Aloha! Welcome to paradise! The word paradise means something different for everyone, but for me it means a place where I can forget my worries and relax in a warm, sunny environment with a drink in my hand. It paints a pretty picture, doesn’t it? Hawaii is a great place to relax, but there are some one of a kind experiences and adventures to be had here too!
1.) Waikiki Beach, Oahu
Whether people watching by day or enjoying a stroll along the water at dusk, Waikiki Beach is breathtakingly beautiful. With the iconic Diamond Head in the background, you can always capture a stunning photo. Take a surfing lesson, sunbathe, enjoy one of the many restaurants, browse the souvenir shops, or swim, of course! There’s plenty to do and see along Waikiki beach, so spend a couple of hours or a full day enjoying and exploring this sandy paradise.
2.) Pearl Harbor, Oahu
Pearl Harbor cannot be missed if you visit Oahu. Go and pay your respects to those fallen and learn a few things at the informational exhibit while you are there. The atmosphere in the USS Arizona memorial is rightfully somber, yet proud, so plan accordingly (dress appropriately, no screaming children if possible, no food, etc.). Make sure to book your reservation in advance, and if you liked visiting the USS Arizona, continue your military journey to Punchbowl National Cemetery. It’s off the beaten track, the scenery is beautiful, and it’s the perfect place for quiet reflection.
3.) Diamond Head, Oahu
Yes, hiking Diamond Head is very popular. Yes, you will be sweating by the time you are finished. Yes, you will be hiking beside someone’s grandma (and she will probably be killing it while you’re huffing and puffing up the 0.7 mile incline). But, you should do it anyway. At $5 per car, or $1 per person if you figure out how to walk there, it’s ridiculously cheap, taking about 1.5 hours in total, it’s good exercise, and the views from up top are gorgeous.
4.) Polynesian Cultural Center, Oahu
As one of the top attractions in Hawaii, the Polynesian Cultural Center on the North Shore of Oahu does not disappoint. It’s always nice to learn something about the places you travel, and this facility teaches with a hands-on approach. With seven different Polynesian villages to explore, each with an educational element and a fun activity, you can learn to hula dance, throw a spear, or cook over an open fire. You will want to spend the whole day here!
While you can snorkel in most any body of water, including your swimming pool or bathtub, I’m pretty sure they just don’t compare to snorkeling in Hawaii. There are many great places to snorkel, but I chose to snorkel in Molokini Crater, which is a sunken volcanic crater off the coast of Maui. It was a great experience because the water is so clear that you can see about 150 feet, and there was an abundance of fish and plant life to look at. The biggest thrill was seeing giant sea turtle swim into what looked to be a giant crevice in the ocean floor. Totally righteous, dude.
6.) Volcanoes National Park, The Big Island
Have you ever wanted to walk into a series of tubes created by molten lava? How about see steam escape the earth? Or stroll through an endless field of hardened lava created by a volcano that is still active? Then Volcanoes National Park is for you! It might not sound too exciting to everyone, but where else in the world can you be so close to an active volcano? It really is a sight to behold, and you will appreciate the power of Mother Nature even more after a visit here.
7.) Haleakala, Maui
Many people go to Maui’s Haleakala summit to watch the sunrise or sunset, but it’s nice during the day too! The change in scenery is stunning as you start at the base and climb to the summit of about 10,000 feet. Once you get to the summit you will want to explore, but it’s difficult to hike at this altitude, so take it easy. Also, it will be cooler at the summit than at sea level, so dress in layers to stay comfortable. While you are standing on top of the clouds enjoying the view, you should be proud of yourself for taking on such an adventure. After all, Haleakala is not an extinct volcano, it’s just dormant and lying in wait…you daredevil.
8.) Food, Everywhere!
While in Hawaii you will not be able to resist trying all of the exotic food, and don’t even try to. Buying a shave ice should be one of your first purchases, and after that you should seek out a market where you can buy a coconut from a guy with a machete. Yes, it’s a little intimidating, but he will hack off the top to let you drink the water straight out of the coconut, and then he’ll chop it open so you can taste the sweet meat inside. Yum! Speaking of yummy food, you can get some delicious authentic Dim Sum in Honolulu’s Chinatown. How do I know it’s authentic? Because where we went none of the staff spoke English. I ordered using my index finger and pointed to little morsels packaged in bamboo baskets. #Authentic!
If you don’t go to the Dole Pineapple plantation, make sure you eat some fresh pineapple somewhere on the island. You will not regret it! Also, don’t forget you’re in Hawaii and they have this thing called a Luau. Where else can you try lau lau, poke, poi and taro rolls?
9.) Scenery, Everywhere!
Since Hawaii is home to 11 of the 13 climate zones in the world, there is an amazingly wide variety of scenery to enjoy. There’s the red, black, golden and green sand beaches and fields of lava of the Big Island, the desolate summit of Haleakala and the flourishing, waterfall laden road to Hana in Maui, the picturesque beaches and hiking trails in Oahu, and Weimea Canyon and the lush Na Pali Coast of Kauai. There is an abundance of flora and fauna that only exist in Hawaii, so go ahead and take pictures of everything. You certainly don’t want to forget how beautiful this place is!
10.) Relaxing, Everywhere!
With all of the activities you are sure to plan on your trip to Hawaii, don’t forget to relax. It’s what you took a vacation for in the first place, right? Don’t be so focused on the next thing to see or do that you lose sight of where you are. Enjoy each moment and live in the present, not worrying about what’s next or what’s past. Just enjoy the now and sip a daiquiri on the beach for me, please.
Hawaii is a great place to relax and experience all of the perks of a tropical paradise and then some. It has a combination of diversity that can’t be found anywhere else and is easy to explore. I loved my Hawaii vacation because I dived head first into my exploration so much that I was living in the present moment, forgetting about the stress back home, and making new memories.
Is there something different on your Hawaii top ten list? Please comment and let me know what you would add. Mahalo!
Please take a look at my Hawaii Page for more freaking awesome ideas of what to do in Hawaii!
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