Hawaii is filled to the brim with places to see and things to do. It is one of those places that I love coming back to because there is always something that I missed the last time or there was simply too much to do. It’s hard to know where to start when there is just so much on offer. The hiking and biking that can probably take an entire lifetime alone to cover all the trails here. Though I needed a fat tire bike for the type of terrain here, which is a bit of an adjustment to riding a normal bike, the hiking was still out of this world. That is why I decided to write this post to show you the places that I would visit if I only had one chance to visit Hawaii.
So go and get yourself a base at one of the incredible Hawaii vacation condos by the beach and head to the following places. Trust me. You won’t regret it. Most of all, enjoy Hawaii and all that it has to offer.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
This national park is located on the Big Island and is the home of theKīlauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes. These are still active and not only give the national park its name, but they heavily influence the whole area. Everywhere you go you can see traces of the volcanoes. The most stunning of these is of course the barren landscape of Crater Rim Drive. Here you can see masses of steam on a road that circles the crater itself. This is the ideal place to visit to see the sheer power of volcanoes and to see some stunning views from the top of the island. Another point of interest is definitely the Chain of Craters Road, where you can drive next to actual lava. There is also a viewing area where you can see the fields of lava, which is truly an incredible sight to see. It’s best not to get too close, because things can really get hot.
This huge shield volcano amazingly forms the majority of the Maui (around three quarters) and is also known as the East Maui Volcano. The other volcano that forms the remaining quarter is Mauna Kahalawai. Haleakalā has incredible peak (Pu’u ‘Ula’ula) at 3,055 meters above sea level. This is the ideal place to visit if you want to get an understanding of the power and natural beauty of the volcano. Driving to the top is an amazing experience and everyone should do so when visiting. If you are looking for a challenge. From the top, you can see how the volcano carved out the landscape with a huge 800 meter deep depression, which is a sight that you are not likely to forget soon.
Diamond Head rises prominently into the skyscape of the Hawaiian island Oahu and can be seen from many parts of the island and is the most iconic feature of the island. It is a volcanic tuff cone that was formed around 400 to 500,000 years ago and has an interesting shape that the Hawaiian people likened to the dorsal fin of a tuna fish. Naturally you should not miss the steep 800 meter hike to the top of Diamond Head to experience some supreme views of Oahu. The short but steep hike is well worth the incredible views from the top. It’s also a great way to interact with the landscape and get a true appreciation for the power of nature.
If there is one road in Hawaii that you should be driving on, it has to be the Hana Highway. This 65 mile long stretch of road is the bridge between the town of Hana and Kahului. It may sound strange that a road is somewhere that you should be visiting in Hawaii, but it’s what the highway leads to that is important and extremely beautiful. There a huge number of waterfalls just off the highway and they are spaced very close together. If you start the highway at mile 0, the first waterfall can be seen after just two miles (Twin Falls). My personal favorites are Upper Hanawi Falls after a heavy rainfall, Makapipi Falls and perhaps the most impressive Waimoku Falls, which is perhaps the largest on the island. Some of the falls can be seen from the road, whilst others require a little bit of hiking to reach, but it is never far. One thing is for sure, you are going to be a stopping a lot on what is a relatively short road!
USS Arizona Memorial
We all know that Hawaii played an important part in the Second World War and the attacks on Pearl Harbor are one of the most well recognized events of the war. The USS Arizona was a warship in Pearl Harbor that was sunk by the Japanese. Unfortunately many lost their lives, but the ship can still be seen to this day just below the surface of the water. A memorial was built over the ship and it is an interesting all white structure that tapers in both directions towards the center. It sits directly above the USS Arizona, but does not touch it. It is the ideal place to pay tribute to the fallen and to learn more about the Pearl Harbor attacks. Interestingly you can see directly into the ship due to the cutout design of the memorial’s structure. Visiting this ship is a solemn reminder of the war and is free to visit (even the boat to get there) and should not be missed. The memorial was closed due to a damaged loading dock in 2018 and will reopen in 2019 at some point.