August 7, 2020

Guide to Hawaii


Ken Ueda


Hawai’i, a picture-perfect archipelago situated 2,500 miles off the west coast of mainland USA, beckons surfers, honeymooners, hikers, and those seeking respite in the unhurried rhythm of island life. Its allure stems from the harmonious blend of its pristine landscapes (or Aina), vibrant communities, and rich indigenous heritage. As a guest, it's imperative to grasp the intricate and often painful history of Hawai’i and approach the islands with utmost reverence.

With a myriad of islands to explore, Hawai’i caters to every traveler's desires. From the renowned surf breaks of O’ahu to the enchanting vistas of Maui, from the urban charm of Honolulu to the secluded treasures of Lana’i, Hawai’i unfolds as an infinite tropical sanctuary. Embark on adventures amidst breathtaking beaches, lush jungles, majestic waterfalls, unparalleled diving spots, and world-renowned waves.

Immerse yourself in the laid-back ambiance, savor the abundance of fresh tropical fruits and delectable seafood, and relish in the wealth of outdoor pursuits. Hawai’i manifests as the idyllic paradise of your dreams. Rooted in its Asian and Polynesian heritage, Hawai’i offers a captivating fusion of foreign allure and American familiarity, creating a cultural crossroads that is uniquely enchanting. This comprehensive travel guide to Hawai’i endeavors to assist you in crafting an affordable and memorable journey—regardless of which island you opt to explore!

  1. Experience Pearl HarborThe pivotal Japanese attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor thrust the United States into World War II in 1941. Situated on O’ahu, the Pearl Harbor National Memorial revolves around the remains of the USS Arizona, the sunken vessel serving as the final resting place for 1,102 marines and sailors. To witness the submerged ship and pay homage at the memorial constructed above it, securing reservations for a scheduled ferry ride is imperative, accompanied by a nominal $1 fee. Due to high demand, booking in advance is advised to circumvent lengthy queues for same-day tickets, which can stretch for hours. Entry to the memorial, visitors center, and museums is complimentary.
  2. Venture into Hawai’i Volcanoes National ParkThe Big Island is renowned for harboring two of the world's largest volcanoes, notably the highly active Kilauea, revered as the abode of the fire goddess Pele and profoundly sacred to Native Hawaiians. Among the most active volcanoes globally, Kilauea's nocturnal glow emanates from the Halema’umau crater, offering a mesmerizing spectacle. Noteworthy attractions include N?huku, or the Thurston lava tube, an accessible cave formed by lava, and the Chain of Craters, a picturesque route traversing historical and active eruption sites. However, it is advisable to consult daily reports regarding road conditions, as ash frequently blankets the area. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve, the national park entrance fee amounts to $30 USD per vehicle, granting a week-long pass. Commence your exploration at the Kilauea visitor center to obtain maps, updates on prevailing conditions, and schedules for guided tours.
  3. Discover Honolulu's CharmHonolulu, translating to "sheltered harbor" in Hawaiian, serves as the capital and largest city of the state, offering a captivating fusion of Asian, Hawaiian, and American cultures. Renowned for its vibrant culinary scene, the city boasts an array of budget-friendly noodle joints and seafood establishments. Visitors can immerse themselves in the cultural extravaganza of First Friday, a monthly street party celebrated across Chinatown. While anchored in Honolulu, activities span from hiking Diamond Head and touring the historic Iolani Palace to leisurely strolls in the trendy Kaka’ako district and beachfront relaxation, albeit steering clear of the bustling artificial expanse of Waikiki. For day trips, utilize Honolulu as a strategic base, embarking on scenic drives to the North Shore for surfing or whale watching, and venturing through central Oahu to explore picturesque vistas and attractions like the Dole pineapple plantation.
  4. Marvel at the Starlit Skies of Mauna KeaDominating the Hawaiian landscape, Mauna Kea stands as the state's loftiest peak, soaring to an elevation of 13,796 feet (4,207 meters), and holds the distinction of being the world's tallest mountain (with half submerged beneath the ocean). A revered site for native Hawaiians, this dormant volcano, aged over a million years, last erupted between 4,000-6,000 years ago. Notably, Mauna Kea hosts numerous observatory domes housing a formidable collection of telescopes, including one instrumental in capturing the first image of a supermassive black hole in 2019. Enthusiasts can partake in stargazing sessions at the visitor center or attend free monthly stargazing events. Accessing the summit necessitates either renting a 4WD vehicle or joining a guided tour.
  5. Indulge in Snorkeling or Diving AdventuresNo sojourn in Hawai’i is complete without delving into the mesmerizing underwater realm through snorkeling or scuba diving. Encounter an array of marine life, ranging from graceful manta rays and majestic sea turtles to vibrant schools of fish, amidst the crystalline waters. Popular snorkeling spots include Kealakekua Bay on Hawai’i, Poipu Beach Park on Kauai, and O’ahu’s North Shore. Divers can explore Moloka’i’s south coast, boasting Hawaii’s widest barrier reef, or embark on expeditions to Kailua-Kona, Golden Arches, or The Cathedrals. Additionally, both Oahu and Maui offer numerous wreck diving opportunities suitable for all skill levels. Consult local dive centers for insights on safe shore diving beaches, thus obviating the need for boat rides. Snorkel tours commence at $85 USD, while two-tank dives start at $125 USD.

Ken Ueda

Travel and Discover