Waikiki serves up luxurious accommodation next to sparkling blue waters. Source: Edmund Garman
What to do in Hawaii
The state of Hawaii is made up of eight main islands - seven of which are inhabited - as well as numerous smaller atolls scattered throughout the archipelago. Here's an introduction to a few of them.
Oahu - For many travellers, Oahu is the gateway to Hawaii. Home to the capital of Honolulu, there's so shortage of things to see and do here, from surfing up a storm on the North Shore, to visiting the historic Pearl Harbour.
The resort neighbourhood of Waikiki is an excellent place to drop your bags, and at the Ilikai Hotel you can even pick up your Hawaiian hire car, arranged by a few easy clicks with DriveNow. For a truly magical experience that will please travellers both young and young at heart, check in at the Hawaii Disney Aulani Resort, where you can pick up your DriveNow hire car from the comfort of your hotel.
Hawai'i (Big Island) - As the island's nickname suggests, Hawai'i is the biggest in the island chain, boasting black sand beaches and the active Kilauea volcano. In addition to its lush greenery, the Big Island is also the location for some of the state's top hotels and resorts. Amongst them is the Hawaii Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Kona coast, with its very own canals weaving through the resort, which can be navigated by canal boats or on board the resort tram. To sweeten the deal, the Hilton Waikoloa is another place where you can pick up a hire car in Hawaii through DriveNow.
Kauai - Situated at the northernmost point of the island chain, you can get away from it all in Kauai. The oldest Hawaiian isle, Kauai is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty. Cruise the azure waters of the Napoli coast, or take a kayak down the Wailua River for a truly unique experience. Once you've picked up your hire car in Koloa, you can also make the trip up to Waimea Canyon. Considered to be 'Hawaii's Grand Canyon' Waimea's spectacular views are unforgettable.
Maui - There's a lot to love about the small town vibes of Maui. Also known as the 'Valley Isle', the pristine natural landscapes here are truly something to be remembered - soak up the beauty of Maui at Iao Valley, or head to the summit of Haleakala for a breathtaking sunrise.
Molokai - For a glimpse into the Hawaii of the past, head to Molokai. The island's deeply historic roots make it a fascinating place to learn more about Hawaii - it's even considered to be the birthplace of hula!
Lanai - This smaller island offers a secluded getaway with numerous luxury resorts and an 18-hole golf course.
For most people, the marquee destination for a trip to Hawaii is the state’s capital city of Honolulu, located on the island of O’ahu. Also the largest city amongst the hundreds of islands that make up the state, Honolulu is a tropical paradise that has plenty to do and see for travellers of all ages and interests.
The epicentre of much of O’ahu’s action, the area in and around Waikiki is where you’ll find many of the most popular places to stay and awesome beach action.
With an exceptional coastal location on the southern edge of O’ahu, this seaside resort is one of the easiest ways to make sure you have just about everything just outside your doorstep or within a decent, but not too stressful, walk. There are heaps of awesome options to choose from, but it’s hard to go past Halekulani, which has long been a favourite of those on vacation (or locals on staycation). Its alluring “seven shades of white” design scheme provides a perfect contrast for the amazing scenes outside your window, giving you an even better chance to focus your full attention on the natural beauty all around you.
You don’t have to stay at Waikiki or other accommodation right on the beach to enjoy your time in O’ahu. Kalakaua Avenue is considered the main street in Honolulu (and often referred to as “town” if you’re staying down near the coast”) and is where you’ll find plenty of action if you’re looking for shopping, restaurants, and other accommodation options. Although we can’t blame you if you don’t want to leave your beachside digs, if you need to hit up the shops for some retail therapy or just want a change of scenery, Kalakaua Avenue provides plenty of options just a short walk away.
The Road is Calling
One of the best ways to see all of Honolulu and the rest of O’ahu is in a hire car. DriveNow’s car rental in Hawaii is a particularly convenient way to get your hands on keys that can help you get outside of Honolulu and see what else the island has in store.
There are plenty of other awesome attractions within a short drive of the capital. Did you know a full drive around the island can be finished in just one day? If you’re just after a bit of a cruise with the wind in your hair, the sun shining down, and gorgeous views to accompany you, hop in your Hawaii car rental, turn the key, and throw that puppy into drive! But you’d be doing yourself a disservice if that was the only time you got out and about, as there is a stack of fantastic places to stop as your circumnavigate the island.
Make some time for La’ie Point State Wayside state park in the northeastern portion of the island. If you consider yourself a thrillseeker, join in on the extreme cliff diving at La’ie Point. Your terror before and during your descent will be matched by the amazing sensation of splashing into the surf below.
The Seven Mile Miracle is one of the world’s most famous surfing havens. Source:surfertoday.com
If you want to cut up the middle of the island, you can make your way from Waikiki up the H2 to the HI-99 North and hit the famed North Shore. There you’ll find the beloved Seven Mile Miracle stretch of beaches that features some of the best surfing in all of Hawaii.
The amazing Hāna Highway will take you through lush Hawaiian landscapes. Source: Ken Lund
Maui is another popular stop on Hawaiian holidays and offers even more fantastic landscapes and experiences for travellers. The second largest island of the group making up the state, Maui is yet another destination crying out for those who are looking to lounge, swim, and explore kilometres of natural beauty. And, just like in Honolulu, Hawaii car rental will help you do just that! In fact, having access to a hire car on Maui is perhaps even more important, as the island’s size requires a bit more mobility than O’ahu.
The Hāna Highway
One of the most enjoyable and rewarding things you can do during your trip to Maui is spend some time behind the wheel (or in the passenger seat!) on the Hāna Highway. This amazing stretch of road from Kahului to Hana spans about 64 miles along the eastern coast of Maui and is considered one of the most scenic routes in all of the United States, if not the world. Featuring windy curves bracketed by incredible black sand beaches and cascading waterfalls, you’d be hard pressed to find a more delicious backdrop in which to cruise.
All that being said, don’t expect to kick it into high gear and open the engine. The road to Hāna is an incredibly popular drive, as one might expect once seeing all the fantastic views it contains. And part of its charm lies with its one-lane bridges. Budget more time than you think you’ll need to complete the drive. We suggest a good 4-5 hours to accommodate for traffic, a quick swim, and some sneaky roadside stand snacks along the way. As if you’d want to be in a rush anyway!
Haleakalā National Park
It’s best to let sleeping dogs lie, but it’s perhaps an even better idea to visit sleeping volcanos when you get the chance! Haleakalā National Park is where you’ll find the world’s largest dormant volcano. Located in the south eastern section of the island, above Kaupo, the park is absolutely massive and full of amazing walks.
The main attraction is the Haleakalā Crater, which features paths on which you can travel down into the area itself. What better chance to get photos from inside a volcano? But the hectic hiking opportunities don’t start and end there. As we said, the park is enormous, and there are stacks of great trails to check out if you’ve got your boots laced up tight. The Pipiwai Trail is one of the most popular treks, starting at Waimoku Falls and bringing you south to the Seven Sacred Pools at Ohe’o.
There are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind if you’re going to visit the park. Regardless of what the temperature reads when you leave your accommodation, it can get pretty chilly on some of the hikes due to the elevation. Because of this, bring a backpack with some jackets if possible. As with other awesome destinations around the islands, you can use your discount Hawaii car rental to get to all the action. Just understand that it can take a few hours to reach your destination. And, finally, if you can manage it, we highly recommend watching the sunrise from atop the mountain in Haleakalā National Park! It’ll take your breath away.
As with other Hawaiian islands, Maui has its own share of phenomenal beachy areas that provide plenty of fun in the sun. While you pretty much can’t go wrong with any of them, here are a few that can be particularly rewarding.
Ka’anapali Beach is up on the northwestern coast of Maui and consists of about 3 miles of sandy beaches and a convenient beach walk pathway the means you’re never too far from a bite to eat, a quick refreshing drink, or the shops. The area is a favourite for visitors, as it’s home to some of the most luxurious resorts and two phenomenal golf courses. Dipping your head below the water’s surface for a snorkel will bring you up close with some of the vibrant marine life that calls the area home.
For those looking for something a bit more extreme, there’s Hamoa Beach in Hāna on the eastern edge of the island. The water comes in a bit choppier here, creating a beautiful, wavy base for those who want to get out and do a bit of surfing or bodyboarding. The beach has plenty of other natural attraction even for those who don’t want to get amongst the crashing waves—the sand beneath and between your toes is a grayish colour due to a mixture of coral and lava.
The Big Island is certainly not short on amazing travelling experiences. Source: skeeze
The Island of Hawaii, also commonly known as the Big Island, is the largest of the land masses that make up the state, so you can see where it gets its nickname from. The sheer size means there’s plenty for you and your fellow travellers to do and see, with the Island of Hawaii providing a heaping dose of the natural beauty you’ll find in other parts of the state. As with other sections, perhaps the best way to put yourself in position to experience it all is with Hawaii car hire from DriveNow, which keeps your holiday on your terms.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
While the Haleakalā Crater in Haleakalā National Park on Maui gives you a chance to explore the inside of a dormant volcano, the Big Island presents an amazing opportunity to experience what an active one is capable of! There are two active volcanoes bubbling away at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The main draw is a volcano called Kilauea, which has been emitting lava since 1983. While you won’t be able to see it spewing out the top opening, you might get a small glimpse of some hot liquid escaping from the landmass if you’re lucky. The other volcano, Mauna Loa, isn’t so bad, either!
In addition to staring at the volcanoes and snapping until your phone is full, there are plenty of other fantastic hiking trails. You can also drive through the park in your hire car if you feel that’s a better option.
Merrie Monarch Festival
Luaus and the art of hula are some of the more well-known parts of Hawaiian culture due to their appearances in movies and TV shows throughout the years. Well now you can get an up-close-and-personal look at this cherished tradition. The Merrie Monarch Festival is an annual competition that has garnered interest from all over the world. In addition to the competition, there’s also an arts fair and a parade.
The Mauna Kea Summit Trail in the middle of the Big Island gives you a chance to hop in your Hawaii car hire and, two hours later, find yourself about 4,267 metres (14,000 feet) above sea level. This extra elevation could be what helps you get such an unparalleled view of the stars above! Mauna Kea is world-renowned as a must-see for serious stargazers, with its clear skies providing an unobstructed view of a truly out-of-this-world experience.
What’s a Hawaiian holiday without some great grub? While it’s just about impossible to rundown all of the awesome food and drink options spread out across the major islands, here are a few highlights to check out if you get the chance.
The Hawaiians took an amazing Portuguese treat and made it their own, leading to the rise in popularity of delicious malasadas. These fried doughnut-type treats are fairly simple in design: balls of dough rolled in glorious, grainy sugar. Much like other doughnuts, you can find some filled with cream or custard, as well. You can find them throughout Hawaii, though legend has it that Honolulu’s Leonard’s Bakery, opened by a descendant of immigrants from Portugal in 1952, brought the craze to the islands.
What if you could take your favourite parts of having sushi and transform it into a heartier, more salad-like eating experience? Wonder no more! Poke is more or less a sushi bowl, with raw fish cut into cubes, placed atop sushi rice, and accompanied with vegetables, spices, and other textured ingredients. While the dish has been making more and more appearances around the world, you know it’s going to be the best in its native Hawaii. There are great options all over the islands, but Honolulu has a specifically tasty line-up. Try Alicia’s Market or Ono Seafood for a start.
Surfing Goat Dairy
With a name like that, how could you not check out this Maui farm? An excellent spot for you to take your younger travellers, this goat farm offers tours after which you’ll get to have a few bites of delicious cheese made on the premises. Oh, and that name? It comes from the goats themselves, which can often be seen playing on old surfboards!