Posts on Hawaii by Kyle the Vagabond:
No matter where in the world you are from, everyone loves Hawaii. With its perfect beaches, lush green valleys, towering mountains, and crystal blue waters, Hawaii is a year-round destination for paradise seekers from all corners of the globe. Clinging tight to its own unique heritage, the islands of Hawaii are enchanting in their natural beauty and inspiring in their lasting culture. Adventure seekers and watersports enthusiasts will find every adventure they ever thought possible, while those looking for relaxation and a tropical Hawaiian sunset can be pampered to their heart’s content. An oasis in the middle of the Pacific, Hawaii makes a run for the most fantastic group of islands in the entire world.
As a member of the United States, Hawaii still uses the dollar as currency.
When to Go:
As any visitor to Hawaii can tell you, there is no bad time to be in Hawaii. That being said, however, there still remain some slight fluctuations in the seasons. Summer is the dry season and sees the largest amount of visitors. Daytime temperatures on the coast average around 88 degrees, while the water temperature tops out around 79. Surf in the summer can be found along the south facing shores.
In the wintertime, air temperatures on the coast drop to around 80 degrees, and the water can come in as low as 73. Also, winter is the wet season in Hawaii, and while there are still plenty of days with typical sunshine, the possibility of encountering a rainy winter storm is higher than in the summer. Also in the winter, the famous big wave surf can be found on the north shores of the islands, and the humpback whales move in from December-April to occupy the warm waters.
The Vagabond’s Personal Top Picks (divided by island):
1. Hike the Kalalau Trail
While a permit is necessary for the entire trail, day users can hike back 2 miles to unforgettable Hanakapiai Beach and falls.
2. Relax on Hanalei Bay or kayak the Hanalei River
The gem of the North Shore, chill out on the golden beach in this funked out surf town. Grab a bite to eat at Bubba Burgers.
3. Hike the Awa’awapuhi-Nu’ulolo Cliff Trail and Waimea Canyon
Not for those afraid of heights. The trail hugs the ridge above the Na Pali coast, and after Kalalau is probably the most stunning hike on the island.
4. Visit the fern grotto on the Wailua River
Set close to town on the east end, take the river back to a tropical grove of caves and greenery.
5. Chill out and snorkel in Poipu
South Kauai’s resort district, the beaches are calm and nice reefs can be found offshore
6. Snorkel or dive Tunnels
Probably Kauai’s most famous snorkel spot, Tunnels offers calm waters in the summer months, but strong winter swells can turn the place deadly.
7. Cool off in Kokee
Set up at nearly 4000 ft, Kokee is the launching point for forays into Waimea Canyon and wild nene goose waddle through the crisp air. Camping available.
1. Take a day trip to Hana
Set on the infamous “Road to Hana”, my recommendation is to leave early, stop often, and drive the entire loop around the backside of the mountain. Make a day of it and remember, it’s not the destination, but the journey.
2. Watch the sunset from Big Beach
Located in South Maui past Makena, Big Beach is popular with the locals and a fantastic vantage point for sunset. Beach volleyball and bodysurfing, but be careful of the dangerous shorebreak.
3. Take a sailing trip with Trilogy
Maui’s oldest sailing company, Trilogy is the undisputed leading boat operation in Maui and offers snorkeling, sailing, and whale watching (Dec-April) trips to Lana’i, Molokini, and off of Ka’anapali Beach. Visit sailtrilogy.com for info.
4. Get lost on a bamboo hike at the Bamboo Forest or Waimoku Falls
Bamboo Forest is located a third of the way to Hana, and Waimoku Falls is an incredibly scenic four mile (roundtrip) hike alongside a raging river, through bamboo, and finishing at 400 ft. Waimoku Falls. Located above 7 Sacred Pools at Haleakala National Park 30 minutes past Hana.
5. Take a morning stroll on Baldwin Beach
The north shore’s longest beach, the turquoise waters are set against the green West Maui mountains, and is the local bbq nd bodysurf hangout of the North Shore.
6. Watch the sunset from Haleakala
While most people head to the 10,023 ft. summit for sunrise, sunset is just as scenic and you don’t have to wake up at 2am. Hearty hikers can hike to Paliku cabin and camp, or can hike the entire crater floor by full moonlight.
7. Grab a bite to eat at Polli’s Mexican Restaurant
Maui’s best Mexican food and legendary north shore watering hole. Located in Makawao.
8. Visit the Tedeschi Winery in Ulupalakua
Set in Maui’s pastureland, Tedeschi is Maui’s only winery, and the real treat is the country surroundings, crisp air, and laidback vibe of the Upcountry area.
9. Spend a watersports day on Ka’anapali Beach
Maui’s answer to South Beach, Ka’anapali Beach offers snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, parasailing (in summer months), sunset sails, beach bars, cliff jumping, and is the epitome of tourist Hawaii.
10. Waianapanapa State Park, Hana
Black sand beach and a labyrinth of underwater sea caves set on a jungle coastline.
11. Hamoa Beach, Hana
Great bodysurfing and set away from it all.
12. Spend an evening on Front St.
Spanning Lahaina’s main drag, watch the sunset from under the Banyan Tree and spend an evening perusing the art galleries, shops, and occasionally rowdy bars.
13. Old Lahaina Luau
Maui’s best luau, located on the water in Lahaina and reasonably priced for the amount of food and booze provided.
14. Take a helicopter ride of the West Maui mountains and Molokai
Usually the most expensive package, but the most worthwhile trip. Visit inaccessible Honokohau Falls (the island’s tallest) and fly along the Moloka’i sea cliffs (tallest in the world at 4000 ft).
15. Watch the surf at Jaws, Ho’okipa, or Honolua Bay in the winter.
Maui’s premier big wave spots, the world’s best come and play on big winter swells.
1. Visit Pearl Harbor
The USS Arizona and USS Missouri represent the start and the end of the war for the US, and the historic site should be a must for any American.
2. Matsumoto Shave Ice
Set in the capital of the North Shore, Haleiwa, this legendary shave ice stand is a quirky treat along the famous north shore.
3. Get active at Kailua Bay
The windward side’s watersports capital, this long sandy beach seems to have it all.
4. Snorkel Hanauma Bay
Oahu’s best snorkeling, but don’t touch the reef!
5. Climb Diamond Head
Great view overlooking the chaos that is Honolulu and Waikiki
6. Climb the “Stairway to Heaven”
Intense hike ascending the Ko’olau Mountains from the Windward Side, but well worth the workout and the view.
7. Grab a bite at Duke’s Waikiki
Set on world-famous (and overcrowded/hyped) Waikiki Beach, Duke’s puts together a good meal and is the touristy hangout of the beach.
8. Polynesian Cultural Center
Probably the most worthwhile spot on Oahu, the Center is devoted to life in everyday Polynesia, and puts together a fantastic luau at night.
9. Hang out on Waimea Bay
The north shore’s most popular beach, summer brings calm waters and cliff jumping off of the rock.
10.Watch the winter surf!
The center of the surfing world for November and December, the world’s best gather to surf the world’s most famous waves.
Big Island (Hawaii)
1. Tour Volcanoes National Park
Home to the active Kilauea Volcano, the park offers other volcanic attractions such as Thurston lava tube and Halema’uma’u Crater. Currently the lava viewing is set outside the park boundary in Kalapana (open 5-10pm), but to really get a good view a helicopter or a boat is a must.
2. Hang out in Waipi’o Valley
Step back into old Hawaii in this verdant valley and black sand beach, as wild horses run free alongside traditional taro fields.
3. Cowboy up in Waimea
Home to the nation’s largest privately owned ranch (Parker Ranch), this idyllic ranch town set in the hills is any country-lovers dream.
4. Tour Kona’s coffee belt
Take in the samples of plantations in Honaunau and Captain Cook for some of the world’s best coffee.
5. Pu’uhonua o Honaunau
A preserved native Hawaiian village set next to pristine snorkeling.
6. Night dive with the manta rays
Set off of the Kona coast, either scuba or snorkel illuminated waters with enormous flying manta rays
7. Relax on Hapuna Beach
The island’s nicest white sand beach, bring a book to the turquoise shores and gaze upon Maui looming on the horizon
8. Stargaze from the summit of Mauna Kea
Watch a million stars come into view from the tallest peak in the state (13,796 ft.) Bring a jacket as their most likely will be snow!
9. Get some culture at Pu’ukohola Heiau
One of the state’s largest heiaus, this ancient site was commissioned by King Kamehameha prior to his conquest of the Hawaiian Islands in 1810.
10. Catch a big one of off Kona
The deep-waters off of Kona provide some of the world’s best deep sea sportfishing, and marlins are a common sight along the lava rock lined coastline.
11. Visit Akaka Falls
Located outside of Hilo, the falls are very accessible and are postcard perfect. While in Hilo visit the Hilo Farmer’s Market and eat at Cafe 100 for some classic local plate lunches.
1. Run naked on Polihua Beach
Why not? There is nobody around on this mile-long white sand beach. True isolation.
2. Bike Munro Trail
Immerse yourself in the pine trees and fog on this sometimes muddy four wheel drive track along the ridge.
3. Snorkel Hulopoe Bay
One of the best reefs in the state, this marine reserve offers surreal marine life and world class surfing on summer swells.
4. Dive Cathedrals
One of the most famous dives in Hawaii, sit inside the massive chamber of a submerged lava tube and have natural sunlight filter down upon you.
5. Beachcomb Shipwreck Beach
Home to strong offshore currents and a fringing barrier reef, this narrow coastline can be littered with flotsam washed ashore from the sea.
6. Kayak Keomoku to Lopa
Kayak on flat water past abandoned wooden piers and deserted white sand beaches. The snorkeling inside the reef is pristine with many Hawaiian green sea turtles.
7. Watch the world go by in Lana’i City.
Set at a cool 2000 ft. elevation, hang out in Dole Park a d grab a bite to eat from any of the local plate lunch stands ringing the main street.
1. Take a morning stroll down Papohaku Beach
The largest beach in Hawaii, this three mile long expanse of golden sand rarely has more than 6 people on it.
2. Take a mule ride down Kalaupapa
Embrace the history and switchback down the sheer cliffs to the former leprosy colony and final resting place of Father Damien
3. Hike Halawa Valley
Arranged by tour only, one of the most pristine and well preserved valleys in the entire state. Epitome of real Hawaii
4. Grab some coffee at the plantation and eat at the Cookhouse in Ho’olehua
Good old fashioned greasy tucker washed down with a cup of locally brewed Java in an impossible quaint country setting.
Posts on Hawaii by Kyle the Vagabond:
–Beyond Hulopo’e (2007)
–Maui Whale Season (2008)
–Reconnecting with Moku Nui (2009)