Hawaii is a popular vacation spot full of amazing sights and family-friendly activities. While there are many touristy areas to choose from, here are three attractions in the Hawaiian Islands that enable you to catch your breath, take in scenery, and enjoy the outdoors.
Oahu: Diamond Head
Although the Diamond Head volcano has nothing to do with diamonds, the view from the summit is still a beautiful attraction worth seeing. In the nineteenth century, English explorers mistakenly thought that some calcite crystals in the rock were diamonds. When they discovered otherwise, the name had already stuck. The volcanic crater is clearly visible from Honolulu, rising 762 feet above sea level. Scientists believe that about 300,000 years ago, a volcanic eruption formed the crater we see today. Tourists can travel during daylight hours to the volcano and hike to the top. The hike starts with a paved trail of switchbacks and a few steep staircases that lead up to the viewing area. From the top you can see all of Honolulu, including the sparkling ocean water that appears bluer than ever from this height. The hike is just under a mile from start to finish.
Tips: Water is available at the base, and it’s a good idea to take some with you on this hot and humid hike. Definitely bring supportive shoes because flip-flops aren’t going to cut it! The entrance fee into the park is $5 per car.
Kauai: Na`Aina Kai Botanical Gardens
These gardens are located in Kauai. Na`Aina Kai means “Lands by the Sea” in Hawaiian. The gardens span over 240 acres of land with rare and diverse types of flora and fauna. The acreage of the gardens allows for several different sections of the land to highlight various aspects of nature: carnivorous flowers, desert plants, marshy areas, beach, forest, and a maze designed with thick hedges and a children’s area. Visitors will get a taste of all types of Hawaiian plant life as they view flowers and trees that can’t be seen elsewhere.
Tips: Visitors must travel through the gardens on guided tours that last anywhere from 90 minutes to 5 hours. Make a reservation for a guided tour beforehand, even though the gardens do accommodate unexpected visitors. You can choose between walking tours or riding tours, all at various prices.
Maui: The Road to Hana
The Road to Hana is a famous highway that extends over 100 miles on the east side of Maui. Travelers drive the highway to see the fantastic natural sites along the way, including gorgeous waterfalls, rainforests, and beaches, as well as a contrasting desert climate. The city of Hana is located at the apex of the uphill drive and is known as the midpoint of the road. Beyond Hana is a must-see: the -Haleakala National Park that hosts the Seven Sacred Pools as well as incredible black-sand beaches. Beyond the national park, a dirt road traverses the barren desert. The shock of this natural desert climate is overwhelming after traveling through thick rainforests. But never fear: at the end of the dirt road is an amazing view of the water on the south side of the island.
Tips: Bring snacks, drinks, bug repellent, sunscreen, sunglasses, a camera, and swim gear. Don’t hesitate to stop along the way to stretch your legs, enjoy the breathtaking scenery, and take a few pictures. If possible, leave early in the morning to beat the traffic, to avoid the afternoon heat, and to be off the road before dark. The whole journey will likely take all day.