My Top 5: The Coolest Island Experiences
There are so many fun things to do in #Hawaii and each island is unique. Even though we go back to the #HawaiianIslands every year, I am always discovering something new to add to my list of favorite things to do. From being part of the busy energy on Waikiki to chilling on a quiet beach on the Big Island, there’s plenty of things to enjoy no matter how you like to spend your time.
Here are the coolest experiences I’ve had so far (keep in mind this list can and will most likely change as I discover new things to do).
5. Visiting Pearl Harbor
My parents always like it when we can combine something educational with our trips so they made us go to #PearlHarbor on the island of Oahu one year. My brother is a history freak so was really excited to go, but I was a little unsure because all I wanted to do was play on #Waikiki beach. But I’m glad that I went. It’s like an outdoor museum where you get to go from one interactive display to the next to learn about World War II and the U.S. It was also interesting to see all of the old weapons used in the war.
But the best part was being able to take a boat out to the memorial where the U.S.S. Arizona sank. It was such a peaceful place to pay your respects to those who died. The memorial structure is a bridge that sits across the U.S.S. Arizona without touching it. It is bright white and constructed to have high points on either side of it with the middle section a little sunken. I recently learned that the design was meant to symbolize the height of American pride before the war, then the depression after the attack and our come back after the war to be a world leader. You can look down and clearly see the ship underneath. It was a little creepy and awe inspiring at the same time.
4. Hiking in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
This is a fun all day adventure on the #BigIsland. Even though it will take you all day, it is totally worth it. The entire park is about 500 square miles with two major active volcanoes – the Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. Because it’s so big, I recommend going on the Crater Rim Drive that passes a lot of steam vents which is really cool to see. You can stop off at certain areas to get out and see these steam vents up close. There is also the Jaggar Museum, which has interesting exhibits and allows you to look over the Halema'uma'u Crater.
If you are up for a hike, get on the Kilauea’iki trail. You start in a lush tropical forest trail that descends into the Kilauea’iki crater. It’s very strange to go from thick tropical forest to barren rocky land. My brother and I felt like we were walking on the moon! The crater floor was formed almost 60 years ago and you can still see little steam fissures throughout.
The whole hike is about 4 miles, so take lots of water and snacks. Since we were in Hawaii, we brought along lots of musubis for us to munch on! At the end to of trail, you can cross over to get to the Thurston Lava Tube which is a really neat cave that was formed from lava. It’s a quick walk through but worth every minute.
3. Spending a Day at the Dole Pineapple Plantation
What can be more Hawaiian than a pineapple? The #Dole #Pineapple Plantation located in Wahiawa is a 40-minute drive from Honolulu on the island of Oahu. It is a fun half day experience that is all things pineapple! I learned that it originally started as a fruit stand in 1950. Since then, it has a become a big attraction for more than 1 million visitors a year.
You start by entering the large old plantation style building that is a store filled with pineapple and Hawaiian themed gifts and food items. I usually bypass all of these items and head straight for the Plantation Grille located toward the back of the store. Why? Because they serve #DoleWhips! It is a delicious soft serve pineapple ice cream that is really satisfying on a hot day. You can get it plain or in a sundae that is loaded with fresh pineapples or as a pineapple float – with the ice cream floating in sweet, tangy and refreshing pineapple juice. YUMMY!!!
My brother has always been interested in trains. So the Pineapple Express Train Tour was a must do for us. It was a nice 20 minute ride along fields of pineapples and various kinds of tropical fruit that is grown on Hawaiian land. You also learn about how pineapples became one of the major products of Hawaii.
We usually finish our visit by going through the Pineapple Garden Maze. It is over 3 acres of Hawaiian plants that have been shaped into the giant maze. Back in 2008, this this maze was declared the largest maze in the world. When you enter, you will be given a map that sets you on a hunt to find 8 secret stations that are hidden throughout the maze. At each station, you get a stamp and the goal is to find all 8!
2. Snorkeling in Molokini
One of the best things about Hawaii is being able to #snorkel in clear blue waters. You can see a lot of tropical fish and if you’re lucky, you can see a family of honu. If you don’t know, honu is Hawaiian for sea turtles. I think they are cute and gentle creatures. On the island of #Maui, there are tons of beaches that you can visit and spend the day snorkeling.
But my favorite thing to do is to take a boat out to the #Molokini crater. I learned that the Molokini crater was formed about 150,000 years ago and rises 300 feet out of the sea! It is also Hawaii’s only island marine sanctuary.
There are a lot of companies that provide a full day excursion out to Molokini and they also provide you with lunch. The water at Molokini is really deep and it was a bit scary to jump in from top of the boat. But my brother and I were given life jackets to help keep us floating. The water was refreshing and a pretty blue. Underneath, you can see all sorts of tropical fish that call Molokini home. But one fish that you have to look out for is Hawaii’s state fish. Did you know that Hawaii has an official state fish? It’s call the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a! Can pronounce it?
I highly recommend a snorkeling trip to the Molokini crater if you are in Maui.
1. Night Swimming with the Manta Rays
Night swimming with the #mantarays is by far my most favorite thing to do in Hawaii! It is an unforgettable experience that everyone should do if you find yourself visiting the Big Island. So, what are manta rays?
While there are many different kinds of species of manta rays, the ones in Hawaii are the second largest in the world and can grow up to have a wingspan of 18 feet and can live up to 50 years old! But don’t worry, these are gentle giants of the sea. They only eat plankton, which are tiny organisms that live in the ocean water. They do so by opening their giant mouths that allow them to filter the plankton out of the water.
Our night time adventure started at the dock right next to the #Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa with a fun diving company called Big Island Divers. This area is known as Manta Village and is one of three main areas that you can dive with the Manta Rays. The other areas are Manta Heaven in the north of #Kona and #Waikoloa (though its less crowded, there may not be as many Manta Rays there).
We had to put on tight wet suits and then walk out onto the dock where the boats took us to a diving spot where the manta rays lived. When you get into the water, they have you hanging onto a modified surf board that has handles for you to hold onto and lights that shine down to the sea floor. When the light shines, it causes the plankton to come up to the surface which then encourages the manta rays to swim right up to you! It was crazy how close they get to you and you can see their big mouths open wide as they catch the plankton. They funny thing is that each manta ray that lives in this area are given names and the divers can tell them apart by how they look and the markings on their body. You get to stay out on the water for about an hour. It was such a cool experience that I will never forget and that’s why it is at the top of my list for the coolest things to do in Hawaii!