What to Do in Hawaii

Launch Map
Many people think of Hawaii solely as a tropical beach paradise. Without question, Hawaii has many of the world's top rated beaches. In addition, however, the island chain is host to an amazingly diverse ecology which includes remote canyons, coral reefs, desert-like terrain, lush valleys, snow-capped mountains, rain-forests, active and dormant volcanoes and countless waterfalls. The types of activities and attractions that you can experience in Hawaii vary from island to island—here are 25 things to consider for your itinerary.
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    Maui's Road to Hana drive features over 500 sharp curves and over 50 single lane bridges along the way. It also showcases jaw-dropping scenery, beaches and waterfalls.
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    Proceeding south from Hana, be sure to take the side road to Hamoa Beach, one of Maui's loveliest beaches.
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    Honolua Bay offers excellent snorkeling and scuba diving, but be careful of the rocky beach while entering the water.
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    Hilo's bright clapboard and stucco buildings are home to flower and antique shops, aloha wear boutiques, exotic ethnic restaurants and hole-in-the-wall eateries serving favorite Hawaii dishes. A lively farmers market offers exotic fruits, Hawaiian coffees, and vegetables, as well as local crafts, all at great prices—and even massage.
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    The Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park is the largest of the surviving places of refuge, where ancient Hawaiians could escape death sentences served for breaking the sacred laws they were obligated to obey.
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    Kailua-Kona offers shopping and restaurants backed by striking bay views and deep history.
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    A beach park with views of surfers and Hawaiian green sea turtles in Kahaluu Bay.
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    With a good set of binoculars or a good zoom lens on your camera, you can look across the bay and see the Captain Cook Monument.
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    The Waipi'o Valley is a mile wide at the coastline and almost six miles deep. Along the coast is a beautiful black sand beach. On both sides of the valley there are cliffs reaching almost 2000 feet with hundreds of cascading waterfalls, including one of Hawaii's most celebrated waterfalls — Hi'ilawe.
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    A drive along the North Shore takes you to several beautiful locations including the Na 'Aina Kai Botanical Garden, the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, the Hanalei Valley Overlook and some of Kauai's best beaches: Lumaha'i Beach, Wainiha Beach, Kepuhi Beach and Tunnels Beach.
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    Hawaii's only navigable river and its valley have served as filming locations in movies including Outbreak and Raiders of the Lost Ark. A boat or kayak trip up the river leads to the restored Fern Grotto cave.
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    Ten miles long, two miles wide and 3,600 feet deep, Mark Twain nicknamed Waimea Canyon the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific." With its deep reds, greens and browns, each created by a different volcanic flow over centuries, many feel that is much more colorful than the Grand Canyon.
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    The The Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge offers a unique opportunity to observe seabirds in their habitat and a visit to the historic Kilauea Lighthouse.
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    Dating to 1912, the charming, green-shingled Waioli Hui'ia Church, established by Christian missionaries and located in the picturesque hamlet of Hanalei on the North Shore of Kauai, has a distinctive look and lovely stained-glass windows. Designed in the American Gothic style, its belfry houses a Mission Bell that dates to 1843. It's possible to marry or renew your vows inside the church.
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    When in the must-see Kauai hamlet of Hanalei, grab some take-out sandwiches and head out onto Hanalei Pier for a panoramic view of Hanalei Bay and the dramatic ridges of the Na Pali Coast. Built in 1922 of concrete to replace an 1892 wooden version, it is a gathering spot for locals and was the principal filming area for the beach scenes in the 1957 film South Pacific.
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    If you're adventurous, you can hike Kauai's legendary Na Pali Coast along the Kalalau Trail from Ke'e Beach, which stretches along Kauai's Northwest coast. But the most romantic way to admire its majestic, rippled green geology is to sail past it on a catamaran at sunset, champagne in hand.
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    Backed by iconic Makana Mountain (aka "Bali Hai") on Kauai's verdant North Shore, the Limahuli Garden and Preserve is a natural botanical garden set in a postcard-perfect valley.
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    The 2.5-mile round trip hike to Makapu'u Point, the most eastern point of Oahu, is one of the island's most rewarding.
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    Waikiki is a great place to shop and offers such prestigious retailers as Tiffany & Co., Chanel, Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, as well as more modest stores such as the ever-present ABC Stores and the world-famous International Market Place.
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    A short drive from Waikiki behind the University of Hawaii Campus you'll find the Manoa Valley with the Manoa Chinese Cemetery, the Lyon Arboretum and the Manoa Falls Trail.
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    Honolulu's Chinatown is a great place for an early morning walk, food shopping or an inexpensive lunch or dinner.
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    Dole Plantation's Pineapple Garden Maze hold the record for the world's largest maze from the Guinness Book of World Records.

What to Do in Hawaii