Honolulu is the state capital of Hawaii and the most populous city in the entire Pacific. Honolulu is the most remote "big city" in the world. With a population of almost 350,000 people, Honolulu acts as the financial & cultural epicenter of all the Pacific Islands. There are a few things you want to make sure when you visit this wonderfully distinct city including the Hawaiian State Capitol, Iolani Palace, Kawaiahao Church and mission homes, King Kamehameha Statue (a state landmark) & the Punchbowl National Cemetery of the Pacific.
2. Waikiki Beach
Waikiki is a beachfront neighborhood in Honolulu on the south shore of the Island of Oahu. In 1883 a businessman named George Lycurgus leased the guest house of a man by the name of Allen Herbert, advertising the house by the name of "Sans Souci" (French for without worries). The guest house gained popularity quickly and soon it became one of the first beach resorts on the Hawaiian Islands. Today, many premier resorts line the Waikiki Beach including the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Halekulani, the Hyatt Regency Waikiki, the Marriott Waikiki, and our personal favorite at American Classic Tours--the Sheraton Waikiki.
3. Waimea Canyon
Located on the Western side of the island of Kaua'i, the Waimea Canyon is often referred to as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. The native Hawaiians called this breath-taking canyon Waimea (Hawaiian for "reddish water") in reference to the water erosion of its red rock. This beautiful canyon stretches 10 miles long and up to 3,000 feet deep.
4. Haleakala National Park
One of Hawaii's finest gems, Haleakala National Park is famous for its sunsets and sunrises. The name Haleakala is Hawaiian for "house of the sun." Nearly 1.5 million people journey to Haleakala every year to see the beauty of the Haleakala crater and the Haleakala Volcano. Don't worry! the Haleakala Volcano is dormant. It last erupted sometime between 1400-1600 AD.
5. Whale Watching Off the Coast of Maui
The coast of Maui is one of the best places in the world to watch whales. The waters off of South and West Maui are protected by the Haleakala and West Maui Mountains, producing clear, calm water. As a result, the waters of the coast of Maui have high levels of visibility making it easy to spot whales. Also, the waters off the coast of Maui are shallow (only about 600 feet deep), an ideal depth for a Humpback Whale.
6. The Napali Coast
This 17-mile stretch of Kauai shoreline features lush, towering, green crags of mountainous coast. In between these glowing green cliffs flows water into deep valleys along the mountain's side. The only way to access the Napali Coast on land is via a rugged 11-mile hike across rugged terrain. For those who are unable (or unwilling, like me) to make this challenging trek, boat tours offer an easier, more comfortable to see the beauty of the Napali Coast.
7. Ka'anapali Beach
Located off the west coast of the Island of Maui, Ka'anapli Beach is home to a stunning 3-mile strip of white-sand shoreline. Much like Waikiki Beach, Ka'anapli Beach is home to some premier, luxury resorts such as the Sheraton Maui Resort and the Westin Maui Resort. If you visit Ka'anapali Beach we highly recommend staying at one of these ocean-side resorts (our favorite is the Westin Maui Resort) because of the jaw-dropping views and easy access to the beach.
8. A Cruise Down the Wailua River
The Wailua River is the only navigable river on the Hawaiian Islands. It cuts across the emerald green countryside of the island of Kauai. As you cruise down the Wailua River you will see some of Hawaii's signature sights including the Opaekka and Wailua waterfalls, the natural lava rock cave called Fern Grotto, and the Nounou Mountains (a.k.a. Sleeping Giant).
9. Poipu Beach
Located on the island of Kauai's south shore, Poipu Beach is known for its crystal clear water. Poipu Beach is home to a natural wading pool, making it a great fit for travelers looking for a more relaxing ocean swimming experience. Keep your eyes peeled for the Hawaiian Monk Seal, which occasionally makes an appearance on Poipu Beach.
10. Iao Valley State Park
This 4,000-acre serene state park is home to the "Ioa Needle," one of Hawaii's signature sights. The Ioa Needle is a rock tower that reaches 1,200 feet into the air from the floor of the Ioa Valley floor. Surrounded by the West Maui Mountains, the Ioa Needle makes for a perfect photo!
11. The Charming Town of Lahaina
Every year 2 million people from across the world visit Lahaina. From 1820-1845 Lahaina served as the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii. It is home to a rich history, which you can discover on the Lahaina Historical Tour. Hit the town for an exciting night out in Lahaina's delightful downtown, which is lined with lovely restaurants, cute shops and a fine selection of bars.