My Hawaii “must do” list

One of the best things about working for a travel company is being able to hear everyone’s stories of where they have been. I personally have never been to Hawaii but I am fascinated by it so I wanted to get some tips of things to do when I do get to go. Here’s the advice I received:

(Image by CynthiasSdelR)

1. Climb to the top of Diamond Head, the view is definitely worth the hike
2. Take a surfing lesson – can you think of a better place to get a surfing lesson than on Waikiki Beach?!
3. Pearl Harbor is a must
4. Visit the Dole Plantation – they have train rides, mazes, crafts, koi fish feeding and of course delicious pineapple…fun for the whole family
5. Check out the Waimea Falls in the beautiful tropical garden in Oahu
6. Honolulu Zoo has a “Snooze in the Zoo” allowing guests to stay overnight and enjoy storytelling, campfire songs and walking tours. You can either set up tents or sleep under the stars. If you don’t want to spend the night take the “Twilight Tour” which provides a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of animals after the sun goes down
7. Honolulu has a great Academy of Arts with over 50,000 pieces of art

1. Everyone should do the “Road to Hana” in Maui. And if you do decide to do it, rent or buy the tour guide CD because it tells you the cool spots to stop (waterfalls, pools, bamboo forests, black sand beaches, etc…) and it gives great history and information on the island
2. If you’re going to watch the sunrise atop Mt. Haleakala on Maui remember it will get cold so bring a hat and jacket. Also, you’ll need to get up very early so go early on in your vacation when you’re still adjusting to the time change
3. You are in Hawaii so a luau is a must and Lahaina on Maui has some great ones

(Image by nicolew5265)

1. Take a helicopter tour of Kauai. It’s an amazing way to see the island and feel like you are in Jurassic Park…minus the T-rex of course!
2. Cruise along the Na Pali Coast and drive the Waimea Canyon
3. Go to the Kilauea Lighthouse and look for whales
4. Visit Poipu Beach and see the monk seals sleeping
5. Go to Puka Dog for the best hot dog you’ll ever eat
6. Plan day trips and wear your bathing suit, all beaches are open to the public so it is nice to end an adventure with a few beach stops on the way home. (Usually can’t drive more than 10 miles without hitting a “large” beach with parking and bathroom facilities)
7. Rent snorkel gear for the week. If you snorkel 3 days it will usually pay for itself. Avoid getting it at your hotel and rent it from surf shops at the beach ($30/week compared to $21/week)

Big Island
1. Take a day trip up a volcano at the Volcanoes National Park. You can witness lava flowing from the active volcanoes
2. See the famous Shangri La built in the 1930s on the Pacific Ocean over looking Diamond Head. This home has a very extensive collection of Islamic Art and is considered one of Hawaii’s most architecturally significant homes

(Image by scottB991)

Photo Book Ideas
If you’ve been to Hawaii, or any tropical paradise, and want to create a photo book to capture those beautiful memories, here are some ideas to help you get started.

Tropical themes
Shutterfly’s Heat Wave, Surfing Safari, Beach Towels, and Beach Chill backgrounds in the Travel Photo Book style will complement your surf and sand memories perfectly

Inspirational examples
Need some inspiration for your Hawaii photo book? Check out these examples from real customers

What are some of your must-dos in Hawaii?


  1. BarbaraJ says

    You have a great article and I agree 100% on all your information. We had a blast and were there only 13 days. I’m just now working on my book of Hawaii. Great article and you gave some wonderful advice.

  2. Joey says

    Wow Sean, another great article on a place I would LOVE to visit again. I went about 15 years ago and could use another refresher trip.
    Great tips and love these pictures.

  3. says

    That turtle picture is the bomb!! If I went to Hawaii and came back with that picture I would be beside myself happy!! Hawaii is on my must do list, then when I’m there I will try to do as many things on this list as possible!!!! Love your travels and ideas!! Sean do you have a share site?

  4. ds says

    I have been to the islands many times and these are all great tips.
    Just one correction: Shangra la is on OAHU past Diamond Head, not the Big Island.
    you must call in advance to reserve a tour and it is well worth it.

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