Things to do in Hawaii
The raw beauty of the Hawaiian islands has long attracted travelers, and rugged nature-lovers will find plenty of things to do in Hawaii—hiking active volcanoes, surfing massive waves, driving dramatic coastal roads, exploring lava rock deserts, and trekking in rainforests with cool waterfalls. From Maui to Kaui to the Big Island and Oahu, there are plenty of activities and attractions for more sedentary types too—museums dedicated to the islands’ Polynesian heritage, public gardens, pristine beaches, art galleries, markets selling local crafts, and great bars serving mai tais.
No matter how or where you choose to embrace the aloha spirit—on one of the world’s most scenic golf courses, under the stars on Waikiki Beach while listening to ukulele music, or on a bus to historic Diamond Head Lighthouse—there are countless places and things to do in Hawaii to keep you coming back. For ideas on how to make the most of your trip, peruse our Hawaii travel guide. All listings are created and vetted by Travel + Leisure editors and writers. Our experts know what to do in Hawaii and will have you planning your photo safari, helicopter tour, and beach excursion even before you step off the plane.
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For an inland adventure, hike the five-mile trail along the Koloiki Ridge, which has unparalleled views.
This shop offers a vast treasure trove of Japanese antiques, from lacquered 19th-century chests to small combs.
In the mall next to the iconic Aloha Tower, this shop has hundreds of unique pieces of island jewelry in sterling silver and 14-karat gold, Chinese jade, puka shell, and Tahitian black pearl, many with tasteful designs of tropical flowers and hula girls.
The mission of this gear store goes beyond selling masks, fins, and suits to ocean explorers; Snorkel Bob also takes an active role in reef conservation, including the nonprofit Snorkel Bob Foundation.
Why Go: You never know what you’ll find at Shipwreck Beach, on the island of Lanai. The same brisk trade winds and strong currents that make the waters dangerous for swimming also churn up flotsam and jetsam—and intrepid beachcombers.
With the aim of education and protection of marine life, the Pacific Whale Foundation's staff of marine biologists offer whale watches, snorkeling trips to Molokini crater, dolphin encounter trips, and sunset cruises.
Visitors get to know the Garden Island through the trails of Koke’e State Park in Waimea. With the Koke’e Museum as a starting point, trails take hikers to the scenic Waimea Canyon rim and Waipo’o Falls.
What: This family-owned shop in Sunset Beach is splashed with a deep-sea graffiti mural.
Who: The Nakamuras serve solid renditions of fish sandwiches and bento boxes of chicken katsu or teriyaki beef.
Located in downtown Hilo, Hana Hou offers vintage and modern Hawaiian and Oceania handcrafted art and accessories.
Carolyne Brandon is an expert on river cruises in a wide range of locations, from the Volga in Russia to the Yangze in China.
For a funky, homegrown look into the Hawaii of yesteryear, the Tahiti Nui in the beachside hamlet of Hanalei is the real thing. The unpretentious bar-restaurant caters to the locals, and it was the first watering hole to open up on Kauai’s north shore a half-century ago.
Women’s clothing designer Tamara Catz moved to Maui with her husband, surfing champion Francisco Goya, and began designing her own lines in 2000. After success selling to department stores and boutiques, Catz opened her first shop in Paia in 2005.
Ride TheBus, and stop at historic Diamond Head Lighthouse, on the Eastern end of Waikiki Beach.
This slightly off-the-beaten-path bar in Chinatown is known among locals for its impressive selection of beers — more than 150 from around the world.