Hawaii has long been a destination that fascinated me - a paradisiacal collection of islands with sugary sands and swaying palms, what's not to love? But my latest trip to this tropical oasis well and truly opened my eyes to Hawaii's diversity.
Best paired with a few days spent exploring the excitement and exhilaration of the USA, Hawaii is known for spectacular surf breaks, friendly faces, and of course, boundless beach bliss. However, this isn't just a destination for relaxation - it's a bubbling hub of natural wonders, culture and history, where every island has a different personality. I took every opportunity to join in with the wide variety of excursions and experiences on my travels, and I've included a few of my favourites below to inspire your next luxury Hawaii holiday.
Kealakekua Bay is a three-hundred-acre marine sanctuary boasting year-round protected waters, so where better for a beginner's snorkelling tour? Sailing out on custom-designed vessels, we immersed ourselves in a full afternoon of adventure, exploring the crystal-clear waters close to the monument of Captain James Cook, before heading for the sea caves and lava tubes at the base of Hualalai, where the underwater landscape was geologically fascinating! We kept our eye out for marine life wherever we went - we spotted pods dolphins playing in the waves and even caught a glimpse of some other creatures on our way back to shore! Manta Rays made their way to a nearby bay in search on plankton at sunset, where lights beneath the water naturally draw them in, offering a magically close encounter for us as we passed by.
Located on Big Island, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park houses two volcanoes, including Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes on earth. This otherworldly experience was the perfect chance to admire more of the country's amazing geological gems, as we travelled from one side of the island to the other. We stopped to admire lots of breathtaking sights, including the 80ft Rainbow Falls, before reaching the park itself. Upon arrival, we took a fascinating walk across the landscape, where we saw volcanic beaches - newly formed following 2018's eruption - and the lunar-like lava fields. We also met numerous locals who'd lived in the area until the eruption, who explained how nature would soon resurrect the area to its former glory! Later, we savoured a gourmet dinner at Volcano House, enjoying beautiful views across the crater and equally incredible food.
While Hawaii from the ground is beautiful, the perspective by helicopter took my breath away! Flying high above Kauai, we witnessed some of Kauai's most incredible natural wonders, only accessible via sea or air with no roads nearby. The sacred Waimea Valley - otherwise known as the 'Grand Canyon of the Pacific' - showcases beautiful botanical gardens and verdant flora, providing endless green vistas from the air, while seeing the mesmerising Mount Waialeale - the second wettest place on earth - from the sky gave us a spectacular view of the 'Weeping Wall', where countless waterfalls cascade from the summit, creating a real life Jurassic Park landscape!
Kauai Rum Safari
This fun-filled experience is perfect for those seeking something light-hearted! Travelling by open-air vehicle with a luscious backdrop, our Rum Safari commenced with a journey through the heart of the Kilohana Plantation, passing exotic plants, fruit and vegetable orchards and the residing animals along the way. Our enthusiastic guide ensured we tasted the local produce, including fruits freshly picked from the surrounding flora and trees. Next, we headed to the jungle bungalow for the most anticipated part of the journey - rum-tasting! We sampled refreshing Mai Tai cocktails featuring local rums and heard more from the experts about their delicious local tipple and how it came to be, before we ventured back through the expansive plantation's greenery for our return drive.
This National Historic Landmark features five fascinating historic sites, presented in a manner that allows travellers to respectfully learn more about Hawaii's tragic history. We began our visit with an English-speaking audio tour around the National Memorial, before making the short trip across the harbour to the Battleship Missouri Memorial. This living museum was jam-packed with exciting exhibits, spanning three wars and five decades of service. Although I didn't personally have time to visit, I'd also highly recommend taking the chance to visit the USS Arizona Memorial. A place of somber beauty and reflection, this 'floating' memorial is built above the sunken battleship itself, featuring a shrine to the men who lost their lives in the devastating tragedy.