Weekly Travel Q&A: Hawaii Island Roulette
I have to attend a conference in Hawaii later this year and would like to extend my stay to sneak in a little holiday time. Full disclosure: I know very little when it comes to Hawaii – I know the conference is in O’ahu but other than that, I have no idea where to go, where to stay and what to see. Any advice for someone who loves the beach but also has a sense of adventure?
Soledad E., Melbourne
Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii – Photo credit
Lucky you Soledad! What I love most about Hawaii is how spectacularly diverse the U.S. state is. Not enough people give it credit for that and few take the time to explore Hawaii well beyond the hotel beach. What a shame!
You can, of course, focus solely on the coasts and surf and sun it up to your heart’s content. Hawaii is marvelous for that, without question. But, indeed, there is much to see and fall in love with beyond Waikiki.
The Big Island or HawaiÊ»i Island, for me anyway, is all about HawaiÊ»i Volcanoes National Park. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987 and International Biosphere Reserve, the park defines biodiversity. Climates sway wildly from lush tropical rainforest to arid desert and, needless to say, the colossal Mauna Loa volcano looms large.
Other superlatively worthwhile points of interest include Akaka Falls State Park, the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden and WaipiÊ»o Valley. Big Island Hawaii hotels to keep in mind include the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai and Fairmont Orchid.
Maui welcomes over 7.5 million visitors a year. The eternal Best Island in the World winner sports big-time points of interest like Haleakala National Park and Kaanapali and Kapalua beach resorts. West Maui and South Maui form the bedrock of tourism to the island and if you visit, be sure to cruise the Hana Highway for black sand beach and waterfall scenery.
For hotels in Maui, you can do a lot worse than the Four Seasons Resort Maui At Wailea. The most exclusive resort on the island also has one of the best spas in the United States of America, let alone Hawaii.
Your initial destination in Hawaii, Oahu, is home to Honolulu, the state capital, and Pearl Harbor and Waikiki Beach. The vast majority of state residents live on Oahu, which, as you can imagine, can be a plus or major drawback. Still, the allure of beach gems like KaneÊ»ohe, Sunset, Sandy and Waimanalo is tough to beat.
For a truly extraordinary, money-is-no-object holiday, the Kahala Hotel & Resort is supreme. Other Oahu hotels I recommend include the Ko Olina Beach Club Kapolei and the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa.
The island of Kauai may be up your alley, especially if you have a taste for adventure. While some parts of Hawaii resonate with overdevelopment, most notably on the coasts, Kauai has a touch of the pristine about it. In particular, visit Na Pali Coast State Park, the Hanalei Valley and spectacular, awesome Waimea Canyon.
One luxury hotel to consider in Kauai is the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa.