Whatever your perception of Hawaii is, whether it be pure, white beaches, breathtaking sunsets, perfect tropical weather or exotic hula dancers – it’s all true! Hawaii is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, offering a blend of tradition, modern living, large resorts, adventure and exquisite tropical beauty. Much more than sublime white beaches and shimmering Pacific waters, Hawaii is a destination worth exploring.
Made up of six islands; Oahu, Kauai, Molokai, Lanai, Maui and Hawaii (Big Island), each island offers a different experience; Oahu is home to the main city of Honolulu. Kauai has steep mountains and some beautiful beaches. Molokai keeps the connection to its past alive. Lanai is low key, laid back and perfect for a romantic getaway. Maui has some of the best beaches in the world and is also a hotspot for whale watching. Hawaii is an outdoor enthusiasts paradise. There is an island for everyone!
History & Culture
Hawaii has an interesting and action-filled history. The region’s early settlers were Polynesians from the Marquesas Islands more than 1500 years ago. More than 500 years later, Tahitians began to arrive, implementing their taboo system. In 1778, Captain James Cook arrived. By 1848, European settlers had set up sugar plantations, creating the ethnic diversity of modern Hawaii. The islands were then annexed by the US in 1887. On 7 December 1941, Japan launched the infamous surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. In 1959, Hawaii became the 50th state of the USA.
A melting pot of different traditions, Hawaii offers visitors a unique cultural experience. The combination of Anglo-Saxon, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino and Hawaiian people have resulted in a rich diversity in cuisine, language and customs. For those wanting to learn more about the Polynesian culture and heritage, there are specific attractions all over the islands to educate, such as Iolani Palace, the Bishop Museum, Hawaiian petroglyphs (cave drawings) and heiau (temples).
There’s no shortage of stunning examples of natural beauty in Hawaii, where Mother Nature has created a tropical masterpiece. The islands are actually the tips of sunken volcanoes, and their steep peaks dominate the region’s landscape, providing some spectacular scenery.
Two superb national parks in Hawaii are Haleakala National Park on Maui, known for its arresting scenery, and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island, offering hiking trails in vast wilderness and some of the rarest flora and fauna in the world. Other stand-out examples of nature’s handiwork include Kauai’s incredible 16-kilometre-long, 1.1-kilometre-deep Waimea Canyon; Oahu’s thundering surf on the North Shore; and the cliffs of Kauai’s Na Pali Coast.
Head to Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island for some snorkelling, horseback riding and a hike in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Take a boat to Kauai’s beautiful Fern Grotto, or go swimming on Kalapaki Beach. Of course, no visit to Hawaii would be complete without an encounter with the waves. The island’s world-class surf breaks play host to international surf competitions and surf schools that operate throughout the islands. Or if you're still in the beginner phase, grab a long board and learn how to stand up paddle board with an Hawaiian expert.
For all the surf enthusiasts, a visit to Hawaii would not be complete, without getting amongst the waves. From November to February the North Shore (north of Oahu) delivers perfect waves and attracts many keen and professional surfers from all over the world. If you are still a beginner, then there are many surf schools in Oahu that offer a chance for you to experience an exhilerating ocean ride with a professional.
If surfing is not your style, then enjoy a snorkel in the crystal warm waters of Hanauma Bay. Live like the locals and be whisked away to a sensational evening of entertainment, fun and feasting at a tradational Hawaiian luau; guarenteed to make your mouth water!
The island of Maui is known for it's breathtaking natural surroundings. For an unforgettable experience enjoy a Halekala bike ride and sunrise tour. Watch the spectacular sunrise, breathe in the fresh air and take in the beautiful scenery; a high that will last for days.
If you are looking to get back in touch with nature, then Kauai and the Big Island are the places for you. Enjoy a hike on one of the many trails and witness gorgeous vistas, sea caves, stunning waterfalls and a vast array of beautiful valleys; transquillity at its finest.
During November through March, the Humpback Whales journey to the warmer waters of Hawaii to give birth. Experience these giant creatures on a spectacular Na Pali Whale Watching Cruise on Kauai.
Points of Interest
Australian & New Zealand nationals may travel to the United States for tourism purposes for stays of 90 days or less under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP). However, they must apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to arrival.
Best Time to Visit
|Best time for Whale Watching||December to May|
|Big Surf Season||November to March|
|Summer Sun (warm & dry)||April to November|
|Tropical Winter (Avg Temps 20-27)||December to March|
|Shopping for Hawaii Shirts||All year round!|
After clearing US Customs in Honolulu, passengers arriving from Australia can continue with Hawaiian Airlines to the neighbour islands of Maui, Kauai or Hawaii Island. The Hawaii islands are the perfect holiday destination to explore by car – from the hundreds of kilometres of amazingly picturesque beaches, unspoilt rainforests and lush, tropical countryside, to cultural centres for shopping, dining and relaxation, there’s something in Hawaii for everyone’s taste.
With the flexibility and independence that comes from having your own hire car, explore the Hawaiian Islands at your own pace and discover the ‘aloha spirit’ that Hawaii is most famous for.
Oahu island is easy to navigate on local transport with 'TheBus' which takes you right round the island.
Bring a big appetite when visiting Hawaii. With a wide range of local and award-winning cuisine throughout the islands, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Experience an authentic Hawaiian Luau for live cultural performances and traditional food, where you can eat like a local, savoring fresh flavours.
Look out for some of the biggest chef’s around who offer mouth-watering dishes at fine-dining restaurants; famous chef, Alan Wong’s restaurant was featured in Gourmet Magazine as number 8 of the top 50 restaurants in America. If you love French cuisine, then head over to George Mavrothalassitis’s restaurant in Honolulu for mouth-watering French-Hawaiian cuisine.
If you enjoy a bit of retail therapy, Hawaii is definitely the place to shop up a storm. Head to the Waikele Premium Outlets for great savings as big brands are marked down from their retail price. Waikiki is also home to the Ala Moana Shopping Center, one of the largest shopping malls in Hawaii.
Finely-crafted traditional art and woodcarvings make great mementoes of your time in Hawaii, as do kapa cloths and traditional Hawaiian quilts. Shop for coloured shirts, sarongs, imitation-grass hula skirts, t-shirts and Kona Coffee. Kalakaua Avenue is another place to find leading brands.
What to Pack
Hawaii is known for its beautiful tropical warm weather and lazy sunny days, but depending on what you plan to do may determine what you need to pack; swimmers, shorts, sunglasses, a hat, camera and sunscreen are a must. If you love to hike, then add a pair of hiking shoes to your list, as well mosquito repellant and comfortable attire. When dining out, smart casual dress or resort wear is normally the dress code for majority of the restaurants.
Bring a small day pack to take out with you and carry all personal items on you at all times, unless there is a safe in your hotel room. Never leave your bags unattended.
Hawaii brings an abundance of activities. Whether you're an adventure junkie or prefer to sit back and relax with a cocktail, this destination has what you need. Become immersed in the history and culture by attending an evening Luau or discovering the story behind Pearl Harbour.
Explore Oahu's North Shore and see where famous scenes from 'Jurassic Park' and 'Lost' were filmed and check out the popular surfing spots that hold world titles. Head to stunning Waitemo Bay for swimming and snorkelling or enjoy hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding and boat rides on each island. For an experience of a lifetime head up to the top of one of Hawaii's volcanoes for amazing views.