Thinking of taking a short-distance holiday to Fiji, Vanuatu or even the Gold Coast? Here are several reasons why you should put Hawaii, just an 11-hour flight from Melbourne, at the top of your next beach holiday wish list.
Hawaii is an archipelago made up of eight main islands and several atolls, with O’ahu, Maui, the Island of Hawai’i (known as the Big Island), Lanai and Kauai the islands you are most likely to visit.
I took the opportunity to visit Hawaii in January, when Australian borders were finally opening to international destinations.
Home to the state capital, Honolulu, O’ahu is the main island most airlines flying out of Australia will fly through. On landing at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, I took a short 25-minute taxi ride to the tourist destination of Waikiki, which boasts glistening, picture-perfect blue waters and sunny skies most of the year.
I stayed at the Waikiki Grand Hotel, located directly across from the Honolulu Zoo and a minute’s walk from the beach, paying $155 per night before taxes and service charges.
Diamond Head hike
Hiking to the summit of Diamond Head, which offers stunning 360-degree views of the surrounding region, is one of the most popular activities for travellers to Hawaii. Diamond Head is not actually a volcano, but the crater of the Ko’olau Volcano.
The trek seems a daunting task if you’re looking at Diamond Head from Waikiki, but tunnels have been carved into the crater for driving into it and paved paths with railings are all along the trail to the summit to make the steep 1.3km climb as easy as possible.
Pricing starts at $10 per vehicle if you park inside the crater, or $5 per person if you walk in or arrive via bus/taxi/trolley/ride share. Gates are open between 6am and 6pm.
The surprise military attack on the United States fleet by the Japanese army in 1941 at Pearl Harbour was a defining moment in World War II, and shaped the world we live in today.
Tours of the Pearl Harbor National Monument as well as the US battleship Missouri are the two most popular options for tourists. Paid and volunteer guides take you through the events that took place on that very spot.
The North Shore
Well known worldwide for some of the best surf beaches, no visit to O’ahu is complete without a drive through the mountains to the North Shore of the island with its 27km of unique reef breaks and coves.
Hiring a car was a relatively affordable option when I visited Hawaii, but I opted to take a tour that included the North Shore. Our tour guide was born and raised on O’ahu and took us to some of his favourite local spots, including the North Shore Shrimp Truck that sells locally produced shrimp at great prices. Having picked up our lunch, we travelled to a secluded beach location to eat at our leisure.
On our way to the North Shore, we took a tour of the Dole Plantation, which is filled with more than a century of history in the region – via a railway system on the property.
The highlight of our tour was a visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center Luau. The night show was fun for tourists of any age and the food provided was the best we had on our travels around the islands.
Relax at every beach
Hawaii has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and the tourist areas generally have roped-off or walled-off swimming areas for risk-free swimming. After a long hard day exploring the island, grab your towel and head down to the beach. My partner’s favourite was Kuhio Beach at sunset.
O’ahu has a lot to offer tourists, so imagine what the other islands have to offer. Book your next trip to Hawaii and explore to your heart’s content!
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