An oasis of calm and serenity in the middle of the deep blue Pacific Ocean, the nineteen lush and tropical islands that make up the archipelago of Hawaii have drawn visitors from far and wide for decades. They come for rugged landscapes covered in colourful flora and fauna, sandy beaches that stretch for miles, the opportunity to catch some exhilarating surf and the bright lights of Honolulu. Its combination of jaw dropping natural beauty and buzzing city culture makes it a wholly unique place to visit. For a truly life changing adventure, it simply has to be a holiday in Hawaii.
After the recent documentary on Richard Branson’s private paradise Necker Island, we’ve been swept up in looking for somewhere that could live up to the standards of a billionaire, without the £39,000 a night price tag. We’ve put together a list of…
Whilst a Hawaii holiday would be just as well spent relaxing on a beach, cocktail in hand, the occasional dip in the ocean to cool off, with such a vast array of rich experiences to be had we’d advise that you put on your explorer’s hat and really see what the islands have to offer. Waikiki Beach on Honolulu Island may be the most famous Hawaiian oceanfront attraction, however we’d recommend seeking out the pristine and secluded Hulopoe Beach on the island of Lanai for unspoilt Pacific waters and unrivalled snorkeling. A holiday in Hawaii wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Haleakala National Park (awe-inspiring volcanoes, island-wide views) or the Polynesian Cultural Centre (to get a unique, first-hand insight into the Hawaiian way of life). For something a little different, hire a car and take a drive along the dramatic Hana Road, a scenic highway that hugs the rugged Maui coastline to the remote town of Hana, a place where the true island culture still flourishes.
Wine and Dine
Traditional Hawaiian food brings together the flavours of the vast and diverse Pacific Ocean and is a unique thing to behold. As you can imagine, freshly caught seafood features heavily, alongside plants and vegetables foraged from the island’s lush green heart. Try laulau, whereby pork, chicken or fish is wrapped in leaves of the local Taro plant and slow cooked in a smoking oven for several hours. Poke, a kind of Hawaiian sushi, is a must-try, whilst the island staple fruit of pineapple is unbeaten here in terms of freshness and sweetness. If you really want to push the boat out then Alan Wong’s in Honolulu comes highly recommended as a hotbed for Asian and Pacific fusion cooking, whereas Brown’s Beach House in Waimea offers one of the best beachfront dining settings; the perfect place for a relaxed and romantic dinner in the most scenic of locations.
Holidays in Hawaii promise a rich and diverse experience in a land of many delights appealing to a wide variety of interests. In answer to the question ‘which island is best for children?’ we could confidently say ‘all of them!’ By virtue of being home to the state capital of Honolulu, Oahu is perhaps the best bet for those looking for plenty of variety. Out of all the islands it best strikes the balance between exciting urban metropolis and area of natural beauty. So if the kids enjoy a day at the beach within easy reach of an array of food and drink outlets, Oahu is the place. More adventurous little explorers can also get their fix of hill climbing and swimming under waterfalls, whilst never getting too far off the beaten track. Oahu can be busy, but then so too can Maui, yet those adventurous families who seek out its hidden beaches and easy-to-learn surf breaks will be rewarded with a truly enthralling family holiday experience. Ditto with the Big Island (Hawaii Island), where an active volcano can be found and dolphins can be swam with. Kids will love recounting those stories back home.
Action and Adventure
Go whale watching off Maui, trek across the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Big Island or catch some surf at Oahu’s North Shore. Whichever island you choose for your holiday in Hawaii, you can be sure of action and adventure aplenty. Throw in a hefty dose of kayaking, sailing, deep sea fishing and rock climbing and you’ve got all the ingredients for a trip full of thrills and spills.
Life's a Beach
Many venturing on a Hawaii holiday come for its famed beaches and rightly so. Its remote Pacific location, coupled with the close proximity of its islands to one another, provides you with a unique mixture of sheltered swimming beaches, windy and wild surfing spots and crystal clear snorkeling waters, all within one destination. For close access to the bustling metropolis of Honolulu, a day at Waikiki Beach is ideal. Here you can take surfing lessons in a sheltered and safe environment, tuck into delicious local food and of course indulge in a traditional Mai Tai cocktail or two. Elsewhere, the beach at Hanauma Bay nature reserve on Oahu has become a popular snorkeling spot. Sandwiched between two dormant volcanoes, it is a truly peaceful setting teaming with marine wildlife that inhabits the dazzling coral reefs.
Most of Hawaii’s holiday nightlife centres on the capital Honolulu, where you’ll find waterfront cocktails bars, late night dance halls and live music in abundance. Dress to impress and head to Lewers Lounge in the Halekulani Hotel, an upscale live jazz den offering lovingly crafted cocktails and plush décor. The Mai Tai bar at the Royal Hawaiian is the place for that typical sunset beachfront vibe with umbrella cocktails, delicious appetizers and a laid back yet formal atmosphere. For something a little wilder, Fusion Waikiki (live DJs, drag acts, bachelorette parties etc.) and Wang Chung’s karaoke bar should do just the trick. Elsewhere across the islands there’s the Maui Brewing Company Brewpub, serving up a homemade coconut porter no less. There’s also plenty of beachside sports bars plying their trade in classic American fare with pool tables and flat screen TVs galore, should you fancy heading straight from beach to bar.
Many couples take their holidays in Hawaii and with good reason. It’s a hugely popular honeymoon destination and its stunning natural scenery lends itself to those once-in-a-lifetime romantic moments. Beachfront restaurants serving up freshly caught fish tacos at sunset? Check. Swimming in natural plunge pools beneath cascading waterfalls? Check. Snorkeling hand in hand through turquoise waters gazing down at fish of every colour? Check.
The culture of Hawaii is rooted in the ancient tradition of Polynesian islanders, of communities dotted right the way across the vast Pacific Ocean from New Zealand in the south to Hawaii in the north and encompassing over 1000 islands along its way. Needless to say the culture is deeply rich and varied. Binding it all together is the Hula, the traditional dance accompanied by songs or chants that weave together the stories and traditions of the islands. Visitors are typically welcomed with a flower garland (Lei) and a hearty ‘aloha!’ The Polynesian Culture Centre is a great place to visit for finding out all about the history of the archipelago, yet for that authentic ‘hands-on’ cultural experience one has to visit over the Kamehameha Festival. Held in June every year, this is a public holiday celebrating Hawaii’s first king of the same name. It includes chant competitions, food and cultural presentations, as well as craft-making sessions.