Hawaii may be tiny compared to other US states, but it boasts lots of beautiful natural scenery and diverse culture. Hawaii is truly like no other place on earth! You will be surprised to learn that there are lots of things to do in the Aloha State – so many that you may not be able to do them all in one day! But first we roll out the top four activities that you should not miss doing when you are having a holiday in Hawaii (and a lot more to come, for sure!):
1) Learn to surf
The riding of waves in Hawaii originated as early as 4th century A.D., even before the natives came in contact with outsiders. So as you can see, surfing is not just a casual sport here – it is indelible part of the Hawaiian history and culture. Indeed, Hawaii is the birthplace of modern surfing.
So even if you’ve accepted the fact that you’ll never be even just an inch as good as those pro surfers, at least you should give surfing a try. If you are intent to begin your surfing lessons or if you want to try surfing just for fun, go for less intimidating waters. There are many surfing spots in Hawaii that are perfect for surfing newbies particularly in Oahu, Maui and Big Island.
Hawaii still enjoys its lofty position as the prime surfing capital of the world, like riding atop the crest of the biggest waves. No wonder, several major domestic and international surfing competitions have been held here every year, including the main events like the East Coast Surfing Championships and US Open of Surfing.
2) Visit the Pearl Harbor
Another activity that you should not forget when you’re in Hawaii is to visit Pearl Harbor in Oahu. One of the most-visited sites of interest there is the USS Arizona Memorial, which straddles the sunken battleship (without touching it) and is only accessible by boat. The floating memorial is the resting place of 1,177 Marines and sailors who were killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. The USS Arizona Memorial is officially a part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. Entrance to the memorial is free, though the number of tickets is limited.
3) Go on a doors-off helicopter tour over Kauai
If you’re a bit of daredevil, try a thrilling open-door helicopter tour over the azure waters and the emerald valleys of Kauai. Around 70% of this lush island cannot be traveled by land vehicles (although hiking there is possible). The best way to experience Kauai’s peerless natural beauty is by riding a helicopter. Flying inside the chopper with the doors open allows you to enjoy unobstructed views of Kauai’s stunning sites such as Na Pali Coast, Mount Waialeale and the popular Jurassic Falls.
Speaking of Jurassic Falls, helicopters are now permitted to land near it, although only in a limited number of times per week. Several helicopter ride companies are offering tours and landings near the Jurassic Falls.
4) Tour at a Kona coffee farm
Kona coffee is cultivated on the slopes of the fiery active volcanoes, Mauna Loa and Hualalai on the Island of Hawai’i aka Big Island (check out more about Mauna Loa on the article “Interesting Facts about the 16 Decade Volcanoes”). Kona coffee is one of the most expensive coffees in the world and you cannot find such coffee elsewhere. If you are a passionate coffee connoisseur, you cannot afford to pass up a day’s tour at a Kona coffee farm. The Kona Old Style at Kuaiwi Farm is a five-acre sustainable coffee plantation which grows and cultivates organic coffee as well as other crops like bananas, pineapples, macadamia nuts and more. It offers two-hour guided tours. Of course, a tour at the Kuaiwi Farm is not complete without sampling their esteemed Kona coffee as well as other products that are made straight from the farm.
5) See the lava flows during sunrise on the Big Island
Another unique opportunity that you should not miss when you’re in Hawaii is to personally witness the lava flows! Several touring companies host spectacular hikes to guests who wish to see the fresh and fiery active lava flows as the sun rises — just a few feet away from their own view! — in the Volcanoes National Park on the Island of Hawai’i (aka Big Island). Guests will be provided with snacks, water and rain ponchos. Although there are no age restrictions, very young children, pregnant women and the elderly are advised not to get too close to the lava for health and safety reasons.
6) Go on a mountain tubing in Kauai
If you want to explore nature in a relaxing yet fun and a bit adventurous way, include this unique back country adventure to your Hawaii bucket list! Guests traverse through an old sugar plantation, Lihue, by riding a tube and floating down on its old irrigation canals and tunnels. They will get to see the mountains and the Waialeale Crater as they wind their through amazingly lush scenery.
Before guests would embark on the tubing adventure, they begin their tour with four-wheel vehicle drive through the vast Lihue Plantation. Apart from the tubes, guests will also be given a headlamp to help them see through the dark tunnels.
7) Watch for whales in Maui
Whale watching is one of the most popular activities in Maui, as humpback whales go there from November through April to enjoy the warm waters as well as to breed their young. The behavior that these whales display on the surface of the water excites thousands of whale watchers every year. While you can sign up for guided boat tours, you can easily see the whales from the beach.
8) Go for a scenic kayak ride in Kauai
You can choose either the Wailua River on the east side of Kauai or Hanalei River on the north. Either way, you will enjoy the lush and pristine tropical scenery as you kayak through the calm and serene waters. You do not have to jump from waterfalls or run on a succession of rapids. You can also kayak along Na Pali coast if you’re looking for a bit more adventurous ride and admire the tall and imposing sea cliffs (some of which have pointed summits).