Hawaii Destinations: 4 Incredible Islands to Visit
These colorful islands offer so many reasons to visit.
Dreaming of a tropical escape? These Hawaii destinations allow you to dip your toes into the sand at any of these four amazing Hawaiian islands.
Go for: Serene splendor. With just 70,000 residents, Kauai is the favorite of those who never can get their fill of calm. So lush and peaceful that it was featured in the opening credits of the classic TV show Fantasy Island, Kauai is the home of quiet, awe-inspiring Waimea Canyon, whose panoramic vistas soothe the weary soul.
Get close to: Dolphins. On morning tours of the remote, rugged Napali coast, Kauai’s most playful inhabitants are often seen leaping sleekly above the waves. In some months, the spouts of passing whales decorate the horizon, too.
Don’t forget: To schedule a (tasty) wake-up call. The 3,100-acre Koloa Estate—the largest coffee plantation in the United States—offers free tastings of its strong but smooth varieties. One sip of the estate’s signature Blue Mountain blend, and suddenly paradise feels a lot livelier.
Go for: Swimming, surfing, snorkeling. Whatever way they choose to get wet, Oahu is a place for water babies—and not just because of its world-famous Waikiki Beach. The island’s gentle-in-the-summer, stronger-in-the-winter waves draw surfers of all abilities, while a wealth of sheltered coves makes it easy to snorkel in peace.
Get close to: Fish so colorful they look like underwater fireworks. Black-masked raccoon butterfly fish, orange-tailed Achilles tang and more than 100 other species are all found in the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve; so is a delightful average water temperature of around 75 degrees.
Don’t forget: To rinse away the taste of salt water with a cup of shave ice. This frosty treat consists of fluffy, snow-like ice crystals flavored with sweet syrup and (on request) drizzled with condensed milk.
Go for: Spine-tingling scenery. Known as the “Valley Isle” for the verdant isthmus that connects its two peninsulas, Maui teems with dramatic sights—such as sunrise from the top of the dormant volcano Haleakala, 10,000 feet above sea level.
Get close to: Secret valleys, silvery waterfalls and misty rainbows. Helicopter tours swoop above the hidden splendors of Maui’s rain forest; lucky passengers may even spot a spouting humpback whale or two along the coast.
Don’t forget: To explore all that gorgeousness. A van tour along the winding Hana Highway takes visitors on a 50-mile journey through Maui’s coastal rain forest. Along the way, roadside waterfalls beckon sweaty travelers into their cool, placid pools.
Go for: Volcanoes. Sure, the “Big Island” boasts all the lushness and serenity expected of a tropical isle, but this deceptively tranquil island also features rivers of bright-hot molten rock and eerie fields of black, jagged lava.
Get close to: Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes. The best views of its glowing, glistening-hot crater come at night; visitors to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park can (safely) marvel at it from the overlook outside the park’s Jaggar Museum.
Don’t forget: To look up. On the island’s north-central side, the dormant volcano Mauna Kea offers some of the world’s finest stargazing at its peak, which sits 13,796 feet above sea level.