Hawaii definitely has something for everyone! From stunning beaches to hiking to helicopter rides, this place is a paradise for both, the lazy asses and the active kind.
I’m half and half; I like to experience as much as I can but I need couple days that are completely dedicated to roasting myself on the beach.
Going to the beach is the way to go for the budget traveler, since Hawaii is extremely expensive a travel destination. But if you do have some savings to spare, there is an amazing array of things you should definitely invest in!
Here are my favourites from all the things that one could get up to in Maui in particular:
What To Do In Maui
Road trip to Hana
Now THIS! Seriously, I must insist you rent a car and do this road trip around the Eastern corner of the island. The road is about 80km (50miles) long and it winds through an isolated Hawaiian community up a mountain side, through a rain forest and down a hill, where you feel like you’re on Mars due to the deserted surroundings.
The main destination on this road trip is the Wai’anapanapa State Park, where you can camp, and which boasts one of the most amazing beaches you’ll ever see. The sand there is BLACK. And it’s much grainier than normal sand.
The blackness of the sand is due to ancient volcanic activity on the island and the roughness of the sea pounding into the cove, shaping rocks into grainy sand. I saw the biggest waves on our trip on this particular beach but the cove is such a challenging place that despite perfect waves, surfing is a no-go there.
A word of caution; do not do what we did and rent a small, convertible sports car. Also, do not rent a huge Jeep. Instead go for something in the middle of these two sizes with a solid suspension. The first part of the road is smooth, well-maintained asphalt but if you’re not a patient driver I’d suggest you drive back from the beach the same way you came instead of venturing on.
Why? Because the way forward gets a bit trickier; the road isn’t well maintained anymore and it’s full of huge holes with parts of the roadside missing because of landslides.
Also, there was a point where there were enormous cows roaming the road. They were seriously bigger than our car and this one particular lady had decided to occupy the whole road and refused to move out of our way despite our beeping and pleading. Eventually she moved giving us a clear look of discontent when we rolled past.
The end of the road is slow progress and you should never do it in the dark! Thankfully we had my boyfriend on the wheel and he was bloody brilliant! He didn’t lose his cool even though the roads were too narrow to pass the oncoming traffic and the corners were so steep that you couldn’t see if there was someone coming from behind it.
Here’s a puke-load of pictures from this particular drive:
Helicopter ride around the island
To be honest, I don’t know how they wrangled this but judging by the amount of helicopters crowding the sky around Maui, these helicopter rides around the island are really popular.
I particularly recommend this if you’ve never been in a helicopter and if you’re interested in seeing the sleeping volcano and some of the most spectacular water falls, that are impossible to reach any other way except by air. We went around the whole island and it was really interesting to see how such a small place can have completely opposite sides of nature on it.
I’m scared of flying but for some reason a helicopter didn’t seem such a daunting prospect. Although, when in the air, I didn’t feel particularly confident at any point. Especially when I saw a storm approaching and the vehicle was shaking and swaying left and right.
But when we caught sight of whales, a mother with its cub, all sinister thoughts disappeared from my mind. It was the most spectacular sight!
Renting a boat for an ultimate day at sea
For me the year has never changed in such awesome circumstances as it did this past New Year. Hawaii is exactly 12 hours behind Finland so we were able to toast the year’s end already at 12 noon. And oh boy, how we toasted it!
Our Lead Man had decided to rent a catamaran for the last day of the year so that we could spend some together-time in the most epic way: Surrounded by never-ending Pacific Ocean with whales, giant turtles and dolphins, aka some of the most amazing creatures on this planet.
The boat was furnished with a bar and a kitchen with staff included and there were mattresses and sack chairs at the front for ultimate sunbathing experience. My boyfriend chatted with the owner’s wife and found out that the same boat had previously been rented out by no other than Steven Tyler.
The boat stopped at some of the best snorkeling sites by the island of Maui and we swam with little sharks and giant turtles. On the way we saw multiple whales playing around, and even though we were told we probably wouldn’t see dolphins, all of a sudden our boat was surrounded by them.
I can’t describe my elation, joy, pure bright happiness watching these amazing creatures just going about their lives around us. There’s nothing as beautiful on this globe as our animals!
I don’t think I have ever been as happy as I was when we started sailing and I was laying on a mattress submerged in sunshine staring at the blue, blue horizon.
Okay, this is a bit of an odd one and for those who like to include an extraordinary experience into their ordinary holiday. In Hawaii you can book a submarine tour for just over $100 that lasts 1,5 hours.
When I first heard that we had a submarine booked for the next day my initial reaction was “No thank you”. I had just survived a helicopter ride and now I was asked to go to the other extreme, to the bottom of the Pacific bloody Ocean.
But everybody else was going so I couldn’t stay behind. So, a boat will take you off to the sea and alarm you on the fact that the submarine is about to pop up out of the sea any minute. It was super exciting! And so cool!
When the submarine had emerged the boat was directed next to it and we changed from the boat to the roof of the submarine, from where we descended into the vehicle. Now, if you are claustrophobic, I would recommend you to consider this activity twice, because the inside space is very small and there’s going to be a lot of people. And there’s literally no way out.
When you sit down inside, you’re already underwater and can see some fish flapping about. But the true fun starts when the vehicle is taken down all the way to the bottom. We saw a shark and a ship wreckage and all sorts of sea creatures.
This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and completely worth the money!
Take a surfing class or go snorkeling
Hawaii is, of course, one of the best places on the planet for water sports. There is an abundance of sea life to witness just by the beach and a whole new world that you can’t even imagine. That’s why I would insist that you go snorkeling.
It’s been about 15 years since I last went snorkeling so figuring out how the mouth piece worked took me a little while. But when I got it figured out I found myself peeking into a whole new reality. And it was probably the most beautiful reality in existence.
There was an old ruin of a dock laying on the bottom of the sea and around, on top and beneath the wreckage there was so much life going on! Giant turtles (and one baby!!♥), fish of all colours, sizes and shapes, and even a small shark, which I unfortunately didn’t see because I didn’t trust my skills enough to dive so deep.
But I did follow a giant turtle around! It was like the animal was flying and I was flying along with it… Okay, I’m getting emotional, that’s how beautiful an experience it was.
A little reality check; it is illegal to touch a turtle and I’d also like you to practice basic consideration and leave the animals be. Touching one of these giant turtles can end with you being issued rather a large fine to pay. And rightly so! #personalopinion
Also, for those who consider swimming with dolphins a fun sport: you’re so wrong and simply not worthy of touching such eloquent creatures, so let them be.
Back to actual water sports:
Another must-do in Hawaii is, of course, surfing! The best waves can be found along the Northern shore of the island. There are plenty of companies offering surfing classes, but if they’re booked full you could also just rent a board and try it out yourself.
Hawaii is a true paradise and I particularly love how they look after their surroundings and especially the ocean. For example, they are very protective of the coral reefs and thus recommend that you pay attention when shopping for a sunscreen. Stay way clear of all sunscreens that include OXYBENZONE.
That is a chemical that destroys coral reefs, and since snorkeling is one of the main activities on the islands enjoyed by both, locals and tourists, messing with the coral reefs is not okay. The easiest way to ensure that you stay clear of bad chemicals is to leave the sunscreen shopping to the destination.
They also take into consideration the well-being of the multiple, amazing mammals living in the ocean surrounding them and, as I mentioned before, swimming with dolphins is illegal. But there are plenty of boat trips where you can get into close range of dolphins and whales without harassing them.
In addition to sea life, Hawaii is full of intriguing legends on land (the Disney animation, Moana, is based on actual Hawaiian legend) and you can see such amazing places there, that believing those legends to be true is not hard.
This holiday was a dream I never dared to dream so I feel very lucky and privileged that I was invited along. Getting there, even from the mainland US, can be a struggle, but I can guarantee it’s all worth it.
Any of you guys been to Hawaii or planning a trip there in the future? xx