Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

“Hot Stuff” On The Big Island

While there are many reasons to visit the “Big Island” of Hawaii, none are bigger than the opportunity to get an up-close look at Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano.

Come and watch the world’s most active volcanoes erupting at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Head to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which encompasses nearly 218,000 acres from sea to summit and beyond. It includes Mauna Loa (the world’s largest volcano) and Kilauea, which has been continuously erupting since January 1983. This eruption phase has added over 500 acres to the Big Island.

Witnessing Kilauea’s molten lava flows, curling steam clouds, vast lava fields, heated steam vents, sulfur banks, prehistoric lava tubes and huge summit caldera is an unforgettable experience. Established in 1916, the park also offers more than 150 miles of hiking trails. The 20-mile drive down Chain of Craters Road will take you through some of the most desolate land on earth, into the Kilauea East Rift Zone and to the current lava flow from Puu`Ō `ō Crater.

At the end of the Chain Crater road

Pele’s power is evident at the end of the Crater Chain road

Visitors Center

Park attractions include the visitors center, where helpful rangers provide the latest weather, driving conditions and current volcanic activity. The center houses an intriguing display of photographs and artifacts, a free film, maps, books, hiker’s permits, a schedule of ranger-led walks and more.

Volcano House Hotel

Nearby, the Volcano House is Hawaii’s oldest continually operated hotel (it dates back to 1846). Volcano House is perched right on the Kilauea Crater Rim overlooking the caldera and provides guests with one of the more unique dining views imaginable.

Art Center

The Volcano Art Center, meanwhile, exhibits the volcano-inspired works of more than 250 artists. And the Thomas A. Jaggar Museum offers cultural and geological displays, photographs, videos and topographical maps.

MUST see for art lovers: a world-class art gallery at the volcano’s national park

Crater Rim

Crater Rim Drive is an 11-mile drive that circles the Kilauea caldera, traveling through a fern-filled rain forest past overlooks, hiking trails, earlier lava flows and petroglyph fields. Don’t miss the Devastation Trail and Thurston Lava Tube. About halfway around is the turn off for Chain of Craters Road. The 3,700-foot drive down this road brings you to the point where molten lava meets the ocean. After dark, multiple lava flows illuminate the mountainside in the distance. Call ahead for the latest lava viewing update.

Lava from the Kilauea volcano meeting the ocean

Witness the spectacular meeting between Kilauea volcano’s lava and the ocean

Access

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is open daily. The Kilauea Visitor Center is open from 7:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For More Information, call Hawaii Volcanoes National Park at (808) 985-6000.

Canoes Of Ancient Hawaii

Modern Hawaiian Canoes

Modern Hawaiian Canoes are used for sport and pleasure.

Ancient Hawaiian Outrigger Canoes Were Used for Travel

The master steersman of our village, his white hair pulled back tightly into a top-knot on his head, is stocky, not of great height, with dark skin aged from the sun. Across his chest are the tattoos of his ancestral line. On his right thigh are the tattoo markings of his victories. He awaits on the sandy shoreline for the new racing outrigger canoe to be brought forth. Firmly gripped in his large hands is the steering paddle that has been with him in many triumphant canoe races.

Our village waited with great anticipation and eagerness to view the new outrigger canoe that was chosen to be our village’s racing vessel. One young native had been carving day and night during the past three full moon cycles, ever since the large tree was brought down from the uplands. Finally it was completed! The young carver was to debut and introduce this new sleek racing canoe as the “newcomer” to the village. The entire village was there to greet them. Praises from his peers and expressive smiles on the faces of the young and old were rewarding affirmations for the young carver.

The young carver observed from the rocks on shore as his uncle and four other family members sat in his finely carved canoe. “It will fly like no other,” were the words whispered in the breath of the young carver. On the starting line, dozens of racing canoes from neighboring villages lined up side-by-side in the ocean bay.

With the sound of the conch shell, the newcomer sprang from its place, and it flew like no other. With the mastery of his uncle’s steering backed by the paddling strength of his family, their canoe pulled ahead. Now, the most challenging portion of the course was within seconds—the turning point. Anchored with a long rope and stone was a large round gourd that floated on the ocean surface.

This was the buoy that the canoes must successfully turn around before heading home to the finish line. Many competing crews have lost a race while making a turn around the buoy. With the signal of the middle man, the canoe crew readied itself for the turn. Within a breath, the newcomer turned on command. Sprinting ahead of the other canoes with great velocity, the newcomer glided as a graceful bird to the finish.

As the tears came to the eyes of the young carver, a pat on his right shoulder indicating total approval came from his father. From where he stood, the young carver could also see the smile on the face of his uncle. It was truly a victorious moment!

Hawaiian Sailing Canoes

Polynesians Made Long Ocean Voyages With Only The Stars as Their Guide

Across the vast ocean sailed a stalwart people into the pillars of the rising sun. They ventured forth towards the untouchable horizon until they entered the realm known today as Polynesia.

These journeys were on large sailing canoes that were specifically designed for these long voyages. Soon these people settled virtually every habitable island and atoll within the Central Pacific Ocean. The earliest migrations to Hawaii, which originated from the Marquesas Islands, are said to date back over two thousand years. Subsequent migrations to this archipelago, from Raiatea in the Society Islands, flourished during the 11th and 12th centuries.

At this time, we shall voyage into new horizons with some of those early kanaka maoli (Native Hawaiians) who settled the Hawaiian Islands.

The homelands were inundated with ‘newcomers’ whose imposing customs, philosophies, and religious rituals were contrary to the teachings of the ancient ones. Warring between island districts escalated and threatened to envelop the isolated community. The elders of the village gathered together to contemplate the impending dangers. At this council meeting, an eminent seer brought forth her message. She had ventured in her spirit form and was shown new lands located many nautical miles beyond the horizon. It was unanimously decided by all in the council to send a contingent to resettle in this archipelago. The leaders of the village assigned the necessary tasks in order to hasten the expedition.

Hawaiian Sailing Canoe

While modernized, the Hawaiian sailing canoe is still used and enjoyed today

Finally, the day arrived for the four large sailing canoes to depart. Venturing into unexplored waters, the navigator plotted his course by the heavenly signs that were previously charted by the seer of the village. The steersmen helped to keep the vessels on course, and the canoe bailers always remained alert in order to keep the vessels afloat.

Signs of certain sea birds, varied coloration in the clouds, debris floating on the ocean waters, and a particular scent in the air foretold of land nearby. Sure enough, the course of the sailing fleet headed straight for these dark features that suddenly appeared on the horizon.

Now, a safe landing area or sheltered bay was sought as the canoes encircled the island for the first time. The ocean waters along the reefs and shoreline sparkled with hues of turquoise and aqua-blue. Water cascading down the cliffs could be seen in the interiors of the island. Lush velvet green terrain enveloped the valleys and mountain sides. Amongst the reefs, silvery-colored schools of fish could be seen shimmering in the sunlight.

Landfall was safely made! Still, many tasks lay ahead for these voyagers as they began their new journey on these “lands of the rainbows.”

Big Island Volcanoes

Get an up close and personal view of a lava flow

Pele, Goddess of Fire

Legends say that the Big Island of Hawaii is the home of Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire. Using fiery lava, Pele shaped and formed her beloved islands. Ancient Hawaiians paid their respects to the goddess by presenting offerings to please her or placate her wrath.

Pele, perhaps, lives on in the form of Hawaii’s five volcanoes. One is extinct, another is dormant and the remaining three are categorized as active.

Volcanoes

The oldest is Kohala Volcano, which is believed to have emerged from the sea more than 500,000 years ago. Over the centuries, lava flows from its two neighbors, the much larger Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea volcanoes, have buried a portion of Kohala. Today, Kohala is considered to be an extinct volcano.

Mauna Kea is the tallest of Hawaii’s volcanoes; in fact, standing at 13,796 feet, it is the world’s tallest mountain (measured from the floor of the ocean to its summit). Mauna Kea is considered a dormant volcano, having last erupted about 4,500 years ago.

Hualalai on the Big Island’s western side is the third-youngest of the island’s volcanoes. The 1700s, scientists say, were a period of significant volcanic activity for Hualalai, with six different vents spewing lava, two of which produced lava flows that reached the ocean. The Kona International Airport is build atop the larger of the two flows.

Big Island Volcano

A lava flow that has reached the ocean

Mauna Loa

Extending from the Big Island’s northwest region near Waikoloa to the entire southwest and to the east near Hilo, Mauna Loa (“Long Mountain”) covers about half of the island. It is the world’s largest volcano. It’s also considered one of the most active volcanoes, having erupted 33 times since 1843. Its most recent eruption occurred in 1984. Scientists believe that Mauna Loa is certain to erupt again.

Kilauea

Finally, there is Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano. It has been spewing lava continuously since January 1983. Situated near the southeastern section of the Big Island, Kilauea was once considered a part of Mauna Loa. Subsequent research, however, showed that Kilauea has its own magma-plumbing system

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the Big Island’s top visitor attraction, offers a wealth of information about the island’s volcanoes. With over half the acreage designated as wilderness, the park provides great hiking and camping opportunities.

Access

mappress]

Kona Sports Fishing

Kona Honokohau Harbor

Honokohau Harbor and all the charter boats are waiting for you

Kona is known as one of the best fishing destinations in the world!

Thanks to its deep waters right outside the mouth of Honokohau Harbor and the looming volcanoes that block the winds, Kona is regarded as the big-game fishing capital of the world. Its history backs up the claim, as many International Game Fish Association records have been set in Kona. Here, it’s even possible to hook a “grander” (a Pacific blue marlin that weighs at least a thousand pounds).


Charters

There are about a hundred charter boats that operate out of Honokohau Harbor, which means you have a wide range of choices in terms of prices, lengths and departure times. Most charters offer half- and full-day adventures that can last anywhere from four to eight hours. Charter boats range in size from 25 to 58 feet.

Walk-up bookings are usually available, but advanced reservations are recommended. If you’re serious about catching fish, you should book a six- or eight-hour excursion. This will give the boat time to reach the major fishing grounds and spend time there.

Kona fishing charter

Billfish Tournament

Each year, Kona hosts the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament, known as the “grandfather” of big-game fishing tournaments. The event draws avid fishing enthusiasts from all around the world, including countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Finland, Germany, Canada, France, the Philippines and the mainland U.S.

The best part of this video starts about 1:30 minutes in, with some real big fish at 2:10 minutes

Access

Hawaii Activities

Hawaii boat tour sees dolphins

Looking for fun activities in Hawaii? You found ’em!

Experience a breathtaking helicopter flight over Hawaii’s natural beauty, go snorkeling under the crystal blue sea teeming with colorful marine creatures, or let the warm trade winds power your boat as you sail along the coast. Scuba dive in the sunken volcanic crater of Molokini, paddle a kayak up a river and hike to a waterfall, take a sunset sail amidst spinner dolphins, or watch molten lava pour down Kilauea Volcano. These are just a few of the experiences waiting for you on the magical islands of Hawaii.

Explore on your own or choose from many well-planned Hawaii activities including surf lessons, luaus, and whale watching tours.


Hawaii Museums

Inside the Bishop Museum looking at a canoe

A traditional Hawaiian canoe inside the Bishop Museum

Visitors to the Aloha State are taking time to discover Hawaii’s rich history and cultural heritage.

There are a wide selection of museums in Hawaii that would make a worthwhile addition to any Island itinerary. From ancient Hawaiian artifacts and plantation era memorabilia to American military displays, there is no shortage of intriguing historical exhibits to be found on the islands. Below are just a few of the dozens of available museums in Hawaii.


Oahu Museums

On Oahu, for example, the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu houses millions of historical treasures collected from Hawaii and the Pacific region. Near Aloha Tower in downtown Honolulu, you’ll find the Hawaii Maritime Museum, which details Hawaii’s maritime history from the ancient Polynesian voyagers and rambunctious whalers to the famous luxury liners of the 1920s and ‘30s. At Pearl Harbor, of course, the USS Arizona Memorial Museum and Battleship Missouri Memorial pay tribute to our wartime heroes. And further out west, in Waipahu, Hawaii’s Plantation Village takes visitors back to Hawaii’s colorful plantation era, highlighting the cultures of eight different ethnic groups that labored on the sugar plantations.


Maui Museums

On Maui, the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum houses a number of interesting artifacts and photographs. Out west in Lahaina, the Whalers Village Museum traces the history of the area’s colorful whaling era (roughly from 1825 to 1860). Exhibits include harpoons, logbooks, a sizable collection of 19th-century scrimshaw and a six-foot model of a whaling ship.


Big Island Museums

On the Big Island, recommended historical stops include the Hulihee Palace, a gracious Victorian structure in Kailua-Kona that once served as a vacation retreat for Hawaii’s ali‘i royalty). Also, over in Hilo, the Lyman House Memorial Museum showcases the island’s natural and cultural histories.


Kauai Museums

History lovers on Kauai should not miss the Kauai Museum in Lihue. A little bit of everything is on display here, from ancient artifacts to nostalgic treasures detailing the island’s plantation days. If you’re not a history buff, this museum has some nice artifacts but is not as polished as what you’ll find on other islands.

Oahu Swimming Beaches

Always be aware of current ocean conditions when swimming in waters around Oahu

Oahu has a variety of beaches that offer good swimming opportunities. Our favorite is Sans Souci on the eastern end of Waikiki.

Tip: If you can afford it, get a membership at the Outrigger Canoe Club.


Oahu Beaches for Swimming

Wailua Beach

Located on Wailua Bay along Kauai’s eastern shore, Wailua Beach is a beautiful stretch of white sand about 1/2-mile long and up to 100 feet wide. This windward beach is part of Wailua River State Park and includes the rivermouth of the huge Wailua River.

Wailua Beach

This windward beach includes the rivermouth of the huge Wailua River

There is no protective reef offshore and the beach is directly facing the often strong prevailing tradewinds, so Wailua Beach can often be too windy for swimming or even sunbathing. On many days, however, the beach provides an excellent place to relax and enjoy a beautiful Hawaiian day. Expert surfers and bodyboarders enjoy an offshore surfing break that often has large waves. A smaller surfing break near the Wailua rivermouth is often used for beginners and for surfing lessons. Outrigger canoe races are often held in this area and the Wailua River offers various activities from boat rides up the river to the Fern Grotto to kayaking, waterskiing, and hiking.

Great For

Swimming only when the water is very calm. Surfing, bodyboarding, and kitesurfing for experienced only. Sunbathing, beachwalks, fishing, outrigger canoe paddling. Boat rides, kayaking, and waterskiing in the Wailua River.

Highlights

Locals often have picnics near the rivermouth or by the Wailua Bridge, enjoying the white sand beach and pleasant setting. On the southern end of the beach at the rivermouth are Hawaiian heiau (sacred places of worship) that date to ancient times. Beneath the sand, and uncovered only during some storms, are petroglyph carvings in the rocks. Wailua was home to many Hawaiian alii (royalty) before Western contact.

Video

Need to Know

Wailua Beach can be very hazardous for swimming due to treacherous shorebreak waves and very strong currents which are caused by the beach’s exposure to the open sea, lack of a protecting reef, and proximity to the Wailua rivermouth. The water is often somewhat murky due to the river so this is not the best snorkeling beach. Only enter the water when the conditions are very calm and always stay close to shore. Never go in the ocean during times of high surf or rough seas.

Lifeguard

No

Facilities

None

Access

Wailua Beach is reached by following Kuhio Hwy. (Hwy. 560) just past the intersection with Kuamoo Rd. (Hwy. 580) where you will see Wailua Beach across the road from the now defunct Coco Palms Resort. There is limited parking along the road but you can park across the street at Wailua River State Park or park behind the Shell gas station on Papaloa Road at the north end of the beach.

Hanalei Beach Park Pavilion

Hanalei Beach Park Pavilion

Hanalei is a great beach for a walk all the way from one end to the other which takes about one hour

Description

Hanalei Bay is a beautiful 2-mile long crescent of white sand nestled beneath a beautiful range of mountains lined with waterfalls. Hanalei Beach Park Pavilion is the next beach over from the pier and is fronted by a large grass lawn. There is a lifeguard station at this beach and the waters are usually safe for kids, particularly during the summer months when the bay is often a calm as a lagoon and sailboats moor offshore. The water conditions vary considerably along the length of Hanalei Bay with the calmest waters being at the eastern end where the Hanalei Pier is located.

Great For

Swimming, sailing, surfing, bodyboarding, canoe paddling, sunbathing, kayaking, beach walks.

Highlights

Hanalei is a great beach for a walk all the way from one end to the other which takes about one hour in all and crosses over two streams. On calm days it is fun to try stand-up paddle boarding along the shoreline, and if it is too rough you can paddle up the Hanalei River.

Need to Know

Hanalei Bay is subject to large and dangerous surf, particularly during the winter months. Rip currents may form near shore and pounding shorebreak waves can make swimming hazardous. The area near Hanalei Pier is the most protected, however even this area can be too rough for swimming during a winter swell. During summer the conditions are typically very calm throughout the bay but you should use caution at all times of year. Beginning swimmers should stay close to shore, and never go in the ocean during times of high surf or rough seas.

Lifeguard

Yes

Facilities

Restrooms, showers, picnic pavilion, drinking water, picnic tables, barbecue areas.

Access

Hanalei Beach Park Pavilion is reached by takingHwy. 56 from Princeville down into Hanalei Valley where you turn right on Aku Rd. and then drive about 1/3-mile to Weke Road and turn right. About 50 yards ahead you will see the parking lot and Pavilion on your left.

Black Pot Beach Park

A popular local gathering place, Black Pot park is often filled with Kauai families on weekend. They set up tents and tarps for their picnic areas, fire up the barbecues, and spend the weekend enjoying the beach and enjoying each other’s company. The large grass lawn fronting the beach at Black Pot has plenty of shady places for relaxing. It’s fun to walk out to the end of the pier, and the whole area is very scenic including the Hanalei rivermouth, the beach, pier, and waterfall-lined mountains in the background. Surfboards and stand-up paddle boards are available for rent, and you can paddle board up the Hanalei River when the ocean is too rough.

Black Pot Beach

Black Pot was named after a big black pot that was used to cook fish

Great For

Swimming, sailing, surfing, bodyboarding, canoe paddling, stand-up paddling, kayaking, fishing, sunbathing, beach walks, camping (weekends only, permit required).

Highlights

Beginning surfers enjoy the area on the west side of the pier known as “Kiddies” where the waves are typically very small and gentle. A surfing break for those who are more experienced is reached by paddling straight out from the pier to the point break. Black Pot was named after a big black pot that was used to cook fish after the traditional hukilau when the community gathered to catch fish in a huge net and shared all the catch.

Need to Know

All of Hanalei Bay including Black Pot Beach Park is subject to large and dangerous surf, particularly during the winter months. Rip currents may form near shore and pounding shorebreak waves can make swimming hazardous. The area near Hanalei Pier is the most protected though even this area can be too rough during a winter swell. During summer the conditions are typically very calm throughout the bay but use caution at all times of year. Beginning swimmers should stay close to shore, and never go in the water during times of high surf or rough seas.

Video

A surfing break is reached by paddling straight out from the pier

Lifeguard

No

Facilities

Restrooms, showers, pier, boat ramp, parking.

Access

Black Pot Beach Park is reached by taking Hwy. 56 from Princeville down into Hanalei Valley where you turn right on Aku Rd. and then drive about 1/3-mile to Weke Road and turn right. Follow Weke to the end where you will see parking near Hanalei Pier.

Sandy Cove

Sandy Cove

This western Molokai beach is quite secluded and also relatively well protected from the open ocean

This western Molokai beach is quite secluded and also relatively well protected from the open ocean. The beach is a mixture of rock and sand, and is located next to Hale O Lono Harbor where the annual Molokai to Oahu Outrigger Canoe race begins. Other than the canoe racers, this whole area is somewhat secluded, and usually deserted except for fishermen.

Great For

Snorkeling, swimming, fishing, scuba diving, whale watching (during the winter months).

Highlights

From November to May this is a great beach for spotting humpback whales breaching in the channel.

Need to Know

When the waves are large or the ocean is rough, particularly during the winter months, this beach can be very dangerous and swimming is not recommended. Never go in the ocean during times of high surf or rough seas.

Lifeguard

No

Facilities

None

Access

Restricted access to Molokai Ranch makes Sandy Cove the last easily accessible beach along this stretch of west Molokai coastline. Follow Hwy. 460 to the town of Maunaloa where the road curves sharply (you will see a pineapple exhibit on the left). Turn right on Mokio Street which turns into a dirt road that you follow to the south until the end where it branches and you go left and Hale O Lono Harbor is on the right. Just past the harbor is Sandy Cove.

Hale O Lono Beach

Hale O Lono

This Maui beach is popular among fisherman

This small, south Molokai beach is popular among fisherman though is not a great snorkeling or swimming beach because the seafloor is somewhat rocky. The beach is long and narrow. Located nearby is Hale O Lono Harbor which is the starting point of the annual Molokai to Oahu Outrigger Canoe Race.

Great For

Fishing, whale watching, surfing, swimming, relaxing.

Highlights

During the winter months this is a great beach for spotting humpback whales breaching offshore or blowing up v-shaped spouts of misty spray.

Need to Know

The ancient heiau (sacred place) called Hale O Lono gives this area its name. The heiau was built in ancient times and honors the Hawaiian god Lono who is the god of fertility and agriculture.

Lifeguard

No

Facilities

None

Access

To get to Hale O Lono Beach follow Hwy. 460 toward Maunaloa and when you come to the sharp curve at the pineapple exhibit go right toward the dirt road that is located just past Mokio Street. Follow the road south to where it branches and then go left where you will see the beach park.

Punaluu Beach

Punaluu Beach

Hawaiian green sea turtles are often seen at this beach

This classic Hawaiian black sand beach includes a palm-lined freshwater fishpond.

The jet black sand on the beach (true black, not gray or salt-and-pepper) was created when the molten lava from Kilauea Volcano flowed into the cool sea causing the lava to break apart into tiny fragments that later washed up on the beach. Plenty of coconut palm trees provide shade and places to relax and enjoy this beautiful beach. One unique feature of Punaluu is that the water is often a bit colder, and more exhilarating, than the average beach due to the freshwater springs in the area which bubble out of the ocean bottom near shore. The water then rises to the top since it is less dense than saltwater, forming a thin layer of ultra-cool water atop the sea.

Great For

Sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling, picnics, fishing, surfing, sea turtle watching.

Highlights

Hawaiian green sea turtles are often seen at this beach because it is a known sea turtle nesting site, and the sea turtles also feed on the limu seaweed growing just offshore. Make sure to stay far away from these endangered species and appreciate them from a distance. Just inland from Punaluu Beach is a memorial to a famous Hawaiian named Henry Opukahaia who as a boy traveled to the United States, inspiring the first visit by American Protestant missionaries to Hawaii in 1820.

Need to Know

Strong rip currents may form on the left (north) side of Punaluu Beach in the area beyond the boat launch. Avoid swimming in this area, particularly during times of rough water. During times of high surf do not go in the ocean.

Video

Lifeguard

No

Facilities

Restrooms, barbecue grills, picnic areas, drinking water, paved parking, phones.

Access

Punaluu Beach is about an hour drive from Hilo or a 1/2-hour drive from Kailua-Kona. The beach is about 25 miles from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and many people visit the beach on the way to see the volcano. The beach is located just off Hwy. 11 between the towns of Pahala and Naalehu. Well-marked signs will guide you to the beach.

Hana Bay Beach Park

Description

This local gathering place is great for picnics on summer days when you may see outrigger canoes clubs practicing, community events taking place, or people just enjoying the grassy lawn and black/brown sand beach created by eroded lava. Hana Bay is typically very calm as it is relatively well protected from the open sea, making it nice for swimming. Hana Pier is located on the right side of the bay along with a small boat harbor.

Great For

Swimming, outrigger canoe paddling, surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, kayaking, fishing, picnics, community events.

Highlights

Local families often gather in this area on weekends for picnics and celebrations. The northern end of the bay is sometimes good for surfing.

Hana Bay Beach Park

This local gathering place is great for picnics on summer days when you may see outrigger canoes clubs practicing

Need to Know

Despite the typically calm swimming conditions, make sure to monitor the ocean closely and do not go in the water during times of high surf, strong currents, or rough ocean.

Lifeguard

No

Facilities

Restroom, pavilion, picnic facilities, snack bar.

Access

From the center of Hana town you will see the signs pointing to Hana Bay.

The Waikiki Beachboys

Waikiki Beachboys & Duke Kahanamoku Popularized Surfing

The beachboys were symbolic of everything that was great about Hawaii.

History

The Beachboys of Waikiki are a renowned group of Hawaiian watermen who worked on the beaches of Waikiki from the 1920s to the 1950s when guests from all around the world began arriving to stay at the two luxurious new Waikiki hotels: the Moana Hotel and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.

Many of the guests coming to stay at the Waikiki hotels would stay for lengthy periods of time, allowing them a chance to develop friendships with the Beachboys who would share the Hawaiian culture and aloha spirit. The first official Waikiki Beach Patrol was formed in the 1930s, and one of the most famous of the Beachboys was renowned Hawaiian swimmer and Olympic gold medallist Duke Kahanamoku who had formed Hui Nalu (Club of the Waves) in 1911. Many of the original members of this club later became Waikiki Beachboys.

Fact: Without the Waikiki Beachboys, Hawaii’s ancient ritual of surfing may have been forgotten

Among the clients of the Beachboys were many wealthy and often famous visitors who enjoyed outrigger canoe rides and also liked to try surfing the waves of Waikiki. The Beachboys also catered to the Hawaiian royalty of the time. Over time the Beachboys also developed somewhat of a reputation for their amorous adventures with the many women who sought out their services and aloha. Since many of the Beachboys were also talented musicians it is likely that more than one female client was wooed with sweet tropical melodies.

Waikiki Beachboys

Duke, in the red aloha shirt on the right

The Beachboys were experts at reading the ocean—including the waves, tides winds, and currents—as well as fishing and harvesting limu (seaweed). Skilled at much more than surfing and steering canoes, the Beachboys were leaders in the revival of surfing and other watersports in the early 20th century. Despite the rumors, the Beachboys were required to adhere to a strict code of conduct that showed great respect for all guests, and they also worked to keep the beach clean and safe. Many of the Beachboys had colorful names such as Blue Makua, Toots, Turkey, Chick, Panama Dave, and Steamboat. Other renowned beachboys were Rabbit Kekai and Sam Kahanamoku.

Eventually the nature of Hawaii’s tourist industry began to change as average U.S. citizens, and not just wealthy people, were able to travel to the Islands. The typical visit to Hawaii became shorter and shorter. Things changed drastically in 1941 after the bombing of Pearl Harbor when the United States entered World War II. With the imposition of Martial Law, Hawaii’s famous carefree lifestyle was put on hold and this also signaled the end of the golden era of the Beachboys of Waikiki. Decades later in 1973 the Waikiki Beach Boys Canoe Club was formed. The goal of the group was to revive the original image of the famous Waikiki Beachboys which included not only the water skills of canoe paddling and surfing, but also the aloha spirit that embraces a unique Hawaiian sense of generosity and friendship.

Haleiwa Beach Park

Video

Description

A pleasant, sandy beach fronted by a grassy lawn, Haleiwa Beach Park is located just north of the small north shore town of Haleiwa and enjoys a nice view of Kaena Point. The sandy beach is relatively narrow and swimming is not great due to the rocky and shallow ocean bottom. However, this is a great beach park for picnics, and canoe paddlers frequent the waters as do kayakers and surfers paddling out to Puaena Point.

Great For

Picnics, swimming, sunbathing.

Highlights

When you reach Haleiwa and cross over the famed Rainbow Bridge above the Anahulu River you have passed through the “gateway to the north shore.” The river, with beach parks on both sides, flows alongside Haleiwa Harbor. Haleiwa means “House of the frigate bird.”

Haleiwa Beach Park

Haleiwa means “House of the frigate bird”

Need to Know

Snorkeling is not so good at Haleiwa due to cloudiness from the runoff of Haleiwa River and Haleiwa Harbor.

Lifeguard

No

Facilities

Restrooms, showers, picnic areas, basketball court, volleyball court, baseball field, parking.

Access

Located just north of Haleiwa town on Oahu’s north shore.

Lanikai Beach

Lanikai Beach

The protected lagoon at Lanikai Beach is like a big, tropical swimming pool making it good for children

One of Hawaii’s best swimming beaches and frequently ranked among the world’s nicest beaches, the dreamy Lanikai Beach is a hidden gem known for its soft sands and aquamarine/blue water massaged by gentle onshore trade winds.

About half of this now half-mile long beach on Oahu’s windward coast has disappeared in recent years due to seawalls built along the shore, so perhaps you should enjoy what is left while you can. The postcard perfect beach is like a saltwater swimming pool. Lanikai means “heavenly sea,” and aptly describes these crystal azure waters nestled in fine white sparkling sand and swaying palms, and with an offshore reef that keeps the water near shore very calm.

Having lured many models and photographers over the years, Lanikai is a very popular spot for photo shoots. No surprise considering the breathtaking scenery and surreal surroundings that the locale has to offer.

Virtual Tour

An offshore reefs protect Lanikai Beach making it great for swimming year round.

Great For

Swimming, snorkeling, sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, sunbathing.

Highlights

The protected lagoon at Lanikai Beach is like a big, tropical swimming pool making it good for children. Nearshore reefs allow for good snorkeling without having to worry about being too far offshore. Reef fish and sea turtles are commonly seen.

A popular adventure is paddling kayaks to the scenic offshore islands of Mokulua (Two Islands) which are seabird sanctuaries. The larger island is about about one mile off the south end of Lanikai Beach and is up-current and upwind so only experienced kayakers should attempt this due to potential strong currents and high surf.

If you buy a home in Lanikai, you might always be late to work too.

Need to Know

Lots of colorful fish can be seen amidst the coral reefs, with the best snorkeling in the area between Mokumanu Drive and Haokea Drive. The best place to launch a kayak is at the far end at Laniko Drive. The prevailing onshore tradewinds make Lanikai a great sailing and windsurfing beach. The Koolau mountains block the afternoon sun so come early for sunbathing.

Lifeguard

No

Facilities

None

History

In the Hawaiian language, Lanikai literally means “royal sea” or “heavenly sea.” However, people believe that its real name is actually Kaohao, which means “the tying.” Legend says that there once was a high chief named Hauna, who used to beat up two women in Konane. Hauna took the women and tied them together with a loincloth and led them to the beach where the canoes were. Eventually the name Kaohao was given to the beach because of the incident that took place.

Access

From Kailua take the Pali Highway to where it becomes Kailua Road. Turn right on Kalaheo Ave. and drive along the coast about two miles. After passing Kailua Beach Park turn left at the T-intersection and go uphill on Aalapapa Drive which loops back as Mokulua Drive. Park where you can on Mokulua Drive and take one of the eight public access paths to the beach.

Sans Souci Beach

Video

Description

This pleasant swimming and snorkeling area at the eastern end of Waikiki is protected by a coral reef and used by many local swimmers who like to swim laps in the ocean. The Outrigger Canoe Club Beach is located just east of San Souci Beach and fronts the Outrigger Canoe Club.

Great For

Swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing, people watching.

Highlights

The famous surfing spot called Castles is located off San Souci Beach. If a swell is running watch for the local experts shredding some waves.

Need to Know

San Souci, the name of a small hotel that once stood where the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel is now, means “without care” in French. The famous author Robert Louis Stevenson stayed at the hotel for five weeks in 1893 and wrote about the area.

San Souchi Beach

San Souchi means “without care” in French

Lifeguard

A lifeguard tower is located at Central Waikiki Beach near the Waikiki Police substation.

Facilities

Restrooms, showers, and food concessions are located at numerous spots along the beach on Kalakaua Avenue including at San Souci Beach.

Access

San Souci Beach is located in Waikiki near the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel, just to the east of the Warm Memorial Natatorium.

Royal Hawaiian Beach

Royal Hawaiian Beach

As you relax on the soft sand you can enjoy great views of Diamond Head and then wade into sparkling blue waters

Located directly in front of the charming and historic Royal Hawaiian Hotel as well as the Royal Moana and the Outrigger Waikiki, this beautiful white-sand beach is enjoyed by swimmers and sunbathers as well as surfers who enjoy the waves offshore.

As you relax on the soft sand you can enjoy great views of Diamond Head and then wade into sparkling blue waters that are among the warmest in Waikiki. The shallow bottom slopes gradually out to sea, making it enjoyable for all ages. The pink Royal Hawaiian Hotel with its early architectural style and mission-style bell towers creates a pleasant atmosphere that takes you back in time to the early days of historic Waikiki. The nearby beach activity center operated by the Outrigger Waikiki offers outrigger canoe rides, surfing lessons and and more, while the benches, food concessions and restrooms make this a popular place for people to gather. Directly offshore are the famous surfing spots called Queens and Canoes, and just to the east is the statue of Olympic gold medalist and Hawaiian hero Duke Kahanamoku.

Great For

Swimming, sunbathing, people watching, canoe rides, surfing.

Highlights

The Royal Hawaiian Beach is beautiful on moonlit nights when a silver glow is cast up on the water and the golden sands. Lay a blanket on the sand and drift away into Hawaiian dreams.

Need to Know

Beginning in the 1920s there was a group of Hawaiian surfers and watermen who shared their cultural and surfing knowledge with guests who came from around the world to stay at the Royal Hawaiian and Moana hotels. They were
known as the Beach Boys, and included the famous surfer and Olympic champion swimmer Duke Kahanamoku. If you are interested in history consider taking a historic tour of either the 1927 Royal Hawaiian Hotel or the 1901 Moana. Both have
rich histories hearkening back to the early days of Waikiki.

Lifeguard

A lifeguard tower is located at Central Waikiki Beach near the Waikiki Police substation.

Facilities

Restrooms, showers, and food concessions are located at numerous spots along the beach on Kalakaua Avenue. Royal Hawaiian Beach also has canoe and surfboard rentals as well as benches, making it a favorite place for people to
congregate.

Access

Along Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki.

Waikiki Beaches

Waikiki Beaches

Waikiki has something for everyone

The beaches of Waikiki along Oahu’s southern shore comprise one of the world’s most impressive stretches of sand, surf, and tropical sunshine amidst high-rise hotels, high-end shopping, and restaurants galore. The whole length of sand along Waikiki is often referred to as Waikiki Beach, though there are actually various named beaches including, from east to west, San Souci Beach, Kapiolani Beach Park, Kuhio Beach Park, Fort DeRussy, and Kahanamoku Beach and Lagoon.

Video

View Hawaii’s world famous Waikiki Beach

The white sandy beaches of Waikiki provide calm water that is nice for swimming as well as offshore surfing waves enjoyed by beginners and locals alike, with surfboard rentals and lessons readily available along with other water sports equip-
ment. Fronting Waikīkī Beach is a cosmopolitan melting pot of hotels, parks, gourmet restaurants, fast food outlets, lively dance clubs, countless shopping opportunities, lively nightlife, and even traditional Hawaiian Beachboys surf instructors who will show you how to ride the gentle waves of Waikiki and share with you the “Aloha Spirit” just as they have been doing with guests since the historic days of Waikiki.

Waikiki has something for everyone, and perhaps the center of it all is the Waikiki Beach Center on Kalakaua Avenue near Central Waikiki Beach (opposite the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Hotel and next to the Moana). The Center includes a Waikiki police substation as well as restrooms, showers, surfboard lockers and rental concessions. On the Diamond Head side of the police station are four very culturally important boulders known as the Wizard Stones of Kapaemahu. These large stones are said to possess the powers of four Tahitian sorcerers who visited in ancient times. Just to the west of the stones is a statue of Olympic swimming champion and famous Hawaiian surfer Duke Kahanamoku. Nearby at the Outrigger Waikiki Hotel is another beach activity center offering outrigger canoe rides, surfing lessons and and more. This area also has benches and food concessions and well as restrooms, making it a popular gathering place.

Great For

Sunbathing, people watching, swimming, surfing, bodyboarding, snorkeling, windsurfing, parasailing, outrigger canoe rides, catamaran sailing, fishing.

Highlights

Surfing the gentle waves of Waikiki is an unforgettable experience. Famous offshore surfing spots are called Castles, Queen’s, Canoes, Kaisers, and Rock Piles.

Need To Know

The two most famous hotels along the beach in Waikiki are the Royal Hawaiian built in 1927 and the Moana built in 1901. The area in front of these hotels is known as the Royal Hawaiian Beach, though it is also called Royal Moana Beach or Central Waikiki Beach.

Lifeguard

A lifeguard tower is located at Central Waikiki Beach near the Waikiki Police substation.

Facilities

Restrooms, showers, and food concessions are located at numerous spots along the beach on Kalakaua Avenue.

Access

Along Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki.

Pokai Bay Beach Park

Sunset at Poiku Bay Beach Park

Pokai Bay at sunset

This gentle west side beach is family friendly with calm water and shady areas. When other Waianae beaches are experiencing strong surf and dangerous conditions, Pokai is often still very hospitable. The swimming areas at Pokai are marked with buoys. Pokai is also a popular canoe-launching beach.

Virtual Tour

Sunny days and calm waters at Pokai Bay Beach

Highlights

On days when other beaches are too rough, Pokai provides a calmer area to enjoy the Hawaiian day.

Great For

Sunbathing, Swimming, Launching Canoes.

Need to Know

A protective breakwater shielding this beach from the open sea makes Pokai Beach Park nice for small kids, and so you are likely to see plenty of local parents and kids here, particularly on weekdays.

Lifeguard

Yes

Facilities

Playground, restrooms, showers, picnic areas, phones.

Access

Located on Waianae Valley Road off Farrington Highway.

Hawaii Dinner Cruises

Dinner cruise on Southern Star, Hawaii

Southern Star represents the fine dining of dinner cruises, complete with master chef.

Cocktails, pupus (appetizers), and Hawaiian entertainment on a boat.

The views are just one reason why dinner cruises are such a popular activity in Hawaii. From sumptuous cuisine to stellar entertainment, a lavish dinner cruise can provide a memorable way to culminate your Hawaiian stay.

Some cruises offer gourmet meals worthy of Hawaii’s finest restaurants. Of course, with a dinner cruise, the focus isn’t really on the food; you’re paying for the overall experience. Similarly, the onboard entertainment is a highlight for some visitors, and practically ignored by others. (Understandably, even the best performers may find it difficult to compete with the scenic views from the deck.) Some boats are large enough to provide dance floors.


Oahu

For Oahu visitors, few sights are more beautiful or romantic than a Waikiki sunset—and being on the water only adds to the experience. Most Oahu dinner cruises set sail from Honolulu Harbor and glide along the waters off Waikiki and Diamond Head. As the sun dips below the horizon, the Honolulu skyline comes alive with millions of sparkling lights—it’s a spectacle that can only be seen from offshore.

Kauai

The island of Kauai also offers a good number of dinner cruises. Sailing adventures from Poipu, for example, take visitors on a scenic trip along the Garden Isle’s southern coast. Or enjoy a sail from Port Allen Small Boat Harbor on Kauai’s west side, with Makena Ridge serving as a glorious backdrop.

Maui

Maui dinner cruises depart from either Lahaina in West Maui or Maalaea in South Maui. Excursions along the island’s south coast offer Mount Haleakala as a backdrop, while Lahaina cruises spotlight the West Maui mountains and the brilliant lights of lively Lahaina Town.

Big Island

On the Big Island of Hawaii, few dining adventures are more spectacular than a sunset sail along the Kona coastline, with 13,679-foot Mauna Loa volcano providing a majestic backdrop.

Big Island Attractions

Attractions on the Big Island include Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Onizuka Center for Astronomy and Mauna Kea Observatory, Hulihee Palace, Puuhonua O Honaunau, Parker Ranch and the Pacific Tsunami Museum.

From the spectacular eruptions of Kilauea Volcano to the world-class telescopes atop Mauna Kea Volcano to enormous stone Heiaus (Hawaiian sacred places) and even a royal palace, the Big Island has many historical, cultural, and natural attractions. You can even swim with dolphins, see tigers in a zoo, or hike on a lush, tropical trail to a roaring waterfall. Read more about the many Big Island attractions below.


Big Island Vacation

Pele, the God of Fire, reigns supreme on the Big Island—Home to Hawaii’s only active volcano.

Only 800,000 years old, the island of Hawaii is the youngest of the Hawaiian isles. It is also, by far, the largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago; its 4,028 square miles is more than twice the size of all the other major islands combined. Read More ↓


Things To Do on the Big Island

Big Island Beaches

Big Island Destinations

Places to Stay on the Big Island

Places To Stay In Big Island

Four Seasons, Hualalai, Big Island

There are more than 9,700 guest rooms on island (including more than 600 vacation rentals)

Looking for a place to stay on the Big Island? “The Orchid Isle” has accommodations of every kind, from luxury hotels to bed & breakfast cottages. No doubt you’ll find a number of accommodations tailored to your needs, desires and budget.

Choosing a Location

Due to the Big Island large size, choosing a location near sightseeing, attractions, activities and other things you’d like to do becomes important. You don’t want to spend a majority of your vacation in a car! If there are several areas you would like to see, we suggest arranging multiple accommodations around the island.

Luxurious Kohala Coast

For the finest in luxury resorts, head to the Kohala Coast, located at the northern end of the Big Island’s western coast. Often referred to as “The Gold Coast,” Kohala is a sunny and arid region offering a good number of luxury hotels set in four resort areas. World-class golf, award-winning beaches and fine dining are among the amenities here.

Popular Kailua-Kona

The highest concentration of visitor rooms is located in Kailua-Kona on the island’s west side. This bustling vacation town offers a mix of upscale properties, budget hotels and motels, condominiums, rental homes, hostels, and bed & breakfasts.

Tip: It gets really tough trying to find a room here during mid-October, when Kailua-Kona hosts the Ironman Triathlon World Championship.

Volcanoes National Park

There are a number of lodging options near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the Big Island’s most popular visitor attraction. Volcano Village offers a variety of bed & breakfasts and rental cabins.

On the Big Island’s east side is historic Hilo town

Hilo offers a pair of moderately priced hotels as well as some condominiums, bed & breakfasts, hostels and rental homes. Most of these accommodations are clustered along Banyan Drive, an oceanfront roadway famous for its string of banyan trees that were planted by numerous celebrities, including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, Amelia Earhart, Cecil B. de Mille, King George V and Richard Nixon. Another tip: Book your reservations early if you want to stay in Hilo during the week after Easter Sunday. That’s when the Merrie Monarch Festival—the world’s most prestigious hula event—takes place in Hilo.

North Shore is home to the plantation town

Heading north from Hilo on Hamakua Highway, you’ll find a number of plantation towns that offer bed & breakfast accommodations.

Upcountry has a cooler climate and ranchlands

Finally, head upcountry to the ranchlands of Waimea. The lodgings here are primarily bed & breakfasts and small hotels.

Big Island Destination

The “Big Island” is the youngest island in the Hawaiian archipelago.

Encompassing 4,028 square miles, the Big Island is twice the size of all other Hawaiian islands combined! It’s also twice the size of Delaware and three times the size of Rhode Island. And it’s still growing. Read More ↓


Popular Destinations on the Big Island

Fast Facts:

  • The Big Island’s official color is red.
  • Its official flower is the red ohia lehua blossom. The flower is actually found in an array of flowers, including white, yellow and orange.
  • The ohia lehua tree can be found along the slopes of the island’s volcanoes. According to legend, the blossom is sacred to Pele, and picking it will produce rain.

Did You Know?

  • Measured from the sea floor, Mauna Kea on the Big Island stands 33,476 feet high (13,796 feet from sea level), making it the tallest mountain on the planet.
  • Ka Lae, also known as “South Point,” is the southernmost point in the United States, located 18:54:49 N, 155:41:00 W.
  • The Mauna Kea Observatory houses the world’s largest telescope.
  • The Big Island is the world’s leading producer of macadamia nuts and orchids.
  • The King Kamehameha statue in Honolulu is a reproduction of the original. The ship carrying the original statue from Germany to Honolulu caught fire and sank off the Falkland Islands. The original was later recovered and now stands in Kohala, near the king’s birthplace.

Kauai Destinations

Hawaii’s oldest and most scenic island

Estimated to be more than five million years old, Kaua‘i is the oldest Hawaiian island—though it’s aged very well. The island lives up to its nickname, “The Garden Island,” with verdant mountains, lush rain forests and some of the most enchanting spots you’ll ever see.

Room to Move. Of the four counties in the state, Kauai’s is the least populated, with just over 63,000 residents. This yields a mere 114 people per square mile. The island itself is 552 square miles with 90 miles of coastline. Read More ↓


Towns

Places To Visit

Other

Fast Facts

  • Kauai’s official flower is the mokihana, or green berry. Grown on the slopes of Mount Wai‘ale‘ale, this tiny pea-like berry is used with maile to make leis.
  • The island’s official color is purple.

Did You Know?

  • The neighboring island of Ni‘ihau is considered part of Kaua‘i County. Ni‘ihau is home to about 250 residents, most of whom are pure Hawaiians.
  • Averaging 466 inches of rain per year, 5,080-foot Mount Wai‘ale‘ale is considered the wettest spot on earth.
  • Sugar, papayas, taro and guava are grown commercially on the island.
  • Kaua‘i is a popular setting for Hollywood blockbusters. Some of the movies filmed on the island include Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, Tears of the Sun, Honeymoon in Vegas, King Kong, Blue Hawai‘i and South Pacific.

 

Oahu Destinations

Long known as “The Gathering Place,” Oahu is the 3rd largest island in the Hawaiian chain.

It offers something for everyone, including history, nature, nightlife, culture, fine dining and entertainment. Here’s a look at Hawaii’s most metropolitan island (Don’t miss our Oahu maps):

Honolulu is the state’s capital and largest county in the world. If you go by borders, Honolulu (“protected bay”) is the largest county in the world, stretching about 1,500 miles long (that’s more than halfway across the 48 contiguous U.S. states). That’s because the City & County of Honolulu legally includes most Northwestern Hawaiian islands up to Kure Atoll. As Hawaii’s capital city, Honolulu is the state’s government seat, principal port, and business and financial center. Honolulu is the 11th largest city in the U.S. Read More ↓


Popular Destinations on Oahu

Fast Facts:

  • Encompassing 597 square miles, the island of Oahu is just slightly larger than the city of Houston.
  • The island’s official flower is the yellow ilima. The flower resembles a small hibiscus (the state flower), with five petals and a group of stamens at the center. The ilima is prized as a lei flower, and early Hawaiians used the flower as a medicinal source to cure general debilities.
  • Oahu’s official color is yellow.

Did You Know?

  • Iolani Palace in downtown Honolulu is the only royal palace standing on American soil.
  • Honolulu has one of the nation’s most efficient bus systems, traveling 21.5 million miles annually on 93 routes. There are approximately 4,200 bus stops on Oahu.
  • With more than 500 rounds of golf played daily, the Ala Wai Golf Course, set on the edge of Waikiki, claims to be the busiest municipal course in the U.S.
  • Located in Central Oahu, Aiea is the only town in the U.S. that doesn’t have a consonant in its name.
  • Men’s Fitness Online rated Honolulu as the “Fittest City” in the U.S.
  • City Crime Rankings lists Honolulu as the third-safest among U.S. cities with populations of 500,000 or more. You might want to keep your eye on your valuables, though: Honolulu had the highest rate of theft in the country in 2002.

Maps

Hawaiian Coffee

Hawaiian coffee beans on a table

Coffee isn’t just a fad in Hawai’i.

As the sixth-largest diversified agricultural crop in the state, it’s also big business. There are currently 580 coffee farmers working 6,800 acres on five islands across the state, contributing $10.4 million in annual revenues to Island coffers. What’s more, some experts predict that Hawai’i can double its four-million-pound annual yield within the next ten years.

Attention, coffee addicts: You’ll get your fix in Hawai’i. From locally grown to imported exotic varieties, the aroma of fresh-brewed java permeates the air everywhere you go in the Aloha State.

The Island of Kaua’i leads the state with 4,000 acres in production. The Big Island ranks second with 1,800 acres, and Moloka’i is third with 550 acres. The islands of Maui and O’ahu produce the remainder.

Kona Coffee

The most famous Island-grown coffee, if not the most abundant, is Kona coffee, grown on the southwest side of the Big Island. Kona is the only place in the United States where coffee has been grown commercially for more than 100 years. The “Kona Coffee Belt” extends to the upland slopes of Mauna Loa and Mount Hualalai. Today, Kona coffee ranks among the most elite and sought-after coffee in the world.

Hawaiian coffee beans on the stem

The Kona coffee bean is colorful and sweet when ripe before picking

The first coffee plants were brought to the Islands in 1828 by the Reverend Samuel Ruggles, an American missionary. The plants flourished in the favorable soil and climate conditions of the Big Island. As the years passed, Japanese immigrants brought in as contract laborers for the sugar companies served out their contracts and started small, family-run coffee farms.

The hard-working Japanese farmers eventually owned their own land, and their children worked the fields with them. One old-timer remembers picking 400 pounds of coffee beans per day when he was a child. Today, the term “Kona character” has come to mean rugged individualism and a “can-do” attitude. Of the 500 Kona coffee farmers remaining, some are able to produce 1,000 pounds of processed coffee on two acres of land.

The coffees of Hawai’i and the world are brewed in dozens of cafes, coffee carts and gourmet restaurants around the islands. And of course, getting your hands on some of Hawaii’s finest-tasting coffees are just a few clicks on the Internet away.

When it comes to Hawaiian coffees, something good is always brewing!

Hawaiian Language

Language of the Hawaiian Islands

‘aina
{noun} Land, earth.

alelo
{noun} Tongue, language.

aloha
{noun-transitive verb, noun-stative verb} Love, affection, compassion, mercy, sympathy, pity, kindness, sentiment, grace, charity; greeting, salutation, regards; sweetheart, lover, loved one; beloved, loving, kind, compassionate, charitable, lovable; to love, be fond of; to show kindness, mercy, pity, charity, affection; to venerate; to remember with affection; to greet, hail. Greetings! Hello! Good-by! Farewell! Alas!

aloha ‘aina
{noun-verb} Love of the land; to nurture and care for the land.

halau
{noun} Long house, as for canoes or hula instruction; meeting house.

hele
{noun-intransitive verb} To go, come, walk; going, moving.

hula
{noun-transitive verb} 1. A dance characterized by rhythmic body movements, a hula dancer; to dance the hula. 2. Song or chant used for the hula; to sing or chant for a hula.

huli
{intransitive verb} To turn, reverse; to curl over, as a breaker; to change, as an opinion or manner of living.

kai
{noun-stative verb} Sea, sea water; area near the sea, seaside, lowlands; tide, current in the sea.

kama’aina
{noun-intransitive verb} Native-born, one born in a place, host; acquainted, familiar. [Commonly referred to a long-time resident of Hawai’i, as distinguished from a visitor.]

kanaka maoli
{noun} Full-blooded Hawaiian person. [Also refers to an indigenous person of Hawai’i whose ancestry predates the arrival of Captain Cook in 1778, such as a Native Hawaiian.]

kapa
{noun} Tapa, as made from the inner bark of various plants.

ki’i pohaku
{noun} Stone carving, petroglyph.

kokua
{noun-transitive verb} Help, aid, assistance, relief, assistant, associate, deputy, helper; co-operation; to help, assist, support, accommodate.

kumu
{noun} 1. Teacher, tutor. 2. Beginning, source, origin; starting point. 3. Bottom, base, foundation, basis, main stalk of a tree, trunk, handle, root; hereditary, fundamental. 4. Reason, cause, goal, justification, motive, grounds, purpose, object, why.

kupuna
{noun} 1. Grandparent, ancestor, relative or close friend of the grandparent’s generation, grandaunt, granduncle. 2. Starting point, source; growing.

lei
{noun} Garland, wreath; necklace of flowers, leaves, shells, ivory, feathers, or paper, given as a symbol of affection; beads; any ornament worn around the head or about the neck; to wear a lei; crown.

lu’au
{noun} Hawaiian feast, named for the taro tops always served at one. This is not an ancient name, but goes back at least to 1856, when so used by the Pacific Commercial Advertiser newspaper; formerly a feast was pa’ina or ‘aha’aina.

mahalo
{noun-transitive verb} 1. Thanks, gratitude; to thank. 2. Admiration, praise, esteem, regards, respects; to admire, praise, appreciate.

makai
{noun-stative verb} On the seaside, towards the sea, in the direction of the sea.

makua
{noun-stative verb} Parent, any relative of the parent’s generation, as uncle, aunt, cousin; progenitor; main stalk of a plant; adult; full-grown, mature, older, senior.

malama
{noun-transitive verb} To take care of, tend, attend, care for, preserve, protect, maintain; care, preservation, support, fidelity, loyalty; caretaker, keeper.

malihini
{noun-stative verb} Stranger, foreigner, newcomer, tourist, guest, company; one unfamiliar with a place or custom; new, unfamiliar, unusual, rare, introduced, of foreign origin; for the first time.

mauka
{noun} Inland, upland, towards the mountain, in the direction of the uplands.

mele
{noun-transitive verb} Song, anthem, or chant of any kind; poem, poetry; to sing, chant.

nalu
{noun-transitive verb} Wave, surf; full of waves; to form waves; wavy, as wood grain.

‘ohana
{noun-stative verb} Family, relative, kin group; related.

‘olapa
{noun} Dancer, as contrasted with the chanter or ho’opa’a (memorizer); now, any dance accompanied by chanting and drumming on a gourd drum.

‘olelo
{noun-transitive verb} Language, speech, word, quotation, statement, utterance, term; to speak, say, state, talk, mention, quote, converse, tell; oral, verbatim, verbal.

oli
{noun-transitive verb} Chant that was not danced to, especially with prolonged phrases chanted in one breath; to chant thus.

‘ono
{noun-transitive verb} Delicious, tasty, savory; to relish, crave; deliciousness, flavor, savor.

pilikia
{noun-intransitive verb} Trouble of any kind, great or small; problem, nuisance, bother, distress, adversity, affliction, accident, difficulty, inconvenience, perturbation, tragedy, lack; in trouble, troubled, bothered, cramped, crowded. See ‘a’ole pilikia.

pule
{noun-transitive verb} Prayer, incantation, blessing, grace; to pray, worship, ask a blessing.

‘ukulele
{noun} A four-stringed instrument shaped similar to a very small guitar. [Literally defined as “leaping flea”; probably derived from the Hawaiian nickname of Edward Purvis, who was small and quick and who popularized this instrument brought to Hawai’i by the Portuguese in 1879.]

wai
{noun-stative verb} Water, liquid or liquor or any kind other than sea water; to flow, like water, fluid.

wikiwiki
{stative verb} Fast, speedy; to hurry, hasten; quick, fast, swift.

Polynesian Cultural Center

Experience multiple Polynesian cultures on your visit.

Imagine launching yourself into the ultimate Polynesian adventure, visiting Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti, Fiji, Tonga, New Zealand and the Marquesas. Envision yourself discovering their peoples, cultures, customs and histories. Sample their foods. Learn their languages. Enjoy their hospitality.

Now imagine yourself doing it all in a single day!

Millions of people have done just that by visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC), a 42-acre attraction located in Laie on Oahu’s rugged North Shore. Opened to the public in October 1963, the PCC offers a wide range of unique visitor experiences—everything from a top-notch luau to a spectacular evening show with more than 100 performers.

Explore

Guests are able to explore seven recreated Polynesian villages and gain a hands-on appreciation for the intriguing cultures of Polynesia. Learn how Samoans crack open a coconut or climb a 40-foot coconut tree. Make joyous Fijian music with a derua, a bamboo percussion instrument. Tour a Tahitian garden and learn a native dance. Play a Maori stick game or get a temporary tattoo. Or try your hand at weaving leaves and flowers into beautiful Hawaiian leis.

Polynesian Cultural Center

Hawaii’s Polynesian Cultural Center is the top paid Hawaii attraction

Highlights

Other highlights at the PCC include the Alii Luau, the “Rainbows of Paradise” canoe show, an IMAX Theater presentation and the highly acclaimed revue, Horizons: Where the Sea Meets the Sky. Each spring, the PCC hosts the World Fire-Knife Dance Championships, featuring the world’s top Samoan fire knife dancers vying for the prestigious “world champion” title.

The PCC, staffed primarily by students at neighboring Brigham Young University-Hawaii, has lived up to its goal of serving as “a unique treasure created to share with the world the cultures, diversity and spirit of the nations of Polynesia.”

Access

The PCC is open Monday-Saturday (closed on Sundays, Thanksgiving and Christmas). The box office opens at 9 a.m., and the gift shops, snack bar and luncheon buffet opens at 11 a.m. Island tours and cultural presentations begin at 12:30 p.m., with other island activities spread throughout the afternoon. The PCC is located at 55-370 Kamehameha Highway, nearly 40 miles from Waikiki. Transportation to and from the PCC is available.

Hilo the Old-Fashioned Bay Front Town, Big Island

Hilo is the Big Island‘s county seat and largest city—population 43738—yet it has maintained all the ambience of an old-fashioned small town. As one resident put it, “Hilo has more of an old Hawaii’ feel than anywhere else in the state.”

Hilo town shops

Enjoy the feel of an old-fashioned small town while shopping the many bayfront shops of Hilo town

History

In Frances Reed’s book, Hilo Legends, it’s reported that King Kamehameha may have given Hilo its name. One day, the story goes, the king was camped near the mouth of the Wailuku River near downtown Hilo today; the river descends from 13,796-foot Mauna Kea and empties into Hilo Bay. He commanded his servants to guard his canoe, then set out to visit a friend who lived nearby.

Hours passed without the King’s return, and the servants grew worried. But they dared not leave the canoe unattended. One servant got the idea to secure the vessel with a rope made by twisting ti leaves together. When the servants finally found the returning Kamehameha a short distance up the river, the king was upset. “Where is my canoe?” he bellowed. “You were ordered to guard it!”

Ti leaves and lei making

A harvest of Ti leaves and the art of lei making or how to braid leaves

The servants explained how they had secured the vessel with twisted ti leaves. Mollified, Kamehameha named the surrounding area “Hilo,” which literally means “to twist.”

In ancient Hawaii, Hilo was a bustling center of trade, where natives commonly made deal with their neighbors across the Wailuku River. With the arrival of westerners, the bay itself provided foreign vessels safe harbor.

In the mid- to late-1800s, sugar reigned as Hilo’s chief industry. The town prospered as the rainy conditions provided ideal conditions for growing sugarcane. On weekends, people from other parts of the island traveled to “the big city” to shop and seek entertainment.

Things To Do

Hilo farmers market

Hilo’s farmers market allows you to enjoy fresh locally grown products

Today, downtown Hilo includes a popular farmer’s market as well as the Lyman Mission House Museum and Pacific Tsunami Museum. Other Hilo attractions include Big Island Candies, Panaewa Rain Forest Zoo, the Suisan Fish Market & Auction and Nani Mau Gardens.

Hilo zoo white tiger and Suisan fish market

On the left, the zoo’s star attraction Namaste, a white Bengal tiger ; on the left the famous Suisan fish market & auction where fish lovers can get their fix!

Merrie Monarch Festival

Each spring, Hilo is also the setting for the Merrie Monarch Festival, the most prestigious and highly anticipated hula competition in the world.

HÂLAU ‘O KAHIKILAULANI Merrie Monarch Festival 2010

Hilo might be Hawaii’s “small town” city, and that suits its residents just fine. “The natural surroundings here, of course, are beautiful,” said one longtime resident. “But the strongest attraction I have for Hilo is its people. This is a very friendly community with a wonderful small town atmosphere.”

Video Tour of Hilo

A little tour of Hilo, a town full of excitement

Access

Lanai Petroglyphs

Lanai Petroglyphs

Scholars have always been baffled by petroglyphs.

Long ago, these primitive renderings depicting people, animals, canoes and other objects were painstakingly carved onto rocks or old lava flows, but their exact meanings remain a mystery.

Are they the result of some sacred rituals practiced by the early Hawaiians? Were they used to record family genealogy? Were they meant to provide directions to certain places? Or could it be that petroglyphs were simply doodlings carved by bored or weary natives?

No one knows for sure. Curiously, petroglyphs aren’t mentioned in chants or myths that have been handed down through the generations, making it even more difficult for historians to piece together the petroglyph puzzle.

Petroglyphs can be found throughout Hawaii. On Lanai, ancient rock carvings may be viewed in an area near Shipwreck Beach (north of Lanai City. Depicted appears to be a hunting scene with 13 men, a horse, a dog and either a wild pig or cow. There are also many petroglyphs showing men, women and children in an assortment of poses; they’re depicted performing a number of activities, including surfing, fishing and hunting.

One petroglyph shows a man with a dog and Axis deer. It’s believed that the first wave of Polynesian settlers to Hawaii brought dogs with them. Axis deer were brought to the islands from India in the mid-1800s. Today, there are more than 8,000 Axis deer on Lanai.

Another petroglyph reserve is located in the southern part of Lanai. From Lanai City, head toward Manele Bay on Manele Bay Road, then turn left on the first dirt road. The petroglyphs are just beyond the large water tank on the slopes of the hill. Most of the petroglyphs found in this three-acre area are found on the south faces of the boulders.

Even though the exact meanings of these images may forever be a mystery lost in time, they remain important vestiges of Hawaii’s past. Always show respect for the petroglyphs and take care not to damage them.

Na Pali Coast

Regarded by many as the most beautiful coastline in the world

Inaccessible by car, Kauai’s Napali Coast may be viewed by foot, air and sea. As one tour operator put it (and we agree), “It’s nice to explore the coast in a boat because ancient Hawaiians traveled the Napali by canoe. You can experience the Hawaiian presence this way.”


In This Section…

What Is It?

Na Pali is a 17-mile stretch of coastline on the Garden Isle‘s west side. It took millions of years of wind and water erosion to form these majestic 4,000-foot cliffs (“na pali” means “the cliffs” in Hawaiian) with lush green valleys, cascading waterfalls and mysterious sea caves. In ancient times, this impenetrable coast protected Hawaiians from invasion, and the waterfalls helped the natives build thriving fishing and farming settlements in the area. Thousands of Hawaiians lived within the Napali’s beautiful valleys.

In more modern times, Na Pali Coast has been a backdrop for several Hollywood blockbusters, including Jurassic Park and the remake of King Kong.


Access

Hiking begins from Kee beach. Boat tours leave from multiple locations, check with your boat tour company. Helicopter tours leave from Lihue.

Honolulu, Oahu

Downtown Honolulu is more than just the state’s main business center and financial district. In and around this small jungle of office buildings and bank towers are some of Hawaii’s significant and cherished treasures—all within comfortable walking distance of each other.

Ariel view of Honolulu

Iolani Palace and other important Honolulu landmarks in the background Photo by: Hawaii Tourism Authority / Tor Johnson

7 Must See Landmarks

Experience these 7 must see Honolulu landmarks yourself on our suggested 2.3 mile Honolulu walking route. View map and suggested walking route

1) Aloha Tower

A tour of downtown might begin at the Aloha Tower Marketplace, a harborside complex of shops and restaurants surrounding historic Aloha Tower. When it was erected in 1926 to welcome passenger ships arriving at Honolulu Harbor, this 10-story tower was the tallest building in the state.

2) Hawaii Maritime Center

Next door is the Hawaii Maritime Center, which traces Hawaii’s colorful ocean history from the ancient Polynesian voyagers and rowdy whalers to the luxury liners of the 1920s and ’30s.

3) Chinatown

Walk mauka (towards the mountain) and west, and you’ll come to Chinatown bustling area filled with ethnic eateries, lei stands, fresh produce vendors, herbal shops and more. The Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii offers weekly guided walking tours of Chinatown.

Tip: Make a quick stop at the Aloha Market for fresh local produce.

4) Iolani Palace

Heading east on King Street, walk through the main business district until you reach Iolani Palace, the only royal palace standing on American soil. The palace served as the royal residence for Hawaii’s last two monarchs, King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani. Guided tours are available here five days a week.

5) State Capitol Building

Behind the palace is the State Capitol Building, where the governor and state legislature fight their political battles. The building opened in 1969 and remains a unique work of architecture. The cone-shaped chambers symbolize Hawaii’s volcanoes, and the building columns are reminiscent of palm trees. The large pool of water surrounding the building symbolizes the fact that Hawaii is the only island state in the U.S.

6) King Kamehameha Statue

Across the street from Iolani Palace is the Kamehameha statue, which fronts Honolulu’s old judicial building. The bronze statue stands eight feet and six inches high (not including the 10-foot-high base). Every June 11 on King Kamehameha Day, the statue is adorned with beautiful floral leis, some as long as 18 feet in length.

7) Mission Houses Museum

Cross Punchbowl Street to find the Mission Houses Museum, where the first American Protestant missionaries established their headquarters in 1820. The structures you see here include the oldest surviving Western-style buildings in the state. They house a treasure trove of original artifacts, including furniture, books, quilts and other household items that once belonged to missionary families.

Self Guided Walking Tour

Virtual Tours→ |  Enlarge map→

Hawaii Maritime Center, Oahu

Located on Pier 7 at Honolulu Harbor, the Hawaii Maritime Center houses a variety of exhibits detailing the Islands’ maritime history, from Polynesian navigators and whalers to present-day nautical wonders.

Falls of Clyde docked at the Hawaii Maritime Center

Falls of Clyde docked at the Hawaii Maritime Center

Exhibits & Tours

Visitors are provided handy tape machines that provide expert narration on the center’s displays. The two-level museum is packed with insightful exhibits tracing the history of surfing, canoe racing, whaling era, Hawaii’s “Boat Days” and more.

Admission to the center includes the opportunity to board the Falls of Clyde, the world’s only surviving four-masted, full-rigged ship. Built in 1878, the Falls of Clyde served Hawaii as the largest ship in the sugar trade. After the turn of the century, she brought petroleum to the Islands. The ship was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. In 1989, she was named a National Historic Landmark.

Hawaii’s Maritime Center is part of our self guided Honolulu walking tour

A second historic vessel moored at the Hawaii Maritime Center is the Polynesian voyaging canoe Hokulea, a double-hulled canoe that has traveled throughout the Polynesian Triangle for more than a quarter of a century. The Hokulea is regarded as an important symbol of the revitalization of the Hawaiian culture.

Another unique exhibit at the center is a complete skeleton of a humpback whale, which is suspended in a diving position in the first-floor gallery. In January 1986, the humpback’s carcass was found washed up in a cove on the island of Kahoolawe. Six years later, the skeleton was restored and reassembled—an eight-month process that pieced together 159 bones ranging from inch-long digits to the 12-foot, 750-pound skull.

The whale’s new Hawaiian name is Leiiwi, which translates to “Lei of Cherished Bones.” Said museum director Dr. Evarts Fox, “As we originally envisioned, the humpback skeleton has become the impetus for many excellent opportunities. We are proud to have reconstructed and displayed this rare artifact in trust for the people of Hawaii and our visitor.”

Exploring the maritime heritage of Hawaii. Watch the 2nd half of this video→

Access

The Hawaii Maritime Center is operated by the Bishop Museum, the state’s largest museum. Hours are 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily except Christmas Day.

Big Island Timeshares

The Big Island of Hawaii offers the kinds of amenities that prospective timeshare owners covet: wide-open spaces, sparse traffic and a natural environment that’s as unique as it is versatile: Twelve distinct climate zones are found on the Big Island, from tropical rain forests and arid deserts to the snow-capped summit of Mauna Kea.

The Big Island is also home to the world’s most active volcano: Kilauea has been spewing molten lava since January 1, 1983, continually adding real estate to the island. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which includes Kilauea volcano, is a 210,000-acre site with superb hiking, camping and sightseeing opportunities.

There are about a thousand timeshare units on the Big Island, most of them in Kailua-Kona and on the Kohala Coast on the island’s west side.

While timeshares are increasingly popular today, it wasn’t that long ago that the trade was considered even less reputable than the used car industry. In the 1970s, visitors in Waikiki were fair game to timeshare salespeople who enticed them with free meals and other perks in exchange for sitting through their high-pressure, promise-the-world sales presentations.

Government regulations and the industry’s own efforts to weed out the shysters did much to fix the problem in the early 1980s. The entry of well-known international hotel operators into the business has cemented timeshare properties as viable and attractive options.

It’s a good time to be a prospective timeshare buyer. More financing options are available, and timeshare programs have become more flexible, allowing owners to reschedule, spit and trade weekly intervals at non-Hawaii destinations. You may not want to stay at one condominium for the rest of your life; instead, you may want to go to Paris one year, Barcelona the next and so on.

When you have a chance to spend a full week on the Hawaii’s Big Island, however, why go anywhere else?

Hawaii Attractions

Hawaii’s menu of visitor attractions is as versatile as it is extensive. There are worthwhile attractions on every major island, celebrating Hawaii’s history, culture, natural environment, wildlife, arts and more. Some are touristy, others are not. Some charge admissions, others are free. Each attraction, however, can significantly add to your overall experience in the islands.

Oahu

The most popular free attraction on Oahu remains the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. The memorial looks back at the events of December 7, 1941 and pays tribute to the 1,117 sailors and marines who lost their lives on that day. The memorial is part of Pearl Harbor’s famed “Battleship Row” along with the USS Battleship Missouri Museum and the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park.

Iolani Palice on Oahu

Iolani Palace: The only royal palace standing on American soil

Downtown Honolulu has a wealth of history-themed attractions, including Iolani Palace, the only royal palace standing on American soil. Other recommended stops in the area include the State Capitol Building, Mission Houses Museum, the Hawaii Maritime Center and Aloha Tower. Also, just minutes away by car are the Honolulu Academy of Arts, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Queen Emma Summer Palace, the Pali Lookout and Bishop Museum.

Waikiki has several attractions of its own, including the Waikiki Aquarium and Honolulu Zoo. Further east is Sea Life Park Hawaii, a marine park filled with Hawaii’s favorite ocean inhabitants. Other visitor attractions on Oahu include the Polynesian Cultural Center, Dole Plantation, Hawaii’s Plantation Village, U.S. Army Museum and Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center.

Other Islands

Attractions on the Big Island include Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Onizuka Center for Astronomy and Mauna Kea Observatory, Hulihee Palace, Puuhonua O Honaunau, Parker Ranch and the Pacific Tsunami Museum. On Kauai, visit the Kauai Museum, a href=”Kilauea Point,/a> National Wildlife Refuge, Waioli Mission House Museum and Kilohana Plantation.

Mauna Kea observatory on the big island

Mauna Kea Observatory on the Big Island

Any visit to Maui should include a stop at Haleakala National Park, home to hiking trails, the rare silversword plant and perhaps the world’s most awe-inspiring sunrise. Other recommended attractions on the Valley Isle include the Whalers Village Museum, Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum, Iao Valley State Park, the Garden of the Gods, an eerie rock formation reminiscent of a lunar landscape. And take the world-famous mule ride down to Kalaupapa on Molokai.

World-famous Molokai mule ride

Nuuanu Pali State Park

The Nuuanu Pali Lookout is a perennial favorite stop among visitors to Oahu. The panoramic views of the Windward side of the island from this expansive cliff will blow you away.

Just make sure the winds don’t blow you away, too.

The Nuuanu Pali Lookout

Description

Located at Nuuanu Pali State Park, the lookout overlooks the 985-foot cliffs of the Koolau Mountain Range. (Translated, “pali” means “cliffs.”) And yes, it is extremely windy. The trade winds blow through the valley between the high mountains on either side, forming a strong wind tunnel of sorts. On extra windy days, you can even lean into the wind and let the gusts hold you up.

History

The Nuuanu Pali was the setting for one of the most significant battles in Hawaiian history. In 1795, Kamehameha I and his army invaded Oahu, arriving in an imposing fleet of war canoes at Waikiki Beach. The Oahu warriors were led by Kalanikupule, the alii nui (chief) of Maui and Oahu.

Nuuanu Pali State Park

The Nuuanu Pali State Park is a perennial favorite stop among visitors to Oahu

Kamehameha’s army marched to Nuuanu Valley to face Kalanikupule’s troops. The ensuing battle was fierce, bloody and unrelenting. Gradually, Kamehameha’s men gained an advantage, forcing Kalanikupule’s forces to retreat further up the valley. The Oahuans attempted to make a final stand, but Kamehameha’s army was too strong. Thousands of Kalanikupule’s men were pursued and driven over the steep cliffs to their deaths. It’s said that the victory was so complete that not a single Oahu warrior that got into the upper part of the valley escaped alive.

An engineering firm was hired in 1897 to build what is now the Old Pali Road, a winding road used to carry traffic across the mountains. During construction, workers found an estimated 800 human skulls and other human bones at the foot of the cliffs—the century-old remains of Kalanikupule’s slain warriors.

Today

Today, Nuuanu Pali State Park is open daily (weather permitting) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free, and there is ample free parking. A light jacket is recommended. Remove hats, caps or anything else that may be blown away by the winds. Take the H1 freeway (eastbound) from Waikiki, then take the Pali Highway, Route 61 via Nuuanu Pali Drive. Follow the signs to the lookout.

Access

Kawaiahao Church

History

Kawaiahao Church in downtown Honolulu is widely known as the “Westminster Abbey of the Pacific.” Dedicated in 1842, this history-laden church is one of the most beloved structures in all of Hawaii.

A quick tour of Kawaiahao Church

The church itself traces its origin to 1820. On April 23rd, just three days after the first contingent of Christian missionaries arrived on Oahu, the Reverend Hiram Bingham gave his first sermon on Hawaiian soil. One of the Bible passages he shared was from the Book of Luke: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”

The missionaries endured an arduous five-month journey from Boston, Massachusetts. Their trip was inspired by Henry Opukahaia, a Hawaiian convert who studied at Cornwall Mission School in Connecticut. It was Opukahaia’s dream to bring Christianity to the Hawaiian people. He never got to see his dream realized, however; he died of typhus in 1818, at the age of 26.

The congregation’s initial houses of worship consisted of four huts made from pili grass. Finally, in 1836, King Kamehameha III called a meeting of chiefs to develop plans for a new stone church. Bingham himself contributed to the design. Construction work began a year later.

The Church

Kawaiahao Church

Construction workers collected wood from their own lands and hand-carried coral reef rocks from the ocean

It took five years and the labor of more than a thousand men to build the church. They collected wood from their own lands and hand-carried coral reef rocks from the ocean. It’s estimated that more than 14,000 stones were used, including a half-ton boulder cut from a ledge in Waianae and brought to the island’s southern coast by canoe.

Many members of Hawaiian royalty are a part of the church’s rich history. It was at Kawaiahao Church in 1843 that Kamehameha III uttered the phrase that would become Hawaii’s official motto: “Ua mau ke ea o ka aina I ka pono” (“The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness”). The church was also the site of King Kamehameha IV’s coronation as well as his wedding to Queen Emma.

Today

Today, Kawaiahao remains one of the few remaining churches in Hawaii to offer services in the Hawaiian language. The church is listed on both the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

Access

City of Refuge

History

In ancient times, Hawaiians lived under strict laws. Commoners could not get too close to the chief, nor were they allowed to touch any of his possessions, walk in his footsteps or even let their shadows touch the royal grounds. The penalty for violating a sacred kapu (taboo) was death.

Breaking a kapu was believed to incur the wrath of the gods. Hawaiians often chased down an offender and swiftly put him to death unless he could reach a puuhonua, or place of refuge. There he could be absolved by a kahuna (priest) in a purification ceremony, then return home with his transgression forgiven. Defeated warriors and non-combatants could also find refuge here during times of battle.

About

Puuhonua O Honaunau on the Big Island of Hawaii is the most famous and best preserved of Hawaii’s ancient places of refuge. Designated a national historical park in 1961, this 182-acre site includes the puuhonua and a complex of archeological sites, including temple platforms, royal fishponds, sledding tracks and some coastal village sites. Join more than 375,000 visitors each year and immerse yourself in the rich history of the area and discover intriguing facts about the early Hawaiians’ way of life.

Description

At the park, you’ll encounter canoe builders constructing an outrigger canoe the way it was built in ancient times. There are demonstrations of traditional Hawaiian games, including spear throwing competitions. Examine a massive L-shaped wall, built around 1550 from thousands of lava rocks, which separated the chief’s home from the puuhonua. Inside this 1,000-foot-long wall are fine examples of temples and homes of old Hawaii.

City of Refuge

Puuhonua O Honaunau is the most famous and best preserved of Hawaii’s ancient places of refuge

Hikers can follow a trail that winds along the coast for about a mile to the park boundary. The trail includes several archeological sites, including heiau (temples) and sledding tracks.

Events

Orientation talks are provided several times a day at the park’s amphitheater. On the last weekend of June, the park holds its annual cultural festival with hula performances, Hawaiian games, and arts and crafts demonstrations. Puuhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park is open daily.

Access

Hawaii Dinner Cruises

The views are just one reason why dinner cruises are such a popular activity in Hawaii. From sumptuous cuisine to stellar entertainment, a lavish dinner cruise can provide a memorable way to culminate your Hawaiian stay.

Hawaii Dinner Cruise

The views are just one reason why dinner cruises are such a popular activity in Hawaii

Oahu

For Oahu visitors, few sights are more beautiful or romantic than a Waikiki sunset—and being on the water only adds to the experience. Most Oahu dinner cruises set sail from Honolulu Harbor and glide along the waters off Waikiki and Diamond Head. As the sun dips below the horizon, the Honolulu skyline comes alive with millions of sparkling lights—it’s a spectacle that can only be seen from offshore.

Kauai

The island of Kauai also offers a good number of dinner cruises. Sailing adventures from Poipu, for example, take visitors on a scenic trip along the Garden Isle’s southern coast. Or enjoy a sail from Port Allen Small Boat Harbor on Kauai’s west side, with Makena Ridge serving as a glorious backdrop.

Maui

Maui dinner cruises depart from either Lahaina in West Maui or Maalaea in South Maui. Excursions along the island’s south coast offer Mount Haleakala as a backdrop, while Lahaina cruises spotlight the West Maui mountains and the brilliant lights of lively Lahaina Town.

Big Island

On the Big Island of Hawaii, few dining adventures are more spectacular than a sunset sail along the Kona coastline, with 13,679-foot Mauna Loa volcano providing a majestic backdrop.

Description

Some cruises offer gourmet meals worthy of Hawaii’s finest restaurants. Of course, with a dinner cruise, the focus isn’t really on the food; you’re paying for the overall experience. Similarly, the onboard entertainment is a highlight for some visitors, and practically ignored by others. (Understandably, even the best performers may find it difficult to compete with the scenic views from the deck.) Some boats are large enough to provide dance floors.

Wailea Resort

Nestled comfortably at the base of Haleakala along Maui‘s southern coast, Wailea is a resort community consisting of luxury hotels, private homes and condominiums. Its name translates to “water of Lea.” (Lea is the goddess of Hawaiian canoe makers.)

Grand Wailea resort poolside

Poolside at one of the luxury hotels, the Grand Wailea Resort

For the privileged few, this 1,500-acre master-planned community offers a respite from the real world (the census reveals less than 5,700 people live in Wailea and neighboring Makena). Wailea has almost everything a visitor or resident could want.

Golf

Wailea features three 18-hole championship golf courses. One plays host to the annual Wendy’s Champions Skins Game, featuring four of the sport’s greatest legends (in 2004, the quartet included Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino and Tom Watson).

Wailea golf

Wailea golf course

Tennis

The Wailea Tennis Club has 11 Plexipave courts, including three lit for night play. Clinics, lessons, game-matching services and a fully stocked pro shop are also available.

Spa

Wailea has some of Hawaii’s finest spa facilities, including the 50,000-square-foot Spa Grande at the Grand Wailea Resort & Spa.

Shopping

Whether you’re looking for Tori Richard aloha wear, stylish gifts from Tiffany & Co. or a hot new item from Tommy Bahama’s Emporium, The Shops at Wailea are sure to please those who wouldn’t consider it a vacation unless some shopping was involved.

Shops at Wailea

Enjoy a shopping day in the most beautiful and exclusive shopping center in Hawai, Shops at Wailea

Beach

Wailea is home to five crescent-shaped beaches. In 1999, Wailea Beach was named “America’s Best Beach” by Doctor Stephen P. Leatherman (a.k.a. “Dr. Beach”). Wailea aficionados think it deserves the top spot every year, but according to Dr. Beach, once a beach wins a “Best Beach” title, it is excluded from subsequent surveys and rankings. The survey’s 50-point criteria include sand quality, water quality, water temperature and litter.

If life’s a beach, then life at Wailea is very, very good.

Late afternoon at Wailea beach

One late afternoon on Wailea beach

Access

The Falls of Clyde

Description

Mention “sailing vessels in Hawaii,” and most people automatically think of Polynesian canoes. But Honolulu, Oahu is also the home of the Falls of Clyde, the only surviving, fully-rigged, four-masted sailing ship left in the world. Docked at Honolulu Harbor next to the Aloha Tower Marketplace, the ship now serves as a floating exhibit at the Hawaii Maritime Center.

Over 265 feet long and weighing in at over a thousand tons, the Falls of Clyde took a circuitous rout in reaching the Hawaiian Islands. The ship was built in 1878 in Port Glasgow, Scotland and served as a trade ship. Her maiden voyage took her to Karachi, with subsequent trips including stops in Australia, India, New Zealand, the British Isles and California.

Falls of Clyde

Falls of Clyde, is the only surviving, fully-rigged, four-masted sailing ship left in the world

History

In 1899, the ship was purchased by Captain William Matson and became the first four-masted ship to fly under the Hawaiian flag. When Hawaii was annexed by the United States in 1900, it took a special act by Congress to give the foreign-built ship the right to fly the American flag. Rigged down as a bark and adding passenger accommodations, Falls of Clyde brought general merchandise from San Francisco and sugar from Honolulu.

An oil company purchased the ship in 1907 and converted her to a bulk tanker. Following World War I, the ship sailed to Denmark and made her last voyage under sail, to Brazil. In 1925, the Falls of Clyde was sold again, this time to the General Petroleum Company, which used the ship as an oil barge in Alaska. Finally, in 1963, the bank holding the mortgage on the ship decided to sell her to be sunk as part of a breakwater at Vancouver, British Columbia. At the last minute, however, the Falls of Clyde was purchased and transferred to Honolulu to be used as a public exhibit.

Restored to her past glory, the Falls of Clyde opened to the public in 1968. Her restoration was assisted by the grandson of her original builder, Sir William Lithgow. His Glasgow shipyard donated masts and other fittings.

Access

The ship is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Admission to the Hawaii Maritime Center includes a tour of the Falls of Clyde. The Center is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Kailua

Kailua Pali (Cliff) Lookout

Kailua Pali (Cliff) Overlooking Kailua

A beach town just 30 minutes away from Honolulu and Waikiki

The Windward Oahu town of Kailua—population 36,513—is only a 30-minute drive from the hustle and bustle of downtown Honolulu, but it may as well be a world away. There are Oahu residents who go for years without making the drive over to this part of the island. And to be truthful, Kailua residents are perfectly okay with that. They rather enjoy having a scenic slice of Hawaiian heaven all to themselves.
Getting to Kailua was always a challenge. Ancient Hawaiians only had two options: hiking over the Koolau Mountains or sailing around Makapuu Point along the island’s eastern shores. More often than not, they chose the direct route and climbed a trail up and over the pali (cliff). Today, most drivers reach Kailua via the Pali Highway (Route 61). No matter how rough of a day Kailua residents may have, the feeling they get as they emerge from the highway’s tunnel and take in the sweeping panorama in front of them is one of instant comfort and reverence.

Kailua Beach

Another perfect day at Kailua Beach

Another perfect day at Kailua Beach

Kailua is first and foremost a beach community. In fact, the steady onshore trade winds makes Kailua Beach one of the world’s preeminent windsurfing destinations. Robbie Naish, regarded by most observers as the sport’s greatest champion, grew up at Kailua Beach.

In 1998, Kailua Beach Park was named “America’s Best Beach” by coastal expert Doctor Stephen Leatherman and then “retired” from subsequent consideration. As one Kailua resident noted in ALOHA Magazine, “If I feel stressed out, boom, in three minutes I can be at the beach and rigging up my sailboard. Even if you’re not at the beach, it’s never far away. It’s in the air, you can smell it.”

Kailua is a self-sufficient town with a strong sense of community. Christmas and Fourth of July parades are held here every year. There are Little League games, block parties and canoe paddling events. For its residents, Kailua represents the good life.

“Once I come through the tunnel (from Honolulu) at the end of the day, that’s it,” said another Kailua resident. “I see Kailua and the ocean, and I’m home. I leave work on the other side.”

Video

Discover the wonders of Kailua Beach with Wayde’s World Hawaii

Access

Kamehameha the Great

In ancient Hawaii, legends told of a day when a great king would unite all the Hawaiian islands. The sign of his birth, kahuna (priests) claimed, would be a comet.

Kamehameha statue next to Hawaiian flag

Kamehameha the Great

Birth of a King

And so it goes that Kamehameha was born in 1758, the year Halley’s Comet made an appearance over Hawaiian skies. Kamehameha was born in Paiea on the Big Island of Hawaii. His father was said to be Keoua, a grandson of Keaweikekahialiiokamoku, who once ruled a large portion of the island. Translated, Kamehameha means “the lonely one.”

Another legend tells of a kahuna who prophesized that the man who moved the 7,000-pound Naha Stone would become the greatest king of Hawaii. When Kamehameha was 14, the story goes, he moved the massive rock, and then lifted it and turned it completely over.

Rise to Power

Kamehameha grew up in the court of his uncle, Kalaniopuu. When Kalaniopuu died in 1782, his power was divided between Kamehameha and Kalaniopuu’s natural son, Kiwalao, who inherited his father’s throne. Civil war broke out, however, and Kamehameha emerged as the Big Island’s ruler.

Law

Many more battles ensued. During one raid in Puna, Kamehameha slipped and caught his foot in a crevice of lava. Seeing this, one of his fleeing opponents returned and beat him on the head with a canoe paddle until it broke. As a result, Kamehameha proclaimed Mamalahoe Kanawai, or “Law of the Splintered Paddle,” providing protection to unarmed noncombatants in war. “Let the aged, men and women, and little children, lie down safely in the road,” his law decreed.

The war at Nuuanu

The bloody battle at Nuuanu

Uniting the Hawaiian Islands

Having gained control of his home island, Kamehameha turned to the other Hawaiian islands. Using weaponry purchased from American and European traders, the king conquered Maui and Molokai, then turned his attention to Oahu. In 1795, Kamehameha invaded the shores of Waikiki beach and led his army to Nuuanu, where a bloody battle with Oahu chief Kalanikupule ensued. Hundreds of Oahu’s warriors were killed, driven over the valley’s Pali cliffs.

In 1810, Kaumualii, the king of Kauai, peacefully surrendered his island to Kamehameha to avoid further bloodshed. With that, Kamehameha fulfilled his destiny of uniting all the Hawaiian islands under one rule.

Kamehameha’s Reign

The Hawaiian kingdom enjoyed a period of peace during Kamehameha’s reign. The king unified the legal system and used taxes to promote trade with the Americans and Europeans.

Kamehameha died in 1819, and his son, Liholiho, took the throne. Kamehameha’s bones were hidden by his kahuna. Today, his final resting place remains a mystery.

Hawaiian Conch Shells

A Large Seashell Played Like a Trumpet

Pu, a Hawaiian conch shell, is a large seashell played like a ceremonial fanfare trumpet. Made of two kinds of large shells, Triton or Cassis cornuta, it is capable of emitting a loud sound carrying as far as two miles. The volume depends on the style of blowing rather than breath volume capacity.

Hawaiian Conch Shell

Pu, a Hawaiian conch shell, is a large seashell played like a ceremonial fanfare trumpet

History

In ancient times, the pu was sometimes used to accompany chants, and most often used to announce the beginning of a ceremony. There is a story of a group of Menehune, a legendary race of small Hawaiian people, who lived in Waolani in Nuuanu Valley on Oahu. Chief Kiha used a conch shell to control the little gods, as the Menehune were often referred to. The Menehune took the conch shell from him and blew it so much at night that residents began to complain. A thief retrieved the shell for Chief Kiha, but chipped it on the way back. This very shell is now in display at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu.

In 1998, a pu was recovered from King Kamehameha II’s sunken royal yacht in Hanalei on the North Shore of Kauai. The long lost treasure was believed to have been used to herald the arrival of King Liholiho and his royal yacht Haaheo O Hawaii (Pride of Hawaii). The shell had been buried in the sands of Hanalei Bay for 164 years before it was recovered. The pu along with the other recovered artifacts have been conserved by the archaeological team from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

Listen to the sound of a Hawaiian conch shell

Legendary surfer Duke Kahanamoku was honored with a conch selling blowing ceremony for his 112th birthday. The Hawaiian voyaging canoe Hawaii Loa arrived at Duke Kahanamoku Beach accompanied by a fleet of 112 surfers and canoes to honor Kahanamoku. As the group came through the channel, the pu announced their arrival, while another pu on-shore responded with a callout to the North, South, East and West, signifying the gathering of all powers.

Today

Today the pu is used to announce the opening of the Hawaii State Legislature, presentation of the royal court at hula festivals and for traditional ceremonies. The pu is also a popular commencement tool at weddings and luaus, and also have been used to honor royalty and famous people.

The next time you’re waiting for a ceremony or luau to begin, just listen for the call.

Mauna Loa

The Largest Volcano in the World

Hawaiian legends say that volcano goddess Pele was driven from her home by her angry older sister, Na-maka-o-kaha’i because Pele had seduced her husband. Every time Pele would thrust her digging stick into the earth to dig a pit for a new home, Na-maka-o-kaha’i, goddess of water and the sea, would flood the pits. Pele eventually landed on the Big Island, where she made Mauna Loa her new home. Literally meaning “Long Mountain” in the Hawaiian language, Mauna Loa was so tall that even Pele’s sister could not send the ocean’s waves high enough on Mauna Loa to drown Pele’s fires. So Pele established her home on its slopes.

Rising to more than 4 km above sea level, Mauna Loa is the largest volcano in the world. The enormous volcano covers half of the island, and is among the Earth’s most active volcanoes, having erupted 33 times since its first well-documented historical eruption in 1843. Mauna Loa’s recent eruption was in 1984, and is certain to erupt again.

Mauna Loa’s name is suitable, for the sub-aerial part of mountain extends for about 120 km from the southern tip of the island to the summit crater, and then northeast to the coastline near Hilo. The summit crater is named Moku’aweoweo. “Moku” refers to a coastal land section, and “aweoweo” is a type of red Hawaiian fish. Literal translation is “fish section.” Many believe that the “red of the fish” is symbolic of the red lava. Kilauea, an active volcano sitting on the mountain’s southeast flank, has an extensive history of eruptions, including the eruption in 1983 which blanketed 30,000 acres of land with lava, and created 180 acres of new land offshore. $62 million dollars in property damage was assessed from the eruption, and the lava from the eruption continues to flow today.

Mauna Loa’s elevation and location made it an important spot for atmospheric and other scientific observations. The Mauna Loa Solar Observatory has long been prominent in observations of the Sun. The NOAA Mauna Loa Observatory, located close by, monitors the global atmosphere.

Mauna Loa and Kilauea are both accessible through the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The park houses extensive information about volcanoes in Hawaii, and many other Hawaiiana.

Mauna Loa

Rising to more than 4 km above sea level, Mauna Loa is the largest volcano in the world

There have been many stories about Pele and her home on Mauna Loa. One story says that Pele had a white dog that she’d send to alert the people when an eruption was underway. There have been several sightings of a white dog wandering the slopes of Mauna Loa. The observatory staff members first noticed a white dog in 1959. Attempts to befriend or capture the mysterious dog failed no matter how persistent they were. In December later that year, Kilauea, one of the two active craters, erupted and the dog disappeared. The dog would reappear and disappear occasionally after the eruption until 1966 when it stopped. Since then, no one has seen the mysterious white dog.

Access

Big Island Golf

wave crashing against cliffs next to golf course

Many enticing options when golfing on the Big Island

Selecting a golf course on the Big Island of Hawaii is like perusing over a dinner menu at a five-star restaurant: There are many enticing options to choose from. Hawaii’s largest island—it’s double the size of all the other main Hawaiian islands combined—has about 20 offerings for the golf aficionado, from popular public courses to spectacular championship layouts.


Mauna Kea Golf Course

shot over water on the Mauna Kea golf course

Don’t get distracted on this shot

Some of the finest resort courses in the world are located north of Kailua-Kona, along the island’s scenic Kohala Coast. The “granddaddy” of them all is the Mauna Kea Golf Course, an 18-hole layout designed by noted golf architect Robert Trent Jones, Sr. The challenges here are magnified by the wonderfully distracting views of the azure Pacific Ocean, rugged lava beds and snow-capped Mauna Kea. The signature third hole, a 210-yard par 3, requires a tee shot that carries over 180 yards of ocean to reach the green.

Hapuna Golf Course

Nearby is the Mauna Kea’s sister course, the Hapuna Golf Course. Built on the side of a hill overlooking the ocean, this championship course includes dramatic views of the Kohala Coast as well as the Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa and Kohala mountains. The USGA ranked the Hapuna as one of the most environmentally sensitive courses in America.

Mauna Lani Resort

Big Island Golf

The North Courses signature hole

The Mauna Lani Resort includes two 18-hole courses. The South Course is the former home of the PGA Senior Skins Game. Its 15th hole, a 196-yard par 3, is one of the most photographed golf holes in the world. It requires a tee shot over the ocean to the green. Rolling terrain and groves of kiawe trees are among the characteristics of the North Course. The signature hole here is the 17th, a 132-yard, par 3 challenge that begins with a drive from an elevated tee to a black lava-framed green.

Hualalai Golf Course

The Jack Nicklaus-designed Hualalai Golf Course features brilliant green fairways contoured against immaculately sculpted black lava. The signature 17th hole was carved from lava and features an imposing bunker that runs down the entire side of the fairway.

Waikoloa Village Golf Club

Big Island Golf

Spectacular views of the Kohala Coast

The Waikoloa Village Golf Club, perched a thousand feet above sea level, offers commanding views of the Kohala Coast. The 6,687-yard, par 72 course is nestled between the Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea volcanoes, and is a favorite of both professionals and novices.

Volcano Golf & Country Club

Other notable golf offerings on the Big Island include the Volcano Golf & Country Club, a semi-private course located next to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Here, the high elevation level (4,280 feet) makes for longer drives. The 15th hole is a long par 4 that requires hitting into the wind and getting the ball onto an elevated green past a stand of eucalyptus trees.

Golf in Hawaii

Map

Honolulu Zoo

In Waikiki

Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority / Tor Johnson

entrance to the Honolulu zoo

Come enjoy the Honolulu Zoo with the rest of us

No doubt, Waikiki is a lively place. From sun up to sun down, this 1.5-square-mile resort area on Oahu offers the full menu of visitor activities, including swimming, surfing, canoe paddling, hiking, jogging, shopping, dining, dancing and even people watching. But if you want to get really wild in Waikiki, there’s only one place to go: the Honolulu Zoo.

Welcome to The Zoo

A Day at the Honolulu Zoo

Billed as the largest zoo within a radius of 2,300 miles and the only zoo in the United States that originated from a king’s grant, the Honolulu Zoo welcomes more than 750,000 visitors every year.

In 1876, King David Kalakaua, Hawaii’s “Merrie Monarch,” who granted the lands to be used for 300-acre Kapiolani Park. Beginning in 1914, the administrator of the Parks and Recreation Department began collecting animals for exhibit at the park. The first animals included a monkey, a honey bear and some lion cubs. An African elephant named Daisy arrived two years later and delighted visitors, including young children who got to ride Daisy around the park.

Exhibits

Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority / Tor Johnson

giraffe at the Honolulu zoo

Giraffes stand tall at the Honolulu Zoo

Today, the Honolulu Zoo has grown to include a number of exhibits, including the African Savanna, Tropical Forest, Pacific Islands and Children’s Zoo. The zoo’s inhabitants include gazelles, monkeys, rhinos, cheetahs, porcupines, elephants, giraffes, lions, zebras, hippos, warthogs, exotic birds, vultures, turtles, lizards, snakes, tree frogs and much more.

The zoo offers a number of after-hours family programs. “Snooze in the Zoo” allows guests to stay overnight at the zoo and enjoy storytelling, campfire songs and walking tours. Visitors may set up tents on the back lawn or sleep out under the stars. The “Twilight Tour,” meanwhile, provides a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of the animals after the sun goes down.

Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority / Tor Johnson

elephant at the Honolulu zoo

See elephants up close

The zoo’s mission statement is to “foster an appreciation of our living world, with an emphasis on tropical ecosystems, by serving as a center for environmental education, biological study, and recreation and conservation activities.

Location

The Honolulu Zoo is located near Kapiolani Park at the corner of Kapahulu and Kalakaua Avenues. Hours are 9 a.m.-4:30 daily. The zoo is closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Iiwi

Iiwi the hawaiian honey creeper

Appearance

Have you ever heard the squeeky sound of balloons rubbing together? That’s what the call of the iiwi reminds me of. The bird is very distinct in both sound and appearance. Its bright red feathers, pink curved bill, and black wings and tail distinguish it from the rest of Hawaii’s forest birds.

The iiwi is one of more than 50 species of honeycreepers that are believed to have evolved from a single ancestral species which colonized the Islands millions of years ago.

Its bright red feathers were highly prized by the Hawaiians who used them to make feathered capes, helmets, and other ornaments for the alii, or chiefs. The birds were caught by professional bird catchers who smeared tree sap onto a branch next to a flower blossom. When the bird lighted on the branch to sip the flower nectar, it was caught.

Behavior

Watch the Hawaiian Honeycreeper in action

When I’m up in the mountains where native plants and animals live, one of the things that alerts me to the iiwi’s presence is the buzzing sounds their wings make as they flutter from tree to tree. Their movements are also unique as they spend much of their time hanging upside down poking their long, curved bills into flowers. The lehua blossom is one of their favorite foods.

Like many native species, the iiwi are becoming scarce. Disease, habitat loss and predation by introduced animals have taken its toll on the birds.

A couple of places to look for these birds are Kokee State Park on Kauai and Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Hawaii Island Hopping

Leaving Oahu on a airplane

Take an inter island flight on an island hopping adventure.

Ever thought, “If you’ve seen one Hawaiian island, you’ve seen them all?” Better think again.

Each of Hawaii’s six main islands offers a unique experience that no other island can match. In fact, recent statistics show that one out of three visitors to the Aloha State visit two or more islands during their trip. For a growing number of vacationers, “island hopping” has become an exciting Hawaiian adventure in itself.

Oahu

For most people, Oahu is a “must” visit; about 75 percent of all visitors to Hawaii include a stop on this island. Appropriately nicknamed “The Gathering Place,” Oahu is where most of the action is. It’s where you’ll find Waikiki, Hawaii’s most famous resort playground, and where visitors can enjoy all the amenities of “big city” life. In addition, Oahu is home to some of the state’s most popular and revered visitor attractions, including the USS Arizona Memorial, National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific and Polynesian Cultural Center.

Kauai

kauai's north shore

Unspoiled natural Beauty

Kauai, on the other hand, is renowned as Hawaii’s most romantic island. It’s a place that is so rich in raw, unspoiled natural beauty that it’s a favorite backdrop for Hollywood‘s leading film producers. Kauai is famous for having some of Hawaii’s most breathtaking natural wonders, including Waimea Canyon (hailed as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”), Napali Coast and the island’s lovely North Shore.

Big Island

vog from Kilauea volcano

The world’ most active volcano is found on the Big Island

The Big Island of Hawaii is exactly as its name implies. Encompassing 4,028 square miles, the Big Island is twice the size of all other Hawaiian islands combined! This island offers plenty of room to roam, and many opportunities to do so, from horseback riding and hiking to biking and fishing. What other island is large enough to hold five volcanoes, including the world’s most active volcano—Kilauea, which has been spewing molten lava since January 1983?

Maui

Turtle swimming off the coast of Maui

The best of all worlds

For many visitors, Maui offers the ideal blend of sophistication and Mother Nature. It’s not as crowded as Oahu, yet more refined than its other sister islands. The Valley Isle has distinguished itself, perhaps, for being able to offer the best of all worlds. There is something for everyone here: family attractions (Maui Ocean Center), world-class performing arts (Maui Arts & Cultural Center), scenic wonders (Haleakala National Park) and hidden natural gems (the road to Hana).

Molokai

coconut trees on molokai

Get away from it all and relax on Molokai

Molokai is the island of choice when you when to get away from it all. Here, there are no traffic lights or neon signs. No building is taller than a palm tree. Molokai is where time has stood still, eschewing modern trappings in favor of a slower, laid-back lifestyle. There is still a fair amount of activities to enjoy here—there’s golf, camping, hiking and the world-famous mule ride down to historic Kalaupapa—but the island that bills itself as “Hawaiian by Nature” is largely appreciated for what it doesn’t have.

Lanai

Lanai coastline

Lanai has transformed itself into a gorgeous resort area

Last but not least is Lanai, which has transformed itself from an agriculture-based island to a gorgeous resort with two world-class championship golf courses, two distinctive hotels, pristine beaches and a whole lot more. SCUBA diving, snorkeling, clay shooting, biking and hiking are among the other outdoor adventures available on Lanai.

Mauna Kea

snow on top of Mauna Kea

Yes it snows in Hawaii

Hawaiian Legends

According to Hawaiian legends, Poliahu was known to be the beautiful goddess of snow, who lived on the Big Island volcano Mauna Kea. Poliahu was at odds with her sister Pele, goddess of volcanoes, who often caused Mauna Kea to erupt in fountains of fire in spite of her. Pele’s wrath would melt Poliahu’s snow and drive her from the summit. There was a time when Poliahu counterattacked with a great blizzard, covering the mountain with deep snow, driving Pele back to her home on Mauna Loa. Pele’s fires on Mauna Kea were quenched for all time.

Standing at 13,796 feet, Mauna Kea is the highest volcano in Hawaii. It is one of five volcanic peaks that together form the Big Island, but is currently dormant. Literally meaning “white mountain” in the Hawaiian language, Mauna Kea’s name refers to the fact that it is regularly snow- or frost-capped. The top of the mountain peaks out at 13,796 feet on Pu’u We-Kiu, one of the numerous cinder cones on the summit, and also the highest point in the Hawaiian Islands. Mauna Kea is also considered the tallest mountain in the world when measured from the base under the ocean to the top.

Astronomical Observations

Star trails over Mauna Kea observatory

Follow the stars

Mauna Kea’s elevation and location made it an important location for atmospheric and astronomical observations. Astronomers made Mauna Kea home to the world’s largest telescopes because its atmospheric clarity is excellent. Geology and Earth science students, environmentalists and anthropologists enjoy studying the mountain because it has a lot to offer. The summit houses observatories built by many nations. The Hawaiians, on the other hand, revere Mauna Kea as a religious site, home to their mightiest gods and the burial place of their ancestors.

Mauna Kea Summit Adventures offers a 7-8 hour tour featuring spectacular scenery, watching the sunset at the summit, stargazing and more. The tour provides hooded parkas, a light dinner, hot drinks and convenient pick-up points for your convenience.

When you’re on the Big Island, visiting Mauna Kea is worth the stop if you want to experience some real Hawaiian snow.

Video

Observing from Mauna Kea

Koa Wood

Even though its numbers are in rapid decline, koa trees remain the king of Hawaiian forests. It is the tallest and most revered of Hawaii’s native trees. It also ranks among the oldest tree species in the state and unquestionably carries the highest value.

a loan Koa tree

“What a mine of wealth these magnificent koa trees would be to the people who should transport their timber to the shore and ship it to foreign countries! The koa is the Hawaiian mahogany. It takes a polish like gold or diamonds. In the hands of foreign workmen, it might be made as ornamental as precious marble.” —George Leonard Chaney, 1879

Biologists regard koa (Acacia koa) as one of the first botanical “settlers” of Hawaii because more than 40 species of endemic insects live on koa—more than on any other native tree. Several native bird species are associated with koa either primarily or exclusively. It’s estimated that the koa forest predates the arrival of man by millions of years.

Purpose

Traditional Koa conoe and paddle

Koa has many purposes such as this canoe and paddle

Koa was used in early Hawaii to build war canoes, surfboards and calabashes. Today, it is used as a material for a variety of furniture pieces and accessories, including tables, desks, cabinets, benches, clocks, picture frames, desk items and more.

In terms of strength and weight, koa is similar to black walnut. It is a moderately heavy wood. It’s stable, works well and has a rich, deeply reflective glow when finished with oils and modern varnish or lacquer. Its colors range from light brown to deep red and brown hues.

Value

Koa is the fastest growing of Hawaii’s valuable hardwoods, growing as much as an inch in diameter per year. A koa tree can reach a hundred feet in height, with a trunk diameter of five meet or larger.

Bringing back Koa

The depletion of koa has led to a dramatic rise in prices. Some woodworkers, in an effort to lessen costs, have introduced products that include both koa and other types of hardwood.

Beware of koa imitations that have been hitting the market in recent years. Faux koa products are substantially cheaper than the real thing. Koa flooring, for example, is priced at about $30 a square foot. An Australian wood with a similar look may retail for half that amount.

The Nene Goose

Help out the Nene, give them water

Struggling Against Extinction

The Nene has endured a long struggle against extinction. During the 1940s, this beautiful species was almost wiped out by laws which allowed the birds to be hunted during their winter breeding seasons when the birds were the most vulnerable.

By 1957, when the Nene was named as Hawaii’s State Bird, rescue efforts were underway. Conservationists began breeding the birds in captivity in hopes of preserving a remnant of the declining population and, someday, successfully re-establishing them in their native habitat.

Early programs for returning captive-bred birds to the wild proved difficult, but recent efforts have been very successful. There are now small but stable populations of Nene on the islands of Hawai’i, Maui, and Kaua’i.

According to the Hawai’i Audubon Society, the Nene, currently on the Federal List of Endangered Species, is threatened today by introduced mongooses and feral dogs and cats which relentlessly prey upon the Nene’s eggs and young. Preservation efforts are continuing and the success of the Nene in Hawai’i, although not a certainty, is promising. There are now about 800 wild Nene in Hawai’i and the numbers are rising with each breeding season.

Appearance

up close of two Nene Goose

Males and females have identical plumage

Somewhat similiar in appearance to a Canada Goose except only the face, cap, and hindneck are black; and Nene have buff-colored cheeks. The front and sides of the neck appear to have black and white stripes. This is caused by diagonal rows of white feathers with black skin showing through. Males and females have identical plumage. It is also interesting to note that the dusty black feet of this goose are not completely webbed as in all other geese. Usually smaller than the Canada Goose (25″ to 43″), the Nene ranges in size from approximately 21″ to 26″ inches in length.

A variety of calls have been heard and described, mostly soft and apparently conversational in nature. The loudest and most commonly recognized call is very similar to that of the Canada Goose, a resonant “honk” or “ha-wah.”

The Nene feeds on both native and introduced plants in the grasslands and slopes where it lives. The breeding season runs through the winter months, typically between November and March.

Populations

Nene laying in grass overlooking ocean

The grasslands and slopes of Hawaii is where you will find Nene Goose

Wild Nene populations can be seen in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, Mauna Loa, and Pu’u Wa’awa’a on the island of Hawai’i; in Haleakala National Park on Maui, and at the Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge, along the Na Pali Coast, and ouside Lihue on Kaua’i. Captive Nene can be seen at the Honolulu Zoo.

Waikiki, Oahu

It’s exciting. Its very name—Waikiki—is enough to transport you to another world…a lively place of pristine white sand beaches, tropical sunsets, upscale hotels, fine dining, shopping and night life. Waikiki is truly the playground of the Pacific. And to think that it was once just swampland.

Overlooking Waikiki Beach

Overlooking Waikiki Beach

The History of Waikiki

In early Hawaii, Waikiki was a much larger area than the 1.5 square miles it encompasses today. Old Waikiki included the neighboring valleys of Manoa and Palolo. Translated, Waikiki means “spouting water,” a reference to the rivers and springs that richly flowed into the area. It’s said that in the 1400s, Chief Kalamakua designed an irrigation system to take advantage of Waikiki’s abundant resources. Fishponds were built and taro patches were planted. In the 1450s, Waikiki was established as the governmental center of Oahu.

Old black and white of waikiki

Waikiki before all of the high rise buildings

Waikiki was the setting for one of Hawaii’s historic battles. In 1794, Kamehameha I arrived from the Big Island with a fleet of canoes. His army stormed Waikiki Beach and then set out for Nuuanu to take on Oahu chief Kalanikupule and his men. Kamehameha’s forces proved superior, and the Oahu warriors were forced to retreat up the valley, where they were pursued and driven off the steep Pali cliffs to their deaths.

Honolulu‘s population and its importance as a harbor and business center grew. In 1812, King Kamehameha moved his court from Kailua-Kona on the Big Island to Honolulu.

In the mid to late 1800s, Waikiki served as a vacation retreat for the kingdom’s royalty. Kamehameha IV, Kamehameha V, Lunalilo, Kalakaua, Liliuokalani and Princess Kaiulani were among the dignitaries who maintained residences in the area, enjoying moonlight horseback rides, thrilling canoe races and carefree romps in the ocean.

Overlooking Waikiki from Diamond Head

Seen here from Diamond Head, Waikiki means “spouting water”

Waikiki Vacation – Hawaii’s #1 Visitor Destination

The first half of the 20th century saw Waikiki become a visitor destination. The Ala Wai Canal was build in the 1920s to drain the area of its swamps and rivers, clearing the way for expansive hotel construction. The construction boom was stifled only temporarily, during World War II, when hotels were closed to visitors to accommodate servicemen.

waikiki at night

Waikiki in full bloom

Today, Waikiki is in full bloom. There are world-class hotels with familiar names like Hilton, Sheraton and Hyatt, and there are smaller operations that still provide plenty of aloha. Waikiki also boasts Waikiki Beach and the iconic slopes of Diamond Head Crater. There’s 500-acre Kapiolani Park, the Waikiki Aquarium, Honolulu Zoo and the International Marketplace (a shopper’s bonanza located in the heart of Waikiki). Waikiki is also home to some of Hawaii’s finest restaurants and hottest nightspots. Best of all, everything is within walking distance. Waikiki is yours to discover, block by block, beach by beach. Welcome to the playground.

Waikiki Attractions

Waikiki beach as the sun goes down and the city light come on

Welcome to the playground of the Pacific

Map

Whalers Cove, Poipu, Kauai

Areal view of whalers cove on Kauai

Ocean front

Destination

There are reasons why Poipu is one of Hawaii’s most popular resort destinations. Located at the southern tip of Kauai, Poipu is blessed with year-round sunshine, award-winning beaches, championship golf courses, exciting shopping venues and fabulous accommodations. One such property is Whalers Cove, an intimate yet luxurious 39-unit condominium resort.

Whalers Cove offers one- and two-bedroom accommodations with at least 1,300 square feet of living space. Each oceanfront or ocean-view unit includes a full kitchen, a washer/dryer, a private lanai, a Jacuzzi tub, cable television and more. On-site amenities include a heated swimming pool and three barbecue areas.

Services include daily housekeeping, free local telephone calls, complimentary daily newspaper and free Internet access. In addition, an on-site concierge can assist guests with a variety of needs, from tee time reservations to tour arrangements.

Whalers cove canoe paddlers

A unique hideaway ideal for honeymooners or small families

The resort is named after the nearby sea cove, a favorite spot for divers and snorkelers. Brilliantly colored reef fish and sea turtles are known to inhabit the cove’s pristine waters. Also minutes away are Poipu’s famous beaches, including Poipu Beach Park, named “America’s Best Beach” in 2001 by coastal research expert Stephen Leatherman (aka “Dr. Beach”).

Activities

Golf course with mountains in the background

Don’t get distracted

Staying at Whalers Cove, of course, means being immersed in the beauty of Poipu resort, where guests can enjoy horseback riding, swimming, tennis, shopping, golf and more. The Poipu Bay Golf Course and Kiahuna Golf Club—two challenging layouts designed by noted course architect Robert Trent Jones Jr.—are both in the area.

Whalers Cove is a unique hideaway ideal for honeymooners or small families. One vacationer remarked, “This place was the greatest. The staff at Whalers Cove is by far the best. They took care of our every need. But the best thing was the view. We even saw whales!

Reaching New Heights

Take a ride on a zipline

Just Live, Inc. is a Kauai based company offering an extensive menu of eco-challenge tours and corporate teambuilding services that get you outside of your comfort zone and going beyond your normal limits.

Climbing Wall, Zip Line, & High Ropes Eco-Challenge

Take your vacation to a whole new level with The Ultimate Just Live!’ Eco-Challenge. This tour is located in a magnificent forest of Norfolk Pine trees towering upward to over 200 feet. Imagine scaling a 55-foot Rock Climbing Wall, taking the Leap of Faith off a towering platform, Soaring on Pueo’s Path (a Zip Line about the length of a football field) and much more. This eco-tour is a unique, heart-pounding journey that is geared toward the more moderate adventurer that enjoys climbing and challenging themselves. Enjoy beautiful views of Mt. Kawaikini (Kauai’s tallest mountain) all the way down to Mt. Kalualea. A delicious deli-style lunch and all safety gear are also provided.

Safety is Just Live’s number one priority. They are a member of the Professional Ropes Course Association, the Association for Challenge Course Technology, and they exceed the safety standards of the challenge course industry in terms of design, construction, and operations. Additionally, all Just Live guides are certified in Challenge Course Operations as well as CPR and First Aid.

ziplining way up there

Don’t look down

Corporate Team Building

Just Live, Inc offers dynamic and interactive training and development programs for all types of corporate groups. Their services are ideal for companies or organizations that are on Kauai for meetings and conventions, or for those who would like to make Hawaii the destination for their next corporate retreat. They take pride in their superior level of customer satisfaction and service quality. All of their programs are custom designed to meet the unique needs, goals, and desired outcomes of each group.

climbing a wall and repelling

What a way to work on team building skills

Their outdoor programs are adventure-based and can include activities such as Low & High Ropes Challenge Course, Outrigger Canoeing, Rock Wall Climbing, Hiking, Kayaking, and Zip Lining. Their indoor programs are experiential-based and consist of Initiative Activities, Cooperative Games, Portable Low Challenge Elements, and Teambuilder Creations.

Emphasis is placed on group collaboration toward common goals, effective communication, mutual support, efficiency & quality, boosting moral & creativity, and discovering individual & team strengths. Their trained and certified facilitators use an Introduction-Observation-Debriefing process that helps participants discover the significant benefits of their experience and how to transfer lessons learned back into the workplace.

Testimonial

One participant offered the following testimonial: The gang had a blast! We’ve been recognizing strengths and talents unknown until last week (your program!). It was sometimes humbling; sometimes exhilarating what we got done…The day’s workout is still paying off dividends. I don’t think I’ll ever underestimate the power of a positive, out-of-the-box activity. The renewed connections between staff enhanced our attitudes and effort, and the day-to-day byproducts are seen in receptivity, helpfulness, and support to one another…

Experience a powerful training, Discover individual and team strengths, and Achieve positive growth and development. They truly are Going Beyond Your Expectations’.

Dragonfly Ranch

Upscale tree house living at the Dragonfly Ranch

Upscale treehouse lodging

About

Offering upscale treehouse lodging with spa pamperings for discerning travelers, Dragonfly Ranch: HEALING ARTS CENTER, was voted #1 by readers of West Hawaii Today.

More than a Bed and Breakfast, this upscale Swiss Family Robinson-style getaway near the ancient Pu’uhonua O Honaunau (Place of Refuge) on the Big Island of Hawaii’s sunny Kona Coast is ideal for romantics, families, individuals, groups, honeymooners and wedding parties.

Owner Barbara “Kenonilani” Moore and her staff of health care practitioners periodically offer and host workshops that can include numerous vibrational healing modalities such as yoga, lomilomi massage, a labyrinth walk, hormonal balancing, and flower essences. In five pristine bays nearby, visitors can enjoy snorkeling, diving, sailing, kayaking, whale-watching and visits from dolphins.

The Dragonfly Ranch has three unique suites. Each has a private entrance and indoor bathroom. All facilities include secluded outdoor showers for bathing in the sunshine or under the stars, celebrating our ideal climate. Two rooms located in the main house are also available.

This tropical country estate near wild dolphins is ideal for those wishing to experience soft adventure in a natural setting—where Aloha abounds.

Location

Hawaii Forest and Trail

The premier eco-tour company

Hiking

Off the beaten path

Hawaii Forest & Trail is the premier eco-tour company that has been introducing visitors to the incredible natural and geologic diversity of the Big Island for the past eight years.

Our adventures feature the best tour locales, great customer service, relaxed easy walks, and professionally-trained naturalist guides who share with you the landscapes, legends and life of Hawaii.

Tours

Hawaii Forest & Trail offers eight half-day and full-day tours, including a Mauna Kea Summit and Stars tour, two waterfall tours, a Kilauea Volcanoes tour, a tour to Hualalai Volcano, two birding tours and a mule ride adventure.

Tours are in small groups of up to 10 people who are transported in comfortable four-wheel drive vans.

Location

Hawaii Vacation

Hawaii, even as the word rolls off your tongue, vivid images begin to form in your mind…

Lying on a secluded beach, your cares drifting away with the gentle ocean waves. Exploring lush tropical rain forests, immersing yourself in a thousand different shades of green. Scuba and snorkeling in crystal-clear waters, coming face to face with schools of rainbow-colored fish. Toast another day with a Mai Tai and catch another brilliant sunset. Read More ↓


Things to do in Hawaii are plentiful.

Hawaii Beaches are featured on multiple ‘best’ and ‘top 10’ lists.

Hawaii Destinations are as much about the journey.

Places to Stay in Hawaii for every lifestyle and budget.

Hawaii Food & Culture

Things To Do On The Big Island

Hot lava and stargazing adventures sit are just some of the things you’ll discover.

Things to do on the Big Island include exploring the underwater world in a glass bottom boat, watching hot lava explode, and hiking to a mountain waterfall. The Big Island is also known for its big game fishing, and ocean sunset cruises tak to look for humpback whales. In Hilo you can visit the Pacific Tsunami Museum, drive along the beautiful Hamakua Coast, or up to the top of the nearly 14,000-foot Mauna Kea volcano for a stargazing adventure. Read More ↓


Hawaii Attractions

Visitors enjoying the USS Arizona Memorial tour

The USS Arizonal Memorial at Pearl Harbor is the most popular free attraction on Oahu.

Hawaii’s menu of visitor attractions is as versatile as it is extensive.

There are worthwhile attractions on every major island, celebrating Hawaii’s history, culture, natural environment, wildlife, arts and more. Some are touristy, others are not. Some charge admissions, others are free. Each attraction, however, can significantly add to your overall experience in the islands. Read More ↓


Things To Do In Hawaii

Hawaii offers a genuine adventure as textured and active as one wishes.

Yes, Hawaii is known for its beaches. And true, there’s nothing quite like basking under the warm Hawaiian sun as your cares drift away with each gentle wave that laps at your feet. But there’s a lot more to the Aloha State than soaking up sun. You can get out and do something! A well-rounded visit includes the most talked about tourist pursuits, lesser-known local adventures, and island hopping. Read More ↓


Hawaiian Christmas Trees

large christmas tree in hawaii

Christmas with aloha

Christmas with a Twist

Even the traditional symbols of Christmas come with a twist in Hawai’i. Consider the Christmas tree. An October 25, 1995 headline in a Honolulu newspaper declares, “Christmas tree ship to arrive on Thanksgiving Day.” The article reads: “It’s still a week to Halloween and a month to Thanksgiving, but Matson Navigation Co. has announced the arrival date for its annual Christmas Tree Ship…most trees for O‘ahu residents will go on sale the day after Thanksgiving.”

Kid picking out his Christmas Tree in Hawaii

Residents wait for their chance to pick the best of the islands’ limited supply of Christmas trees

Every year, hordes of residents line up at the appointed hour to watch Christmas trees being unloaded from refrigerated containers. They wait for their chance to pick the best of the islands’ limited supply of grand firs, nobles and other popular varieties.

Until the 1960s, when refrigerated containers started crossing the Pacific in great numbers, such mainland conifers were unavailable. Instead, holiday revelers used Norfolk Island pines, a tree species established in Hawai’i long ago from a South Pacific island “neighbor.”

Although it is no longer as universally popular than in the past, the Norfolk pine is still the Christmas tree of choice for many Island residents. Some visit local nurseries and pick their choice from long, straight rows of a youthful crop. Others buy potted specimens to decorate and illuminate. A few even bootleg them from local forest reserves.

Experts advise against later planting Norfolk pines in small yards after the season ends. The tree will become enormous, and even a menace to nearby buildings and walls.

Hawaiian Style

Hawaiian Christmas

Anything can be a Christmas tree in Hawaii

When it comes to Christmas trees, Hawai’i residents prove themselves to be extremely versatile: Palm trees are frequently decorated for Christmas, especially in outdoor displays and neighborhood yards. They nicely complement displays of Santa riding an outrigger canoe rather than a sleigh, dolphins in place of reindeer, and elves laboring in aloha shirts.

Christmas celebrations are always a little different in Hawai’i. But hey, where else but the Big Island can a person snowboard down the icy slopes of Mauna Kea in the morning, then paddle out in the warm waters of Hapuna that afternoon?

Mele Kalikimaka! (Merry Christmas!)

Hawaii Helicopter Tours

Helicopter tour flying down Na Pali Coast, Kauai

Often the only way to see the hidden interior and secret gems of the islands.

While there are many ways to explore Hawaii, few experiences can match an aerial tour over the islands’ most scenic and breathtaking spots.


Tours

Hawaii helicopter rides may be pricey—expect to pay close to $200 per person—but most visitors who have enjoyed a “bird’s-eye view” of paradise will tell you the experience is worth the cost. What’s more, every island offers a unique sightseeing adventure—from the rugged Koolaus and cityscapes on Oahu and majestic Haleakala Crater on Maui to the fiery sights of the Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island and breathtaking Waimea Canyon and Na Pali Coast on Kauai.

Numerous helicopter tours are available, each offering a varying menu of “flight-seeing” adventures. It is recommended that you book your tour early on in your stay, maximizing your opportunity to reschedule a tour in the event of inclement weather (helicopter tour companies won’t fly under questionable weather conditions. Not only is it unsafe, but you won’t get your money’s worth in terms of scenery).

Most helicopters are of the six-seat variety, and specific seating cannot be guaranteed (seats are assigned to properly balance the aircraft). Visibility from any seat is excellent, however, as there are no obstructions to block your views. If you want a chopper excursion all to yourself, most companies offer charter flights.

Tips

  • Watch out for the glare from inside the windows.
  • Wearing dark clothing can reduce glare.
  • Cameras with zoom lenses are optimal because the size of the field can change rapidly.
  • Check out our Hawaii Helicopter Crash Report before choosing a tour company.

When To Go

The best time of the day to go is mid- to early morning, before the arrival of cloud covers that often come in the afternoon.

Flight Time

Most people will advise you to avoid flights that are less than 50 minutes in length; they may only serve to wet your appetite, and you’ll regret not spending a little more to maximize your experience.

Camera / Video

Flights are fully narrated and are usually videotaped (you can purchase the video after the tour is over). Of course, bring a camera and high-speed film (ASA/ISO 400 or 800) to further capture your experience.


Blue Hawaiian helicopter tours are the most popular

Helicopter flying over waikiki lights

Flying over the city lights of Waikiki


Volcano By Helicopter

Views from above the Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island