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What to do in Hawaii

- Hike the Legendary Na Pali Coast, KauaiPicture of a hiker overlooking Kalalau beach on the Kalalau Trail

Con­sidered the state’s best back­pack­ing route, the 22-mile round-trip Kalalau Trail cuts through the famed Na Pali Coast, an unspoiled won­der­land where fluted cliffs and lush val­leys crash abruptly into the blue Pacific. Ori­gin­ally built in the mid-1800s, the trail has nar­row switch­backs, sheer drop-offs, and alarm­ing, cliff-grabbing turns. Need­less to say, only the brave and exper­i­enced need apply. After tra­vers­ing five val­leys, the path ends—as if the bounty for your trouble—at the golden sands of Kalalau Beach. Here, pitch a tent under the jungle can­opy, then shower under the valley’s legendary beach­side water­fall. Isol­ated and inspired, don’t be sur­prised if bid­ding “aloha” to the mod­ern world comes to mind. Though state per­mits allow only five nights total (includ­ing time spent at Hana­koa, a camp­site six miles from the trail­head) that doesn’t stop some wan­der­lust souls, includ­ing those who prefer the fash­ion sense of Adam and Eve, from mak­ing it their mis­sion to avoid reg­u­lar sweeps by offi­cials.

There is some good inform­a­tion on the tramp here

- Wit­ness Hump­back Whales, Maui

- Explore Hawai’i Vol­ca­noes Nation­al Park, Hawaii Island

Picture of lava flowing in to the ocean at Volcanoes National Park at Kalapana, Hawaii

From des­ol­ate swaths of black lava to dazzling, cloud-kissed rain forests, the glory of Hawai’i Vol­ca­noes Nation­al Park lies in its impossibly diverse land­scapes. With 333,086 acres and sev­en eco­sys­tems to cov­er, the chal­lenge is in the planning—but two roads can steer you to the most essen­tial sights. The 11-mile Crater Rim Drive circles the sum­mit cal­dera of Kilauea, one of the world’s most act­ive vol­ca­noes. Worth­while stops include Steam Vents, where you can watch steam rise from the Earth’s interi­or, and 500-year-old Thur­ston Lava Tube, a natural—and walkable—tunnel that once housed a viol­ent river of mol­ten lava. (To hear songs of nat­ive apapane, a crim­son Hawaii­an hon­eycreep­er, keep quiet on your walk to the tube.) For those with four to five hours to spare, explore the East Rift Zone by trav­el­ing Chain of Craters Road, a 20-mile drive that des­cends 3,700 feet to the pound­ing coast. Along the way, pull over for a two-mile round-trip hike to Puu Loa Petroglyphs—an unfor­get­table site where ancient Hawaii­ans carved some 23,000 images into stone.

 

- Take on Mon­strous Waves, Oahu

The North Shore of Oahu is what you’d expect in a laid-back surf com­munity: Kids ride skate­boards down back roads, neigh­bors share man­goes over fence posts, and watch­ing the sun­set is a daily, must-do ritu­al. In winter months, surfers from across the globe travel to this pic­tur­esque coast­line to test their chops on heavy, build­ing-size waves. To wit­ness the best among them, vis­it dur­ing theVans Triple Crown of Surf­ing, a pro­fes­sion­al com­pet­i­tion held Novem­ber 12 through Decem­ber 20 at Haleiwa’s Alii Beach Park, Sun­set Beach, and Ban­zai Pipeline—a dan­ger­ous and euphor­ia-indu­cing wave that bar­rels over shal­low reefs. Unlike in most pro sports, Moth­er Nature calls the shots here. To com­ply, each event has a hold­ing peri­od, in which con­tests are held on the three to four biggest and best days of surf at each loc­a­tion. Check the Vans Triple Crown of Surf­ing web­site on the morn­ing of for updates. If the surf gods keep you wait­ing, fill your belly at the many road­side shrimp trucks or cruise into Halei­wa town to try shave ice.

Activ­ity Tip: For a water adven­ture of your own, head to Hanauma Bay Nature Pre­serve on Oahu’s south­east coast. Here, you can snorkel with green sea turtles and tech­nicol­or reef fish in what was once a vol­can­ic crater.

 

- Take a Mule Ride to a His­tor­ic Coast, Molokai

Picture of a couple riding along the beach at Kalaupapa National Historic Park

Gor­geous, unique, and even a little terrifying—few activ­it­ies com­pare to trav­el­ing down Molokai’s steep north shore sea cliffs on the back of a mule. The 2.9‑mile dirt trail is made up of 26 sharp switch­backs (each iden­ti­fied with a plaque) and des­cends 1,700 feet to the sandy beach shoreline. If your nerves start to rattle, rest assured that Buzzy Sproat, a legendary pani­olo (cow­boy) in his 70s and co-own­er of Kalaupapa Guided Mule Tour, trained each beast of bur­den him­self, a trade he’s mastered for more than 40 years. The trail ends at ocean-linedKalaupapa Nation­al His­tor­ic Park, a beau­ti­ful pen­in­sula with a com­plex his­tory. From 1866 to 1969, more than 8,000 suf­fer­ers of Hansen’s dis­ease (also known as lep­rosy) were forced to leave their fam­il­ies and live in exile in the remote expanse. It’s here that Dami­en Tours, which is owned and oper­ated by a Kalaupapa res­id­ent, takes over for the mules and escorts vis­it­ors in an old yel­low school bus to not­able sites, includ­ing St. Philom­ena Church, where the ori­gin­al grave of Fath­er Dami­en, who served Hansen’s dis­ease suf­fer­ers before he became a vic­tim him­self, is loc­ated in the adja­cent cemetery. The only way to vis­it the park is by guided tour, or by invit­a­tion from one of the former patients still liv­ing in Kalaupapa.

Fun Fact: Thanks to the inven­tion of sulf­one drugs in the 1940s, enter­tain­ers were allowed to per­form at the set­tle­ment, includ­ing Shir­ley Temple, John Wayne, and the Trapp Fam­ily Sing­ers.

- Waikiki Beach

Waikiki is back, baby. Hawaii’s most fam­ous beach resort may be a haven for tacky plastic lei, coconut-shell bikini tops and motor­ized hip-shak­ing hula dolls.

But real aloha and chic mod­ern­ist style have revived this pro­to­typ­ic­al para­dise. Beach­boys surf legendary waves by day and after sun­set tiki torches are lit at Kuhio Beach Park.

Every night hula dan­cers sway to ancient and mod­ern rhythms — backed by fam­ous island musi­cians strum­ming slack key gui­tars and ukuleles — at ocean­front hotels, bars and even shop­ping malls.

- Snorkel off the island of Molokini

Hawaiian Sea TurtleMolokini is the most pop­u­lar snorkel­ing site in all of Hawaii. The reas­on is simple. Molokini con­sist­ently has the clearest water in Hawaii, team­ing with beau­ti­ful fish. On most days vis­ib­il­ity is between 80 and 200 feet.

This mar­ine pre­serve is loc­ated sev­er­al miles off of the south shore of Maui dir­ectly across from the Wailea/​Makena area. The only way to get to Molokini is by boat and Maui has plenty of boats in all sizes, shapes and price ranges. This is a must-do if you can float. You do not even have to know how to swim. All boats have flot­a­tion devices and some have glass bot­toms so you can stay dry and still see all the pretty fishes.

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