- Hike the Legendary Na Pali Coast, Kauai
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
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
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
Molokini 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.