Getting The Most Out Of Hawaii's Diverse Islands

1 August 2016

Hawaii is a ‘nature’s Disneyland’ for anyone with a sense of adventure.

There are kayakers gliding over swimming-pool clear waters that stretch for miles, mountain bikers traversing volcano craters at sunset, adventure-seekers snorkelling craggy shorelines teeming with marine life below, and hikers watching tangerine lava spew out into the ocean and creating new land right before their eyes. There’s even black sand to squish your toes through, a 'Garden Isle' reserved for those with a penchant for tropical flora and fauna, and coffee country galore for the caffeine nuts.

But if you’re scratching your head over which island to choose, fear not. No matter where you travel to in Hawaii you will quickly realise each island is just as wonderful as the other, each in their unique way.

 Kayakers explore the waters of Hawaii. Picture: Getty Images Kayakers explore the waters of Hawaii. Picture: Getty Images

 

Kaua’i – The Garden Isle

It’s green. It’s blue. It’s ochre. It’s delicious. There is so much natural beauty to this enchanting garden island you may never want to see the light of your hometown again. There’s the jaw-dropping Waimea Canyon, deemed the 'Grand Canyon of the Pacific', and the emerald ranges of the Na Pali Coast with its narrow valleys, steep terrain and lush waterfalls.

Must-try: Kayak the tranquil Wailua River, which snakes through 32 kilometres of waterfalls and green jungle. Keep an eye out for the Nounou Mountains (sleeping giant), a mountain ridge formation resembling a resting human figure.

A rainbow rises above Hawaii's Waimea Canyon. The awe-inspiring Waimea Canyon. Picture: Getty Images

 

 O’ahu – The Gathering Place

After you’ve paddleboarded the turquoise water of Waikiki and enjoyed some colourful cocktails and sing-a-longs at Duke’s, head straight to the Leeward Coast for a taste of Hawaii’s rural towns, long stretches of shoreline and Makaha Beach, where surfers first began catching the big waves. It’s also where some of the island’s biggest tourist attractions are kept: Paradise Cove Luau and the Wet n’ Wild water park.

Must-try: Take a hike to the sacred Kaena Point, O'ahu's westernmost point. Legend has it that Hawaiians would jump off its shoreline and into the spirit world to meet the souls of their ancestors.

The palm trees, white sand, and ocean blue of Hawaii's Makaha Beach. Makaha Beach is a picture in the morning. Picture: Getty Images

 


More Hawaii experiences:

Kaua'i up close. Taste The Real Hawaii On The Garden Isle Of Kauai

Wave riding on Oahu. Blue Crush: Surfing Oahu's North Shore


Maui – The Valley Isle

Everyone heads to Maui to soak up the beach-bum life, with rental cars pulling up roadside to enjoy the plethora of postcard-perfect beaches. In between your seaside adventures, swimming with turtles and surfing, take a sunset bike ride down Haleakalā volcano, a life-changing experience that will cling to your heart for a lifetime.

Must-try: The Road to Hana (and beyond) is a thrilling drive on a narrow road, which hugs the coastline’s steep cliffs, and includes hairpin turns and nearly 60 bridges. Not every tourist dares to take the somewhat hairy drive beyond Hana, but if you do it’s a drive you will never forget. Weaving through Haleakala National Park is the hands-down highlight and will have you feeling like you are driving on the moon!

The Road to Hana winds past jungle-covered peaks and crashing ocean waves in Hawaii. The dramatic and winding Road to Hana. Picture: Getty Images

 

Hawai’i (The Big Island) – The Orchard Isle

The Big Island is one of the most exciting islands of all as you explore Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, or swim with manta rays and take a walk along a black sand beach. There are even horse riding adventures at Waimea and sailing trips along the Kona Coast.

Must-try: Kona is coffee country with its hundreds of coffee farms and plantations. Here the land’s high elevation, cloud cover and rich volcanic soil offer an ideal environment for harvesting this unique bean. Stop at one of the thriving orchards to learn about the meticulous harvesting process. You can often sample a few of the delicious brews.

An aerial view into the lava-filled crater of Kilauea in Hawaii. The bubbling lava of Kilauea. Picture: Getty Images

 

Lana’i – The Pineapple Island

Once covered in pineapple plantations, this island has some of the least inhabitants of the major islands, but offers an abundance of natural beauty and activity, from four-wheel driving through Keahiakawelo (Garden of the Gods) and Kaiolohia (Shipwreck Beach) to diving into the aqua-clear waters of its remote shorelines, sometimes spotting Hawaiian green sea turtles along the way.

Must-try: Swim, snorkel and laze around Hulopoe Beach, widely named one of America’s best beaches and offers some of the best snorkelling in Hawaii. There is plenty of space to spread out making it perfect for couples wanting a little privacy.

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Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to Hawaii.

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Penny Shipway

Born into the balmy climate of tropical Queensland, it’s not surprising I’ve developed an obsession for all things beach. When I’m not swimming in the ocean singing Jimmy Buffet songs in my head, you will find me sipping colourful drinks with twizzle sticks or hunting for coastal vintage pieces. My dream is to retire on a sailboat.