Hawai‘i is a place like nowhere else on earth. With its jaw-dropping natural beauty, unique cultural traditions and warm and inviting people, it’s no wonder it’s such a popular destination for Australian and New Zealand travellers, who often return time and time again. The Islands’ fantastic shopping, fascinating history, delectable food, nature and wildlife experiences, and fun festivals and events are also major drawcards. Whether you are a couple looking for a romantic getaway, a family seeking relaxation and educational experiences, or a group of friends travelling for a special occasion, the Hawaiian Islands have something for everyone.
Which Hawaiian Islands should you visit?
There are six major islands to visit in Hawai‘i, and each has its own distinct personality. It’s worth including more than one in your itinerary to make the most out of your Hawai‘i experience. Australian and New Zealand travellers fly into Honolulu, on the island of O‘ahu, which is home to vibrant Waikīkī and one of the state’s most visited attractions, Pearl Harbor. Known for its laidback beach vibe, Maui is a mecca for surfers, creatives and honeymooners. It also has colourful towns dotted with art galleries, boutique shops and cafes, great hiking and snorkelling experiences, and spectacular sunsets. Island of Hawai’i is nearly twice as big as all of the other Hawaiian Islands combined. You can travel through all but four of the world’s different climate zones here, ranging from wet tropical to polar tundra — a result of the shielding effect and elevations of its volcanoes, Maunakea and Maunaloa. Kaua‘i boasts some of the Hawaiian Islands’ most impressive scenery, including the Nāpali Coast and Waimea Canyon, which is known as ‘the Grand Canyon of the Pacific’. The smaller, lesser-visited Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i offer a slower pace and an authentic experience for travellers who prefer to get off the beaten track.
Best things to do in Hawai‘i
One thing’s for sure – you’ll never be bored on a Hawai‘i holiday. There are beautiful beaches with turquoise bays ideal for activities such as surfing, stand-up paddleboarding and outrigger canoeing; opportunities to join in lei-making and ‘ukulele classes, and to visit ancient cultural sites to learn about the islands’ more than 2000 years of human occupation. Attending a lū‘au — a traditional Hawaiian feast with cultural performances such as hula dancing — is a must for every itinerary, and many hotels and resorts offer a lū‘au on certain nights of the week. There is also an abundance of wildlife experiences, such as spotting humpback whales breaching on a boat cruise, or just viewing them from a headland. Adventure lovers can fly above volcanic landscapes on a scenic helicopter flight, go ziplining over a rainforest canopy, and hike through magnificent canyons and valleys to swim in picturesque waterfalls; while foodies can experience everything from graffiti-decorated shrimp trucks to Hawai‘i Regional Cuisine, which blends the islands’ many multicultural influences with fresh, local ingredients, at fine dining restaurants throughout the islands. Or you can just lie by the pool with a cocktail in hand whilst waiting to witness one of the islands’ famous sunsets.
Conscious travel in Hawai‘i
When travelling to the Hawaiian Islands, it’s important to be aware of the significance of mālama. A sister-term to aloha — the Hawaiian word for love, affection, peace and compassion that is commonly used as a greeting — mālama means to give back, care for and protect. Understanding the deep connection between the islands’ people, culture, the land and ocean during your time there is crucial. Visitors are being encouraged to choose low-impact experiences and participate in regenerative and mindful travel, and to make deeper, more meaningful connections during their Hawai‘i holiday.