Hawaii: Anyone Who’s Been is Grateful for the Experience
If you’ve ever had the good fortune to visit the Hawaiian Islands, you most certainly are grateful for the memories. I have visited all of the islands over the years, and there have been so many wonderful experiences it is hard to choose favorites. They are all so wonderful in their own way. Here are some of my personal highlights:
HAWAII, THE BIG ISLAND
The Big Island is quintessential Hawaii. There are the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the Onizuke Center for International Astronomy with stargazing tours of 13,796-foot Mauna Kea, or Panaewa Rainforest Zoo, the world’s only zoo of its kind and home to some truly exotic animals.
MAUI, THE VALLEY ISLE
Maui is where natural wonder and Hawaiian sophistication meet. I love the magnificent sunrise on a bike trip that starts at 10,023-foot volcano Haleakala. The Road to Hana is an adventure in itself, especially when you know the secret places to stop. An unspoiled tropical oasis filled with flowers and waterfalls, Hana should not just be the end of the road trip, but an overnight at one of my favorite resorts followed by a visit to cascading waterfalls the next day. Whale watching in the winter is great near Lahaina.
OAHU, THE GATHERING PLACE
Oahu is where city life melds with paradise. Cosmopolitan Honolulu is filled with upscale shopping and dining, theater and, of course, its most famous beach: Waikiki. On Oahu’s North Shore, there is the Polynesian Cultural Center, music, dance and even lei-making. In southeast Oahu is Hanauma Bay, the sea-filled crater of an ancient volcano protected from rough surf, perfect for swimming and snorkeling. I once saw a magnificent double rainbow from the cliffs of a Ko’olau Golf Course, which is one of the most challenging I ever played.
KAUAI, THE GARDEN ISLAND
Kauai is Hawaii’s natural wonder. Mind-boggling, multicolored Waimea Canyon is a hiker’s heaven, with trails running along the canyon rim before dipping down inside its walls. On the east coast, Wailua has horseback-riding tours that last from a few hours to an entire day, with picnics and swims beneath rainforest waterfalls. Northwestern Kauai’s famed Napali Coast—surrounded by 4,000-foot cliffs, caves and waterfalls—is perfect for snorkeling and whale watching. Poipu Beach is famous for its vibrant tropical fish and beautiful beaches.
LANAI, A WORLD AWAY
Famed for its historic pineapple groves, Hawaii’s smallest island offers world-class amenities at luxurious resorts, rugged back roads for hiking and 4-wheel drives, and beautiful golf courses. I loved watching acrobatic Spinner Dolphins from Manele Bay. Enjoy the tranquility of an untouched world where there are no traffic lights, no crowds and only 30 miles of paved road.
MOLOKAI, HAWAIIAN BY NATURE
Unspoiled and untouched—the chance to live as the locals do—is Molokai today. Home to the highest sea cliffs in the world and the longest continuous fringing reef off the southern coast, enjoy outdoor adventures at Kalaupapa National Park or along one of Hawaii’s biggest white sand beaches.
Whichever island you choose to visit, say “Mahalo” for the opportunity.
Sue Shimkus is president of Lake Zurich Travel and a Hawaiian Destination Specialist. Learn more at LZTravel.com; 847.438.5551.