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.
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
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.