THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS, FROM THE ICONIC TO THE UNEXPECTED

No one can truly say they’ve “been everywhere and done everything” in Hawaii. No one.

That’s because, in the Hawaiian Islands, even the most iconic, popular and well-traveled spots reveal unexpected finds and rewarding surprises along the route to get there.

Be open to really exploring Oahu’s Pearl Harbor on your next visit, for example, and you’ll discover still more sites rich with World War II-era history beyond the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and USS ArizonaMemorial, such as the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island. Give yourself a little more time to more fully check out the lay of the land at road-ending Haena State Park on Kauai’s north shore and you’ll find lessons in Hawaiian cultural and agricultural history at Limahuli Garden and Preserve, alongside the area’s miles of white sand beaches.

Hawaii’s six major islands – Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, and Hawaii Island – provide travelers with infinite possibilities for unexpected exploration beyond places and locales generally considered iconic to the Islands. And neither residents nor repeat visitors can claim they’ve exhausted every one of these possibilities. For example:
KAUAI
IF YOU’VE BEEN TO: the Kalalau Lookout at Kokee State Park, and taken in its high-elevation vista of the Napali Coast’s lush Kalalau Valley and ocean beyond …

NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: the park’s multiple hiking trails, traversing the towering heights of the cool, windswept ridges of Napali and lush mist-enshrouded landscape surrounding the plateau of Mount Waialeale.
IF YOU’VE BEEN TO: Waimea Canyon, but taken in its visual grandeur of the 14-mile-long gorge only from its scenic overlooks …

NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: the less-traveled vistas of Waimea Canyon State Park from theKukui Trail (which descends 2,000 feet to the canyon floor) or the Iliau Nature Loop Trail(which skirts the canyon’s west rim). If sightseeing from a two-wheel-perch is more your thing, take a sunrise or afternoon downhill bicycle tour with Outfitters Kauai descending canyon-hugging Kokee Road from its 3,600-foot elevation to sea level.
IF YOU’VE BEEN TO: Wailua River State Park and navigated its tranquil waters to the hanging emerald flora that gave the lava rock cavern Fern Grotto its name …

NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: the three beautiful gardens of the nonprofit National Tropical Botanical Garden organization – Limahuli Garden and Preserve, which restores the native and canoe plant terraces of an early Hawaiian agricultural river valley; Allerton Garden, a tranquil, surprise-filled marriage of ornamental and tropical flora, art and landscape design; andMcBryde Garden, with its prodigious collection of tropical flora from Hawaii and around the world.
OAHU
IF YOU’VE BEEN TO: the summit rim Waikiki and Honolulu observation platform of Diamond Head State Monument, the volcanic tuff cone that is one of the Hawaiian Islands’ most globally recognized natural landmarks …

NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: the surprisingly diverse eateries on Monsarrat Avenue at the foot of Leahi (Diamond Head’s given Hawaiian name), including Diamond Head Market & Grill, Pioneer Saloon, Monsarrat Ave Shave Ice, South Shore Grill, Bogart’s Café, and Shaka Pressed Juice.
IF YOU’VE BEEN TO: the Manoa Falls Trail on Oahu, and hiked its .8 mile length winding through the deepest, rainforest-covered pockets of urban Honolulu’s Manoa Valley to the 150-foot waterfall …

NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: the Harold L. Lyon Arboretum, a 194-acre collection of native and non-native tropical botanical gardens, also in the back of Manoa Valley, featuring its own collection of rainforest and waterfall hiking trails.
IF YOU’VE BEEN TO: the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument and taken its perennially-popular boat tour to the USS Arizona Memorial …

NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: the three additional World War II museums, which are part of the nonprofit Pearl Harbor Historic Sites organization – the Battleship Missouri Memorial andPacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, both on Ford Island, and USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, neighboring the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. While on Ford Island, visit theUSS Oklahoma Memorial, honoring crewmembers who lost their lives when the battleship was sunk during the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. And if you’re visiting in 2016, look for announcements throughout the year of special tours and events commemorating this year’s 75thanniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack.
MAUI
IF YOU’VE BEEN TO: the summit of Maui’s Haleakala volcano for sunrise, along with the hundreds of others converging each day, to watch the rise of the morning sun illuminate the peak’s radiant, rust-colored cinder …

NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: the 10,023-foot summit area’s 30 miles of Haleakala National Park hiking trails, offering opportunities for hours-long (Keoneheehee “Sliding Sands” Trail), day-length (Halemauu Trail) and overnight (Kaupo Trail) treks in myriad environments, from high-elevation native shrub forests and cinder desert, to dense tropical rainforest. Further downslope, stroll through Hosmer Grove, where the towering non-native trees of a 1927 exercise in experimental timber industry and watershed forestation borders and contrasts native trees, ferns and shrubs of Haleakala’s 7,000-foot elevation.
IF YOU’VE BEEN TO: Iao Valley State Monument, the extraordinarily verdant West Maui Mountains erosional valley, home to the towering, vegetation-covered, stream-cut lava pinnacle Kukaemoku (more famously known as Iao Needle) …

NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: one (or two, or three) of the many low-key, big-menu local eateries in neighboring Wailuku, ever-popular and ever-filled with residents drawn to their mouthwatering comfort food favorites. For starters, check out Tiffany’s Bar & Grill, Sam Sato’s, Tokyo Tei, Stillwell’s Bakery & Café, Geste Shrimp Truck and, when you’re hungry again, lots more.
IF YOU’VE BEEN TO: West Maui, gazed out from Lahaina’s Front Street seawall or sat on the beaches at Kaanapali, Napili and Kapalua and wondered why you’ve never been to those two islands across the channel …

NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: the islands of Lanai and Molokai on a day trip from Lahaina Harbor. Take off early in the morning on Expeditions’ Maui-Lanai ferry or Sea Link of Hawaii’s Maui-Molokai Ferry and return after a full day of adventuring. On Lanai, rent a Jeep for paved (Hulopoe Beach) or unpaved (Polihua Beach, Kaiolohia aka “Shipwreck Beach”) shoreline adventures, or a cool, upland forest run on the evergreen Munro Trail. Head to Molokai and spend your morning in small town Kaunakakai, followed by an afternoon on one of Hawaii’s longest white sand expanses, Papohaku Beach. Or spend the day at one of the Hawaiian Islands’ most remote, and wonderfully scenic peninsulas at historic Kalaupapa National Historical Park.
HAWAII ISLAND
IF YOU’VE BEEN TO: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and checked off everything on your list of must-see and must-explore places on its vast mountain and seashore acreage, encompassing two active volcanoes …

NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: Hawaii Island’s four other National Park Service-managed parks, sites and trails – Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site, Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park and the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail. Each has a unique story to tell of its importance and role in Hawaiian culture and history. Each also has a great website with all the information you’ll need to begin exploring.
IF YOU’VE BEEN TO: Hawaii Island’s scenic Hamakua Coast via modern Mamalahoa Highway (aka Hawaii Belt Road), traversing its greenery-rich ravines, soaring steel bridges and vast agricultural fields, while taking in its ocean views on the quick …

NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: the remaining, at times even more rewardingly scenic pockets ofOld Mamalahoa Highway, once the main road connecting the many sugar plantation towns of the Hamakua Coast. Its still-drivable remaining segments offer a slower-paced, back-in-time view of Hamakua, crossing century-old bridges and lush rainforests, and rambling past remnant structures of the coast’s sugar plantation history, small towns and rugged coastline.
IF YOU’VE BEEN TO: Akaka Falls and Waianunue (aka Rainbow) Falls and gazed longingly at each cascade’s substantial scenic splendor from their ground-level overlooks …

NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: Hiking and helicopter tours of the island’s Hilo, Hamakua and North Kohala districts showcasing countless other interior and coastline waterfalls, streams and forest reserves within the vast eastside slopes of Maunakea and Kohala mountains. From birding tours in the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge and ziplining at Umauma Falls to hikes into Pololu Valley and up-close air tours of the North Kohala sea cliffs and valleys, there’s an adventure for every kind of forest and waterfall fan.
The possibilities for amazing discoveries are endless. For more trip ideas from residents and vacationers, follow the hashtag #LetHawaiiHappen on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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