Hawaii is a paradise located in the middle of the Pacific islands. The mountains are all extinct volcanoes that reach up to 4000 meters. And the still active volcano, Kilauea, has a special and unique landscape. Meanwhile we want to dispel a myth that Hawaiians airports are full of beautiful scantily clad women who cannot wait to hang frangipani necklaces to tourists neck. If you are staying in a hotel that provides the welcome then you may find it.
The archipelago of Hawaii is made up of seven inhabited islands, of which only 6 are accessible and Niihau is a privately owned island. The others are Oahu, where is the capital, Honolulu, Maui, Big Island, Kauai, Lanai and Molokai. Traveling from the airport to Waikiki beach immediately surprised us by the strong contrast that comes before us with green shades of high waves and surfers everywhere! I do not know what I expected but the contrast was strong and I will tell you that I loved it.
Oahu still has two faces. There is Honolulu, which is the classic big city and then there is the north shore, with lovely beaches, beautiful landscapes, not pristine but certainly naturalistically fantastic. Anyway Oahu is a must. One day in the capital, a visit to Pearl Harbor to see a submarine dating back to World War II and a tour of the north shore is worth the cost. If you surf, you cannot but come here, as you're in the right place.
Honolulu is the capital of the Hawaiian state and is a real American city, with fast food shops and major retail chains, only with skyscrapers on the beach. The tourist area is Waikiki, where there are the most hotels, shops and clubs. We stayed at Waikiki on a beach Hotel, surrounded by every comfort with stunning views over the crystal clear waters of the ocean. We had also a small balcony from which we sipped a bottle of champagne which the hotel offered us.
Waikiki, of course, is the most crowded, and everything is concentrated in the main street, with restaurants in the middle of palm trees, shops where reign the biggest names and small souvenir shops. If you fancy a fabulous sea eyes admiring the hordes of surfers who invade the beaches but also a bit of nightlife and shopping, here you can fulfill every desire.
We also rented a car to visit the islands, heading north and stopped at various beaches thanks to the instructions of the Lonely Planet guide. Our first stop was Turtle Bay. We go down along the Kamehameha Highway, to the Sunset Beach stop. The beach cannot be seen because it is after a lush palm grove. We cross then the garden path to the Sunset Beach that is the beginning of a series of beaches that end up with that of Banzai and in winter are famous for surfers like many others here in Hawaii.
Faced with this show the water ride is immediate and uncontrolled. The palm groves abound, so no one takes an umbrella. Just retreat under the shade of palm trees to enjoy a bit of refreshment. Please bring something to eat at the beach. Finding a place to buy a sandwich can be a mission impossible! We decide to do a walk up to Banzai Beach to catch the bus. As you are close to the equator, walking in the sun at lunchtime can be devastating!
We move to Waimea Beach. Waimea is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in Oahu. The sea is crystal clear and the beautiful beach is divided in two by the mouth of a river. Going up the river, lies a spectacular botanical garden that ends with a stream. At dusk we lie on the Waimea beach and we immediately understand why the license plates of cars hitting the Hawaii State is called the Rainbow State. There are these nice solitary clouds and waves pushed by the wind.
In particular we went visiting Hanauma Bay, a nature reserve in the southeastern part of the island, where you can snorkel and see a huge variety of fish. Of course, before going down inside the reserve they literally forced us to watch a video which showed the beauty of the seabed, waiting for us and above all is a kind of educational one to warn all visitors to behave properly and to respect the territory and the seabed in short.
I do not know if you love surfing but one afternoon we were delighted at the edge of the beach to watch these young ones glide over waves. The only sore point is that perhaps it is not as appropriate to swim at all beaches as the current is always very strong.
Next morning we dedicated our visit to the Pearl Harbor, where we could visit the memorial dedicated to the events that lead Americans to participate in the Second World War! The monument is located at the point where the battleship was hit by a Japanese ambush. From under the monument you can glimpse the casing of the ship. Here is also anchored the Missouri battleship, the ship on which the Japanese Empire signed the unconditional surrender that ended the Second World War.
After doing a tour in the port of Pearl Harbor, which is still the headquarters of the Pacific Fleet, we returned to the center of Honolulu, through China Town. Chinatown was full of shops and stalls in which the Chinese sell everything, but the beautiful thing that I stumbled upon was the hula, the typical Hawaiian dance! Once in the heart of the capital, the main attractions are the old royal palace and the Palace of Justice, where, for the fans, turn the TV series Hawaii Five O.
Diamond Head technically is a base of the National Guard, the fortress built to protect Honolulu in case of an invasion. But the top of the crater is a nature park and can be visited. At this point we are again ready for the sea, and we move to the east, near Kailua.
It's time to leave Oahu for the Big Island. In fact it is the largest island of Hawaii. Big Island is a wild. spiritual island with large spaces, which is less touristy and more rural. It's a fascinating place, almost mystical. Even if you do not want to visit Big Island because you prefer a little more life, you can make a one day trip to visit the incredible active volcano. It is very rare, but sometimes it happens that you can see the spectacle of lava pouring into the ocean giving rise to a spectacular phenomenon.
We take advantage of the afternoon to get to Mauna Kea. The Mauna Kea is four meters high and at its summit there is an astronomical observatory with telescopes. Halfway up there is the refuge where the equipment is operated remotely. There is also a bar with merchandising including the providential sweatshirts! We circumnavigate the island along the Pepeekeo Scenic Drive, a very impressive scenic route.
The first stop is at the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. Created by Dan Lutkenhouse and his wife, and donated to the State of Hawaii, the botanical garden is dotted with various paths surrounded a lush vegetation. For lovers of the plants it is a major attraction. I was rather impressed by the legend that surrounds these two rocks.
Legend has it that in the Onomea valley, where there is the botanical garden, there was a village. And in this village there were a couple of young lovers. Everything was going well when one day appeared on the horizon the ships of an enemy tribe, ready to land to plunder the village. The inhabitants asked advice of the shaman. They questioned the gods and their response was that two people of the village were to be sacrificed for the salvation of all.
The shaman ordered all to remain locked in their huts, and that only volunteers had to go down on the beach. The two young lovers decided to sacrifice themselves and followed the instructions of the shaman. The day after there was no longer any trace of them but in the middle of the bay had sprung from nowhere these two rocks that had changed current and prevented the landing of the enemy. We left the botanical garden to Akaka Falls and from there to the Waipi'o Valley. The Akaka is beautiful and worth a stop. But that day for me, the real highlight was Waipio. Waipio was the first black beach of my life. Accustomed to the golden beaches, I had never been on the beach of a volcanic island.
The descent was steep. We do it on foot. The sea was full of stones and rocks. We sleep in Honokaa. I only remember that it was the oldest inn in the place. And what a breakfast as we had the fabulous mango and the passion fruit. The lady who served them there was Vietnamese and made us try a spice of her country, a powder to be spread on the mango which made them even more good. But it's been too long for me to remember more.
After breakfast, we move to another turtle beach. Oh yes, because the waters of Hawaii are crammed with sea turtles. At this point we move to the Pu'ukohola Heiau National Historic Site. Basically the site is the base of a temple made of wood. And in addition there is a reconstruction of a fishing village. Now I have to tell you about Kamehameha I the Great, the first king of Hawaii. He decided to erect this temple dedicated to the gods and invited tribal chiefs to the inauguration of the Big Island. He massacred them and thus began the journey of conquest that brought Kamehameha to unify Big Island and conquer the other islands then.
From there we continue heading to South Point, the southernmost tip of the archipelago. We continue to beaches and valleys up to Kona. Kona is famous for coffee. Of course we tried it. The town was tiny and sleepy like all those of Hawaii. The wooden church of St. Peter is worth a visit. It's a tourist area with several beach resorts. I remember that I found myself well in Kona. It's a place that conveyed serenity. In the evening we enter the park of the Kilauea volcano.
Kilauea is an active volcano. For years it had these two flows of magma that fell into the sea. A week before our departure the two flows were closed and a new mouth opened. The ranger explained to us that at the time it was created a lake of lava and they were waiting for the lava to find its way to the sea. The lava of Hawaii is very fluid and runs quickly, managing to overtake and easily surround a man. Which is why the area was off limits. The only chance to see the lava lake would be with a plane from Hilo.
Flights with helicopters are also blocked due to the strong currents generated by the heat of the lava lake. But also off the volcano it is truly exceptional. The vegetation around the caldera is lush, while the surface is free from greenery. The solidified lava is full of air, trapped because of the very liquid consistency of hot lava, and is very light. I can speak for hours about the caldera, but it is a landscape in which you have to walk to perceive the beauty.
In the next day we heading towards Hilo. I remember two things about that place. The gentleman who was our guide explained to us that often the bonsai does not grow in our homes because we choose varieties of plants other than those who may live in our latitudes. We take the aesthetics guide without considering that a plant needs a certain climate. The other thing was that there were strange balls with shrimp.
After the second stage of the Lava Tree State Park we have a feeling of deja vu watching the trees. Relax, you've already seen them in Jurassic Park, when children are lost and they find dinosaur eggs. They sleep with Professor Grant on the trees and in the morning they are awakened by the brontosaurus. The walk is very beautiful with petrified trees and lush vegetation. And then beautiful to me was the path of the Hamakua Coast that was far more adventurous and fascinating than the road to hana, for me.
From Big Island we head to Maui. We arrive in the afternoon and find a comfortable accommodation in a pair of beachfront bungalows. Maui is the most beautiful with a perfect mix of modernity and tradition, sports, tourism, landscapes, nature, beautiful beaches and is not only a paradise for windsurfers, but great spot for surfers. The itinerary for hana is a legendary automobile route that winds through landscapes, and breathtaking flora, waterfalls and red and black sand beaches.
Whatever your preferences, with comfortable life, wildlife and adventure activities, Maui has a bit of everything. On the island of Mau'i we did a two-hour cruise to see whales in this period are found in Hawaii to give birth, while the other six months of the year, they move towards Alaska to feed.
Our hotel is located in the Kaanapali district, along with others in a hotel complex, of course, equipped with every comfort in a stunning setting. The beaches lining the coast are endless. The nearest village, or rather the more animated city and slightly commercial is Lahaina, famous for its art galleries. One of the most quoted artists was Christian Riese Lassen , who paints his pictures using luminol, so that by varying the lighting on them you can appreciate color effects. Various galleries exhibited his works, among other things in various formats.
There is a free shuttle bus service which leaves every hour and takes us straight to the destination, which has Mexican style colored low houses and with small restaurants with veranda overlooking the sea, that are lovely and very welcoming.
Maui appears immediately very wild. The first two days we decide to pass in the resort's beach to cool-down a bit. We snubbed the fantastic sea as the waves were really high and the ocean has such a power that you have to be extremely fit to tackle it. It's a breathtaking adventure, full of surprises and twists, sometimes obscured by intrigue and sabotage, sometimes calmed by picturesque meetings and interesting opportunities, but always lived with the spirit of indomitable rider.
The third day instead we decided to rent the car to explore the island. We recommend to travel along the Hana Highway, the road that runs through the north-eastern coast, and is spectacular. In about three hours you can cover it all, but we wanted to dedicate the whole day and have several stops. Hana is a place for hippies northeast of Maui. To reach it you need to travel a hundred kilometers made of twists and turns, say at least 600 curves. On one side is a cliff overlooking the sea and on the other is the equatorial jungle with waterfalls, beaches, fishing villages, shops and a myriad of other attractions dot the road to Hana.
The road runs along the cliffs overlooking the sea on an adventurous path. Along the route, we stop every so often to take a bath in the waterfalls, to admire the scenery and the totally black volcanic rocks that lie along the path. It's amazing contrast with the blue crystal-clear sea and dark rocks.
Also we venture into the jungle where we see rare flowers and bamboo reeds. In fact at one point we were overwhelmed by a typical strong tropical downpour, that ten minutes later gives way to a full and very warm sun. Here we meet small and exotic villages with poetic Hawaiian names. Maui was amazing because we could immerse in unspoiled, uncrowded and extremely wild nature. We Visit the town of Paia, much loved by surfers before starting the mythical strada. If you really want an adventurous way try the thrills of the Kahekili Highway.
From Maui we move to Kauai. We book our hotel in Lihue and move a bit in the surroundings. Kauai is the most neglected by occasional vacationers in Hawaii. It's actually beautiful. Except that there are no special things to visit. It has beautiful beaches and I might call it the Green Island. There is greenery everywhere with an explosion of incredible nature. Kauai is the wildest of the islands that we visit. Its towns are the most sleepy and nature is spectacular wherever we turn.
We venture into the Waimea Canyon, walking across the board. The earth of Kauai is incredibly red. The canyon goes a long inward arriving close of the buttresses of the Na Pali Coast. After doing some jungle walk back on the coast in Polihale State Park, a long white beach that stretches to the horizon and what more do you want in Hawaii.
We are north of the island of Kauai. In the area of the lighthouse there is a nature reserve, the sanctuary of frigates and albatross. There is the Queen's Bath. At high tide fish and turtles enter the crater and remain blocked at low tide. But be careful. The place can be very dangerous. We played with the waves at the entrance and got a little hurt.
The waves are strong. But there are some who became very ill because the waves can be violent and sudden. These are the main points of the island, the must, but then there are beautiful beaches in which to see the wonderful sunsets in Kekaha Beach at Kauai. Its also very pristine and is ideal for a honeymoon destination.
Ultimately, I'd suggest making a mandatory stop on Oahu and Maui and choose one of the Big Island and Kauai. But then again, it depends on what you enjoy doing. If you are great lovers of nature, Kauai is beautiful. If you are adventure fanatics, the Big Island and Maui are super. If you want to just surf, settle in Oahu!
Hawaii Travel Tips
First of all those planning a trip to this place should consider at least a fortnight. Air links between the islands are frequent, easy and fairly inexpensive served by beautiful young girls in uniform with flowered and colorful hair and lotus flower stapled on the side of the face, who are always smiling and instill extreme serenity and reliability.
Pay attention, please. Here dinner is early from 5 to 8. At 8, the local ports are closed. Those inside can still be served, but who stays out risks not to get dinner. At Waikiki are places that serve food until midnight, but it is an exception.
The language is English, the Hawaiian is spoken in a few places. Except for three words. Aloha always takes the place of hello. Mahalo always takes the place of thank you. To say welcome people use English almost always, but sometimes you can find E Komo Mai.
Avoid the cyclone season. When we ere there news they were talking about when we were on the Big Island has reached Hawaii. It has been downgraded to a tropical storm, but the weather is still bad.
Eating in the Hawaiian islands is a wonderful experience for the taste buds, you can experiment with different types of food, not just the burgers so dear to Americans, but also clearly terrific seafood.
Molokai has the longest reef of the united states of america. This barrier and peace that lives in the island attract many young people to visit here in search of tranquility and wildlife. Molokai has the most population in the Hawaiian islands, and more than 50% of the population has at least in part the original Hawaiian blood! Maunaloa is a ghost town with houses, cinemas, abandoned restaurants, and leaving behind many people.
If you love Yoga and surfing would look accommodation in the north in the Hanalei bay area in Kauai
not very far from the world famous trail Kalalau.
Everywhere you can find the famous real flowers necklaces. Inevitable is the show at sunset, which can be enjoyed from Waikiki beaches sipping the most famous cocktails of Hawai'i with the Mai Tai. You can also sip the coconut water directly from the fruit or stopping in small street bar where ice cream is served with coconut milk and tropical fruits.
If you search on google for Hawaii, it will open a world and you can read all this and more, but I would like to share with you the biggest thrill that this island gave us! The main activities in which you want to challenge yourselves are surfing, hiking and wildlife tourism.
The islands are practically attached, but the only way to reach them is by air, as the sea is really frisky and is impossible to reach by other means.