Mother Nature was in a generous mood when she shaped the Hawaiian Islands, home to several cinematic national parks and 50 rugged state parks. Around 90 per cent of the 1,000 species of flora and fauna found in the Hawaiian Island’s parks only grow here. According to legend, you’ll share the Island of Hawai‘i with Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire, who shaped the Hawaiian Islands using molten lava. Her legacy lives on today via five volcanoes: one extinct, one dormant and three active. Learn about them all at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Over on Maui, Haleakala National Park is home to Waimoku Falls, a 400-foot giant that can be reached via the two-mile Pipiwai Trail. Molokai also has an eye-popping national park: Kalaupapa.
You can’t come to Hawaii without soaking up its world-famous surf culture. Duke Kahanamoku (1980–1968), aka ‘The Duke’ and ‘The Big Kahuna’, is considered to be the father of modern surfing. The Hawaiian, who was born in Honolulu, won five Olympic medals as a swimmer; he was also a successful film star and entrepreneur. Start your own surf adventure on surf-centric Oahu, whose rugged North Shore hosts some of the world’s biggest surfing competitions in winter, including the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (November–December). Waimea Bay, also on the North Shore, was a pivotal surf spot in the Fifties.
Snorkelling in Hawaii
Naturally, Hawaii also offers unrivalled snorkelling. Start with sleepy, friendly Molokai’s South Shore, home to Hawaii’s longest, richest barrier reef; you’ll swim with myriad gem-bright fish, ponderous sea turtles and beautiful coral. Oahu doesn’t hold back when it comes to amazing snorkelling sites. Highlights include famous Sharks Cove (named as one of the ‘Top Twelve Shore Dives in the World’ by Scuba Diving Magazine); scenic San Souci Beach; and beautiful, curved Hanauma Bay, formed within a volcanic cone, and home to a pristine marine ecosystem. Top snorkelling spots on Kauai – nicknamed the Garden Isle – include: Lawai Beach, Koloa Landing, Poipu Beach Park and the Tunnels of Makua Beach.
From whale-watching to waterfalls
Molokini, located just a few miles off Maui’s shore, is one of only three volcanic calderas in the world; it’s Hawaii’s only island marine sanctuary, and offers incredible snorkelling, thanks to its crystalline water and excellent visibility. Stay on Maui to go whale-watching in Lahaina (November to May), on the west side of the island. You can also admire the United States’ largest banyan tree at the Banyan Tree Park, or go hiking in rugged Haleakala National Park (keep your eyes peeled for the endangered Hawaiian goose). Don’t miss Oheo Gulch, where waterfalls, bamboo forest and incredible ocean views await. It’s known as the Seven Sacred Pools – but there are more than seven photogenic pools to admire here. You could even get a bird’s-eye view of Oheo Gulch on a helicopter tour. Maui is spontaneous and adventurous, relaxed, fun and active. Find out why locals often say ‘Maui no ka oi’ – meaning ‘Maui is the best’…