Here’s a great list of fun things to do when visiting the Islands of Hawaii. It’s such a beautiful place to visit. You could go there year after year and never get bored. This list includes a few “key” locations on major Islands that you may not want to miss. With so many places and things to do in Hawaii, there’s something for everyone guaranteed. Keep in mind Island hopping is NOT uncommon. Whether your an Island Hopper or prefer to stay put, there’s lots of adventure waiting for you in Hawaii. So let’s get started on a few things to see.
Below I have included a list of some of the best tours/or tour companies via word of mouth and personal use.
- Blue-Hawaiian-Helicopters Available on the Big Island, Maui, Oahu & Kauai
- Kayak Kauai Try a river paddle, kayak, whale watch, snorkel, or even hike.
- Iolani Palace For all you history buffs. It’s really a beautiful site to see.
- Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve for a fun day snorkeling
- Valley Isle Excursions for the Iao Valley State Park & Road to Hana tours.
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park & Volcano Hotel
- Waipi’o Valley Shuttle, Kahua Ranch, for horseback riding, mule wagon tours.
Na Pali Coast, Kauai
The Na Pali coast is one of Hawaii’s most beautiful coastlines with its steep shorelines massive towering cliffs to beautiful waterfalls. I totally missed this gem when I went because I was an uninformed tourist at the time. Sure, I caught the beautiful beaches with hardly a soul on them. And they were spectacular!
This is definitely on my list of to-do’s next trip.
This coastline is one you will want to see via a helicopter tour, plane, or a sunset cruise. There are several types of these tours to choose from. This is definitely one you should do some research on and decide which way you would like to tour this beauty. Who knows, you may choose to stick around a while do a few different tours.
Wailua Falls, Kauai
Wailua Falls has so much to see and do for the young at heart and adventurous. The Wailua Sacred Falls Tour is family-friendly and just requires a 2 person minimum to open a tour. Although the minimum age is 5. You may encounter mud. The trip is about five hours long and does include refreshments, sandwiches and bottled water.
Enjoy bird watching in a tranquil and tropical environment where the pace is unhurried and swim in the pools or stream leading to the waterfall. Last I checked this tour runs about $75 for children and $95 for adults. Totally worth the price for an adventurous fun-packed day. Also, I noticed Kayak Kauai was featured on the cover of national geographic adventure magazine as “The Adventure 100-America’s Best, 2000.
Iolani Palace, Honolulu, Oahu
Iolani Palace is a living restoration of a proud Hawaiian heritage, and a registered National Historic Landmark. It is also the only official royal place in the United States.
The Palace was Started in December 1879 and completed in 1882. It was the official residences of the Hawaiian monarchs. You will want to check out the Keliiponi Hale: The coronation Pavilion still used today for the inauguration of the governors of the State of Hawaii.
You will also be able to see some important and exciting rooms in the Palace. The throne room, the Grand Hall, the Imprisonment room, the King and Queens bedroom, along with the King’s library and other interesting must-sees. If you visit the website, you can also catch a 3-D virtual walkthrough if you want a sneak peek. The palace is a lovely and inspiring place to visit when staying on Oahu.
Hanauma Bay Snorkeling, Oahu
Hanauma Bay, where do I start? It is one of the most spectacular natural resources in Hawaii. It has a pristine marine ecosystem. This is a lovely place to spend the day at the beach, snorkel and check out the reef and all the sea life. This is also an inexpensive way to spend the day on the beach and snorkel. It is located about 10 miles outside of Waikiki. Not hard to find, and Admission fees were only $7.50.
The parking lot does fill up early, and when it’s full, they will turn you away. They open at 6 a.m for all the beach early birds. They have a snorkel concession if you don’t have your own masks, fins, and snorkels as well as lockers to store your things. We really enjoyed the day here.
It’s a must-see when visiting the island of Oahu.
Iao Valley State Park, & Road to Hana, Maui
The Iao Valley & needle can easily be seen in a ½ day, and you can stroll on fully paved pathways and stairs. At 1200 feet high, this razor-thin ridge is a sight to behold. This is also home to a famous battle that took place on the island, “battle of Kepaniwai.” Many warriors died in this place, It is also a spiritual and sacred place since chiefs were also buried here.
You will actually find two Parks in this valley to explore, so there’s so much to see.
The Road to Hana is also known as “The Divorce Highway,” and for a good reason, with its 68-mile road with 600+ turns, 50+ one-lane bridges. With the occasional mudslide. Need I say more? This is actually where the local’s vacation. Too many turn s for me. That’s why I recommend Valley Isle; Their tour guides are trained for the drive!
Besides, you get a light breakfast and a Hawaiian BBQ lunch included with all you can drink non-alcoholic drinks. This is a great way to spend the day in Hana. Tours usually begin between 6-7:30 am and return 5-6:30 pm. Book online to get their $159.99 special( at the time of review).
This is a must when visiting Maui. This is the longest drivable rainforest in the USA.
Makena Beach State Park, Maui
Makena Beach State Park is considered one of Maui’s signature beaches. With beautiful white sand beaches, it is divided into two beaches, known as Big Beach and Little Beach. Spend the day basking on the beach, snorkel, or kayak. A favorite of tourists, it’s not to be missed.
This beach also has showers and restrooms, and food trucks so you can easily spend a long day here. You will find quite a few families and children enjoying the surf. The mornings are less crowded, and as afternoon approaches, it gets a little crowded, but it didn’t really feel crowded. There are also two parking lots and can fill up after 11:00 a.m. so you may want to get there early.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Big Island
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a biggie all by itself. You will want to visit the National Park Service site for all the details. It lists alerts in effect for planning your visit, what to see where to stay and things to do. For a place to stay while at the park, you will want to check out the Volcano house. It offers 33 historic guest rooms, a dining room, snack bar, lounge and gift shop. It also manages 10 camper cabins and campsites in nearby Namakanipaio campground.
Waipio Valley, Big Island
Waipio Valley, also called Valley of the Kings it’s located in the Kohala Mountains. This valley was the home of King Kamehameha I and is located on the Hamakua Coast.
Come visit the black sand beaches of Waipi’O valley for their unique beauty. Or maybe a Horseback riding tour of the valley?
Or check out …
Waipio Valley Shuttle is a great way to get to the valley floor to witness the 1200 foot waterfalls. The valley is approximately six miles wide and sits between 2,000-foot high cliffs and has some mesmerizing views.
Here you will see roaming horses, Taro patches, and freshwater rivers. I remember buying a Taro Patch Doll the first time I went to Hawaii back in 1984. They were Hawaiian style cabbage patch dolls basically.
The shuttle tour is about 1 ½-2 hours, and you will learn about the history & the Legends.
Or you could make your way down via a Mule Drawn Wagon Tour. Yes, you heard me right. I have not personally done this tour but will be putting it on my bucket list of things to do next visit. This would undoubtedly be fun for the whole family.
But if your more adventurous, you could just go for a horseback riding adventure at Kahua Ranch. They have been operating since 1981; this is a 2.5 hr ride, and their guides will take you through jungle trails, freshwater streams, taro fields, and then show you the magnificent waterfalls.
So whichever way you choose to see Waipi’0 Valley, there’s an adventure for you.
Hawaii For An Unforgettable Experience
I have been to Hawaii several times, and it never gets old. There’s just too much to see and do. This list is, by all means, not exhaustive, only a shortlist of some incredible things to do and see in Hawaii.
So many islands, so little time.
If you have never been to Hawaii, you need to go. I do recommend staying for at least 11-14 days, if at all possible. For me, I found by the time I got my bearings and learned the names of the streets, it was time to leave. I have never seen a picture that does Hawaii justice; it just needs to be experienced with the eyes!