A majestic chain of islands in the North Pacific Ocean, Hawaii is home to a rare Polynesian culture blended with American influences to create a fun and vibrant holiday destination unlike anywhere in the world. There is a fantastic range of historical, natural and cultural attractions across the four main islands of Hawaii; Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii Island, commonly referred to as Hawaii’s Big Island. Many of the popular attractions can be seen on Hawaii tours that combine with some excellent sightseeing opportunities to offer a fascinating insight into the history and culture of this amazing destination.
Volcanoes National Park: One of the most visited attractions in Hawaii, the Volcanoes National Park is a must-see attraction encompassing the summit of the most active volcano in the world, Kilauea. The park is also home to the most massive volcano in the world, Mauna Loa and features unique hiking opportunities. Enjoy dramatic landscapes along volcanic Crater Rim Drive and explore Chain of Craters Road and East Rift as well as coastal areas where lava once flowed into the ocean.
Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park: A 182 acre park on the Big Island, Pu`uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park is a popular attraction home to a variety of ancient archaeological sites and reconstructions of Hawaiian ‘places of refuge’. A sacred site originally home to Hawaiian royalty, the refuge was designed for those who defeated military or who broke the ancient Hawaiian law of kapu. The attraction offers fantastic learning opportunities, a self-guided tour, the chance to play a game of kônane and see green sea turtles soaking up the sun on the beach.
Panaewa Rainforest Zoo: The USA’s only tropical zoo, Panaewa Rainforest Zoo is a must see attraction on the Big Island offering close encounters with a variety of endangered Hawaiian wildlife and rainforest animals including spider monkeys, lemurs, a white Bengal tiger and nene geese, the Hawaiian state bird, as well as more than 80 other animal species. The zoo also features a botanic garden with bamboo, orchids, a water garden and 100 varieties of palms.
USS Arizona Memorial: The remains of the mid-section of the sunken battleship of the USS Arizona, the memorial pays homage to the many military personnel who sacrificed their lives in the attack on Pearl Harbour. Offering an insight into that fateful day, the memorial features a guided tour complete with 23min documentary, a short boat trip as well as time for self-exploration. Be sure to leave time to visit Remembrance Circle and check out the visitor centre.
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve: A stunning bay near Honolulu, Hanauma was once neglected and damaged by excessive use however after serious restoration by the city of Honolulu, Hanauma Bay now boasts a reputation as an unspoilt marine ecosystem. By instituting restrictions, reducing visitors and establishing an education program, the bay has returned to its former glory and offers amazing swimming and snorkelling opportunities as well as an education centre and friendly beach kiosk.
Diamond Head State Monument: The most famous landmark in Hawaii, Diamond Head is also known as Le’ahi, the sister of Pele, fire god, due to the summit’s resemblance to the forehead of a yellowfin tuna. It was only in the 1700s that it became known as Diamond Head when western traders thought they had discovered diamonds on the crater’s slope however they were only calcite crystals and were worthless. These days the Diamond Head State Monument is the most precious thing there offering an historic train to the summit and a short hike through ex-military bunkers. The hike takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours to complete and rewards you with sweeping views of Honolulu.
Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge: Located on the north shore of Kauai, this 203 acre refuge is completely protected land and offers some of Hawaii’s most unique wildlife including the nene, Hawaii’s state bird, as well as Laysan albatross, and Pacific golden plover. You might even be lucky enough to see spinner dolphins, monk seals and humpback whales offshore. Just a short walk from the Kilauea Lighthouse offering spectacular Pacific Ocean views, the park offers volunteer tours, a small visitor centre and fantastic photo opportunities with the lighthouse in the background.
Waimea Canyon: Dubbed by Mark Twain as the ‘Grand Canyon of the Pacific’, Waimea Canyon is an awe-inspiring natural attraction measuring 1.6km wide, 16km long and more than 3,600 feet deep. Featuring colourful layers of striated rock, the canyon is absolutely breathtaking. There are a number of walking paths leading to some of Hawaii’s most dramatic waterfalls as well as the Kokee Museum, offering an insight into the history of the canyon. At the top, enjoy spectacular views of Na Pali coastline from the Kalalau Valley Lookout.
Haleakala National Park: Preserving the volcanic area of Haleakala in Maui, the national park offers spectacular scenery. Featuring two separate areas, the summit boasts incredible views while the Kipahulu area a little further down the coast offers a stunning lush valley home to beautiful waterfalls and freshwater pools. While visiting the park you simply must take the 3km trail through Oheo Gulch, explore the visitor centre and swim in the lower pools.