawn to the nearly perfect weather and exotic floral and fauna that covers each Hawaiian island, while they all retain their own special charm. The big question remains of which Hawaiian island to visit? Luckily, with short distances between islands you don’t have to choose just one.
Although there are many islands in the chain, there are six main islands that attract visitors. Here is a look at the best things about each Hawaiian island.
Most travelers first land at Honolulu. Oahu is by far the most cosmopolitan of the islands and Honolulu is a bustling city, while still mostly operating on leisurely island time. The North Shore is a surfers paradise, and makes for a scenic drive, but the majority of visitors stay in town, attracted to the gorgeous beach lined city. The third largest island of the chain, it is not short on things to do.
Oahu is about sightseeing. Visit the historical monument at Pearl Harbor, shop to your hearts content, and visit urban art galleries highlighting local artists. History abounds and tours of the Iolani Palace, State buildings, and Chinatown are highlights. For a true taste of the melting pot that is Hawaii, on the last Friday of the month try to catch Eat The Street where over 40 food carts show up in rotating locations for a sampling of all things delicious.
Bring on the beaches! Maui offers up over 30 miles of some of the worlds most beautiful beaches. Certainly there are other activities ranging from the Ocean Center, golf, the Old Lahaina Luau, and the Haleakala National Park, home to the world’s largest dormant volcano, but in the end it’s all about the sand.
Kaanapali Beach is perhaps the most famous. Three miles of idyllic sand glisten in the sun, highlighted against the turquoise waters. However, don’t rule out Napili, Wailea, Hookipa, or the black sand beach at Waianapanapa State Park. Knowing how to pronounce them is not required to enjoy them to the fullest.
The big island is a jewel, encompassing 11 of the world’s 13 climatic zones. Loaded with history, Kailua-Kona, the principle city, is the former home of the many Hawaiian kings who cherished it for it’s stunning waters and near perfect weather. On the island there are excellent hiking opportunities and water sports abound and Kona coffee speaks for itself.
But the big island is really about the volcanoes. Start with a trip to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, home of the Kilauea volcano, the most active on earth. Be mesmerized by the on-going activity and lava flows from past eruptions. Next head to the summit of Mauna Kea. Measured from it’s base in the sea floor to it’s peak it is the tallest summit in the world. The star-gazing is mind blowing and you can learn more than you thought you needed to know at the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy visitors center.
Kauai is most often referred to as the Garden Isle, a lush fantasy of vegetation and one of the most beautiful places in the world. The reason for all this green is because it also boasts the wettest place in the world, Mt. Waialeale. This does not deter ardent fans and the visuals are unparalleled as you hike and explore this stunning place.
As gorgeous as the island is, the best of Kauai is seen from the air. Many of her most attractive vistas are inaccessible by land or sea and helicopter and scenic air tours are a must. Although some parts of Waimea Canyon, the largest canyon in the Pacific, are accessible on land, to truly experience this breathtaking wonder a flight over the scenery that made the movie Jurassic Park famous is the way to go.
Lanai has a reputation for remote luxury. The place to go for those seeking isolation. The place where Bill Gates spent some of his honeymoon. Those facts remain, however the true charm of Lanai is the ability to get away from it all while in close proximity to the comforts you expect.
Lanai is about contrasts. Hiking on the island is wonderful, ranging from the hot, tropical beach eco-system to the often chilly high peaks. Delicious cuisine can be found at the world-famous Nobu at the Four Seasons, or equally as good at the hole in the wall Poke shacks at the market. The scenery ranges from the kaleidoscope colors at Polihua Beach to the stark rock formations at the Garden of the Gods. In spite of it’s size, you may never get bored with Lanai.
The slow food movement has evolved into the slow travel movement as well. Molokai may very well have her day in the sun as travelers of today look for more experiences than simply lounging on a beautiful beach all day. Kalaupapa National Historic Park is a former leper colony set below towering cliffs. The highlight, checking out the park on the 1700foot descent down the world’s tallest sea cliffs on a mule.
The usual water sports should be on the agenda but truly, the best thing to do on Molokai is very little. Visit Coffees of Hawaii and grab a brew and a seat with the locals, rent a car knowing the island is far too small to get lost, and simply relish in taking the time to stop and smell the flowers, or perhaps coffee roasting in this case.
Perhaps this is the year to find your own best Hawaiian island. Choose an island from the list above that seems most appealing to you and hop on a jet plane today!