Looking to go on an exotic getaway before the end of 2018? Take a trip into the Pacific where summer never ends! The islands of Hawaii offer a one-of-a-kind experience that can be the vacation of a lifetime. From big city beaches to home grown coffee farms, this state gives you the chance to live life to the fullest regardless of what you are interested because in Hawaii, there is bound to be a place everyone will enjoy.
As one of our favorite states for wildlife and nature destinations, Hawaii offers a different environment then the typical scene you experience in the contiguous United States. Volcanoes, waterfalls, pristine beaches, farmland and vast wilderness can all be found within a short trip of the other. These travel ideas are for those looking to ignite the adventurer within and fuel the love of exploration.
Snorkeling off the Big Island
Take a trip under the surface of the water and experience Hawaii’s unique nature in a way that measures up to the scenery. For those who truly love nature, We suggest grabbing some goggles and embarking on one of Hawaii’s many snorkeling adventures. Just off shore, explorers can find a vibrant array of colors in the fish and the coral. This activity is just as tropical as it’s home, so you won’t want to miss out.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in Hilo
If you love to experience a new kind of nature through hiking, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the perfect place for you to visit. Climb mountainside or stroll through the trails below, either way your trip here is sure to be filled with fun sights and interesting facts. Learn all about volcanoes, lave, craters, eruptions, rocks and the surrounding ecosystem that you can’t find anywhere else in the United States. Most notable, this park is home to the famous Kilauea Volcano which has been erupting since the start of 1983 and continues to produce more than 600,000 cubic yards of new “land” to the island each day. A trip here will leave you more educated about the anatomy of the island and its different natural systems!
Haleakala National Park in Maui
Claiming to hold the view of the most spectacular sunrise on the face of the earth, Haleakala Crater is a destination that is a must for your trip to Hawaii. Visitors and locals alike embark early in the morning to make the hike up to the top and see the view over Maui as the sun rises. Legend has it that this is the summit that the demigod Maui lassoed the sun. If getting up that early doesn’t sound enticing, we suggest visiting some of the many waterfalls that you can find within the park and watching the sunset from the same lookouts!
Black Sand Beach in Punalu’u
When most of us picture a sandy beach the first color that comes to mid is the golden tone that lines the majority of the contiguous states. However, in Punalu’u, that picture is quite the opposite of reality. The sand that lines the shore here is a dark black and unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Another noteworthy attraction that makes this beach unique is the turtles that are often seen. Here you can typically find either green turtles or Hawksbill Turtles roaming the shore. Sunbathe with the waves in the background and even camp with a permit on this sandy paradise.
Hike Ka’ena Point in Oahu
Visit the most western part of Oahu at Ka’ena point. With two trails leading to the point of the island, travelers can choose which trail best suits them! Along the trails hikers, can find beautiful scenes and interesting wildlife. At certain points in the year, you may be lucky enough to see a couple Hawaiian Monk Seals sunbathing in the sand. This hike is a free five mile round trip that is well worth the walk. We suggest bringing along a camera and spending some time at the point taking in the views the pacific waters have to offer.
From sunrise to sunset, east to west and north to south, this state is filled with perfect picture destinations. Whether you are an experienced photographer looking to upgrade your portfolio, a beginner learning the ropes or a visitor that is on the hunt for breathtaking views, you won’t regret taking time to stop at some of these suggested locations.
Hamakua Coast Drive
While you have probably heard of the famous coastal drive from Maui to Hana, we found a drive that is less crowded and filled with just as many beautiful outlooks. The drive along the Hamakua coast runs from Hilo to Honoka’a on Highway 19. On this drive you will find many detours that can lead you into some of the most picture perfect scenes you will ever see. Waterfalls, gardens, beaches and botanical getaways line the edges of this drive. Along the way stop as many or as few as you like and snap some shots for memories and posting!
Napali Coast of Kauai Island
The Napali Coast is known for it’s picturesque sea cliffs, locally known as “pali.” The cliffs are separated by deep vertical valleys that create the interesting image that lines the water. Explore these cliffs from within and embark on the hiking trail that takes you through 5 valleys or soar above the cliffs on one of the many helicopter tours available and experience the dramatic, otherworldly scene from the point it is most captured. The stark contrast of the clay cliffs and the blue sea below create a dynamic photo and sight that is sure to please.
Waimea Canyon in Kauai
Known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” Waimea Canyon State Park is open 24 hours so visitors have the option to enjoy this view under the sun or the stars. Snap a picture from the rim or venture down within to get the perfect shot. What we love about this location is that unlike the desert atmosphere of the Grand Canyon, Waimea is flourishing with life! The red rock and green landscape create an interesting and unexpected scene to capture. Throughout the canyon, you will also find cascading waterfalls and running rivers. Here, you have a wide variety of sights that will satisfy!
Green Sands Beach in Papakolea
Just like the black sand beach mentioned above, this beach is unique for the color of it’s sand! Here at Papakolea, visitors can stroll along a green beach. Why is it green, you may ask? Scientists have derived that many years ago, there was a volcanic eruption of olivine at this location. Because olivine is brightly green colored and more dense than normal volcanic sand, the remnants washed ashore and remain to this day. If you examine the sand closely, you can also find fine pieces of volcanic rock from the same eruption. The contrast of the green sand with the blue water makes for the perfect setting for any photo.
Mountain Tubing through Canals and Tunnels in Kauai
If you are searching for a more relaxing destination and just want to enjoy the sights, we suggest taking a tubing tour! On these tours, visitors get to lay back and relax as they float through the water. This trip will also take you back in time, giving you a historical experience while you wade. The canals that the tour is through were originally created by Chinese laborers for the advancement of the sugar plantations from the 1800’s. journey through nature and tunnels on this adventure that will be one to remember.
The history you will find hidden in this state is unlike any other. Not only does Hawaii hold a significant role in the history of the US, it also holds a unique background from before the nation became a state. Take a dive into the traditions of the Pacific and learn about Hawaii’s heritage that sets it apart.
Pearl Harbor in Honolulu
We all know the story of the attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941. In Honolulu, visitors can get an up close look at the ship that was hit, the USS Arizona, and learn the history of the ship and the beginning of the war. This was known as the defining moment that led the United Stated into entering the World War and the fight toward international peace. Enter the museum or simply enjoy the monument from shore. Either way the history that lies in this area is undeniable.
Queen Emma Summer Palace in Honolulu
While Hawaii is now a state of the US, it was once it’s own independent nation with rulers from the island. Hawaii has been sure to maintain its Pacific history by protecting the history of it’s past rulers. Deep in Honolulu, visitors can find what was once the summer home of Queen Emma of Hawaii who ruled the nation form 1857- 1885. Inside visitors can learn about Queen Emma herself and her lifestyle but also some integral parts of Hawaii’s heritage.
Built and restored to it’s former beauty, this palace was once home to the final ruling monarchs of the nation of Hawaii before it was overthrown. Rulers lived and worked here making policies and shaping history of the nation. Today, it is a protected as a landmark, recognized as a palace and stands as the only royal housing in the United States.
Hulihee Palace in Kona Kilauea
This palace holds an extensive museum within that showcases Hawaii’s history and heritage. Here you can find artifacts from the rule of King Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani. We suggest visiting on a Sunday to get the full experience of culture through the music and food that surrounds!
Pu’u o Mahuka Heiau in Waimea
Known for its sting ties to religion, the Hawaiian culture has many native temples that scatter the islands. However, this Heiau was built long ago and there are only small outlining remains now. It was said to be the largest worshipping center of natives and a place of human sacrifice. Here you can read about the original beliefs of the Hawaiian culture and discover how it has changed since.
Quick Roadside Stops
Known for its treacherous stretches of road and island-y feel, roadside stops in this state line your journey with excitement and experience along the way. From lookouts to fruit stands, a road trip on the Big Island is sure to keep travelers engaged.
Along just about any stretch of road in Hawaii, travelers can find fruit stands that offer freshly picked local fruits. What better way to experience life as an islander for a couple days? Hawaii is known for it’s extravagant production of vibrant and tasty fruits. Some of the most common fruits you will find are star fruit, pineapples and bananas. A taste of these is sure to brighten up any day!
Stargaze at Mauna Kea
Whether you want to plan this stop with a guide or plan on going solo, this is one sight you can’t miss. Travel up to the summit of Mauna Kea and experience the Milky Way in a way that few places on the earth can offer. Far away from light pollution, this summit view allows you to see the constellations clearly. Pack some food and have a midnight picnic under the brilliantly lit sky or visit the observatory and telescope stops along the road through the area. Either way, you won’t regret this fun night journey!
Kona Coffee Farm Tour in Kealakekua
For all of you coffee loving travelers out there, you won’t want to miss out on this destination! While you may have heard of the Kona coffee, you probably never knew that Hawaii is a coffee production giant and many of your beans could be sourced from the Big Island. Here, you are given the chance to taste a fresh cup close to it’s origin. With coffee farms scattered about, we suggest taking a detour to experience where your grounds come from. Take a tour of the farm and learn about the process these coffee beans go through from growth to roast ending with a free coffee tasting!
Crashed WWII Bombers in Honolulu and Aiea
If you are a history buff who enjoys learning about WWII or if you just enjoy aeronautical stories, these destinations are for you. Hawaii is now home to two different crashed American bombers from the era. The first, a B-24 Bomber crashed into a mountainside while on mission, killing all 10 crew members. The plane still lies in the same spot and is just a short walking trail from the road in Aiea.
The second, while not originally discovered in Hawaii has made the Big Island it’s home. At the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, visitors can find a B-17 bomber that withstood 121 bullet wounds. In 1942, this aircraft crash landed into a swamp in Papua New Guinea after running out of gas. All nine crew members survived and continued serving in the war after. In 1972, the “Swamp Ghost” was rediscovered and eventually made it’s way back home in 2013.
Tsunami Clock of Doom in Hilo
One of the most interesting roadside stops we found was one with a story. In Hilo, in front of a golf course, visitors can find what locals refer to as the tsunami clock of doom. It was in this area that three devastating tsunamis hit the island and destroyed much of the city. The clock was unscathed by the first disaster, however in 1960 at 1:04am local time, a 20 foot wave struck the area. The clock’s hands were frozen in that exact moment and haven’t moved in over 58 years. This area serves as a reminder of one of the disasters that changed the state.
In Hawaii, adventure always awaits, promising relaxation and rejuvenation! You are sure to leave with an unforgettable experience no matter what activities you choose to do and sights you choose to see!
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