Must-Do First-Time Visitor Experiences
Got clients about to embark on their first visit to the Hawaiian Islands? Choosing which experiences to send them off on while here can get a bit overwhelming. While adventures such as exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, watching the sunrise at Haleakala National Park, visiting Pearl Harbor, or sailing the Napali Coast are all truly must-do Hawaii activities depending on the island your clients are traveling to, don’t let their adventuring stop with just these. Below are a number of even more thrilling, unexpected and remarkable experiences to incorporate into your client’s first-ever-Hawaii-visit itinerary.
Island of Hawaii – The ever-changing landscapes of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park should be on every visitor’s bucket list, given their 150 miles of park hiking trails exploring volcanic craters, lava deserts, rainforests, early Hawaiian petroglyph fields and two of the world’s most active volcanoes: Maunaloa, which last erupted in 1984, and Kilauea, which erupted near continuously from 1983 through 2018. Suggest clients interested in learning about Native Hawaiian culture, customs, beliefs and practices visit Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, which for centuries served as a place of refuge for Hawaiians breaking sacred law, or fleeing death or harm. Should clients inquire about activities allowing them to give back to the aina (land), suggest an outing with Hawaiian Legacy Tours, where participants offset their carbon footprint by helping restore an upland native koa forest.
Maui – Sunrise at Haleakala National Park from the summit of its massive namesake volcano is a breathtaking experience and absolute must-do for first-time Maui visitors. Be sure to book reservations for your clients in advance though, as only a limited number of tickets are offered each day. On their way to the park, suggest clients visit the charming upcountry town of Makawao nestled on the slopes of Haleakala to explore its eclectic shops, boutiques and art galleries. Nature enthusiasts won’t want to miss a visit to Iao Valley State Park, just outside of Wailuku town, for views of the towering emerald peaks of the West Maui mountains, verdant stream-cut Iao Valley and the nature-created lava tower Kukaemoku (aka Iao Needle). The valley holds great historical significance as the site of the Battle of Kepaniwai, where the army of Kamehameha the Great, in its quest to unite the Hawaiian Islands under their leader’s rule, clashed with the army of Maui chief Kalanikupule in 1790.
Oahu – Hard to miss overlooking Waikiki, Leahi (aka Diamond Head State Monument) is likely Oahu’s most iconic natural landmark, featuring an ever-popular summit hike finishing with stunning 360 views of the island’s southeastern tip. After clients hike Leahi, suggest they trek the Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail on the island’s east side, with its spectacular views of offshore islets and the island of Molokai in the distance. The trail is also great for spotting offshore kohola (humpback whales) during the winter season, when thousands of them arrive in the Islands from the chilly North Pacific before returning in the spring. Should your clients wish to marvel at the whales up-close, suggest a whale-watch cruise on the Majestic by Atlantis Cruises. Another Oahu must-do is a visit to the museums and memorials of the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites collection. While many visit only the USS Arizona Memorial, the harbor’s World War II historical sites also include the Battleship Missouri Memorial, Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum and USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park.
Kauai – There’s a reason many first-time visitors make sure their time on Kauai includes a Napali Coast sail or boat tour. Ocean tours of the 16-mile coast offer passengers unsurpassed sea-level views of Napali’s breathtaking natural beauty, towering ridges and emerald valleys. With Kauai home to the only navigable rivers in the Hawaiian Islands, you can also send your clients on a boating adventure on the Wailua River, which weaves alongside gorgeous waterfalls and lush rainforest landscapes on island’s east side. And every Kauai visitor should set aside time to relax and enjoy one (or more) of the island’s many lovely beaches – among them Poipu Beach Park, which offers crystal-clear waters and an appealing reef for snorkeling.