Hawaii Travel Guide
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.
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.
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.
Hookipa Beach Park on the north shore of Maui, near the former plantation town of Paia, is famous worldwide for its windsurfing and kitesurfing, and is home to the Aloha Classic competition.
What to Expect: Framed by Diamond Head, one of the world’s most climbed (extinct) volcanoes, and with nearly two miles of continuous white sand and palm trees, this iconic beach is almost always full of tourists and surfers.
Located in the Halekulani Hotel, Lewers Lounge evokes the feel of New York’s swankiest cocktail bars with a touch of Hawaiian hospitality. The cocktail menu was crafted by Dale DeGroff, who enjoyed a stint at New York’s famed Rainbow Room.
A number of sea tours, from kayaking to sailing charters, explore Kauai’s dramatically carved Na Pali Coast, but this is one of the best.
The Experience at Koele, located at the Four Seasons Resort Lana’i, the Lodge at Koele, is a 7,014-yard, par 72 championship course designed by Greg Norman and Ted Robinson.
Hours are easily whiled away digging through the hodgepodge of Hawaiian paintings, Depression glass, aloha shirts, collectible toys, costume jewelry, and kitschy hula girl figurines at this circa-1997 shop.
Fresh flowers and good prices are the norm at the M. P. Lei Shop, on Maunakea Street, in Honolulu’s Chinatown. Look for the storefront with sky-blue trim, colorful Asian lanterns hanging from the eaves, flowers in the open doorway, and a sign that includes Chinese characters.
This open-air swap meet has everything from T-shirts dyed with island red dirt to baskets woven from coconut palm fronds. Stop by Captain Danno's stand for Hawaiian-style shaved ice.
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.