Skip to content

10 Best Things To Do In Hawaii

Don’t forget to add these activities and attractions when planning your Hawaiian vacation.

To submit your pick for the 10 Best Things To Do in Hawaii, click here.

Visit the active Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island

Kilauea is located on the southeastern tip of the Big Island of Hawaii and is one of the most active volcanoes in the world! Hike through lush rainforest to experience vents spewing steam, brand new land being created, ancient Hawaiian petroglyphs, walk-through lava tubes, and unrivaled vistas.

Its current eruption started in January 1983 and has been continuously flowing ever since. As of January 2000, it had produced 2.5 million cubic yards of lava, covered 39.9 square miles, and added 506 acres (205 hectares) of land to Kilauea’s southern shore. Lava erupting from the Pu’u ‘O’o cone flows through a tube system down the Pulama pali about 7 miles to the sea.

Take a helicopter tour over the island of Kauai

If you do one thing while you’re on Kauai, take a helicopter ride! Upon takeoff, you’ll be overwhelmed by the stunning scenery set before you like a feast for your eyes. Majestic mountains adorned with a thousand shades of green touch the sky. As you gaze awestruck at these wonders of nature, your pilot points out the names and history of the locations below. Trying to absorb the pilot’s words and take in the breathtaking beauty all around you is nearly impossible. With about 80% of the island inaccessible by foot, the only way to truly see Kauai in all its splendor is by air.

Relax on Hawaii’s world famous beaches

Hawaii boasts some of the loveliest beaches in the world. In view of majestic emerald mountains, the sapphire waters and turquoise waves of Hawaii’s best beaches await you.

There is something for every taste and the vast stretches of white sandy beaches are especially appealing to those looking for sun, sand, and water.

Take a whale-watching catamaran cruise

Each winter, the humpback whales leave their rich Alaskan feeding grounds to frolic, mate, birth and nurse in the warm and shallow waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands.

Breaching is probably the most spectacular behavior of humpback whales. They are able to launch themselves into the air sometimes completely out of the water!

Snorkel off the island of Molokini

Molokini is the most popular snorkeling site in all of Hawaii. The reason is simple. Molokini consistently has the clearest water in Hawaii, teaming with beautiful fish. On most days visibility is between 80 and 200 feet.

This marine preserve is located several miles off of the south shore of Maui directly across from the Wailea/Makena area. The only way to get to Molokini is by boat and Maui has plenty of boats in all sizes, shapes, and price ranges. This is a must-do if you can float. You do not even have to know how to swim. All boats have flotation devices and some have glass bottoms so you can stay dry and still see all the pretty fishes.

Bike down Maui’s Haleakala Mountain at sunrise

Haleakala, one of the largest mountains in the world, is a dormant volcano full of volcanic rock, both inside its crater and on its slopes. Haleakala stands more than 3,000 feet above the sea level and lies some 20,000 more feet under water. The mountain is dense, and the park that surrounds the volcano takes up more than 27,000 acres of land. You can go right up and see into the crater. Many people say it’s one of the most powerful experiences of their lives. The mountain is visible for miles as you approach it, first on the road and then on foot. Seeing that it’s hollow inside and that the crater is some 3,000 feet deep, seven miles long, and two miles wide, you are amazed that such a place could exist. Haleakala is a National Park, preserved to maintain all the living creatures that surround the historic volcano. You’ll want to experience Haleakala during sunrise or sunset. Its legendary beauty inspires powerful and personal emotions.

See Waimea Canyon on Kauai, known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific

The inland area of the western part of Kauai is dominated by the Waimea Canyon and Koke’e State Park. Dubbed as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” by Mark Twain, Waimea Canyon reigns supreme. The coloring of its inner walls and the roadside lookout views into the canyon are spectacular.

The canyon is one mile wide, 10 miles long, and over 3,600 feet in depth. The deep canyon gashes in the landscape look like the claw marks of some immense prehistoric creature. The play of light and shadow throughout the day on the colorful striated layers of rock is extraordinary. A fun pastime is to stand at one of the Waimea Canyon overlooks and watch the reaction of the visitor after visitor, as their jaws drop, and they become first speechless and then breathless as they witness this spectacle of nature for the first time, realizing that words fail them and that there must be a God.

Play golf at any of Hawaii’s world class courses

There are few places on earth as perfect for golf as Hawaii, with its dramatic topography, ideal growing conditions for lush green fairways and flowering vegetation, and year-round balmy weather. There are more than 80 courses on six idyllic islands, with locations ranging from upcountry rainforests to coral sea cliffs and sandy beaches.

Most of the island courses would be in the running for the best view because the Pacific Ocean is a constant backdrop almost anytime you climb above sea level. Naming other bests is much harder because the world’s greatest golf architects have long been at work here, creating course after course–all demanding superlatives.

Attend an authentic Polynesian Luau

Today the luau is as synonymous with Hawaii as the grass skirt. Luaus are an incomparable visitor attraction and an excellent introduction to the food and culture of the Hawaiian Islands.

The Polynesian Luau is an exotic, South Pacific-style celebration of color, style, history, music, and dance. Women in grass skirts, men in face paint, authentic fire dancers, and traditional music showcase the cultures and traditions of Polynesia.

Luaus are enchanting experiences that tickle the nose with savory scents, entice the palate with delicious tastes, please the eyes with colorful entertainment, and bathe the ear in exotic music, leaving exciting memories and a full tummy.

Shop and Dine in Waikiki

From quaint shops and artists’ studios to elegant art galleries and large shopping centers, you’ll enjoy island-style shopping. Find many unique items, including T-shirts dyed with Hawaiian red dirt, macadamia nut cookies, music CDs by local musicians, coffee, books, designer clothing, custom jewelry, furniture, surfboards, tropical flowers, and fine art and gifts handcrafted of wood, ceramics, fabric, or glass.

Oahu Shopping Venues

In Hawaii, there’s a word for food that’s delicious — ‘ono. We know you’ll be saying it over and over again as you eat your way around the Hawaiian islands. Hawaii’s mix of many cultures has led to a unique variety of cuisine, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, European, and American. Innovative chefs trained in continental and Asian culinary traditions have created Pacific Rim delights. Fruits, vegetables, herbs, seafood, and even chocolate grown in Hawaii is fresh and flavorful. Bon appetit!

Oahu Dining Venues

Explore more 10 best in Hawaii Lists