Hawaii’s magnetic charm is legendary. The beautiful golden beaches, swaying palms, and warm welcome make Hawaii one of the most sought-after tropical destinations on the planet. If you are lucky enough to visit more than once, there is a whole other side to Hawaii awaiting discovery. From poignant historical sites to jaw-dropping natural marvels – plus the islands’ undersea residents to meet – we take a look at some of the best off-the-beaten-path adventures in Hawaii.
Unravel the Past
Pearl Harbor was one of the most significant and infamous events of World War II. Hawaii’s National Historic Landmark in Central Oahu pays homage to those who lost their lives on that fateful day in 1941. It is a sobering experience, but to visit Battleship Row and the memorial of the USS Arizona, which rests in the shallow harbor, is to better understand not just the history of Hawaii but of the United States.
On the little-visited island of Molokai, the tallest sea cliffs in the world plummet 2,600 feet into the frothing ocean. It is a place of untamed, wild beauty. At the base of the cliffs, perched on a small peninsula, stands the village of Kalaupapa, a remote and lonely spot that was once a place of exile for Hawaii victims of leprosy (today known as Hansen’s Disease). Over 8000 people are buried here, and the village stands as a place of remembrance and honor. Indeed, some survivors chose to remain when segregation ended in 1969, and quiet village life continues. Access is via a single winding track down the cliffs.
Enter the Underwater World
From a somber history to the lively underwater life, Hawaii promises intrigue at every turn. Under the waves, a whole different world is revealed. You can snorkel or scuba dive to meet manta rays in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island or head to Maui for an adrenaline-pumping face-to-face encounter with blacktip reef sharks, grey reef sharks, hammerhead sharks, and maybe even tiger sharks.
For a genuinely remarkable underwater experience, the whole family can enjoy, head out to the volcanic crater islet of Molokini, whose calm, iridescent waters are teeming with over 250 species of fish as well as reef sharks and, outside the crater, humpback whales. The island sanctuary limits visitors to protect its wildlife, but certified agencies lead small group tours.
Take to the Skies
Hawaii’s natural landscape is wild and dramatic, and nowhere exemplifies this more than the spectacular Na Pali Coast. Take to the skies in a helicopter to soar over a lush rainforest filled with hidden waterfalls, and swoop along a turquoise coast. As you pass over the cavernous Waimea Canyon, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d entered a prehistoric land. In fact, the scenes for the world-famous Jurassic Park were filmed along this untamed coast.
From the skies, we head to the deepest space. Hawaii offers some of the darkest skies on the planet, where the Milky Way and great splashes of stars dazzle in an inky night sky. There is no better spot to stargaze than from the summit of the 14,000-foot-high Mauna Kea. Watch the sunset before using the telescopes at the Maunakea Visitor Center, or join an expert-led guided tour for a more immersive astrological experience.
Treat yourself and those you enjoy to a vacation in Hawaii filled with unexpected surprises and a whole lot to talk about. Get in touch, and let us start planning together.
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