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Hawai`i is actually made up of a collection of islands – several of which you can stay on. The most popular three are O`ahu, which is the island that your international flight from New Zealand will land at and home to the famous Waikiki Beach, Maui and Big Island.
There is much more to Hawai`i than the immediate thoughts of sunbathing, surfing and relaxation, however. The shopping in Hawai`i is some of the best you’ll find. In addition, there are several attractions that you should take time to visit while holidaying on these fair isles – here is our House of Travel pick of the top 10, but ask your travel specialist for a more tailored itinerary to best suit your friends and family:
• Pearl Harbour; December 7 1941 will forever be remembered around the world as the infamous date that launched an epic conflict between America and Japan. The peaceful waters of Pearl Harbour in Hawai`i were bombed and the USS Arizona and 1,177 of her crew were among the first casualties of the Pacific war. Today the sunken vessel serves as a reminder of their sacrifice and is a wonderfully moving place to visit. Whether you prefer to spend a day exploring Pearl Harbours museums and memorials, sightseeing local beaches and lookouts or checking out the Cultural Centre, the Pearl Harbour visit is for you and your family of all ages.
• Grand Circle Island Tour – This is a fantastic tour to do if this is your first visit to Hawai`i. You’ll get to see everything that O`ahu and Waikiki have to offer so make sure you do this at the start of your holiday so you know exactly how to plan out the remainder of your visit. This tour includes everything from the infamous Diamond Head crater (at the end of Waikiki beach) to the famous Surf Beaches of the North Shore, Pali lookout, the rural countryside of O`ahu including temples and pineapple plantations. The tour goes Sunday to Friday and is a full day so allow a lot of time and take along your sunblock!
• Waikele Premium Outlets. Just 45 minutes from the beaches of Waikiki you’ll find Waikele Premium Outlets® – a shopper’s paradise with bargains and savings of up to 65% off everyday retail prices to be had at every store! Within a unique outdoor setting you’ll find over 50 name brand stores such as Calvin Klein, Coach, Levi’s, Adidas, Michael Kors, Guess, Skechers and so much more.
• Royal Lahaina Luau. One of the most fun things to do when visiting a new culture is to participate in a cultural evening or show, and Hawai`i is no exception. While there are Luau’s in a lot of the hotels of differing levels of greatness, the Royal Lahaina Lua`u in Maui is one of the best. The entire family will love experiencing the exciting and unforgettable Polynesian show filled with dancers, musicians, legends and fire dancing from all over the pacific including Samoa, Tahiti and Hawai`i. The Lua`u includes a full buffet dinner with Hawaiian specialty dinners such as slow roasted pig from the underground oven (Imu) and of course, a Hula! The Lua`u runs Sunday through to Friday at 5pm for about 3 hours and reservations are recommended.
• Discover Molokini Snorkel Cruise. Hawai`i is spoilt for choice of fantastic snorkel grounds and one of the ‘must do’s’ in your Hawaiian holiday is a coral reef/tropical fish snorkel! Molokini’s Snorkel cruise will guide you through the bright coral, abundant fish and, if you are lucky, turtles for some of the best snorkeling around. Following your half day snorkeling a BBQ lunch is provided and from December – April you’ll often get the chance for Whale Watching as well! The tour leaves at 6am daily for a half day cruise.
• Whale Watching. This amazing experience is only available during whale season from December – April so make sure you don’t miss out if you are in Hawai`i during this special time. These Humpback whales come all the way from Alaska to breed in the warm Waters off Maui and you’ll get a chance to get up close and take some amazing photos! The tour goes daily during the season and the trip lasts around 2 – 3 hours.
• Mauna Kea Summit & Stars. The Big Island has amazingly dramatic scenery and can be a lot less built up and commercial than O`ahu and the more tourist focused areas of Waikiki. Take this tour and you’ll get to view the dramatic diversity of these amazing island landscapes from sea level right up into the high alpine volcanic region that makes this area unique. After a hot picnic style dinner you will get to make your way up the summit of Hawaii’s most sacred mountain for one of the most special sunsets in the world. And once the sun sets a local guide will reveal the wonders of the star filled night sky. While its sunny and warm in the sunlight, it can get alpine cold in the evening so make sure you pack for all seasons! Because of the extremely high altitudes, this tour isn’t suitable for children under 16 years or anyone who has difficulty breathing so check with your HOT specialist before you book. The tour leaves each day at 4pm and lasts around 8 hours.
• Big Island Helicopter Spectacular Tour. A helicopter tour is amazing wherever you are, but its doubly so when your landscape is the fiery lava vents of the Hawai`i Islands active Volcano Kilauea! From the extreme volcanic fire to the hidden tropical valleys nestled in these Kohala mountains raining magical waterfalls, these unique sights are worth every effort to view! The helicopter tour goes daily and flies for around 1.45mins.
• Volcanoes National Park. There is no official organized tour through the national park but its highly recommended that if you get the chance to hire a car you can drive to the park and spend time hiking through the craters, lava tubes and steam vents. It’s an amazing experience and entry to the park is just $10US per car entry valid for 7 days. Make sure you stop at the visitor centre on the way in and get yourself a selection of maps and information on the road conditions. Experiencing the national park is recommended for people with a decent level of fitness as some walking would be required. Also if you have an aversion to sulphur fumes then this is not recommended.
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