Guide to the Hawaiian Islands

Jul 29, 2015


Thanks to Phil Hoffmann Travel.

Beyond the sun, sand and surf, Hawaii has a rich cultural history with deeply held traditions and customs. The “Aloha Spirit” can be felt everywhere in the warmth and grace of its people.

With a year-round climate of 25-29°C, it is the ideal holiday destination for travellers of all ages, budgets and interests; perfect as a family escape, a romantic getaway, a health and relaxation retreat or an action-packed adventure holiday. Each of Hawaii’s six main islands (there are actually eight) offers a distinct and unforgettable beauty.


The Big Island

Made up of five low-lying volcanoes, the island of Hawaii is the largest of all the Hawaiian Islands. Captain James Cook was the first European to discover the islands in 1778, naming them the Sandwich Islands after the fourth Earl of Sandwich. Cook was killed in Kealakekua Bay just over a year later and is buried at sea just off the coast. An island of contrasts, you’ll find red-hot flowing molten magma in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the snow-covered peak of mighty Mauna Kea, lush green valleys and rainforests on the Hamakua Coast and beaches of black, white and green sand.

MUST SEE Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – home to two of the most active volcanoes in the world. Watch as blistering lava flows into the sea from Kilauea, producing 230,000-600,000 cubic metres of lava per day. Take the 17km Crater Rim drive that circles its caldera or walk through a 500-year old lava tube.


Oahu the Gathering Place

Gateway for international flights from Australia to Hawaii, Oahu’s capital, Honolulu, is home to one of the most famous beaches in the world, Waikiki. The first hotel in Waikiki was built in 1901. Today, Waikiki is Oahu’s main hotel and resort area with most rooms no more than three blocks back from the beach. A vibrant city, you’ll find a lively nightlife, fine dining, bargain shopping at Waikele Premium Outlets and local art and goods on Kuhio and Kalakaua Avenues.

MUST SEE Pearl Harbor – five historic sites honour the events of that fateful day in December 1941 when Japan launched an aerial attack on Pearl Harbor. At the USS Arizona Memorial, learn about the attack, before boarding a boat shuttle out to the floating memorial built over the sunken hull of the battleship, USS Arizona to pay your respects.


Maui the Valley Isle

With 193kms of coastline, Maui boasts over 80 beautiful beaches, some of which have been voted the best in the world. The second largest Hawaiian Island, it has a surprisingly small population and is dotted with quaint towns such as Lahaina, artist communities and secluded luxury resorts. A nature lovers delight, you can hike the sacred Iao Valley, see migrating humpback whales, visit the windsurfing capital of the world at Hookipa Beach or snorkel in Molokini, a stunning marine reserve in a partly submerged volcanic crater. At the end of a busy day, relax in one of many picturesque retreats for a treatment using local ingredients.

MUST SEE Haleakala National Park – known for its spectacular sightseeing, hiking and biking; discover volcanic landscapes, mountainous wilderness and rare plants like the Silversword. Witness a breathtaking sunrise from atop the dormant Haleakala Crater, rising 3,048 metres above sea level, before biking down.


Kauai the Garden Isle

Gorgeous Kauai has provided a scenic backdrop for countless movies since 1933 including South Pacific, Jurassic Park, Avatar and The Descendants. Breathtaking white-sand beaches make up nearly half the circumference while lush green valleys and cascading waterfalls can be found inland. Kayak across turquoise waters alongside the dramatic 25km Na Pali Coast, where jagged volcanic cliffs drop thousands of feet into the ocean.

MUST SEE Waimea Canyon – Hawaii’s answer to the Grand Canyon. Stretching for 22kms, 1.6kms wide and more than 1km deep, the lookout provides astounding views of colourful deep valley gorges, rugged cliffs and crested hills.

Molokai the Friendly Isle

Molokai offers simplicity and a relaxed country-town feel. A peaceful island with no traffic lights, high-rise buildings or shopping malls, Molokai is Hawaii of the past with unspoiled countryside, untouched beaches and a wild, untamed beauty. At only 61km long and 16km wide, it’s home to the highest cliffs in the world and Hawaii’s longest continuous fringing reef making it a haven for snorkellers.

MUST SEE Kalaupapa National Historical Park – ride a mule along the picturesque cliff-top trail to Kalaupapa Peninsula with magnificent views along the coast. Visit the historic town at the bottom of the trail, once a leper colony.


Lanai the Pineapple Isle

Get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life on the small and charming island. Lanai is largely undeveloped except for a few resorts, hotels and golf courses. Enjoy tranquil days on an isolated beach and nights where the only sound you will hear is the gentle crashing of waves. Visit one of the world’s most fragile eco-systems in the Kanepuu Preserve, find treasures at Shipwreck Beach or swim with dolphins and snorkel with turtles in the protected marine reserve of Hulopoe Bay.

MUST SEE Keahikawelo (Garden of the Gods) – discover the lunar landscapes of the Garden of the Gods, a vast expanse featuring large boulders in shades of red, orange, purple and earthen colours. The unique rock formations are carved by nature but appear so perfectly scattered, it’s as if they have been placed artfully by hand.

Base yourself in Honolulu and explore the islands on day trips; jump onboard a cruise ship and sail between the islands or do some island hopping, taking a short flight between them to enjoy a couple nights on each. Hawaiian Airlines fly daily to Honolulu (and Qantas and Jetstar flies 6 days a week). Contact us for details.