Hawaii comprises four major islands (Kauai, Oahu, Hawaii, Maui) and a number of smaller or less populated islands (Molokai, Lanai, Niihau, Kahoolawe), and is among the most isolated land masses on earth, an isolation which has resulted in the evolution of thousands of endemic species of flora and fauna and a mind-blowing landscape. Below is a list of the best places to get your adventure on around the islands.
Editor’s note: These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.
Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park
The Hawaiian state part covers 6,175 acres and is located on one of the states oldest inhabited islands. The park offers superb hiking options. The Kalalau Trail is 11 miles long and takes you through five valleys. Be sure to check to see if it is open before planning a trip.
Sandy Beach is known to locals as “Sandy’s” and is on the east side of Oahu – notorious for its dangerous shore break and gnarly rip current. Brave locals and tourists still try to ride the waves here.
There is a more relaxing atmosphere off to the far side of Sandy Beach. A grassy knoll is the perfect spot to watch expert kite-fliers on a windy day, and the shallow tide pools make for fascinating exploration.
Koko Crater Botanical Garden
A 200-acre botanical garden, featuring both native and exotic plants, lies within Koko Crater, in Honolulu. Start the roughly two-mile loop trail in the Plumeria grove. Next, you’ll walk through the Americas section filled with agave plants, cacti, and other flora that will make you swear that you’re in Mexico. Loop around through the Hawaiian section, then through Africa and Madagascar. Bring plenty of water, since the arid landscape is unforgiving for humans, yet just right for these rare and endangered plant species.
Haleakalā National Park
Haleakalā National ParkKula, United StatesFollow the Pipiwai Trail once you get to the end of the Hana highway. It is about a 1 mile hike that will take you to the bamboo forest. #hiking #forest #outdoors
The national park is located on Maui and was designated an International Biosphere Reserve in the 80’s. The park is also home a dormant volcano, Haleakalā and has a multitude of hiking options.
Ala Moana Beach Park
Ala Moana Beach Park, one of the best beaches on the island, lies right in the middle of town. The 100-acre park has a ½ mile stretch of golden sand beach and helps Oahu live up to its name of “The Gathering Place.” Stake out your spot early in this family-friendly park, as parking and tree-covered spots tend to go quickly. Nearly every square inch of this park has perfect views of downtown Honolulu, Diamond Head Crater, and Waikiki.
Kualoa Ranch in windward Oahu is your playground for all things outdoors with 4,000 sprawling, private acres to play on: horseback riding, ATV tours, ziplining, movie tours – whatever you like.
Their ATV tour takes you through the private Ka’a’wa valley, twists and turns through multiple movie sets (including Jurassic Park), and features gorgeous mountain terrain. Kualoa Ranch has a great gift shop and restaurant. Set aside a day to explore, since getting here and back from Honolulu can take an hour or more in bad traffic.
Kapiolani Community College Farmer’s Market
The Kapiolani Community College Farmer’s Market, at the foothills of the ever-famous Diamond Head Crater, is one of the best places to spend a Saturday morning outdoors in Honolulu.
Come early at 7:30 a.m. and sample local favorites from over 50 vendors: fresh coconut, Kona coffee, fresh pastries, homemade salsa, and breakfast plates including spam, Portuguese sausage, and Kalua pork. Once you’re full, grab some fresh flowers and produce to take back with you.
Makalawena BeachKailua-Kona, United StatesMakalawena is one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen! You hike through lava fields and beach for about 30-40 minutes before you come up on this beach paradise! Make sure you find the freshwater pools! There were no waves to surf on this day, but the snorkeling was great! #snorkeling #hiking
It is said that Makalawena is one of the most beautiful beaches in the state. To get there you hike through lava fields and beach for about 30-40 minutes before you come up on the secluded bay. Make sure you find the freshwater pools. If you’re there to surf and there are no waves the snorkelling is great.
Some of the best vistas of Honolulu are from above. Check out Tantalus Lookout at Puu Ualakaa State Park for a truly spectacular view of Honolulu from Diamond Head to Pearl Harbor. Come up for sunset and bask in what Honolulu looks like from above during the golden hour.
It is believed that a dip in Waikiki’s waters will cure any ailment – plus here you’ll find island music, laughing families, and the smells of fresh island cuisine.
Finding a decent spot to set up could get competitive. If that’s the case, head toward Diamond Head and Kapiolani Park to “Walls” beach, just across the street from the Honolulu Zoo. The crowds tend to be smaller, and the waves are just right for boogie boarding.