Guides

How To Have The Very Best Time In Hawaii

Hiking, volcanoes and hidden waterfalls.

Most people associate Hawaii with aloha shirts, hula dancing and ukuleles. While there’s plenty of these on offer for a relaxing holiday by the beach, there’s also a massive range of activities for people who are more adrenaline-inclined.

Plus, Jurassic Park was filmed in Hawaii and, let’s face it, if that doesn’t convince you to head there for an epic holiday, not much else will.


Hikes

With an abundance of hills and nature on all sides, Hawaii is a perfect destination for hikers of all levels. Beginners could try the short but steep Koko Crater Trail on Oahu, or the Onomea Trail on the Big Island.

The Devastation Trail (part of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – more on the park below) is anything but. It’s a short trail with fantastic views of Mauna Loa (the largest active volcano on Earth) from all directions.

For those who want a challenge, the Kalalau Trail is perfect. Its combination of terrain and cliff make it a difficult hike, but the reward fits the work. See hidden waterfalls, diverse flora, and spiky cones forming mountains on the Nā Pali Coast. And at the end, relax on a completely secluded beach.


State and national parks 

waimea

Image: Aaronbernstein / Wikimedia Commons

Hawaii is home to eight state and national parks in the US. Many of the parks in the archipelago offer an unparalleled insight into native Hawaiian culture. One such example is Kaloko-Honokōhau, where you can learn about the natural history of Hawaii, including activities such as ancient fishing skills classes.

Kauai – home to the Kalalau Trail – is a less habituated island, so most of its nature remains untouched. Nowhere is this more evident than at Waimea Canyon State Park (a.k.a. the Grand Canyon of the Pacific), adorned by thickets of green and formed by a volcano collapsing, as well as natural erosion.


Volcanoes

lava-magma-volcanic-eruption-glow-73830-large

I promised I’d come back to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, so here we are. Located on the Big Island, it’s a must-see for anyone who wants to witness tectonic plate shifts in action. It’s also one of the only places in the world composed of active volcanoes, and helps you get up close and personal with these lava-filled beauties.

While you’re there, be sure to check out the beaches – many of which have black sand as a result of the volcanic activity on the island.


Beaches

surf

Hawaii is dotted with beaches perfect for all kinds of adventure – from the gently rolling waves of Waikiki beach, to the lesser-known surfing spots at Kalihiwai Point. Stand-up paddle boarding, jet-skiing and jetpack flying are just some of the adrenaline-inducing activities on Hawaiian beaches.

And if you’re bored of calm beach waters, head to the appropriately named Point Panic beach for some unsettled waves. Body surfing (surfing without the board) in treacherous conditions here is a custom – and the only legal type of surfing allowed on the beach.


Food

8300083769_1cfde8a765_k

Image: Eugene Kim / Flickr

For those with adventurous tastebuds, Hawaii is an excellent destination to challenge your palate. You can get anything from the delicious sashimi-esque salad poke, to Chinese-influenced saimin (noodle soup with sliced spam and scallions) and malasadas (Portuguese sort-of doughnuts coated with granulated sugar).

One true Hawaiian dish is luau, consisting of squid or fish, taro leaves and coconut milk. It lends its name to a traditional Hawaiian party or feast. If you’re really keen on traditional foods, tuck in to some other luau grub: kālua pork (cooked in an underground oven) or poi (mashed taro root). Scored an invite to a luau in the flesh? Even better.

Note: Some areas of Hawaii’s national parks close for conservation or care. Check in advance what might be closed at the time you want to visit. Eg, see the closures for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park here.

(Lead image: Stocksy)