Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Hawaiian Islands - from the iconic to the unexpected

Sharing information recently received that may be of interest to some of you.  

- Six distinct islands provide surprising experiences at every turn -

IF YOU'VE BEEN TO: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and checked off everything on your list of must-see and must-explore places on its vast mountain and seashore acreage …

  • NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: brand new tours and experiences highlighting dramatic new landscapes following Kilauea volcano’s historic 2018 lava flow. Hawaii Island’s four other National Park Service-managed parks, sites and trails – Puukohola Heiau National Historic SitePuuhonua o Honaunau National Historical ParkKaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park and the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail – each has a unique story to tell of its importance and role in Hawaiian culture and history.

IF YOU’VE BEEN TO: Akaka Falls and Waianuenue (aka Rainbow) Falls and gazed longingly at each cascade’s substantial scenic splendor from their ground-level overlooks …

  • NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: hiking and helicopter tours of the island’s Hilo, Hamakua and North Kohala districts showcasing countless other interior and coastline waterfalls, streams and forest reserves within the vast eastside slopes of Maunakea and Kohala mountains. From birding tours in the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge and ziplining at Umauma Falls to hikes into Pololu Valley and up-close air tours of the North Kohala sea cliffs and valleys, there’s an adventure for every kind of forest and waterfall fan.

IF YOU’VE BEEN TO: Waimea Canyon, but taken in its visual grandeur of the 14-mile-long gorge only from its scenic overlooks …

  • NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: the less-traveled vistas of Waimea Canyon State Park from the Kukui Trail (which descends 2,000 feet to the canyon floor) or the Iliau Nature Loop Trail (which skirts the canyon’s west rim). If sightseeing from a two-wheel-perch is more your thing, take a sunrise or afternoon downhill bicycle tour with Outfitters Kauai descending canyon-hugging Kokee Road from its 3,600-foot elevation to sea level.

IF YOU'VE BEEN TO: Wailua River State Park and navigated its tranquil waters to the hanging emerald flora that gave the lava rock cavern Fern Grotto its name …

  • NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: the beautiful gardens of the nonprofit National Tropical Botanical Garden organization – Allerton Garden, a tranquil, surprise-filled marriage of ornamental and tropical flora, art and landscape design; and McBryde Garden, with its prodigious collection of tropical flora from Hawaii and around the world.

IF YOU’VE BEEN TO: the summit rim Waikiki and Honolulu observation platform of Diamond Head State Monument, the volcanic tuff cone that is one of the Hawaiian Islands’ most globally recognized natural landmarks …

  • NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: the surprisingly diverse eateries on Monsarrat Avenue at the foot of Leahi (Diamond Head’s given Hawaiian name), including Diamond Head Market & Grill, da Cove Health Bar and Café, Pioneer Saloon, Monsarrat Ave Shave Ice, South Shore Grill, Banán and Bogart’s Café.

IF YOU’VE BEEN TO: the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument and taken its perennially-popular boat tour to the USS Arizona Memorial (currently closed for repair) …

  • NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: the three additional World War II museums, which are part of the nonprofit Pearl Harbor Historic Sites organization – the Battleship Missouri Memorial and Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, both on Ford Island, and USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, neighboring the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. While on Ford Island, visit the USS Oklahoma Memorial, honoring crewmembers who lost their lives when the battleship was sunk during the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor.

IF YOU’VE BEEN TO: the summit of Maui’s Haleakala volcano for sunrise, along with the hundreds of others converging each day, to watch the rise of the morning sun illuminate the peak’s radiant, rust-colored cinder …

  • NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: the 10,023-foot summit area’s 30 miles of Haleakala National Park hiking trails, offering opportunities for hours-long (Keoneheehee “Sliding Sands” Trail), day-length (Halemauu Trail) and overnight (Kaupo Trail) treks in myriad environments, from high-elevation native shrub forests and cinder desert, to dense tropical rainforest. Further downslope, stroll through Hosmer Grove, where the towering non-native trees of a 1927 exercise in experimental timber industry and watershed forestation borders and contrasts native trees, ferns and shrubs of Haleakala’s 7,000-foot elevation.

IF YOU’VE BEEN TO: Iao Valley State Monument, the extraordinarily verdant West Maui Mountains erosional valley, home to the towering, vegetation-covered, stream-cut lava pinnacle Kukaemoku (more famously known as Iao Needle) …

  • NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: one (or two, or three) of the many low-key, big-menu local eateries in neighboring Wailuku, ever-popular and ever-filled with residents drawn to their mouthwatering comfort food favorites. For starters, check out Tiffany’s Bar & Grill, Sam Sato’s, Tokyo Tei, Stillwell’s Bakery & Café, Geste Shrimp Truck and, when you’re hungry again, lots more.

IF YOU’VE BEEN TO: West Maui, gazed out from Lahaina’s Front Street seawall or sat on the beaches at Kaanapali, Napili and Kapalua and wondered why you’ve never been to those two islands across the channel …

  • NEXT TIME, CHECK OUT: the islands of Lanai and Molokai on a day trip. Take off early in the morning on Expeditions’ Maui-Lanai ferry from Lahaina Harbor or short flight from Kahului Airport, and return after a full day of adventuring. On Lanai, rent a Jeep for paved (Hulopoe Beach) or unpaved (Polihua Beach) shoreline adventures, or a cool, upland forest run on the evergreen Munro Trail. Head to Molokai and spend your morning in small town Kaunakakai, followed by an afternoon on one of Hawaii’s longest white sand expanses, Papohaku Beach. Or spend the day at one of the Hawaiian Islands’ most remote, and wonderfully scenic peninsulas at historic Kalaupapa National Historical Park.

The possibilities for amazing discoveries are endless. For more trip ideas from residents and vacationers, follow the hashtag #LetHawaiiHappen on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Note:  I’ve been to all of the major islands and they really do have their own personalities for visitors to experience and enjoy.

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