Updated On: November 08, 2023 by Asmaa Alhashimy
Most individuals frequently place Hawaii at the top of their “bucket lists.” Every year, about 9 million tourists travel to the islands for vacations, sightseeing, hiking, exploring, golfing, snorkelling, surfing, and commemorating special occasions. What makes tourists visit the islands more than once is how Hawaiians welcome them like family.
The majority of significant airports in Canada and the US offer daily flights. With numerous inter-island flights connecting the islands, “island hopping” is simple and practical.
The archipelago consists of 6 major islands, ranging from 5.1 million to 700,000 years. We recommend visiting each island because they are all unique and beautiful.
Best Time to Visit
The best months to vacation on Hawaii’s Big Island are September through November. The island’s typically affordable lodging rates significantly increase during that time. Since the year-round temperatures range from 78° F to 85° F on average, you might want to avoid the most expensive period, which runs from December to March, unless you enjoy surfing.
Hawaiian festivals are like no other. Make sure to attend at least one of the festivals held statewide and see for yourself what makes Hawaiian culture so distinct and diverse. Below are five festivals that honour different aspects of Hawaii’s diverse culture.
1. Aloha Festivals, statewide in September
The Aloha Festivals are a one-month-long celebration of Hawaiian culture that includes unique events held all around the state.
Visitors to Oahu have the unique chance to take in Waikiki Ho’olaule’a, a massive block celebration with Hawaiian food, music, entertainment, arts and crafts, and a recreation of the Hawaiian Royal Court procession during the Opening Ceremony.
The festival ends with the Annual Floral Parade down Kalakaua Avenue, featuring marching bands, colourful floats decorated with Hawaiian flowers, pau (long-skirted) horse riders, and hula performances.
2. King Kamehameha Festival, statewide in June
To honour King Kamehameha I., a beloved king who united all the islands to form the Kingdom of Hawai’i, the people of Hawaii gather for the King Kamehameha Festival.
The parade starts at Iolani Palace, the former home of the Kings and Queens of Hawaii. It ends at Kapiolani Park, located at the base of Lahi Head.
Numerous marching bands, elaborate floats, long-skirted horse riders, and other flashy Hawaiian spectacles are displayed as thousands of onlookers line the parade route.
3. Honolulu Festival, Oʻahu, in March
The three-day Honolulu Festival aims to highlight the vibrant Asian, Pacific, and Hawaiian cultures through music, dance, arts and crafts, unique exhibitions, and lectures. Groups from the Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia, Tahiti, Japan, Hawaii, and more are among the performers on the bill.
The event finishes with a Grand Parade down Kalakaua Avenue, where spectators line the street to enjoy a variety of songs, dances, and traditional performances from other cultures. A fantastic display of Nagaoka Fireworks follows the parade.
4. Duke’s Oceanfest, Oʻahu, in August
Duke’s Oceanfest is celebrated in honour of Native Hawaiian surf hero and Olympic champion swimmer Duke Kahanamoku. Locals and tourists are invited to join Duke’s Oceanfest every year to participate in (or watch) ocean sports on Waikiki Beach.
Surfing, tandem surfing, paddleboard racing, swimming, water polo, beach volleyball, and other water sports are all included in this series of competitions. Don’t miss the Hawaiian Legends Lau or the Duke Kahanamoku Statue’s morning lei-draping ritual!
5. Kōloa Plantation Days, Kauaʻi, in July
Koloa Plantation Days honour the unique cultural traditions of numerous ethnic groups. These groups migrated to Hawai’i to work on the sugar cane plantations to highlight the natural and social history of the state.
The schedule includes talks, Keiki (kids) activities, live music and cultural performances, cinema nights, craft fairs, gourmet events, outdoor sports, a parade, and even a rodeo. It takes place at several Poipu and Koloa resorts on Kauai’s south shore.
Best Beaches in Hawaii
There are more than 100 magnificent beaches on the Hawaiian Islands chain, with only eight main islands: the Big Island, Maui, Oahu, Kauai, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, and Niihau.
There are many types of beaches, from smooth, white sand to black, pink, and green stretches. You’ll need to bring your umbrella to the beaches you visit because while some have shade trees surrounding them, others don’t.
Many of the beaches have amenities like restrooms, change areas, picnic tables, and grills. Some even have playgrounds for children.
1. Kaanapali Beach, Maui
Marriott Maui Ocean Club’s Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa, Westin Maui Resort & Spa, and Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa are just a few large resorts that line the 3-mile-long Kaanapali Beach on Maui’s West Shore.
From this long, scrollable beach with views of Lanai and Molokai, it’s simple to swim and snorkel. You might frequently see sea turtles and even humpback whales breaching in the distance.
2. Makena Beach, Maui
Makena Beach in South Maui is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. Although there may be some choppy surf here, the 1 1/2 miles of gorgeous, white sand beach is 100 feet wide.
While most people spend their time sunbathing on the beach, you can swim, snorkel, bodyboard, and fish. Makena State Park, Big Beach on one side and the 660-foot Little Beach on the other, is divided by the inactive volcanic cinder cone Puu Olai.
If you want to enjoy that part of the park, arrive early to secure a position because the smaller Little Beach can get crowded and occasionally attracts nudists. At Big Beach, there is only one lifeguard on duty. The view of Kahoolawe and Molokini islands from the park is a good enough reason to go.
3. Hamoa Beach, Maui
Hamoa Beach is a picture-perfect crescent-shaped beach hidden amid lava rock cliffs along Maui’s famed Hana Highway (a half-mile past Marker 51 beyond Hana Town).
The lounge chairs you see are allocated for the Hana-Maui Resort’s visitors even though this beach is open to the public. Although the beach is only 100 feet wide and 1,000 feet long, Hawaiians have traditionally gathered there to surf.
You can snorkel here, but be careful because there is no coral reef in front of the beach, which faces the ocean and can have strong currents. You can also find shady areas because Hala trees and other flora flank the shore.
It can be challenging to get street parking in this area, and it’s a steep descent to the beach, so not everyone may feel comfortable doing so.
4. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, Oahu
East Honolulu is where you’ll find Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, roughly a 25-minute drive from Westin Moana Surfrider. Since it has long been a well-liked snorkelling location, the city and county created a marine education programme in 2002.
Everybody who goes to the beach now has to view a nine-minute video explaining the marine life in the area and how to have a safe time there.
If you’re determined to go snorkelling there, arrive early because the number of tourists each day is limited. The beach is free for kids under 12 years old to use. More than 300 types of fish call the shallow coral reefs home, so it’s worthwhile.
5. Waikiki Beach, Oahu
The views of the Diamond Head crater and the memorial honouring Duke Kahanamoku, an Olympic swimmer and the originator of modern surfing, draw almost all visitors to Oahu to Waikiki Beach.
Additionally, there are canoeing and surfing lessons available for visitors. In addition to Duke’s Beach, Kuhio Beach, Queen’s Surf Beach, Sans Souci/Kaimana Beach Park, Ala Moana Regional Park, and Magic Island Lagoon, Waikiki is made up of a few other beaches on the island’s South Shore. The last three options are ideal for families or swimmers of all ages who want to enter the sea because they offer shallower and calmer waters.
6. Kailua Beach, Oahu
On Oahu’s East Coast, Kailua Beach Park offers an enchanted turquoise ocean and pristine, powdery white sand. The beach here is lovely and long, stretching 2 1/2 miles between Alala and Kapoho points, about 30 minutes from Waikiki.
Alala Point’s beach is ideal for windsurfing, swimming, and boogie boarding. Considering that you can hire a kayak at the shore, it’s also a great place to start sea kayaking excursions.
You can see Moku Nui and Moku Iki islands, about three-quarters of a mile off the windward coast, in the distance. A fit kayaker may complete the journey in 45 minutes to 2 hours.
7. Kaunaoa Bay, aka Mauna Kea Beach, Big Island
Kaunaoa Bay, also known as Mauna Kea Beach, is a favourite among novice snorkelers due to the shallow depth of the bay’s sand bottom. It’s an excellent area to learn how to snorkel or for less-confident snorkelers to have a stress-free vacation because it’s located on the Kohala Coast.
Your greatest bet for spotting creatures like peacock bass, butterflyfish, goatfish, parrotfish, and turtles is a rock ledge on the beach’s right side. Return at night to view manta rays feeding on plankton if you’re staying at the nearby or on-site Mauna Kea Beach Hotel.
The hotel manages limited guest parking, even though the beach is open to the public. If you are determined to go, get there early to avoid waiting for a parking space later in the day.
From Kona Airport, it takes 40 minutes to get to Mauna Kea Beach. Remember that there may be significant rip currents here throughout winter.
8. Hapuna Beach, Big Island
Hapuna Beach, located near Kaunaoa Bay, is an excellent place to snorkel when the sea is calm. However, due to powerful rip currents, avoiding the ocean when big surf hits the shoreline in the winter is advisable.
Even so, when the circumstances are good, it’s a well-liked location for bodyboarding and surfing. Half a mile of the beach is white sand bordered by greenery.
Hapuna Beach has the benefit of being lifeguarded. However, it can get busy there. Go south to Waialea Beach if you’re seeking a less congested area (also known as Beach 69). Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area charges a $10 per-car admission fee.
9. Punaluu Beach, Big Island
Hawaii stands out because there are just as many black sand beaches as white ones. Punaluu Beach offers a lot, including snorkelling, coastal hiking, sunbathing, and night camping.
It’s one of the most accessible black sand beaches (permit required). However, many tourists come to observe the rare hawksbill turtles (honuea) in the sea and the green turtles (honu), which are like basking in the sun on the black lava sand.
As you can imagine, black sand gets hot, so wear water shoes at this — or any — black sand beach. Seek out shade under the stand of coconut palms that line the shore.
Currents can be strong here, so be careful. Punaluu Bay has several underwater freshwater springs, so you’ll traverse warm and colder temperatures when in the water. Pay a visit to nearby Hawaii Volcanoes National Park if you have some extra time at this beach.
10. Hanalei Bay, Kauai
It’s impossible to visit Kauai without spending some time at the breathtaking Hanalei Bay on the island’s North Shore. There are two kilometres of sand on the crescent-shaped beach.
Swimming, surfing, and bodyboarding are all highly popular in the middle portion, called Pavilions. The lifeguards are stationed at this section of the beach. Even if you don’t want to swim, this is an excellent beach for walking, and the yachts anchored in the bay provide enough eye candy.
11. Lumahai Beach, Kauai
Lumahai Beach, located in Hanalei on Kauai’s North Shore, is another breathtaking location. Since the beach’s waves can be rough, we don’t advise swimming there.
But because of its flawless white sand, it’s the beach where you can stroll and take in beautiful sunsets. Many people go there merely to take pictures, and the road above the beach offers a lovely view of Lumahai Bay.
12. Poipu Beach, Kauai
We love the South Shore’s Poipu Beach as much as the critically endangered Hawaiian monk seals that enjoy relaxing on Nukumoi Point, which divides the beach into two areas.
Go to the western part of the beach, where mild waves smash against a small sandbar for your youngsters who want to learn bodyboarding. A shallow swimming spot protected by lava rock is to the left of that location.
A playground and picnic spots are on-site, and adjacent surfboard and snorkel equipment rentals are also available.
13. Polihale State Park, Kauai
First, there is no shade at this beach, so if you intend to go, bring an umbrella and a cooler filled with drinks. You can find 17 miles of white sand beach and 100-foot dunes in Kekaha on Kauai’s West Side. It is a great place to get in your workout if you enjoy walking on the beach.
The locals come here to fish as well. However, the true treat is going after dusk to see the sun set over the island of Niihau. Before the Napali Coast took over, Polihale was the final beach. It is not the area to go swimming because the water is unsafe and harsh.
14. Papohaku Beach, Molokai
Most visitors from the mainland go to Oahu, Maui, the Big Island, or Kauai. Still, if you never go to Molokai, you’re missing out. With its main beach, Papohaku Beach, on the west side, this smaller, more isolated island nonetheless occupies a spot on the most beautiful beaches list.
With a three-mile length and a 100-yard width, there is lots of room for you to spread out and take in the scenery. At sunset, the sand has white and golden tones. From October through March, swim with caution because the water can be hazardous here throughout the winter.
15. Hulopoe Beach, Lanai
You may get to know the crescent-shaped Hulopoe Beach firsthand if you’re fortunate enough to stay at the Four Seasons Resort Lanai on the island’s southern shore. The vivid blue ocean and the silky white sand of the beach make a stunning contrast.
Visitors can swim and snorkel here in the summer, but surfing and bodyboarding are more popular in the winter. If you stroll to the bay’s east side, you might see a tidal pool made of volcanic rock.
Top Restaurants in Hawaii
Hawaii is not only famous for its vibrant beaches and the variety of water sports that can be experienced there. This tropical paradise is also rightfully a paradise for foodies. We have gathered 3 of the must-visit restaurants in Hawaii to help you sample local and internationally-inspired food, no matter which island you land on.
1. Mama’s Fish House
Just east of Pa’ia is a seafood restaurant with fine meals and a relaxed atmosphere. The fish served here is exceptionally fresh, and the menu includes the name of the fisherman who caught it that morning.
Depending on what they can catch each day, what is on the menu varies. It typically includes ahi, ono, opakapaka, and mahi-mahi, among other fish. They provide a selection of classic island drinks from the turn of the century and some modern favourites.
The over-the-top but lovely nautical decor includes fishing nets, glass floats, and even the keel of a sunken ship. It is well-liked by locals and tourists, couples and families alike, thanks to the casual dress code, convenient parking, and extensive food. Reservations are advised, particularly on weekends and close to sunset.
2. Lahaina Grill
This fine dining establishment serving steak and seafood is ideal for special occasions and date nights. Rich flavours, excellent plating, a wide selection of wines, and first-rate service make this restaurant a local favourite.
Remember to leave space for dessert; if you need help deciding which sweet treat to have to finish the meal, they allow split orders. Although the atmosphere is premium, there is no dress code like in other places in Maui.
Finding a spot on the street might be difficult. Still, a paid parking lot is behind their building, located in the same historic structure as Lahaina Inn. Make reservations if possible, or plan on a protracted wait.
3. MW Restaurant
This restaurant is a chic eatery that serves modern fusion cuisine in the heart of Honolulu. The local ingredients that MW uses give traditional Hawaiian cuisine a modern twist.
Dinners are available as part of a multi-course tasting menu with optional wine pairings or à la carte. Innovative ingredients like green tea, beets, and lemongrass are used to create spectacular drinks. There is valet parking available; nonetheless, the street may be congested.
Hawaii: A Tropical Paradise
Hawaii is renowned worldwide as a tropical paradise with an agreeable climate, white sand beaches, rainbows, beautiful sunsets, and active volcanoes. Whichever island you land on, you will not be disappointed with what it offers. If you’re looking for more vacation spots in the US, though, check out our top US travel destinations for inspiration!