Hawaii: The Best Sights, Tours and More

Imagine escaping the grind of everyday life to relax on a tropical beach, listen to the thundering of a waterfall in a rainforest, honor men and women of valor or climb the world’s largest shield volcano. All of this and many other wonderful things to do are at your fingertips in Hawaii.

Here are 5 of Hawaii’s most outstanding places to visit:

1. Road to Hana

Maui is the second largest Hawaiian island and famous for its beautiful beaches and magnificent views. One of the best ways to experience Maui is to drive the Road to Hana. This highway winds its way through rainforests teeming with life, past breathtaking waterfalls, around sea cliffs and beside hidden beaches as it follows Maui’s northeast coast.

There are a variety of luxury tours which you can book for the Road to Hana. Experienced guides lead these tours and will tell you all about the local history and culture. They stop at the best beaches and waterfalls, as well as help you explore Kaumahina State Park.

If you choose to drive yourself to Hana, consider spending the night at Travaasa Hana, one of Hawaii’s exceptional resorts. The Travaasa Hana Resort has been voted the Number 1 Boutique Hotel in Hawaii and includes the The Preserve Kitchen + Bar, an open air restaurant that provides Hawaiian cuisine, music and hula dancing every day of the week.

Interesting Facts about the Road to Hana
Length: 52 miles
Number of curves: 600
Number of bridges: 50

For your curiosity: Hawaiian King Pi’ilani first broke ground for the Road to Hana in the 1400s. At that time, the road was a dirt footpath with ropes that could be used to swing across the gorges.

2. Pearl Harbor

In the early morning of December 7, 1941, Japanese airplanes suddenly opened fire on the United States’ Pacific Fleet that was anchored in Pearl Harbor. This attack took the lives of more than 2,400 Americans and forced the United States into World War 2.

Today, Pearl Harbor is a must-see because of its rich history. Two of the best ways to learn about that fateful day in December and to honor the men and women who gave their lives there, is to visit the USS Arizona Memorial and the Pacific Aviation Museum. Both the memorial and the museum welcome children and have a variety of fun things for kids to do while they are in Hawaii.

Touring Information for the USS Arizona Memorial
Address: 1 Arizona Memorial Place, Honolulu, Hawaii
Hours: Seven days a week, from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Cost: It is free, but you do need sign up for a program ticket to take a boat out to the memorial.

For your curiosity: The USS Arizona still holds the remains of many of its crew members and is considered an active military cemetery. Any man or woman, who served on the ship before or during the Pearl Harbor attack, can request that their ashes be laid to rest alongside their fellow crew members in the USS Arizona.

Photo: Flick

Touring Info for the Pacific Aviation Museum
Address: 319 Lexington Blvd, Honolulu, HI
Hours: Daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Adults – $25.00; Children (Ages 4-12): $12.00; Adult Kama’aina and Military: $15.00
Kama’aina Children (Ages 4-12): $10.00; Children 3 years old and under enter for free.

For your curiosity: Kama’aina is pronounced “kah-mah-aye-nah” and means a Hawaiian resident. This museum and many other Hawaiian establishments give discounts to local folks.

Pearl Harbor lies along the coast of Oahu, the third largest island in Hawaii. Oahu is also home to the Dole Pineapple Plantation and the popular Waikiki Beach. If you want to visit all the interesting places in Pearl Harbor and Oahu in one day, consider signing up for a day tour, such as those organized by E Noa.

Interesting Facts About Oahu
Population: About 1 million
Land area: 596 square miles
Capital and largest city: Honolulu

The Kingdom of Hawaii was ruled by monarchs for many years. In the mid-1800s, King Kamehameha the Third built Iolani Palace in Honolulu to be his royal home. Iolani Palace is one of only 2 royal palaces on American soil and has been preserved as a museum.

Iolani Palace Touring Information
Address: 364 S King St, Honolulu
Hours: Monday through Saturday from 9 am – 4 pm
Cost for guided tours: Adults – $27.00; Adult Kama’aina or Military – $23.00; Children ages 5-12 – $6.00; Children ages 4 and under – Free
Cost for self-led audio tours: Adults – $20.00; Adults Kamaaina or Military – $16.00; Children ages 5-12 – $6.00; Children ages 4 and under – Free

3. Volcanoes National Park

Thousands of years ago, volcanic activity beneath the Pacific Ocean formed the Hawaiian archipelago. This undersea volcanic hotspot continues to create volcanoes on several of the Hawaiian islands and also in the ocean around them.

Volcanoes National Park covers 323 acres of land on Hawaii Island and includes two noteworthy volcanoes: Kilauea, a 4,000 ft tall volcano that is currently active, and Mauna Loa that stands 13,000 feet tall and holds the title of the world’s largest shield volcano.

Volcanoes National Park is one of the best places to visit in Hawaii if you enjoy the adrenaline of outdoor adventures. The park has numerous hiking trails, outstanding flora and fauna, as well as a variety of cultural programs that welcome anyone who wants to learn more about Hawaii’s arts and culture.

Touring Info for Volcanoes National Park
Location: Island of Hawaii
Cost: $12.00 for each individual over 15 years old. This pass for individuals is valid for 7 days. If you prefer, you can purchase a vehicle pass for $25.00. A vehicle pass admits one private vehicle and all of its passengers for 7 days.

Photo: Flick

For your curiosity: Volcanoes National Park was designated a World Heritage Site in 1987 and regularly attracts scientist who want to study the evolution of volcanic activity or the sun. The Mauna Loa’s height and location make it the perfect place for solar observation. In fact, the National Center for Atmospheric Research built a valuable solar observatory on Mauna Loa’s northern slope.

If you decide to spend several days in Volcanoes National Park, you can rent a room or cabin at the Kilauea Military Camp Resort. The resort is conveniently located near Kilauea’s crater and offers a variety of guided tours to volcanic craters and lava tubes, as well as lava deserts and local museums.

Photo: Flick

4. Kailua Kona

Kailua is a city of almost 12,000 people in the North Kona District on the island of Hawaii. In the city, you can shop for souvenirs, local art, specialty jewelry and much more on Ali’i Drive. Kailua also offers great dining, including the Kona Brewing Co.’s brewpub with its casual menu and beer tours.

The region around Kailua Kona overflows with natural beauty which includes numerous beaches. Kona beaches are a great place to take a nighttime swim with manta rays, enjoy a family cruise or snorkel near dolphins and coral reefs.

Interesting Facts About Kailua Kona
Location: On the southern slope of the Hualālai volcano on Hawaii Island
Population: 11,975 people as of 2010
Land area: 35.6 sq. miles

For your curiosity: Kailua and the rest of the Kona District have rich volcanic earth and the perfect altitude to grow coffee. The district produces about 2.4 million pounds of coffee beans every year which equals more than 100 million cups of rich, flavorful Kona coffee. If you are interested in learning more about Kona coffee, take a tour of the Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation while you are in Kailua Kona.

5. Kauai Island

The oldest and northernmost island in the Hawaii archipelago is Kauai. Often called the “Garden Island”, Kauai is noteworthy for its tall rock spires, jagged sea cliffs and lucious rainforest clinging to the sides of steep valleys. Many of these natural beauties can be seen on Napali Coast which wraps around Kauai’s north side. Much of Napali Coast is impassable by foot and the best way to experience its beauty is to book a boat or air tour.

Years ago, Hawaii’s first commercial sugar plantation was on Kauai and sugarcane eventually dominated Kauai’s economy in the late 1800s. On Kauai’s southern side, an old sugar plantation called Kilohana invites visitors to take a trip back in time to the golden age of sugar, ride the plantation’s heritage railway and spend the evening at the Lu‘au Kalamaku. The luau offers the best of Hawaii’s heritage with hula and fire knife dancing, traditional music, a fire poi-ball exhibition and of course, an imu ceremony.

Interesting Information about Kauai Island
Population: 65,600 people as of 2008
Land area: 562 sq. miles
Largest settlement: Kapa’a

Photo: Flick

For your curiosity: An imu is the underground oven that Hawaiians have traditionally used to cook kalua pork. The imu ceremony revolves around making the imu by layering hot coals, stones and leaves in a hole and then placing the pork inside to steam. The kalua or shredded pork is an indispensable part of every luau meal.

Hawaii is a wonderful place to relax, immerse yourself in natural beauty, learn about history and experience another culture. When will you be going there?