No matter where I travel, I think exploring is part of the adventure. Luckily, Hawaii is the perfect setting to put such a philosophy to work. Hiking in Hawaii is a popular activity and the Big Island has no shortage of beautiful places to visit. In fact, Big Island scenic hikes run the gamut of waterfalls to green sand beaches to lava landscapes. The surroundings are immersive, natural wonders only a Hawaiian Island can offer.  There are plenty of places to hike on the Big Island but there are a few can’t miss favorites.

Big Island Scenic Hikes You Don’t Want to Miss 

Big Island Scenic Hikes

The sights on the Kilauea Iki trail are impressive.

1) Kilauea Iki Trail
This four-mile loop is located inside the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  During the hike, you’ll navigate through the Kilauea Iki Crater, the remains of a massive 1959 eruption.  As you descend the 400-feet of the crater, a variety of scenery welcomes you.  From lush rainforests to active steam and sulfur vents and a solidified lava lake, hiking this trail gives you access to incredible, unique sights only the Big Island can provide.
Big Island Scenic Hikes

Lush and green, the Waipio Valley is a stark contrast to the volcanic landscapes that dominate the Big Island. Paul Bica, via flickr

2) Waipio Valley

On the northern Hamakua Coast, you’ll find the lush Waipio Valley. Surrounded by cliffs up to 2,000-feet high, the deep valley is about a mile wide.  Hiilawe Falls, the Big Island’s tallest waterfall, is a highlight as is a black sand beach and Kuluhine Falls.  Park at the Waipio Valley Lookout and hike to the beach while enjoying all of the scenic sights that surround you.

Akaka Falls on Big Island Hawaii in tropical rain fores

This short hike is seriously stunning.

3) Akaka Falls Loop

Head to Akaka Falls State Park to see the 442-foot Akaka Falls.  Situated on the northeastern Hamakua Coast, you can access the park about 3.5 miles from Honomu, a former sugar plantation town.  You can see both beautiful falls by trekking a short .4 mile paved path laden with wild orchids, bamboo groves and draping ferns. As far as Big Island scenic hikes go, this is one has one of the most rewarding sights. Plus, it’s one of the shortest! 
Thurston Lava Tube At Hawaii Volcano National Park

Inside the Thurston Lava Tube.

4) Thurston Lava Tube

When you think of Big Island scenic hikes, a lava tube might not come to mind. However, when you’re on the Big Island a volcanic world surrounds you. Accordingly, exploring this unique sight just makes sense.
Of the 150 miles of hiking trails inside the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, this one is the easiest. As a result, it’s also pretty popular! On the 20-minute walk, you’ll navigate through a thick, fern-filled forest to the Thurston Lava Tube. Once there, you’ll enter a 500-foot cave-like tunnel (tube) that was carved by fast-moving molten lava.  Walking through a lava tube is definitely a highlight of any visit to the Big Island. It’s also one of the most interesting hikes you can experience.

By jonny-mt, via Wikimedia Commons

5) Papakolea Beach
Green sand, created by the mineral olivine, creates a one-of-a-kind environment to discover at Papakolea Beach.  It is one of only two green sand beaches in the world.  The hike to the beach, which is located near Ka Lea or the “South Point”, which is 2.5 miles one way.  During the hike, you’ll gain access to one of the most remote beaches on the Big Island. In addition, you’ll experience one of the most unique settings in the world.

Discover More of the Big Island

The beauty of the Big Island doesn’t end with these hikes. There are truly amazing sights at every turn, creating a marvelous oasis of discovery. Plan your trip with Reserve Hawaii to see just how breathtaking a Hawaii vacation can be.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Hawaii to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

One of the top things to do in Hawaii is drive the Road to Hana Maui.  The centuries-old path is dotted with spectacular scenery, rustic towns and plenty of Hawaiian culture.  Fill the car up with gas, pack a picnic lunch and hit the road to discover the “Highway to Heaven.” 

Here are a few of the top Road to Hana Maui sights to look for on your journey.

Add a little adventure to your trip with a jump into a waterfall!

Twin Falls

Location: Mile Marker #2

Park at the Wailele Farms, which is open to the public for free, to access the cascading waterfalls of Twin Falls. They are easily accessible, but the path can be somewhat slippery. However, the falls are a picture-perfect place to snap photos. Plus, you can swim underneath the waterfall and even jump into the falls’ deep pools. Be sure to stop by the snack stands at the farm entrance for some tasty treats. Along the Road to Hana Maui, there’ aren’t very many food opportunities. Take advantage while you can! 
dscf6821_1_rsz Road to Hana Maui

Breathe in the fresh, natural air of Maui.

Waikamoi Nature Trail

Location: Mile Marker #9.5
A short but sometimes muddy trail leads you to coastal views and plenty of floral and fauna.  Great for non-hikers who just want to stretch their legs, the trail is lined with tall eucalyptus trees and fragrant ginger. 
dscf6974_1_rsz Road to Hana Maui

Welcome to heaven on earth.

Puohokamoa Falls

Location: Mile Marker #11
Make sure you see both the upper and lower sections of Puohokamoa Falls. Many people visit only the upper section and miss the gorgeous 200-foot cascading waterfall on the lower section.  A short walk along an easily accessible path takes you to the spectacular waterfall tumbling over a tall green cliff. The falls are best seen from the Puohokamoa Lookout Point. 

Rick McCharles, flickr

Keanae Arboretum

Location: Mile Marker #17

This Road to Hana Maui stop offers a bit more challenging hike, plenty of plant life and is a great spot for photos.  About 150 tropical plants can be found here and the Piinaau Stream meanders around the arboretum creating a swimming pond.  Two short walking trails lead guests to a beautiful forest and if you’re up for even more scenic views head a ½ mile down the highway to Keanae Overlook, which has some fantastic views of Haleakala.  

This lush valley is not only beautiful–it’s historical too!

Wailua Overlook

Location: Mile Marker #21
You can see Wailua Canyon from the parking lot and after you walk up a set of steps you have a view of Wailua Village and signature sight in Hawaii – water-logged taro patches. Make time to see the church made of coral – once known as St. Gabriel’s – as it is steeped in legend.  When locals decided to build a church a storm washed up just enough coral to build the church and then took any excess coral back to sea.  
hawaii-348_1_rsz Road to Hana Maui

Stop for a picture, but make time to swim at Waikani Falls if you can.

Waikani Falls

Location: Mile Marker #21
Also known as “Three Bears Falls,” this stop is an absolute must for any Road to Hana adventurist.  The nickname is derived from the fact each waterfall is taller than the next like a family of bears.  The Waikani Falls are some of the most dramatic falls in East Maui.  

As the only lava tube on the Road to Hana Maui, this is a stop you don’t want to miss.

Hana Lava Tube

Location: One mile off Ulaino Rd.
Also known as “Kaeleku Caverns,” the Hana Lava Tube is Maui’s largest lava tube.  During a visit here, you can take a self-guided 30-40 minute tour accentuated by colorful underworld formations.  The tour is offered daily from 10:30am-4pm.  Cost is $11.95.  
hawaii-373_rsz Road to Hana Maui

This black sand beach is a contrast of lush, natural beauty and lava rock.

Waianapanapa State Park Maui

Location: Mile Marker #32
This 122-acre state park is home to a black sand beach, dramatic sea caves, natural stone arch hiking trails, and has remnants of Old King’s Highway.  If you hike to the lighthouse, you’ll have gorgeous views of the bay.  

The Wailua waterfall is roadside, which makes it hard to miss.

Wailua Falls

Location: Mile Marker #45
Wailua Falls is the easiest waterfall to access on the Road to Hana Maui. With a cascade of 80-feet, it’s also one of the most beautiful. This is the most photographed waterfall along this route, so there’s generally a crowd of people here. Luckily, there’s a decent amount of parking compared to other Hana sights. You can snap a few pictures from the bridge, but I recommend taking a quick (and somewhat slippery) hike to the plunge pool for up close views and even a refreshing swim.

Hamoa Beach

Location: Mile Marker #50
The 100-foot-wide beach is about 900 feet long and sits below 30-foot, black lava sea cliffs. The crescent moon bay is surrounded by lush vegetation, making it one of Hawaii’s favorite beaches. In addition, it’s rarely crowded so you can kick back, relax and enjoy the serene paradise of Hamoa Beach without distraction. 

Oheo Gulch is at the end of the Road to Hana Maui, but is well worth your time.

Oheo Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools)

Location: Mile Marker #42 (Note: After Hamoa Beach, the mile markers start descending)
Oheo Gulch is simply stunning. Many people don’t make the time for visiting this expansive section of the Haleakala National Park on their Road to Hana Maui tour. Big mistake! Huge. Paradise on earth is embodied at this preserve, which features multiple waterfalls, epic (and endless) coastline views, hiking opportunities and so much more.

Experience the Tropical Treasure that is the Road to Hana Maui

Traveling the Road to Hana Maui provides an up-close look at the true, natural beauty of the island. The road, which has 600 curves and 59 bridges, winds through lush tropical forests, scenic ravines and cascading waterfalls. Ocean cliffs, lava coastlines and incredible black and white sand beaches line the way. The road, which follows and ancient Hawaiian foot trail, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Hawaii to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Shimmering ocean waters. Golden sandy beaches. Swaying palm trees. This is what comes to mind when you think of Maui. There’s a whole lot more to Maui than their fabulous beaches, though! The island oasis is a stunning tropical paradise alive with culture, scenery, food, and fun. It’s also the perfect place to travel when you’re in need of a break from the cold, harsh realities of winter.

winter trip to Maui

5 Things to Do on a Winter Trip to Maui

Explosive Breach1) Whale Watching

If you’ve ever wanted to witness a majestic humpback whale in person, whale watching in Maui is for you. Each year, from December through April, North Pacific humpback whale travel from Alaska to the warmer waters surrounding Maui as they have ideal conditions for breeding and calving. The best way to view these creatures is with a whale watching boat tour. You can also count on seeing whales from the shoreline and at the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Either way, you can count on whale watching being one of the absolute best things to do during a winter trip to Maui.

Haleakala_4939182192) Haleakala National Park

Truly a wonder to behold, Haleakala National Park is a vast volcanic crater with a summit of 10,023-feet. As you traverse the switchbacks up the mountain you rise above it all, reaching an elevation that somehow feels above the clouds. Indeed, Haleakala translates to “House of the Sun.” The vistas and vantage points are a mix of worlds, with green and blue landscapes in one direction and a desert and lava in another. The best time to visit during a winter trip to Maui is at sunrise or sunset as you’ll see why this National Park earns its name. There’s a lot more to this 30,000-acre plus park, including almost 30 hiking trails. Strike out on your own or join a guided Haleakala tour for insight into this unique environment.

Waianapanapa State Park ThinkstockPhotos-484122506 RSZ3) Road to Hana

The Road to Hana is notorious for its winding roads and endless curves. There’s a reason why there are souvenir t-shirts splattered with the phrase “I Survived the Drive”—traversing this road is an adventure. It’s also beautiful, and dotted with panoramic vistas, rushing waterfalls and distinct beaches. There are Road to Hana tours, but for this activity, I recommend venturing out on your own. The 52-mie route takes about 2 ½ hours to travel, and that’s without stops.  And you’re going to want to stop—a lot. So plan accordingly. You’ll want to bring water and a lunch with you, as there are a few snack and fruit stands along the route but scant options for full meals. That said, some of my favorite Road to Hana sights are Twin Falls, Waikamo Ridge’s bamboo forest, Puohokamoa Falls, Wailua Falls and Wai’anapanapa State Park.

Treat yourself to a delicious meal in Hawaii.

4) Hawaii Cuisine

When you’re on a winter trip to Maui, you’ll find the food scene is thriving. Culinary enthusiasts have collaborated to create the farm-to-table movement known as Hawaii Regional Cuisine. Founders of the HRC include top chefs of Maui restaurants including Merriman’s Kapalua, Ocean Tavern, and Hali’imaile General Store. Two of my favorite Maui towns for food are Lahaina and Paia. Both are laidback beach towns where the restaurants are casual yet the food is seriously good. Top picks include Lahaina Pizza Co., Fleetwood’s on Front Street, Mama’s Fish House, Milagros Food Co., and Charley’s Saloon.

Snorkel_iStock_000007110005XSmall5) Outdoor Adventures 

Maui’s vast landscape makes it easy to get outside and explore. At every turn, you can experience something new. During your winter trip to Maui, go for a snorkel with tropical fish and sea turtles, then horseback ride through the Maui countryside. Opt for an aerial tour via helicopter, then zipline through the lush Maui canopy. The best part? That’s only the beginning of the adventures that await! Exceptional Maui activities help break the mold of tropical vacations; you’ll see and do things you’ve never done before and come away thinking “I did that!”

With these top five things to do during a winter trip to Maui, escaping the winter blues will be a breeze. To make your trip even better, rely on Reserve Hawaii for exclusive deals on hotels, attractions, and luaus.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Maui to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

One of the most unique things you can do in Kauai is kayak the Wailua River. Kauai is the only Hawaiian island with navigable rivers, and the Wailua is the most popular one to explore. The tranquil Wailua River weaves by gorgeous waterfalls and lush, jungle landscapes. It’s an escape to the past, as the original Wailua River was the home of the first Hawaiians almost 1500 years ago. It’s also an incredible modern-day look at the beauty, and preservation, of this natural treasure. Interested in learning more about a Wailua River kayak adventure? Follow along as I guide you through my excursion with Rainbow Kayak Tours, one of the premier outfitters for the Wailua River.

Rainbow Kayak Tours

Entrance to the Rainbow Kayak Tours headquarters.

The location of Rainbow Kayak Tours, at 440 Aleka Loop, is a nondescript shopping mall. You might think you’re lost, but circle around the parking lot and look for the kayaks and shuttles–a sure sign you’re in the right place.

Rainbow Kayak Tours

All aboard the Rainbow Kayak Tours shuttle!

After waking up extra early for my 7:15am check-in time at Rainbow Kayak Tours, I was feeling less than bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed. However, I was eager to start the day and was happy to hear the shuttle ride from the shop to the kayak put-in place was a short one.

Wailua River Kayak

Pick a kayak, any kayak!

At Rainbow Kayak Tours you can choose to kayak solo or as a team.  Just be sure to let your choice be known at time of reservation so they can bring the correct number of kayaks to the banks of the Wailua River.

The beginning of my 4 1/2 adventure tour.

The beginning of my 4 1/2 adventure tour.

The start of the Wailua River kayak tour is rather leisurely, especially if you kayak tandem-style. I paddled past historical Heiaus (hallowed shrines), the ancient village of Kamokila, and under the canopy of swaying palm trees and other vegetation. It. Was. Beautiful.


Paddling to Secret Falls.


Before I knew it, I had paddled past North Fork and the famous Fern Grotto and was on my way to Secret Falls.

Wailua River Kayak

Time to drop off the kayak at the Secret Falls trailhead and hike into the Kauai rainforest.

Part of the Wailua River Kayak experience is hiking through the natural Kauai rainforests, discovering and learning about the floral and fauna around you from your trusty guide, and, of course, splashing into the Secret Falls Waterfall.

Wailua River Kayak

Hiking into the Kauai rainforest.

The hike through the Kauai rainforest is a moderate one, but I cannot stress enough to bring proper shoes. The path can be rather slippery (I had flip-slops on so I ended up going barefoot most of the time). Bring some water shoes or comfortable sneakers.

Hawaii 2012 Round 2 882 RSZ1

The Rainbow Kayak Tour guide sharing his expertise.

As I hiked through the rainforest, the extremely knowledgeable Rainbow Kayak tour guide shared his expertise regarding local flora and fauna. At one point, he pointed out edible plants that I volunteered to try. It was surprisingly good!

Lunch is served

Lunch is served.

The Wailua River kayak experience includes a fresh lunch, served on the banks of the Secret Falls Waterfall.

Wailua River Kayak

Time for waterfall fun!

It’s hard to beat playing in a Kauai waterfall! Secret Falls is an enchanting waterfall descending 80 feet into a natural pool surround by rocks and vegetation. To avoid the crowds from Wailua River kayak tours, be sure to book the early morning tour. The afternoon tours are notorious for being busier which means you won’t have as much solo time underneath this amazing natural feature.

Wailua River Kayak

Scenic sights along the Wailua River.

After frolicking in the waterfall and enjoying a delicious lunch under a warm Hawaiian sun, I hiked back to my kayak with my group. From there, we paddled along the same route in which we came.

I found the Wailua River kayak tour to be one of my favorite activities on Kauai. I felt like I got to experience the natural side of Hawaii, but in a trusted, guided atmosphere. Plus, I got to swim under a Hawaii waterfall, which is kind of the best thing ever. It’s hard not to give this tour two enthusiastic thumbs up!

Add the Wailua River kayak tour from Rainbow Kayak to your Hawaii itinerary to see why this Kauai activity is one of the best.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Hawaii to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Planning a vacation to Kauai? If so, you know there are numerous Kauai attractions and activities available in Hawaii, many of which highlight the beauty of the island. Get the full scoop on how to do Hawaii on a budget with our list of free things to do in Kauai.


1) Wailua River State Park
Wailua River State Park is home to Fern Grotto, a fern-covered cave set in a tropical garden, Opaeka’s Falls and Wailua Falls.  The state park also features the Wailua Complex of Heiau, a national historic landmark.

Waimea Canyon in Kauai, Hawaii Islands

Waimea Canyon

2) Waimea Canyon
Known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” the park offers stunning views at several lookout points, picnic areas and a variety of hiking trails to waterfalls and other scenic locales. Entrance into the Waimea Canyon State Park is free.

3) Koke’e State Park
Koke’e State Park, home to hiking trails, the Koke’e Natural History Museum, the Koke’e Lighthouse, as well as interpretive programs and exhibits. There are beautiful lookouts to take advantage of and scenic waterfalls to see at this state park. Entrance to the park is free.

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Spouting Horn

4) Spouting Horn
A popular photography spot, Spouting Horn is easily accessed on the Poipu Coastline. A natural lava tube flooded by the surf creates a frequent 50-foot spouts of surge and swells. A legend is built around the sound the Spouting Horn makes, hissing and roaring as the waves come in and out.

5) Kauai Coffee Company
Tour the Kauai Coffee Company on the south side of Kauai. It’s the United States’ largest coffee farm, offering a free self-guided walking tour of the farm and free coffee tasting.


Tunnels Beach

6) Beaches
Tunnels Beach. Hanalei Bay. Poipu Beach. Waimea Bay. These are just a few of the sun-soaked beaches Kauai is known for. These free natural attractions offer endless days of pleasure and are some of the best free things to do in Kauai.

7) Hiking
There are endless epic hiking trails in Kauai. All
of them are free to access, too, so you can spend a day under the island sun exploring some of the best attractions the island has to
offer at no charge. The Kalalu Trail is one of the best with views of the Na Pali Coast. Canyon Trail at Koke’e State Park has panoramic views of Waimea Canyon, making it an amazing free thing to do too.

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Kilauea Lighthouse

8) Koloa Heritage Trail
A self-guided 10 mile trail, the Koloa Heritage Trail has a series of 14 monuments educating visitors of the history, culture and heritage of this site.

9) Kilauea Lighthouse
Pristinely white against a deep blue ocean, the Kilauea Lighthouse draws visitors for its postcard perfect views. After snapping about 100 photos (seriously, it’s so pretty!), take the guided tour of the lighthouse to gain insight into this historical landmark.

These are just a few of the free things to do in Kauai. Plan your Hawaii vacation today to discover all Hawaii has to offer.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Kauai to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Want to experience life under the sea like never before?  Reserve a trip with Atlantis Adventures Hawaii.  They take guests on spectacular submarine adventures in technologically advanced vessels to depths of 100 feet and beyond.  Plus, they have locations on the Big Island, Maui and Oahu. 

Want to know more about what an excursion with Atlantis Adventures Hawaii  is all about?  Read on:
Atlantis Adventures Big Island
After a quick check-in (please check-in 30 minutes prior to your boarding time) at the Atlantis Submarine ticket office on Alii Drive, located across from the Kailua-Kona Pier, you’ll board a submarine and begin your adventure.  During your trip, you’ll explore the majestic waters off the Kailua-Kona Pier, a 25-acre natural coral reef and its marine inhabitants.  The best part is you view all of this in air-conditioned comfort and safety. Allow Atlantis Submarines to show you the other 96% of Kona you can’t see any other way. You’ll descend 100 feet into another version of paradise, one hidden even from the people of Hawaii for centuries.
Atlantis Adventures Maui
Check-in at the Atlantis Maui Logo Shop in Lahaina (about 30 minutes before departure) and begin your submarine adventure in Maui.  The Maui tour takes guests on an underwater discovery tour in the coastal waters surrounding Lahaina.  Guests view the unique fascinating natural coral reefs, fish and marine life in air-conditioned comfort and safety.  Atlantis Adventures recently created a unique underwater reef, too, as they sank a Carthaginian replica of a 19th century supply vessel.  This reed will have lasting marine benefit and is a real sight to see!
Atlantis Adventures Oahu
You begin your trip excursion with Atlantis Adventures Hawaii with a quick check-in at the Hilton Pier in front of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Alii Tower (30 minutes prior to boarding).  Then, you’ll board one of their 48 passenger submarines and head to the coastal waters surround Waikiki and Honolulu.  The Atlantis Waikiki dive site is home to many Hawaiian fishes, coral, and turtles. Known for its quality and safety, Atlantis is an eye-opening experience that takes you beyond the classroom as you learn about coral, reef life and submersibles while visiting our sunken shipwrecks, airplane and other artificial reefs. Atlantis has a spacious air-conditioned interior, large view ports and comfortable seating. If you haven’t been to the bottom of the ocean before, this tour is a “must do!”

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Hawaii to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

The Big Island of Hawaii features a vast landscape for visitors to explore. The youngest in the Hawaiian Island chain, a combination of scenery lets you explore everything from black sand beaches, volcanoes, lush valleys and waterfalls, and snow-capped mountaintops. Ready to discover the most popular things to do on Big Island? Read on.

Things to Do on Big Island

Some of the attractions in Hawaii you’ll want to experience when you visit the Big Island include Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park, Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site and Waipio Valley.

Lava from Kilauea volcano entering ocean, Big Island, HI

Lava from Kilauea volcano entering ocean, Big Island, HI

1) Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Established in 1916, this national park displays the results of hundreds of thousands of years of volcanism. Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, and Mauna Loa, the most massive volcano at this national park, offer insights on the origins of the Hawaiian Islands as well as provides visitors with dramatic views of volcanic landscapes. Furthermore, the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is designated as an International Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site. There is a visitor center located a the park with displays and information, as well as a Volcano Arts Center and the Thomas A. Jaggar Museum, located a few miles west of the visitor center, features even more volcanic art.

Pu'uhonua o Honaunau 15907188853_7ee7526e5f_z CC

The Royal Canoe Landing Zone/Prayitno, flickr

2) Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park
This Park is located on the west coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. It preserves the site where, up until the early 19th century, Hawaiians who broke kapu, or ancient laws, could a avoid death by fleeing to this place of refuge or pu’uhonua. The grounds just outside the Great Wall of the Pu’uhonua o Honaunau were also home to several generations of powerful chiefs. In addition, the park contains a reconstruction of the Hale O Keawe heiau.

Akaka Falls on Big Island Hawaii in tropical rain fores

Akaka Falls on Big Island Hawaii in tropical rain forest.

3) Akaka Falls
If you’re in the Hilo area, you can conveniently access Akaka Falls State Park as it’s just a short 13 miles away. Located along the Hamakua Coast, you can view two spectacular waterfalls on one short hike. An easy-to-hike paved footpath loops through a lush rainforest, leading your to the 100-foot Kahuna Falls and then the 442-feet Akaka Falls. There is a small fee of $1 for walk-ins and $5 for cars.


Ewen Roberts, flickr

4) Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site
Located on the northern coasted of the Big Island, this historic site preserves the ruins of the last major ancient Hawaiian temple, among other historic sites. A visitor center and interpretive trail can be explored, as well as the ruins of an earlier Mailekini Heiau, an underwater structure dedicated to sharks called the Hale o Kapuni and across the bay is Kawaihae harbor.

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paul bica, flickr

5) Waipio Valley
Waipio means “curved water” in the Hawaiian language, which accurately describes this beautiful site. Located in the Hamakua district of the Big Island, the Waipio Valley was the capital and permanent residence of many early Hawaiian kings. The shore line in the valley is a black sand beach, popular with surfers. Several large waterfalls and taro farms are also located here. Likewise, hiking the Waipio Valley and stopping at the Waipio Valley lookout are popular things to do in this area.

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Makuahine Pa’i Ki’i, flickr

6) Kona Adventures
The Kona region is known for its fabulous coffee. But, it is also home to a variety of ways to get your adrenaline pumping.  Venture to the depths of the sea via a submarine tour with companies like Atlantis Adventures. During these underwater tours you’ll want to bring your camera so you can snap photos of eels, dolphins and even sharks! Of course, snorkeling and scuba diving will get you even closer to the exotic species that inhabit the ocean. Accordingly, a deluxe morning snorkel on the Body Glove is always a good idea. It will put you face-to-face with beautiful sea creatures. Horseback riding on Hawaii is also popular, especially with outfitters like Cowboys of Hawaii. Enjoy two hour horseback rides that take you through historic Parker Ranch.

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Sunset at Hapuna Beach/Eric Tessmer, flickr

7) Big Island Beaches
It’s no surprise that the beaches on the Big Island are a top tourist attraction as well. As a result, one of the top things to do on Big Island are play on the sunny beaches. Some of the most beautiful beaches include Kua Bay Beach Park, Mauna Kea Beach and Hapuna State Beach Park.

Consider a Big Island Hawaii vacation for your next unforgettable getaway!

Whale Watching season in Hawaii is a highlight for winter visitors.  Several companies, such as the Pacific Whale Foundation, offer guided whale watching tours.  However, you can spot whales from the shoreline of the Hawaiian Islands too. 

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Big Blue Ocean, flickr

Top Shoreline Spots for Hawaii Whale Watching

Located north of Lahaina in West Maui.  Generally, whales are can frequently be spotted on this mile-long stretch of beach.
Located atop a peninsula rising 200 feet above sea level, this is a favorite area for whale watching due to its vantage point.
Legendary for its surfing opportunities and whale watching, navigate to Oahu’s Leeward Coast to access Makaha. 
The six miles of beaches in Kihei is a haven for humpback whales.  The nearby Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary’s visitor center is also located in Kihei.
Makapuu is found at the easternmost tip of Oahu.  For the best whale watching views, the winding mile long hike up Makapuu Point Trail to Makapuu Head.

Occurring from December to April, whale watching in Hawaii is a unique experience.  Humpback whales are drawn to the shallow waters of the islands, especially those off the coast of Maui. Accordingly, you can watch mothers and calves interact, see males compete for females and gaze in awe as these stunning creatures do aerial flips.  You never know what you will see!

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Hawaii is an eclectic mix of cultures, combining traditions and ways of life from throughout Polynesia.  At the Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu you can explore eight island villages and exhibits representing the Islands of Aotearoa New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii, Samoa, Marquesas, Rapa Nui, Tonga and Tahiti.  Collectively, they create the way of life and unique experience that is Hawaii.

The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Experience

During my visit, I opted for the package that included an ambassador, the Ali’I Luau and HA Show.  The personal touch of a visit to Polynesian Cultural Center is enhanced when you opt for the Ambassador led tour.  With this ticket type, you’re given a friendly, knowledgeable guide who leads your small group from village to village.  If you have the time and money, this is the way to go!

Not only do you get access to more firsthand knowledge, but you also get more one on one time at each village.  Still, it can be difficult to visit all of the cultural center’s villages in one day. So, be sure to plan ahead and have an agenda before you enter the park.  This way you can make the most of your day at one of Oahu’s finest attractions.

Rainbows of Paradise canoe pageant is one of the highlights of a visit. Held around noon each day, the pageant showcases the songs and dances of each island culture on boats that float through the Center’s winding lagoon.  Be sure to head to the lagoon a bit before the show starts so you can get a prime viewing spot of the Polynesian spectacular.

hawaii_2012_round_2_2268 Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu

Immersive, engaging and educationally entertaining, a day at the Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu is an excellent introduction to the history as well as the traditions of Hawaii.  To fully explore all the attraction has to offer I recommend spending a full day at the park.  Generally speaking, this will provide enough time to visit the different sections of the park. Each is dedicated to a different Polynesian Island, with an atmosphere all it’s own. Accordingly, it’s easy to learn firsthand from the native people of each island with interactive demonstrations.

At the Tahitian village I shook my hips as I learned native dances and tried my hand a spear throwing. Then, at the Samoan village I learned the skill of fire making and how to crack a coconut using a small pebble. Meanwhile at the Islands of Aotearoa I got a Maori tattoo (don’t worry they wash off!) and tried the art of twirling poi balls.  Of course, at the Hawaiian village I brushed up on my hula skills and find out why the hula plays an important part in Hawaiian heritage.  These are just a few of the things to do at Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu.  As you can see, whether it be through costume, food, music, or ritual, each aspect of Polynesian culture is presented.

807 Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu

At the end of an activity filled day, I head to the Ali’I Luau.  Luaus are of course a staple of Hawaii attractions. However, I must say this luau is extremely well done. Moreover, the food is some of the best I’ve had at Hawaiian luaus.  Plus, the entertainment showcases not only the history of luaus and importance of the royal ceremony but adds some adorable kids who are already pros at the art of dance and showmanship.

There’s a short break before HA! starts. Take this time to shop at the open market.  Art work, coconut candles, handmade jewelry and many other Hawaiian handicrafts are available for purchase.  Gather up some souvenirs before HA: Breath of Life begins.  Ignited by fire, song and dance, this symbolic story is a tale of birth, death, love and family.  Be prepared for not only an emotional, Broadway-style saga but a stunning show unlike any other you’ll see on the islands.

My day of discovering Polynesian culture was aided by my ambassador, the entertaining and delicious Ali’I Luau and simply stunning HA night show.  As a result, I was very pleased with my package purchase. Make a day of it and explore all this enthralling Oahu attraction has to offer.  It’s worth every penny and I’ll certainly return to learn more about the Polynesian heritage of the islands.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Hawaii to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

One of the best ways to see the Hawaiian Islands is via helicopter. When you purchase a Hawaii helicopter tour, you’ll get a birds-eye view of the stunning landscape and coastlines of the islands, and be treated to one-of-a kind scenery. Want to know more reserving a helicopter tour in Hawaii? Here’s the inside scoop:

Blue_Hawaiian_Helicopter_Tours__Waikoloa_(002) Hawaii Helicopter Tour

Big Island: Get up-close to the active Kilauea Volcano.

The Best Hawaii Helicopter Tour for You

Blue Hawaiian Helicopter operates helicopter tours for all of the four major islands: the Big Island (Hilo and Waikoloa areas), Maui, Kauai and Oahu. They are one of the most respected tour operators in the Hawaiian Islands, and have been recognized by National Geographic as “Hawaii’s premiere helicopter tour company” and The Travel Company as the “Top Ten World’s Best Helicopter Experiences.”

Hilo Tour
With this Hawaii helicopter tour, you’ll get to tour the most geologically active environment on earth – Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – home to the Kilauea volcano, which has been continuously erupting since 1983. Tour emphasis is on the most current areas of volcanic activity. You will view lava flows and black sand beaches as well as tropical rain forests and small cascading waterfalls while learning about the history and culture of Hawaii. Flight time is approximately 50 minutes.

Waikoloa Tours
There are two tours offered at the Blue Hawaiian Waikoloa headquarters. The first – the Kohala Coast Adventure – highlights the coast, valleys, and waterfalls of the Kohala area. Many consider this area to have the most spectacular scenery on the Big Island. The towering sea cliffs open into the dramatically deep and meandering valleys of the Kohala Mountains, with waterfalls and remnants of ancient Hawaiian settlements visible. Flight time approximately 50 minutes.

The second tour option is the Big Island Spectacular, which combines the Hilo tour with the Kohala Coast Adventure tour. Flight time for the Big Island Spectacular is approximately 2 hours.

Blue_Hawaiian_Maui_Helicopter_Tours_(006) Hawaii Helicopter Tour

Maui: Touring Haleakala, the world’s largest dormant volcano.

Maui Tours
Blue Hawaiian offers five different tour options for Maui. Choose between:

– West Maui Mountains: Flight Time – 30 Minutes
– Complete Island: Flight Time – 65 Minutes
– Maui Spectacular – 90 Minutes
– Hana/Haleakala – 50 Minutes
– West Maui and Molokai – 50 Minutes

All of these tours showcase the beauty of Maui, with different (or all) areas highlighted during each tour. These tours highlight Maui’s emerald rainforests, vistas of Mt. Haleakala, the meadows of the Upcountry, the jagged cliffs and cascading waterfalls of the West Maui Mountains, and even Maui’s sister isle, Mokokai.

Blue_Hawaiian_Kauai_Helicopter_Tours_(003) Hawaii Helicopter Tour

Kauai: Get this close to waterfalls on board Blue Hawaiian Helicopters.

Kauai Tours
A Kauai Eco-Tour is the premiere helicopter tour for this island. On board this Hawaii helicopter tour, you’ll enjoy a 55-minute tour. It begins with a flight to spectacular Hanapepe Valley. Then, it continues on to Mana Waiapuna, commonly referred to as “Jurassic Park Falls.”

Next it’s up the Olokele Canyon before moving on to eye-popping Waimea Canyon, the famed “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” Then, the sculptural masterpiece of the Na Pali Coast gives way to the Bali Hai Cliffs, and the pristine blue waters of Hanalei Bay and the Princeville Resort area.

Finally, you’ll visit Wailua Falls and, weather permitting, Mt. Waialeale, the heart of the ancient volcano. This is the wettest spot on earth, with an average rainfall of 450-500 inches annually! Flying into the center of the crater with its 5000-foot walls towering above and its 3000-foot waterfalls surrounding you is a truly awe-inspiring finish to your ECO Adventure over the Garden Isle.

Blue_Hawaiian_Oahu_Helicopter_Tours_(005) Hawaii Helicopter Tour

Oahu: A Blue Hawaiian Eco-Star glides by Pu’u Kanehoalani; in the distance is Mokoli‘i Island (“Chinaman’s Hat”)

Oahu Tours
The Blue Skies of Oahu tour, which lasts about 45 minutes, will take you on a scenic journey. During this Hawaii helicopter tour you’ll experience this Island’s hidden rainforests, lush valleys, and beaches. You’ll glide over the vivid turquoise coral reefs of Waikiki, look down into the extinct volcano of Diamond Head, view crescent-shaped Hanauma Bay, white-sand Waimanalo beach, Chinaman’s Hat and the beautiful coral formations in Kaneohe Bay.

That’s not all, though! You’ll also soar over the cliffs of the Nuuanu Valley rainforest, and then fly along the breathtaking coastline to Sacred Falls and the panoramic Dole Pineapple Plantations. Your Blue Skies of Oahu adventure also includes sweeping views of Pearl Harbor, the Arizona Memorial and the Battleship Missouri.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Hawaii to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.