Visiting Hawaii has been something that’s been on my bucket list for many years. As an avid traveler, I’ve heard amazing stories regarding the different islands and how they all differ. Deciding which islands to visit while also trying to jam pack as many attractions in such a short time frame was the hardest part. There’s so much to see and experience, how do you decide? My advice, make a list. Take the top 10 “must sees” from each island and focus on those. Don’t try to overwhelm yourself with too much at one time or you’ll end up missing something.
The first stop of my eight-day adventure was Honolulu, capitol of Hawaii. I stayed right in the heart of Waikiki, known best for the food, nightlife, and shopping attractions. Home to 1 million but visited by an astounding 9 million yearly, it’s easy to imagine how busy the streets are 24/7. Here, you will find iconic beaches, high-rise hotels, luxury malls, and a tour bus for just about anything.
I only took one tour while visiting Waikiki, but I loved it! It was an all-day tour which included:
1-hour at Waimea Bay– A beautiful beach where you can watch locals jump off Waimea’s famous rock.
1-hour at Pipeline Beach- Known for the most famous surf break in the world. Right along this beach is where all the major surf brands have houses including Volcom and Billabong. During the summers, the water is flat, but during the winters, you will find all the pros going after record breaking waves.
Break for lunch- Lunch is served picnic style while enjoying a beautiful view of the Anahulu river (you’ll be paddle boarding here). Lunch is an option of world class coconut or garlic butter shrimp.
1-hour Kayak or standup paddleboard- If you can keep your balance, you’ll be paddle boarding down the beautiful Anahulu river watching for sea turtles. This is a natural habitat for the Green Sea Turtles and is one of the most popular tourist attractions on the North Shore.
1-hour Snorkel with Sea Turtles- Snorkeling with the turtles is a fan favorite, as they will literally crawl up on the beach next to you and sunbathe. This is something I strongly recommend each person should experience at least once in their life.
The last stop of the tour is a visit to the famous Dole Plantation. Yes, this means pineapple EVERYTHING. The tour guides all recommend the “dole cone,” which is basically a pineapple flavored sorbet. Yes, it was delicious! This was a great way to end the tour and send us off with a tasty treat.
The last stop of my trip was visiting the beautiful island of Maui. This island is substantially calmer than others, as it’s more of a relaxation destination (not as many tourists). Known for beautiful hikes, waterfalls, active volcanoes, and most notably, Haleakala National Park. Haleakala is the island’s highest peak, offering one of the most breathtaking views you’ll ever have the chance to experience.
The only tour I took on Maui was the early morning sunrise trip to the very top of Haleakala. You are required to wake up around 2:30 a.m. to meet the van to drive you 10,000 feet up to the park. Once there, you wait for the sunrise to appear through the clouds. It’s something you can’t explain until you’re actually there to witness it. Locals gather to cheer a beautiful Hawaiian chant, welcoming you and introducing that morning’s sunrise as it shines through. After the sun rises, you can tour the park a bit before you bicycle down the mountain. Yes, I said BICYCLE down 10,000 feet. The roads are windy and dangerous, but the smell of the fresh crisp air and beautiful scenery makes it all worth it. The most exciting part? After you’re done, you get to go home and have a nap and still have the rest of the day to go to the beach.
The rest of my time on Maui was full of delicious food, tons of shopping, and endless site seeing. I also took the infamous “road to Hana.” A 64-mile stretch full of windy roads, sketchy bridges, and one-way roads through what seems like an endless mountainside. But, along the way, you get to see some of Maui’s most beautiful landmarks. Just Google “the road to Hana,” you’ll see what I mean.
Whichever islands you decide to visit, Hawaii is an incredible place full of beauty, love, and excitement. Each island has its own story and it’s worth the visit. For your next vacation, I strongly recommend taking a trip to Hawaii.