An absolute dream destination, it’s impossible not to fall in love with Hawaii. This island paradise is rich with natural beauty, idyllic weather, history, and a laid-back way of life that celebrates family, love, and respect for “the life of the land”. It’s no wonder Hawaii continuously ranks as a favorite destination for travelers. If you’ve been considering a trip to the Aloha State, here are five of our favorite places on the islands:
Hawaii’s capital city blends history with culinary comforts and excellent shopping. See the statue of King Kamehameha I, the leader that united the Hawaiian Islands under one kingdom in the early 1800s. Visit Iolani Palace, which served as the royal residence for Hawaii’s last monarchs, King Kalākaua and Queen Liliuokalani, from 1882 to 1893. Tour the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, which honors the service and sacrifice of over 50,000 veterans. The cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Places and its location in Punchbowl Crater offers panoramic views of the city. As the center of the Hawaiian government, Honolulu also holds the State Capitol building, as well as the governor’s mansion and city hall.
Nicknamed “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” by Mark Twain, Waimea Canyon spans 10 miles, two miles wide, and more than 3,600 feet deep. Its walls, similar to its Arizona cousin, run an array of vibrant colors. The vibrant reds and browns, created by volcanic flow over centuries, are a photographer’s dream. Each of the lookouts offers an incredible view of green dappled cliffs, valleys, and peaks. On the whole, the canyon brings to mind standing at the edge of a world lost to time. 100% worth a visit.
A charming seaside village on the Big Island, Kailua-Kona is the perfect place to take it easy and enjoy island living. Once a popular retreat for Hawaiian royalty, the village is now a great place for local fare, shopping, and learning about the rich native culture. The Kona District is also world-renowned for its coffee. Farms line the slopes of Hualālai, where the weather and volcanic soil offer ideal growing conditions. If you’d like to purchase authentic Kona coffee, make sure it’s not a blend and contains 100% Kona beans. Your best bet, and brew, should have the Kona Coffee Council’s Seal of Approval.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
For a one-of-a-kind excursion, explore Hawaii Volcanoes National Park—home to Kīlauea and Mauna Loa, the world’s largest volcano. Kīlauea produces over 250,000 cubic yards of lava every day, the fiery orange lava flows quickly harden and turn black, creating an otherworldly landscape. Perhaps it’s no surprise that, according to legend, Pele, the fire goddess, lives inside Kīlauea’ Halemaʻumaʻu crater. The park’s ecology makes it the perfect home for exotic species not found anywhere else on earth, its biodiversity earning it a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Once named “America’s Best Beach,” Ka’anapali offers three miles of white, sandy shores paired with perfect crystal-blue waters. This gorgeous area in Maui also features an open-air center, called Whalers Village, full of Hawaiian restaurants and shops. This is exactly the place to search for that much-coveted floral print shirt. One of the most famous attractions of the area though is the ceremony held each evening at sunset. Every night, a cliff diver honors his heritage by running the beach barefoot to then climb rough lava boulders, burning torch in hand. They then light four torches along Puu Kekaa, Black Rock, in remembrance of the last chief of Maui, King Kahekili. Once done, they offer their lei to the heavens and torch to the ocean and plummet from the cliff face into the ocean 15 feet below. It’s a beautiful tradition and quite moving to see in person.