Favorite Things to Do in Hawaii

Favorite Things to Do in Hawaii

I will post my travel journals for Hawaii soon. But here is a list of my favorite things to do in Hawaii. I hope you come back to read the travel journals when they are posted. A friend has my photo albums right now, and the trip was before digital cameras, so they are not stored on my hard drive. Therefore, I don’t have many pictures of Oahu and The Big Island to share right now. Perhaps the pictures of Kauai and Maui will make up for it.  

Oahu – Minimum of 4 days
  • Pearl Harbor Tour
  • Diamond Head
  • Hanauma Bay – Snorkeling
  • North Shore – Pipeline waves, surfers, shave ice
  • Aloha Flea Market – Hawaiian shirts, gifts and other souvenirs at great prices – Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays only. Go early, the shops often close before the posted time.
  • Halona Blow Hole – Whale watching in season during the winter time.
  • Polynesian Cultural Center – We would have enjoyed luau put on for the locals more than this. It was quite touristy.

Favorite Things to Do in Hawaii

Big Island (Hawaii) – Minimum of 2 days
  • Hilo location is good for reaching the destinations below. However, the locals were quite protective and not especially warm to tourists. Perhaps previous tourists have spoiled the hospitality for others.
  • Volcano National Park – Kilauea is still actively flowing
  • Green Sand Beach
  • Black Sand Beach
  • Rainbow Falls
  • Akaka Falls
Maui – Minimum of 4 days
  • Wailea area is great home base for getting around the island. Could also stay near the airport in Lihue.
  • Haleakala – Some people ride bicycles down after sunrise – we liked being there after everyone else left.

Favorite Things to Do in Hawaii

  • Road to Hana – Take food and drinks with you and a full tank of gas. You will stop many times on the way to Ohe’o Gulch because the scenery is so breathtaking. Stop in Paia to get gas and a cooler with sandwiches and drinks. This takes most of the day, so start early.
  • On the way to Lahaina there is a pineapple stand selling Maui gold pineapples. You have to stop and try this. Warning – No other pineapple is ever as good after this.
  • Lahaina – originally a fishing/trading port. Historic buildings and tourist shopping.
  • Make sure to eat fish tacos at Kimo’s Restaurant overlooking the water. The big banyan tree is here. Every other Saturday there is an open-air market under the banyan tree.


  • Old Lahaina Luau – Supposedly most culturally accurate and least touristy
  • Ulalena – History of Hawaii in chants and songs, narrated in English, a small part includes Cirque du Soleil type acrobatics. Very informative and entertaining.
  • Molokini & Turtle Town – Snorkeling and Snuba – Our left shore later than others. A lot of the fish were probably at the other boats, because the tour operators feed the fish to get them close enough for the tourists to see and take pictures. I’d recommend finding an  earlier tour.

Favorite Things to Do in Hawaii

Kauai – Minimum of 5 days
  • Poipu area is great home base for getting around the island.
  • We stayed at the Sheraton in Poipu. Every Saturday night they had an all you can eat sushi buffet. Other food was available, as well.
  • Spouting Horn – water enters a lava tube and expels out of another opening like a geyser – try to see this at sunset too.

Favorite Things to Do in Hawaii

  • Captain Cook Monument – in Waimea on the way to the Canyon. Look for “da booze shop” on the right and Ishara Market on the left. The monument is in a small park with picnic tables.
  • Waimea Canyon – Go early in the morning,  before the clouds set in
  • Kalalau Look Out – Where the first Hawaiians are thought to have come ashore. Very beautiful. You can drive here with no hiking, but go early because the clouds set it.       This is in the Waimea Canyon area.      

Kalaulau Lookout copy

  • Polihali State Park (Beach) – Need a 4X4 for this. Your rental car contract will exclude this beach.
  • Poipu to Kapa’a – Southeast quadrant of the island has beaches and shopping
  • See Sleeping Giant Mountain – Opaeka’a waterfalls and across the road from the falls is a heiau (ruins of an ancient Hawaiian temple)
  • Opaeka’a Falls
  • Waialeale Blue Hole – We took our 4X4 SUV as far into this as possible. It was very rough and the bridges were under water. Your rental car contract will exclude this area. Check the helicopter tours. Ours went into the canyon and it was  amazing.
  • Poli’ahu heiau ruins – This is on your right as you turn around and leave Opaeka’a Falls.
  • Fort Elisabeth – Russian fort
  • Kapa’a to Na Pali Coastline – Northeast quadrant of the island has beaches, lava tube caves


 General Notes Regarding the Hawaiian Islands
  •  Slow your pace. Everything moves slower on the islands. Get used to it, or you will be constantly aggravated. This is island time, and the pace is nowhere near that of a city.
  • Eat Huli Huli chicken on Saturday or Sunday. Look for clubs having cookouts to raise money. They are usually in the parking lots of strip shopping centers. Find a beach and sit out on the sand while you are eating. It is the best view and great food. Don’t miss this!
  • Seeing the waves for the North Shore Pipeline is the best in the fall around September.
  • Whale watching is best November to May. Some guidebooks say Maui is the best for this. We saw them when we were on shore in Oahu during March. Some of the people standing around us said they paid for tours, but never saw any whales while they were on the tour.
  • You may see dolphins playing if you take the Road to Hana.

IMG_0649 Dolphins

  • Count on a day of flying time each way.
  • Begin and end your trip on Oahu or Maui for ease of getting flights.
  • Costco is great for souvenirs – Hawaiian music, coffee table books, children’s books, Kona coffee, etc. Get your pictures developed daily so that you can determine whether there are any that you need to take again due to lighting or fog.Take as many helicopter tours as you can for each of the islands. During 2007 Blue Hawaiian had the safest record and completed many additional safety programs that are over and above the minimum required. Double check the safety record of any helicopter company you plan to use. If you need to limit the helicopter tours, then choose Kauai because so much of the terrain is not accessible by car or on foot.


  • Bring more than one pair of hiking shoes if going to Kauai. It is very wet and muddy.
  • Keep a cooler in the trunk with cold drinks and snacks. Convenience stores are not as popular in Hawaii as other locations.
  • Look for signs that say bento box or plate lunch. One order is usually enough food for two people and normally less than $10. Look in small strip plazas. You typically find these in areas that are where the natives live and work. They are not as available in tourist districts.
  • If you have a mini refrigerator, you can keep cereal and milk in your room for the mornings that you want to get an early start. This is highly recommended for the days that you are going to Waimea Canyon, Road to Hana or Mount Haleakula.


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