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Off the beaten track

Off the beaten track in Hawaii

Matt Domm April 6, 2016

The incredible Pacific Island chain of Hawaii has astonishing beaches, scenic coastal drives, active volcanoes and forest hiking trails. In fact, anything and everything you can think of. This may mean you’re struggling to decide which island to visit— but there’s no need. Flights between them are short, so you can experience the charms of each on one fantastic holiday.

Commuter airlines go between the four major islands and flights range from 20 to 50 minutes. Travel overnight and you’ll be at your new destination without eating into your holiday time — this means more opportunity to hire a car and explore the islands away from the beaten track.

Hawaii Island

Let’s start with Hawaii, The Big Island. With 11 of the world’s 13 climate zones, Hawaii Island’s landscape is ever-changing. Perhaps the most extreme example is the snow-capped summit of 4,203 metre tall Mauna Kea mountain, the highest point in the state. You could just admire from a distance, but instead you can get to the summit by four-wheel-drive if you fancy the adventure. On the way up, the Visitor Information Station has public telescopes for astonishingly clear views of space.

The beaches here come in an array of colours — black, white and even green — and it’s easy to find one that’s away from the crowds. Black sand is the direct result of lava tumbling into the sea; it retains more heat than the other colours of sand, which also makes it the preferred nesting habitat for sea turtles. Green sand comes from the mineral Olivine, which has been turned to crystals in the 49,000 years since a volcanic eruption off the coast. The white sand contains marine organisms and coral that has been broken up by waves and eroded by fish over thousands of years.

Arguably the biggest and most impressive highlight is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This area contains the world’s most active volcano, Kilauea, so head to the viewing point with your partner and enjoy Mother Nature’s own firework display.

Maui is the next destination — just 40 minutes’ flight away.


Known in some quarters as the Valley Isle, Maui is an enticing mix of adventure and romance. It’s a brilliant island for honeymooners — choose a resort with top-notch spa facilities and enjoy a full treatment after a day spent zip lining or taking in the sights on a helicopter tour. The hills and valleys of Maui are just waiting to be explored — so put on your hiking boots, grab a map and get out and about, or choose to take in the scenery by road. It’s your call.

If cruising the open roads in a convertible, with the roof down and your favourite tunes playing on the stereo appeals to you, then Maui is the perfect place to turn this dream into reality. Blast along the Hana Highway on the north-eastern coastline; you’ll soon see why it’s regarded as one of the most scenic drives on the planet as you go past, and stop at, waterfalls, venture alongside dense forest and gaze at rocky shores. Stop as much as you like on the way, get as far from the beaten path as you can — you might never be on such a breathtaking road again.

The sights aren’t limited to land in Maui. Between November and May each year you’ll have the chance to join a whale-watching cruise to see humpback whales on their annual migration to Alaska. It’s one of the most reliable places to see these amazing creatures.

Continue the scenic section of your Hawaii island hop by making Kaui your next stop.


This island is covered every inch by spectacular natural beauty. So much so, it was picked as the setting for Jurassic Park, thanks to its wide open fields, dense rainforests, volcanic vegetation and powerful waterfalls. Of course there aren’t actually any dinosaurs here, so you can explore this incredible island without having to keep an eye out for a hungry raptor.

Large parts of Kauai are untouched, so as you hike in the forests, mountain bike through the huge Waimea Canyon or chill on warm, blue lagoons you’ll see the island as nature intended it. For a different perspective of Kauai, take a cruise out to the Na Pali coast, face the island and view the emerald pinnacles and dramatic waterfalls from a distance.

Make sure you also make time to see Hanalei Bay on the north coast — a classic, crescent shaped beach considered one of the very best in the whole archipelago. It’s a wonderful place to relax after days spent exploring. When it’s time to drag yourself away from Kauai, the next island is Oahu for a dramatic change of pace.


This island is the historical and cultural capital of Hawaii. It’s home to two of the state’s most important historical sites, Pearl Harbor and Iolani Palace, and is the place where the native Hawaiian people have mixed with Americans to create a diverse combination between old traditions and modern life.

Iolani Palace in downtown Honolulu is the royal residence of Hawaii’s monarchy. The palace has been restored to all its 1882 glory, when King Kalakaua and his successor Queen Liliuokalana walked the halls, so marvel in one of Polynesia’s finest displays of opulence.

Pearl Harbor is one of the key historical sites in the whole of the USA, not just Hawaii. There are five memorials and museums here, which document and remember December 7, 1941, when this harbour was attacked by Japanese forces and drove America into World War Two.

Aside from Pearl Harbor, Oahu is best known for Waikiki Beach, which is just 30 minutes away. This two-mile stretch of white sand is the most cosmopolitan spot in Oahu, as visitors from all over the world mingle with the locals. Just keep walking until you find a private spot to call your own. The beach walks, watersports and the sun, sea and sand will keep you occupied until it’s time to head back to Honolulu for your flight home.

Hawaii offers adventure, relaxation and astonishing views in equal measure. By travelling from island to island you can create your own personal holiday and unique experiences. Visit our website to plan your ultimate Hawaii expedition, and find out how to experience these beautiful islands, on land and foot, by car, and even on a magical helicopter tour.

Hawaii’s location makes it perfect for combining with other states in one incredible multi centre holiday. Perhaps head to famous Las Vegas before or after Hawaii, or contrast the laid-back Hawaiian vibe with bustling New York and ‘Canada’s Manhattan’, Vancouver.