Paradise Bound: Smart and Simple Steps for Planning Your Hawaiian Vacation

by Julia on July 27, 2016

You want to go to Hawaii. Everyone does. If you’ve never been before, here’s what you can learn from travelers and jet-setters.

Visit The USS Arizona Memorial At Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor is the largest natural harbor in the State of Hawaii, and it’s referred to as ‘Pu’uloa’ by the ancient Hawaiians. The name translates as “water of pearl,” which is appropriate given the number of pearls once found here.

The USS Arizona Memorial At Pearl Harbor in Honolulu is one of the most visited places in Hawaii, and for obvious reasons. Over 2 million people come here every year to see where WWII started for America. There are 9 historic sites contributing to the WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument in Alaska, California, and Hawaii.  Five of them are at Pearl harbor, the USS Arizona Memorial, the USS Utah Memorial, and the USS Oklahoma Memorial. There are also areas within Battleship Row and Ford Island.  The area is over 17 acres — nearly impossible to see in a single day. The recently renovated Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is operated by the National Park Service. When you go, you can tour the whole center, but you should give yourself a few hours. When you arrive, you’re guided toward a ticket counter to get movie tickets for a film summarizing the history of the site. The boat shuttle tickets for a trip to the USS Arizona Memorial can also be purchased here.  The film and the boat tour are about 1 hour, 20 minutes. But, if you want to walk the entire visitor center, you could stay for several more hours. You also have the option of a self-guided tour narrated through headphones.

North Shore of Oahu

The north shore of Oahu is the area between West Oahu’s Ka’ena Point and East Oahu’s Kahuku Point. The north shore is most well-known for its larger-than-life waves during winter, its coastlines, and for its surfers. If you want to stay here and catch some waves, make sure you check out Hanalei Surf School first, so you can get your feet wet and learn from professional surfers.

When on the North Shore of Oahu, check out the Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck in Kahuku. Order the garlic shrimp plate. Then, visit the historic M.Matsumoto’s Grocery Store in Hale’iwa Town. The shaved ice here is famous. Go to Waimea Bay, and check out Lani’s Beach (Laniakea Beach). Here, you’ll see a rare animal: the Green Hawaiian Sea Turtles.

Waikiki Beach

The coastal area of Waikiki in South Oahu used to be larger, and included Manoa and Palolo Valley. The name means “sprouting waters,” and refers to the fresh water rivers that once flowed towards the ocean.  In the 1450‘s, Waikiki was the first government center in all of Hawaii. It was also a vacation destination for the Hawaiian royalty before foreign visitors began to frequent the area in the 1830s. The area’s first hotel opened in 1901, and people from all over the world flocked to the area.

Today, it’s a gorgeous beach town sprawling over 1.5 square miles, and is lined by hotels, and luxurious resorts. It’s dotted with restaurants, shopping centers, and a bustling nightlife. The Waikiki Beach is a glory in its own right, with native entertainers like Hilo Hattie and Andy Cummings.

Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park

The Na Pali Coastline on Kauai is one of the most beautiful places in the world. The coastal region is rich in native cultural history, and home to Hawaiian Ali’i (royalty). It’s known for its lavishly flowing waterfalls, freshwater rivers, and the native flora and fauna. It also has an excess supply of natural food sources. Everything from taro to sweet potatoes, breadfruit and more.  You can sail here, which is what a lot of visitors do. You can also go on a cruise, enjoy a nice dinner, and take a tour to Nualolo Kai — a remote beach where you can snorkel, explore, and visit an 800 year old Hawaiian fishing village.

Haleakala National Park

The Island of Maui is considered “magical” by some people who visit here. The feeling of standing on top of a 10,023-ft dormant Mt. Haleakala and looking around in all directions is breathtaking. When you’re on the valley side, you can go on a Haleakala adventure to see the sunrise or a sunset, guided activities, hiking and camping trips.  It’s about a 1 and ½ hour drive from Central maui to the summit. Because of the elevation, the temperature drops, so bring something warm. Even in the summer, it can be chilly. Load up on gas, bring food and water, and check the local sunrise and sunset times.


Spencer George is a keen traveler and has a passion for surfing. Growing up in Cornwall, England he is now hooked on Hawaii and enjoys sharing travel tips with those looking to visit this stunning place.

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