Updated July 2, 2021.
As you may know if you’ve ever met me, I LOVE Hawaii! I was ready to move there on my first ever trip to the islands for Steve’s and my 1st wedding anniversary. Now we’ve been to five of the six inhabited islands and I am more in love with the culture, people, and food than ever before. If Hawaii’s on your short list of places to visit, here are some truly epic experiences to put on your to-do list!
Really it’s a fun adventure to snorkel anywhere in the Islands, but Molokai’s reefs are the most pristine because fewer tourists go to Molokai! It’s one of the largest fringing reef systems in the world, and it’s all so close to the shore. Just make sure you’re using reef safe sunscreen. Hawaii has outlawed all sunscreen that is not reef safe in an effort to preserve the delicate reefs around the Islands.
Fly Eye-level with the Na’Pali Coast: Kauai
Y’all, this one brought me to tears. “Magnificent” is the word that kept coming to mind as I gazed our the window in complete awe. Whether you choose to take a small plane like we did or a helicopter tour instead, do not leave the island without seeing these cliffs from the air.
More here: The Ultimate Kauai Bucket List
Drive the Road to Hana: Maui
Full disclosure: neither my husband nor I enjoy driving, but we did love the Road to Hana! Leave plenty of time to stop and hike along the way, and read my post all about What to Know Before You Go! We also recommend spending a night or two along the Road to Hana so you can really take your time, and even get some photos with no people in the most popular spots!
Read on: Top 10 Sites on the Road to Hana
Take a Helicopter Ride to the Molokai Sea Cliffs: Maui and Molokai
This is one of those experiences you will never forget. Much like the Na’Pali Coast on Kauai, the scenery is truly magnificent. These are the tallest sea cliffs in the world, and the waterfalls pouring from these cliffs are also the tallest in the world. It’s absolutely beautiful, and a helicopter is the best way to see them up-close and personal.
Read on: Maui and Molokai Helicopter Tour
Take a Lava Boat Tour: Big Island
This one is dependent on a lot of factors, including lava flow, weather, and safety concerns, but it is one incredible adventure! We got to see the lava literally pouring out from the side of the island and making new land. We suggest going at sunrise or sunset instead of mid-day so you can see it truly glowing.
Read on: Unforgettable Lava Boat Tour
Learn to Surf: Oahu
Surfing is the most recent sport to be added to the Olympic lineup! If you’ve ever watched competitive surfing, you know how easy it looks just gliding over the water and skimming from wave to wave… the reality is definitely not so easy! You’ve got to have some core strength and coordination to stay up for any amount of time. But you can give it a go on Waikiki Beach, where the sport of surfing was born!
Want to learn more about the beginnings of surfing? Read Waterman by David Davis about Duke Kahanamoku, the father of modern surfing.
More here: The Ultimate O’ahu Bucket List
Hike the Halawa Valley: Molokai
If you want an epic Hawaiian adventure back in time, visit Molokai. And if you want to do one better, take a guided hike through the island’s Halawa Valley. It’s the oldest, continuously populated place in the entire island chain. Native Hawaiians arrived here as early as 650 A.D., and its abundance of fresh water and fertile plains made it a perfect place to create a life.
Though the 1946 tsunami all but devastated the Valley, a handful of residents still live here, and you can experience it first-hand with a local.
Read on: Hiking Halawa Valley
Visit the Former Leper Colony: Molokai
Once you get to Kalaupapa Town, you’ll be rewarded with natural beauty, history, and dramatic landscapes all around you. The adventure is in getting there! The Kalaupapa Peninsula was the chosen location for a leper colony because of its seclusion and the difficulty to get on or off the peninsula. It’s separated from the rest of the island by high and rugged sea cliffs, and it’s surrounded on all other sides by the vast Pacific Ocean. The only way to get to the peninsula is by small airplane, 3.5 mile hike, or on the back of a donkey. No matter which one you choose, it will be an adventure!
Read on: Ultimate Guide to Kalaupapa
Hike Waimea Canyon: Kauai
Love to hike? This one is definitely worth your while! Waimea Canyon on Kauai is very beautiful, and this hike will show you a side of the island you would never get otherwise. It’s called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, and it’s as majestic as it sounds!
Keep reading: 10 Reasons to Visit Kauai
Swim with Sea Turtles: Maui
Who doesn’t love sea turtles, right?! I love them. They’re beautiful and graceful, and so sweet, too! The best place we’ve found to swim with the sea turtles is Makena Beach in Wailea. They were everywhere! We saw a couple of them summing on a rocky beach nearby, too, and we got some great pictures with them! If they come up to you, let them, but please don’t touch the sea turtles, as you may incur a hefty fine–up to $13,000!
Need inspiration? Romantic Things to Do on Maui
Hike the Pipiwai Trail: Maui
This is one adventure that will transport you to to another planet. The hike is about 5 miles round-trip from the parking area, and by the time you make it to the Bamboo Forest portion of the trail, you’ll already feel at peace. The tall stalks let the sunlight shine through like in a dream, and if you’re lucky enough to start early and have the trail to yourself, you’ll feel like the only person on the island. Make sure to wear shoes that can handle the mud, because you’ll be taking on a very slick adventure!
Read on: Hiking Hawaii: Maui
Are you ready for your Hawaiian getaway? What are you waiting for?!
Need more Hawaii inspiration? Check out my Hawaiian Islands Page!
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