Vacationing in Hawaii is like making a pit stop in paradise. How so when the notion of paradise differs from person to person? That is precisely the magic of the Hawaiian Islands: they truly do offer something for everybody – be it the budget traveler, the adventure-seeker, the family of four, or the honeymooning couple.
Oahu is generally considered the island of choice for the unseasoned visitor to Hawaii. On Oahu you can stay in a resort, a beach bungalow, or a budget hotel. You can learn to surf, go kayaking, or lie on the island’s white-sand beaches. In Honolulu you can visit Iolani Palace, home of the last two monarchs of the Hawaiian Kingdom. You can take a submarine tour off of Waikiki Beach, visit the Hawaii plantation villages in Waipahu, or take a tour of the world-famous landmark, Pearl Harbor.
Over 2.5 million people visited Maui in 2009, making it one of the world’s hottest vacation destinations. Couples seeking a romantic getaway or those interested in avoiding city life are likely to find what they’re looking for on Maui. Here you can stay in a world-class resort, or rent a condominium with a kitchen. You can take a helicopter tour through the mountains, or bike 10,223 feet up a dormant volcano. In addition to horseback riding, scuba diving, and snorkeling, you can also see world-famous magic shows, or take a dinner cruise while surrounded by humpback whales that can be observed during the winter months from December to March.
The Big Island of Hawaii is the most ecologically diverse of the islands and offers a wide range of accommodation from resorts to bed-and-breakfasts, to budget hotels to campgrounds. At the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park you can witness live lava flows at Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano. You can hike up waterfalls in the rainforest, or go sportfishing and drink coffee on Kona Beach. You can lie on black-sand and green-sand beaches, or plan a busy day trip that allows you to experience the varying climates of the region.
On Kauai, the Garden Isle, you can experience the feeling of being on your own private island. It is the oldest of the eight main Hawaiian Islands, and a visit to the Na Pali Coast State Park allows visitors to see the rugged terrain, high sea cliffs and green valleys much as they appeared centuries ago. You can stay in a cottage, a bungalow or a beachfront villa, and if you tire of exploring the island’s unique flora and fauna, you can shop for antiques and artwork at the Coconut Marketplace or go golfing at the Kauai Lagoons Golf Club.
The islands of Lanai and Molokai are polar opposites in terms of what they offer and the kinds of visitors they attract. Lanai is where Bill Gates got married, and Molokai is home to a few Hansen’s disease patients who still live on the Kalaupapa peninsula, the former exile of leper patients where Father Damien lived and worked. If you want to avoid crowds and enjoy leisurely days of golfing at some of the world’s best hotels, then Lanai is the choice for you. If you want to experience Hawaii at its most rural, be surrounded entirely by locals, and don’t mind rustic accommodations, then Molokai is your island.