Hidden Hawaiian Gems

5 March 2013

The beautiful islands of Hawaii, home to the world's most active volcano, Kilauea, and the world's tallest sea mountain, Maunakea, promise relaxation and adventure in equal measures. This is the perfect destination to do absolutely nothing but laze on a beach or go full throttle and experience all Hawaii has to offer. But don't fall for the usual tourist traps, discover Hawaii's hidden spots instead; here are our top five.

Molokai Molokai

Lanai and Molokai
The "magic isles" of Lanai and Molokai, accessible by ferry from Lahaina Harbour, can be considered among Hawaii's lesser-known spots, where the residents still live off the land and sea. The Hawaiian language is still spoken, and the hula dance is said to have had its birth in an area known as Maunaloa. Once a pineapple plantation, Lanai offers a secluded getaway where you can simply relax, and make your most strenuous journey to see the strangely lunar-looking Keahiakawelo, Garden of the Gods, and the Sweetheart Rock, Puu Pehe.

Waikamoi Nature Trail
Hawaii's Waikamoi Nature Trail, on the road to Hana on the island of Maui, promises the peace and quiet of an unassuming, and largely under appreciated path, through the tall Eucalyptus robusta trees. Walk by the Waikamoi Falls and continue to the sound of birdsong, to get a view from the bridge of Puohokamoa Falls. Without public access there, you'll want a refreshing swim at the next stop, Haipua'ena Falls, secluded and unseen from the road. At the top of the trail enjoy bamboo forest, valley and ocean views.

Ninini Point
Marking the entrance to Nawiliwili Bay at Ninini Point on East Kauai, stands a stately whitewashed lighthouse, constructed in 1906, rebuilt in 1933, and automated in 1953. Overlooking the beautiful bay, Ninini Point Lighthouse offers fantastic sea views and solitude. Locals fish here, and gather limu, edible seaweed. Play a relaxing round of golf at the Mokihana Golf Course, and take a picnic down to Running Waters Beach, accessible via a path at Hole 12.

Old Kona Airport State Park
On the Western Coast of the Big Island, at the end of Highway 11 lies the 217-acre Old Kona Airport State Park. The airport closed in 1970 and now the old runway provides ample free parking and easy beach access. A rocky stretch offers peace and solitude, and the best swimming at its southern end, from the safety of a sandy cove. Catch some waves at the offshore break known to locals as Sharks Rocks, and explore the tidal rock pools. The surrounding waters, a marine life conservation district, offer confident snorkellers and scuba divers some rewarding sites.

Oahu
Hawaii's Oahu boasts the ever-popular spots of Waikiki, Honolulu and Pearl Harbour but if you're looking for somewhere a little different, a little more hidden, head beyond the hotels, the shops and the night clubs, and discover the real, untamed Oahu. Take the path less travelled, and from the comfort of your car, explore the spectacular Ka'a'awa Valley sacred area of Kualoa Ranch, where the children of village chiefs learned tradition and the art of war.

Xanthe Coward

Xanthe's favourite travel destinations are the Greek Islands, Indonesia, Fiji and Vanuatu. With a background in performing arts, fine food, wine and good times, Xanthe enjoys travel that brings her close to the locals and their leisure activities. Being a theatre reviewer means that Xanthe will always do dinner and a show before checking out the late night city scene and still be up early to find the markets and a decent pot of chai.