Hawaii is the home of one of the most active volcanos in the world and the world's tallest sea mountain. It is lush, tropical and has almost perfect weather and friendly people. Hawaii is our 50th state and the home of surfing and the hula.
There are six major islands one can visit: Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui and the big island of Hawaii. If you want to visit three major islands you can easily do so on one of the cruise ships that specialize in this type of tour.
You fly into Honolulu, board a ship for a week and it will cruise you to Kauai, Maui and return you to Honolulu. All your meals will be included onboard and you can take sightseeing tours off the ship or you can rent a car and do your own thing. In the end, this is probably the best value because of the inclusiveness. You may wish to stay over at Waikiki Beach in Honolulu for a couple of days before or after your cruise.
Many of you will fly to one of the islands from the mainland, rent a hotel or condo, a rental car and just stay put for a week or so taking in the relaxing sea air and kicking back for a few days of doing mostly nothing. Doesn't that sound good?
Which island is best for you? Kauai is known as the garden isle and is one of the least crowded. It has the 10-mile long Waimea Canyon, which is not as grand as the Grand Canyon in Arizona, but is similar. There is a fine selection of hotels and condos, one of which is Princeville, where the film "Blue Hawaii" was filmed many years ago. The musical "South Pacific" also used Kauai for quite a few scenes.
One of my favorites is Maui, the second largest island and home to some of the best beaches in the world. You can also view humpback whales that migrate off Maui's shore every winter. I like to drive up near the Haleakala Crater where the air is cooler and views of the island and Pacific are something to remember. You can have lunch on the way up the mountain. Golfing is fantastic, with a fine selection of courses. The villages are very interesting and there is a vast selection of hotels, condos, private homes and apartments to rent. Also, take a day and drive the winding road to Hana. It is quite remote, very scenic and the burial place of Charles Lindburg. You'll never be sorry if you choose Maui for a few days.
Molokai is just beginning to become popular with visitors. Half its population is native Hawaiian and the island has preserved its connection to the past with its love of nature. You can find a simple time in the small town of Kaunakakaki and you'll be able to view the flora in Haiawa Valley and while there you can learn about the dedication and works of Father Damien for those stricken with leprosy. The colony is no longer there.
Lanai has not one traffic light and is a true island getaway loaded with luxury. No crowds, fantastic scenery and fine golfing. This is almost like a private island.
There is much diversity and a lot to do on the big island of Hawaii. Here you can take your car and plan different sights each day: the volcanos, the beaches, the mountains, the towns. And, you can drive through vast lava flows. Hawaii is bigger than all the other islands combined and holds 11 of the world's 13 climate zones -- from sandy beaches to snowcapped mountains. You will find waterfalls, rain forests and botanical gardens in Hilo. You can snorkel, scuba or fish off the Kona Coast and view Kilauea, the world's most active volcano. Like the other larger islands there is a good selection of hotels and condos. A car is a must here.
Oahu is the state capital and home to the majority of Hawaii's population. Honolulu is a large city now and its neighbor Waikiki Beach is world-famous for its almost perfect beach, large selection of hotels, restaurants and activities. Here, you will experience a large population of tourists from all over the world. Surfing is popular on this island, particularly in the North Shore area.
A two-hour drive around the island will show you not only the many beaches, but vast fields of pineapple. You can shop at a cannery and purchase fruit right out of the field. One day you will want to visit nearby Pearl Harbor, which is home to the memorial for those lost when the Japanese bombed the U.S. fleet and other military units Dec. 7, 1941. There is also a museum here and the battleship Missouri.
To get there, you can fly to several islands direct from several western cities, including Phoenix. Hawaiian Airlines and U.S. Airways offer this service daily. Airfares are no longer inexpensive, but midweek departures often provide the best prices. Hotels offer more than 30,000 guest rooms on Oahu alone.
When to travel? The summer is the warmest and driest, but the trade winds keep you cool most of the time. Rain can occur almost anytime.
Where to stay? I like a condo on Maui or Kauai, but you may prefer the luxury of a hotel or resort.
Ask your travel professional for additional information and study the brochures they have available.