KIWI
 
Tips
Cities • 8 minutes to read

Five Of The Best Cities And Places To Visit In Hawaii

Sitting around 2,000 miles off the west coast of the U.S. mainland lies the tropical state of Hawaii. Known worldwide for its breathtaking beaches, captivating volcanos, tranquil rivers, peaceful lakes, water sports activities, and remote location, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that Hawaii is, in fact, part of the U.S.

Hawaii has been enchanting visitors from every corner of the globe for decades now. One look at what this majestic archipelago of islands has to offer will make it clear why it continues to be a dream destination for tourists. Hawaii is the perfect place to switch off from your hectic day-to-day life and soak up the sun, while it also has plenty to entice adventurous travelers who are looking for an active, thrilling vacation.

Scenic beach in Hawaii with palm trees and rocky shoreline
A scenic beach in Hawaii featuring palm trees and a rocky shoreline, showcasing the natural beauty of the islands

Hawaii comprises over 100 islands, with seven main inhabited islands waiting to be explored. We have created a list below of the best vacation ideas in Aloha State.

When’s The Best Time Of Year To Travel To Hawaii?

Hawaii is blessed with pleasant weather for most of the year, meaning you have plenty of options for when to kick off your trip. In contrast to many other North American hotspots, Hawaii’s peak season for tourism is from December to March, from Christmas until the New Year being a particularly popular time for vacationers. April to early June and September to early December sees fewer tourists frequenting the island.

Due to the spike in tourists, December to March can be a more costly time to visit Hawaii. Visitors are drawn to the state at this time to escape the bitter winters in other parts of the country and to catch a glimpse of the famous humpback whales that migrate to the islands during these months. Expect temperatures ranging from lows of 18°C to highs of 28°C.

Humpback whale breaching off the coast of Hawaii with a rainbow in the background.
A humpback whale breaching off the coast of Hawaii, with a rainbow in the background

Like all warm places, Hawaii sees another influx of tourists during the summer. This is the warmest time of year, particularly during July and August, coinciding with the traditional school holidays. Temperatures are the warmest, around 22 – 32°C.

A fantastic time to visit this dreamy destination is during the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn when you can experience warm temperatures with fewer crowds, as well as make the most of the cheaper flight and accommodation deals available.

Five Of The Top Places To Go In Hawaii

Honolulu – A Bustling Capital Famed For Its Beaches, Nightlife, And Shopping

We can’t kick off a list of must-see spots in Hawaii without mentioning the archipelago’s capital and largest city, the famous Honolulu, located on the island of Oahu. This city is an interesting mix of highrise hotels, clubs, world-class dining, lush landscapes, and picturesque beaches that you need to experience during your holidays. For many visitors, Honolulu will be the gateway into the Hawaiian islands and serve as a starting point for the rest of their trip.

Skyline Aerial of Honolulu Hawaii
Skyline Aerial of Honolulu Hawaii

What Are The Top Places To See In Honolulu

Catch some waves at Waikiki Beach – No trip to Honolulu would be complete without a visit to the iconic place, Waikiki Beach. A vibrant part of Oahu, you can expect a wealth of mouth-watering dining options, beachside bars, and even the chance to see hula shows on the beach. Loved by surfers, snorkelers, and sun-worshippers, the neighborhood of Waikiki is a must on your Hawaii itinerary.

Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head crater in Honolulu, Hawaii
A stunning view of Waikiki Beach and the Diamond Head crater in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Go back in time at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial – A dark but hugely significant part of Hawaii’s history, a visit to the Pearl Harbor National Museum Gallery gives you a chilling insight into the 1941 attack that led to America’s involvement in World War II. Pay your respects to the 2,403 U.S. personnel who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor with a visit to the museum, which is free to enter.

Hike to the famous Diamond Head – The Diamond Head is an awe-inspiring volcanic cone that’s one of Hawaii’s most famous spots. This steep trail has 175 stairs and is not the most leisurely stroll, but you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean. Be sure to start your hike early to avoid the peak heat and crowds in the middle of the day.

Must Try Food And Drinks in Honolulu

Poke bowl – One of Hawaii’s best-known culinary delights, poke bowls have become popular around the world, but none are quite like those found in the home of this nourishing dish. A mix of raw fish, such as tuna, salmon or trout, rice, vegetables, and sauces, these bowls are nutritious and delicious works of art.

Mai Tai – Kicking back on the beach with a cocktail in hand is what many of us imagine when we picture vacationing in Hawaii. A combination of rum, orange curacao, lime, and orgeat, this popular cocktail is one of the many you need to sample during your visit to Honolulu.

Tips For Visiting Honolulu

  • To get around Honolulu, use the extensive public bus system, making getting around the island without a car easy and affordable.
  • Remember, Aloha is a common phrase meaning both hello and goodbye, and it has a deeper meaning of love and kindness for locals.

Maui – A Dream For Honeymoons And Couples Seeking Romantic Resorts and Unparalleled Sunsets

The wonderful colours of the evening at Rainbow Falls Hilo (Hawaii, USA)
The wonderful colours of the evening at Rainbow Falls Hilo (Hawaii, USA)

Hawaii’s second largest island after Oahu, the mesmerizing Maui, encapsulates everything Hawaii is famous for. With miles of pristine white beaches, a laid-back atmosphere, iconic resorts, and jaw-dropping scenery, it’s safe to say Maui has earned its reputation as a highly sought-after destination, particularly for couples on their honeymoon. If you’re looking to wow your other half with an island that looks like it came right off a postcard, Maui is the perfect getaway.

Best Things To Do In Maui

Experience a Hawaiian Luau – You simply cannot come to Maui and miss witnessing a world-famous luau. Dine on delicious Hawaiian cuisine, sip refreshing cocktails, and watch the hula dancers perform to traditional music while the sun sets in the background. This is sure to be one of the highlights of your Hawaiian adventure.

Trek to Maui’s highest peak – Haleakala is a dormant volcano and Maui’s highest point at over 10,000 feet above sea level. One of the most popular ways to experience Haleakala is by completing a sunrise hike, which will afford you some of the most amazing views on the island. Hawaii is known for its volcanoes, and this is a magnificent way to experience the natural beauty of this state.

Drive the famous Road to Hana – The iconic Maui road trip, the Road to Hana stretches almost 65 miles from Kahului to the town of Hana. This scenic drive on the east of the island consists of countless turns and bridges, leading you to some outstanding waterfalls, beaches, and viewpoints. It’s considered to be one of North America’s most amazing road trips.

Must Try Food and Drink In Maui

Malasada – Brought to Hawaii by the Portuguese, malasadas are delectable fried doughnuts that are one of Maui’s most popular snacks. Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, satisfy your sweet tooth with a malasada from one of the many bakeries on the island.

Lava flow – Think of Pina Coladas with the addition of strawberries, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what a lava flow tastes like. Combining rum, coconut cream, pineapple, and strawberries, lava flows have become a Hawaiian staple. One taste of these fruity drinks will keep you coming back for more.

Tips For Visiting Maui

  • The Road to Hana can take up to 12 hours if you make a roundtrip. If your itinerary allows it, break the journey up into two days to allow time to rest and basque in the beauty of this drive.
  • Due to its elevation, Haleakala can be significantly chillier than the rest of Maui, so be sure to pack some warmer clothes if you plan on tackling this hike.

The Island of Hawai’i – Hawaii’s Largest and Most Diverse Island

Aerial View of Kualoa area of Oahu Hawaii
Aerial View of Kualoa area of Oahu Hawaii

Known as The Big Island due to its sheer size, the Island of Hawai’i is almost two times the size of Hawaii’s other islands combined. The vastness of this island is reflected in its hugely varied and diverse landscape. Lush green rainforests, secluded beaches, and remarkable volcanoes, the Island of Hawaii has a combination of everything that Hawaii is known for.

Cool Places To Travel On The Island Of Hawai’i

Check out Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park – Undoubtedly The Big Island’s most popular tourist attraction is the dazzling Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Visitors flock here to see two active volcanoes, with the 4,000 feet Kilauea Mountain being the star of the show. If you come at the right time, you can witness lava flow from Kilauea, which erupted as recently as January 2023.

Explore Akaka Falls State Park – This gorgeous park affords visitors the opportunity to walk through a tranquil rainforest, stopping at viewpoints along the way to enjoy vistas of the park’s namesake Akaka Falls, a truly spectacular waterfall. The loop around the park is short and relatively easy for all fitness levels.

Wander through Pu’uhonua o Honaunau Historical Park – A stop at this park is a must during your time on the Big Island. Dive deeper into the fascinating history of this state and gain insights into what life was once like for the local Hawaiian people on this island hundreds of years ago. Translated to ‘place of refuge,’ Hawaiians who broke the kapu (ancient laws) once fled here to seek absolution from their crimes.

Must Try Food And Drink On The Island Of Hawai’i

Poi – One of Hawaii’s oldest street foods, poi is a thick, paste-like dish akin to pudding in its consistency. Made from the taro plant, this potato-like vegetable is cooked, mashed, and left to ferment. Poi can be eaten on its own or enjoyed with salmon, pork, or chicken.

Kona coffee – Grown on a small patch of fertile soil caused by volcanic activity, Kona coffee is a must-try while on the island on which it is grown. Learn about the process of producing this unique coffee and explore the coffee fields while sipping on a hot cup of Kona.

Tips For Visiting The Island Of Hawai’i

  • The Big Island is considerably larger than the other Hawaiian islands, so plan your time here accordingly. Renting a car is a great option to take in as much of this island as you can.
  • You can see many islands by yourself, but don’t rule out taking a guided tour of some attractions. Many local guides are fountains of knowledge about the island and can help you to get the most out of your experience.

Kauai – Hawaii’s Oldest and Greenest Island For Sun Lovers And Families

Lush green landscape with mountains in Hawaii
A lush green landscape with mountains in Hawaii, showcasing the natural beauty and vibrant greenery of the island

Kauai is the northernmost island in the Hawaiian archipelago and is home to some of the most rugged landscapes and natural beauty in the state. Bursting with towering cliffs, powerful waterfalls, and green valleys, Kauai is arguably one of the most beautiful places in the world and feels a little more untouched than some of its counterparts.

Kauai – What To Do There

Visit the Na Pali Coast – An absolute essential when visiting Kauai, a visit to the Na Pali coast will leave you speechless. Huge, jagged cliffs and isolated white beaches stretch for 15 miles north of the island. You can see the beauty of the Na Pali coast by air through one of the many companies offering helicopter rides or take in the views from the sea on one of the island’s popular boat trips.

Spend a day at the Waimea Canyon State Park – Hawaii’s answer to the Grand Canyon, Waimea Canyon, is one of many examples of why Kauai is so admired by nature lovers. Lying on the west of the island, this 3,000 feet deep canyon is famed for its reddish hue, hiking trails, and the Waipo’o waterfalls.

Go and see the Kilauea Point Lighthouse – A stop at this lighthouse is popular with visitors to Kauai for its fantastic views of the north of the island but also for the wildlife opportunities it offers. The lighthouse serves as a wildlife refuge where you can spot a range of bird species, such as the Layson Albatross and the Red-footed Booby.

Must Try Food and Drink In Kauai

Loco moco – A contemporary and much-loved Hawaiian dish, you’re sure to find loco moco throughout Kauai. Many variations of loco moco exist, but the traditional loco moco features a base of white rice, followed by a hamburger and fried egg, topped off with brown gravy.

Blue Hawaiian – Hawaii’s list of famous cocktails seems never-ending. Featuring classic Hawaiian ingredients such as rum, curacao, and pineapple juice, this bright blue drink is loved by many and remains a firm favorite in Hawaii.

Tips For Visiting Kauai

  • If you’re planning to visit the Na Pali Coast between the months of December to March, opt to take one of the boat tours rather than the helicopter ride, as you’ll have a great chance of seeing the majestic humpback whales.
  • Booking tours in advance is strongly advised. This can also be true for many of the popular restaurants on the island, so be sure to do your research and book in advance.

Lanai – A Small Island Attracting Travelers Seeking Luxury And Seclusion

Perhaps Hawaii’s most serene island, Lanai, is everything you could look for in a luxurious destination. This is Hawaii’s smallest inhabited island, which gives visitors to Lanai an experience similar to vacationing in a private paradise. Lanai is all about high-end resorts, pampering spa experiences, and appreciating the stunning surroundings.

Best Things To See And Do In Lanai

Soak up the sun on one of Lanai’s beaches – Hulopoe Bay is a gorgeous spot to catch some rays. For any keen snorkelers, here you can see some bright reefs and a variety of marine life. Polihua Beach is another gem on Lanai and is ideal for those searching for a quieter place to unwind.

Become in awe from the Garden of the Gods – You’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to Mars when you visit this magnificent rock formation. The Garden of the Gods is a must when you’re in Lanai and is a vastly different landscape from what you would expect on your trip to Hawaii.

Red rocky landscape in Hawaii resembling a Martian terrain
A red rocky landscape in Hawaii resembling a Martian terrain, showcasing the unique geological formations of the island.

See the Shipwreck Beach – One of Lanai’s best-known spots, Shipwreck Beach, as expected, is a beautiful stretch of beach with an abandoned Navy shipwreck about one mile into the water. This barge dates back to the time of World War II and makes for a unique vista.

Which Are Some Must Try Food And Drink

Shave ice – Differing from the well-known American snowcone, Shave Ice is made from thinly shaved pieces of ice. A popular Hawaiian dessert, you pick your preferred flavored syrup and let the soft ice melt in your mouth. A perfect treat on those hot days spent lying on the beach.

Fresh pineapple juice – Pineapples are synonymous with Hawaii. Lanai was once known as The Pineapple Island, as they were once exporting 75% of the world’s pineapples. Though the pineapple plantations are no longer in use on the island, a trip to Lanai is not complete without sampling the fruit the island became famous for.

Tips For Visiting Lanai

  • The beauty of Lanai is how rugged and untouched the landscape is in many parts of the island. As a result, many of the roads in Lanai are difficult to drive. If you’re renting a car, consider renting a 4X4 suited to unpaved roads.
  • Lanai can be reached by ferry or plane. If you plan to arrive by plane, note you’ll likely have to fly to Oahu or Maui first.

Want more interesting tips and information on traveling? Read more Kiwi.com articles!

Frequently asked questions

When’s The Best Time Of Year To Travel To Hawaii?
If you can brave the crowds and higher prices, the winter months line up to be an incredible time to visit Hawaii. The pros highly outweigh the cons with the nicest weather and having the chance to see the humpback whales.
How To Find Cheap Flights To Hawaii?

Here at Kiwi.com, our sole mission is to give everyone access to the destinations they dream about. We find our customers the cheapest fares online through our travel hacks and technology that no other flight website shows you.

To get started organizing your once-in-a-lifetime holiday, visit our Hawaii destination page, select which airport you'd love to fly into, and we'll give you endless flight options that suit your travel dates.

What’s Hawaii Known For?
Hawaii is known for its tropical beaches that are on the front of every travel magazine, treacherous hikes, active volcanoes, and chilled-out way of life.
What's The Best Food To Try In Hawaii?
There are so many dishes you need to try from the Hawaiin cuisine, like Spam Musubi, Mochiko Chicken, and Poke Bowls.
How Many Days Do I Need In Hawaii?
You can spend as long as you like in Hawaii and never get bored. You should try to allocate at least one week for each island as a general rule of thumb.