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Everyone has a reason to visit Hawaii, even if it’s just that you’ve never been there. You’ve probably seen the cheesy postcards, glossy travel brochures and TV shows like Magnum PI and Hawaii Five-O and have an idea what it’s like, but Hawaii is full of surprises with lots of cool things tucked away.

Oahu

Of course, if this is your first visit to Hawaii, you have to see the iconic sights such as Waikiki Beach, Pearl Harbor with its memorials and museums, ‘Iolani (Royal) Palace and perhaps one of the theme parks like Sea Life Park or The Polynesian Cultural Centre. 

Hanauma Bay Nature Reserve

Just to the east of Honolulu lays the inviting ring like cove of Hanauma Bay. This circular bay was at one time a volcanic ring, eventually breached by the ocean to form a perfect cove, one that is now filled with abundant coral reef and hundreds of species of marine life. The bay’s pristine beach offers glorious views of the ocean and of two volcanic cones, Koko Crater and Koko Head. The beach is closed to tourists on Tuesdays and there is a fee for non-Hawaiian residents. This fee was implemented to help in preservation efforts of the reef, marine life and surrounding areas.

Pearl Harbor and USS Arizona Memorial

The site of one of the most significant events in American history, Pearl Harbor is home to the USS Arizona Memorial. The battleship Arizona was one of the first vessels to sink when the Japanese attacked the U.S. fleet from the air on December 7, 1941. Over 1,100 of Arizona’s crew went down with the ship and are forever interred within the ship’s mighty hull beneath the waves. A poignant monument and shrine stands over the ship from where visitors can overlook the massive hull below and witness the rising of what is called the “tears of the Arizona,” a single, continuous drop of oil that floats to the surface every few seconds.

Iolani Palace

Hawaii’s royal past comes alive at the Iolani Palace, the only royal residence in the entire United States. Step back in time to the late 19th century in this beautifully restored mansion, where King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani reigned, before the overthrow of the monarchy in 1893. This great Polynesian Palace in downtown Honolulu features impressive terraced fronts, an opulent interior and beautifully landscaped grounds.  It is open for tours Monday through Saturday.

The Big Island

If you’re wincing at the thought of packing in with the shuffling, floral shirt-wearing, soda-slurping crowd, it’s a great idea to get out to one (or more) of the lesser islands and enjoy the relative open spaces, village atmosphere and natural beauty that is particularly abundant on the Big Island.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

The largest island, correctly named Hawaii, is home to some of the best ecological, eco-tourism and environmental features in the USA’S 50th state. There you will find the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, home to Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes.

At 4200m, the highest point is Maunakea, one of the most important land-based astronomy sites in the world with massive observatories dotting the summit. You can join a nightly tour and it’s like another planet up there in the thin air and snow-capped peaks with views of the heavens that will take your breath away – literally.

Waipi’o Valley

This stunning valley on the big island of Hawaii offers some of the most incredible views found anywhere in the state. A steep road leads down into the tropical green paradise and once within this oasis, visitors will find a gorgeous black sand beach with tall waterfalls plunging down into the sea. Valley riverbeds are lined with colourful flowers and plants where panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and rainforest offer an unforgettable glimpse at Hawaii’s natural glory.

Maui

Maui is another island very popular with visitors wanting experiences away from Oahu. There is excellent infrastructure, top hotels and resorts, and its own volcano, Haleakalā. Maui is also renown for windsurfing, scuba diving, whale watching and hiking, among other things.

Kauai

Kauai, locally tagged as ‘the garden isle’ and the landing site of Captain Cook, is just perfect for nature lovers and outdoor types with seriously spectacular scenery just waiting to be hiked or mountain biked. A helicopter ride will give you a sensational view of this magnificent island that featured in many movies including Elvis’s Blue Hawaii, Jurassic Park, Raiders of the Lost Ark and South Pacific.

Molokai & Lanai

For those really wanting an island getaway experience, the islands of Molokai and Lanai offer peace and solitude in spades. Molokai, in particular, is home to a strong and deeply spiritual interpretation of traditional ‘aloha’ culture that takes ‘laid back’ to a whole new level. 
 
On Lanai there is also scuba diving and even hunting, but at the magnificent Four Seasons Resort, you can challenge yourself on the Jack Nicklaus Signature Manele Golf Course that attracts serious golfers from all over the world.
 
 

Hawaii Flights

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