The Best Things To Do In Hawaii

Written By: Kristen Cook

When you think of Hawaii, it’s hard not to instantly imagine gorgeous blue skies, emerald green waters and palm trees swaying in the gentle breeze. A popular island destination for visitors around the world, Hawaii is filled with things to do both outdoors and within many of its iconic locations, including the major city of Honolulu. Whether you want to drive around the islands exploring or getting out in the water to learn surfing, Hawaii has no shortage of activities for any stay.

A mild temperature makes Hawaii a perfect place to visit all year long – from temperatures in the mid-70s during winter months and mid-80s during summer; there’s really no bad time to visit. The busiest times of year are during holidays and summer, when most people have vacation time, so if you’re looking for the ‘off-season,’ it’s best to book a holiday during the fall or springtime.

Even though Hawaii is best known for its sandy beaches and laid-back lifestyle, there are many historical points of interest that are great to add to any itinerary and provide even more detail and context to Hawaii’s rich history. The Bishop Musuem covers the entire history of the state, from its ancient days through current times. It covers archaeology and cultural stories through interactive and educational exhibits. Additionally, Pearl Harbor is one must-see memorial for anyone stopping in Honolulu. The site is dedicated to those who perished in the December 1941 attacks – you can still see the famed USS Arizona sunken beneath the memorial site.

For those who want to get out and explore, there are countless sites to add to the list, including Diamond Head State Monument, which is a volcano crater that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding valley and Pacific Ocean. Get out and immerse yourself in Hawaiian beauty by walking along the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail, which gives you stunning views of the ocean and volcanic rocks below. Finally, lay out the towel and soak up some of that Hawaiian sunshine with a day on Waikiki Beach – hire a surfboard, try out some surf or snorkeling lessons, or just work on that golden tan!


Molokini Crater

Just off the coast from Maui lies the Molokini Crater, one of the world’s top ten diving sites. Take a snorkelling or diving tour to this incredibly beautiful sunken crater; crystal clear waters and a kaleidoscope of marine life await you! Don’t delay, this is a must-see spot; the crater provides a protective barrier, and the snorkelling is safe and fun!


Kualoa Ranch

Kualoa Ranch is a very popular adventure playground located on Oahu; a favourite among locals and tourists alike! An easy bus ride from Waikiki, it’s all about fun, and there are a wide range of tours to choose from. Take a two-hour ATV ride to explore the ranch, horse ride to take in the spectacular sights, or take the Jurassic Jungle Expedition Tour and see where parts of the movie were shot! The options for fun here are endless!


Mauna Kea Summit & Observatory

A trip to the Mauna Kea Summit & Observatory can mean a visit to the visitor centre or to the summit. The Summit is the tallest of Hawaii’s mountains and stands nearly 14,000 feet tall; several of the world’s most powerful telescopes are here! If you opt to head to the summit, be ready for a tough 10-hour return hike! Alternatively, most people head to the Visitor Centre instead, for the sunrise or sunset. At 9,300 feet, it features displays, telescopes, talks and tours!


Waipio Valley

The Waipio Valley – on the Big Island of Hawaii – is a hiker’s paradise! Spend a day meandering along the trails, and at the look-outs atop of the towering cliffs, take in the magnificent views that surround you. The waterfalls cascade through the rainforest and take you back to the times when wars were waged by Kamehameha the Great. At the end, a steep path takes you safely down to the black sand beach!



A visit to Waikiki is an absolute must for anyone staying on Oahu. Stroll along the white sands of this famous surf beach and take your time perusing the shops. Have a few drinks and a meal at any of the great bars and restaurants; grab a table and just watch the waves roll in and the people walk by. It’s time to relax – unless surfing is on the agenda?


Pearl Harbor

To visit Pearl Harbor is, arguably, to visit the place where the world changed forever in December 1941, when it was bombed by the Japanese in a surprise attack. Two thousand and four hundred were lost that day and many injured. Stand directly above the remains of the USS Arizona, and visit the Battleship Missouri, where the Japanese signed their surrender.


Polynesian Cultural Center

Absorb yourself into the culture of Hawaii with a visit to the Polynesian Cultural Centre, where you will learn about the Polynesian people of Hawaii, New Zealand, Tonga and Tahiti. Visit the re-created villages and be fascinated by the cultural shows and the canoe displays. Do you think it’s easy to crack a coconut? – learn how! If you’re having so much fun that you don’t want to leave, you can even stay the evening!


Haleakala Crater

At first sight, you will feel as if the lunar landscape has landed at the Haleakala Crater, on the Island of Maui. This is a very popular destination among tourists and travellers alike, as the sunrises are spectacular, and the views are unbelievable! Look out over the landscapes of Maui as you take your time hiking along the trails to cross the crater. Oh, and keep an eye out for wildlife, its everywhere!


Road to Hana

Sometimes it’s the journey, rather than just the destination, that is the purpose of the day – the Road to Hana is a spectacular example. While the tiny village of Hana is certainly worth the trip, there are many spots to stop along the way. This winding 52 mile road should take you a while, as you stop to see waterfalls, beaches, spectacular views, and take some of the short hikes on offer!


Waimea Canyon

Volcanos and water have combined to carve out the magnificent Waimea Canyon. Bring your walking shoes and explore this 16-kilometre-long canyon that gets upto 900 metres deep. It’s wild and pristine, and the views will hold you spellbound. So find a spot to have a picnic and take time to absorb its harsh beauty!


Wailua River

The Wailua River runs from the Wailua crater; flowing for 20 miles down to the coast. Perfect for a boat trip, with many also taking the opportunity to travel its peaceful waters by kayak. You will see cascading waterfalls and spectacular scenery, and keep an eye out for the Nounou Mountains, which looks like a human lying on its back!


North Shore

Surfers from around the world congregate at Oahu’s North Shore to experience surfing at its very best! Watch as they conquer the waves, and then visit Haleiwa, a small boating harbour which is considered to be the gateway to the region. Go snorkelling in Waimea Bay, and take in the beauty which is all around you. And when the tide is out, it’s a great place to explore the rock pools! Make a day of this natural paradise!


Dole Plantation

If it’s time for something a little quirky and lots of fun, visit the Dole Plantation. Oahu is famous for its surf and sun, but it also had a thriving pineapple industry, and this plantation was its heart. Visit the museum to learn about the industry and see a traditional plantation home. Ride on the Pineapple Express train and then weave your way through the world’s largest maze! It’s a great day out for everyone!


Kealakekua Bay

Famous for its snorkelling, Kealakekua Bay is on the Kona Coast of the island of Hawaii. Visit the obelisk that marks the death of Captain James Cook, and perhaps hike the surrounding trails. Dolphins are often sighted in the bay, so keep an eye out for them if you choose to go kayaking! This is a great way to spend the day – it just doesn’t get better!



Take in the history of Makena as you stroll along the 1.5 miles of the golden beach, located on the Hawaiian Island of Maui. Throughout its many street and pathways, Makena has a vast history as the first place a western explorer landed on the island. Spend a day absorbing the culture and visiting the sights that bring back a bygone era.


Lanikai Beach

Blessed with white sand and turquoise waters, Lanikai Beach is one of Oahu’s natural gems. Take a walk along this one-mile beach and unwind as you enjoy the picturesque scenery which surround it. The beach is a favourite if you like water sports such as windsurfing, kitesurfing and kayaking, however, the beach does not offer public facilities such as restrooms.


USS Missouri

To visit the USS Missouri – otherwise known as “Big Mo” – is to stand where the country’s brave mariners defended the nation. Take a 35-minute guided tour or explore at your own pace with an audio tour, as you absorb the history and see where the Japanese formalised their surrender.


Byodo-In Temple

With a backdrop of the Ko’olau Mountains, the Byodo-In Temple is a Buddhist sanctuary, just ten minutes from the town of Kaneohe. Take a peaceful interlude in your trip, inspect the temple, and see the largest carved golden Buddha outside of Japan. Enjoy the lush gardens, the wild peacocks and Japanese koi carp, it’s a truly magical place to visit.



The capital of Hawaii, Honolulu, is the perfect place to stay for beaches, nightlife and day trips to the surrounding areas of Hawaii. Visit Pearl Harbour and learn the history of 1941, hike to the Diamond Head Crater, or tour one of the many famous ranches of the island. There is so much to do around Honolulu; take a stroll through this buzzing city and explore the fascinating history, taking time to enjoy the shopping, and as the day starts to wind down, get ready for the Waikiki nightlife to start winding up!



The garden island of Kauai combines the natural beauty of the tropical rainforests with beaches that are ideal for families, right through to experienced surfers. Explore the mountains and the streams on the many hiking and cycling trails, go kayaking for the day, or take a leisurely cruise to soak up the sun and get a unique perspective of the island. Stroll through the many museums and markets and learn about the fascinating culture and history, and then sit down to one of the many restaurants on offer, which accommodate all budgets and tastes!



Maui is “The Valley Isle,” famous for its fabulous beaches, stunning scenery and exquisite cuisine. With sea life in abundance, take time to see the turtles and dolphins which call the island home, or have fun on one of the many tours and experiences that this island offers; you will never run out of exciting and interesting things to do and see here! You can even soak up the history and culture with a visit to the theatre or a traditional show! Maui offers so much diversity, it is a trip you’ll never forget.


Na Pali Coast

Perfect white-sand beaches, backed by lush, green, towering cliff faces, meet the crystal-clear turquoise waters of the Na Pali Coast. This magnificent stretch of coastline is world-famous for its picturesque beauty, water-sports, and abundant marine life; it really has to be seen to be believed!



Stretched along the west coast of the Hawaii’s Big Island, Kailua-Kona is the perfect destination for water sports, summer fun, and some of the world’s most magnificent beaches. In addition to the many landmarks on offer, Kailua-Kona really comes alive as the sun begins to set!


Molokai Island

Not quite as popular as other Hawaiian Islands, Molokai Island is all about picturesque natural scenery and pure relaxation. There are perfect white-sand beaches to inhabit, towering volcanoes to climb, and the amazing Kalaupapa National Historical Park Molokai to explore. Come, escape the mainstream today!


Thurston Lava Tube

Located on the Big Island of Hawaii, visit the Thurston Lava Tube and experience the stark underground contrast to the lush rainforests that reside above it. Enjoy the 20-minute walk to the entrance, listening to the birdsongs, and admiring the lush vegetation of your surrounds. However, as you enter the lava tube, a new world awaits as you imagine the red lava coursing through the tunnels. The ceiling can get a bit low, so watch your head!

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