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Awesome waves, perfect weather, towering volcanic mountains, lush rainforests, rugged coastline, great nightlife, friendly hosts; Hawaii’s islands have it all.
Oahu Island is the busiest island and has the best entertainment and nightlife, mostly centred around Honolulu. Skip the city and head for Waikiki Beach which is where it’s at - a lively collection of package tourist hotels, restaurants, bars, shopping options and a beach full of brown bodies. Nearby Diamond Head, one of the highest points on the island, is quite dramatic and offers good views. Beaches are Hawaii’s premier drawcard and the pick of Oahu are Slaughterhouse Beach (people watching) Honolua Bay (snorkeling) and Hookipa Beach (windsurfing).
Pearl Harbor, which attracts millions of American visitors every year, and the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific is a somber reminder of America’s entry into WWII. Alternatively the Asian-inspired Valley of the Temples is a fine cultural attraction.
Away from the beaches, Kapiolani Park contains the Waikiki Aquarium, the Honolulu Zoo, a bandstand and hula show grounds.
China town is a fascinating blend of Asian cultures, highlights include a Taoist temple and a Shinto shrine. Foster Botanical Garden is also lovely and includes the ornate Buddhist Kuan Yin Temple.
Lahaina, Maui's main town, has some 19th-century historical sites, including the Old Courthouse (now a gallery of local art), Baldwin House and the Wo Hing Temple.
Surfers and windsurfers will be in their element on Maalaea Bay, while Maipoina Oe Iau Beach Park or Kamaole Beach Park are tamer. Keawakapu Beach has reefs and is more scenic and less crowded.
Golfing, recreational sporting activities, first-class international cuisine, shopping and accommodation to suit all budgets are all well supported in America’s 50th state.
By car you can explore Volcanoes National Park, the Hamakua Coastline (Big Hawaii Island), Haleakala Crater and West Maui Mountains, Kuai’s Waimea Canyon and Lanai island.
Air is the only realistic means of reaching Hawaii and Honolulu is a major Pacific hub, especially on the North American-Asian route, so flights are numerous. Connections are regular (several times a day) to all of the other islands, the majority going to Oahu’s airport at Kahului. Inter-island flights are plentiful between Honolulu (Oahu) and airports at Lihue (Kauai), Kahului (Maui), Kona and Hilo (Big Island). A shuttle service from Honolulu airport to the city or Waikiki beach is regular and reliable, operating all hours. Private shuttles run to other resorts scattered around the island.
A small ferry runs five times daily between Maui and Lanai. It’s much cheaper, and certainly more scenic than flying, without taking too much longer.
The QE II makes an annual stop stopover (5 days from Mexico).