This is the ultimate Hawaiian adventure. Over twelve (or more) nights you’ll visit the four largest islands in the state, each so different from the last. Soak up the culture and beachside vibe in Oahu, experience the exceptional beauty of Kauai, watch land grow on the Island of Hawaii and see some of the best beaches in the state and head to the peak of one of the world’s highest mountains (from its oceanic base to peak) in Maui.
Suggested route & duration
12 nights Oahu to Maui
• Oahu: 3 nights
• Kauai: 3 nights
• Island of Hawaii: 3 nights
• Maui: 3 nights
OAHU You’ll begin your Hawaiian adventure on the state’s most populous island of Oahu, also known as the ‘Gathering Place’. There’s so much to do during your time here – you can soak up the lively beach culture or learn how to surf in Waikiki or head to the North Shore to see the pros catch the big waves rolling in off the Pacific. Hikers can follow a trail to Diamond Head to enjoy the panoramic views of the city from the 232-metre peak, or walk the Makapu’u Lighthouse trail which ends at a look out point that has incredible views over the Ka’lwi coastline. If you’re looking for more of a cultural experience there’s Pearl Harbour, the Iolani Palace – a former royal residence that was built in the mid-19th Century – the Queen Emma Summer Palace and the Polynesian Cultural Centre.
Stay: Queen Kapiolani
KAUAI Have you ever wanted to visit Jurassic Park (for the landscapes rather than the back-from-extinction dinosaurs)? Welcome to Kauai, the Garden Isle. It’s the oldest of the four main islands and has therefore had plenty of time to become the greenest, most jungle covered island. Emerald valleys and jagged mountain peaks shaped by the elements rise up from the shoreline on the island’s north east shore while on the more sedate east coast, there are vast groves of coconut trees, winding rivers flow towards the sea. Head to the awe-inspiring Waimea Canyon, also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, and the nearby Koke’e State Park where you can enjoy landside views of the iconic Na Pali Coast. There are plenty of hikes on the island of varying difficulties as well as a fair few beaches from which you can snorkel, try stand-up paddle boarding or just enjoy the view.
Stay: Plantation Cottages
ISLAND OF HAWAII This is the youngest and largest of the Hawaiian islands and, thanks to its constantly erupting volcano, Kilauea, its currently growing even bigger. Hawaii’s landscape is dominated by the sometime snow-capped peaks and steadily rising slopes of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea volcanoes. Mauna Kea’s peak is 4207 metres above sea level and the highest point on the island. The island is also home to the state’s most famous national park, Volcanoes, which is where you’ll find Kilauea and its mesmerising lava flows (NB: the park may close if volcanic activity is high). It’s not just dramatic natural landscapes that make the island special, its also the cultural and historic heart of the islands. You can visit Kaloko-Honokohau, an early Hawaiian settlement with petroglyphs and land subdivisions; Kealakekua Bay State Historic Park where Captain James Cook first stepped on to the island; and Lapakahi State Historical Park where you can see a restored fishing village that is more than six centuries old.
Stay: Westin Hapuna Beach Hotel
MAUI Maui, or the ‘Valley Isle’ is Hawaii as you have most likely imagined it. Deep, rugged valleys covered with hundreds of green and a coastline that seems to have jumped straight out of the glossy magazines. No filters are needed here. It’s the second largest island in the archipelago and it has repeatedly been voted the USA’s best island by readers of Condé Nast Traveler. Plan your time here wisely and you’ll have plenty of time to fit in the main activities from beach hopping and jungle hiking to whale watching and kayaking. Set aside at least one morning to watch the sunrise from the Haleakala Crater. You’ll need to book a permit (available in advance for a small fee) and rise early, however, being over 3000 metres above sea level and way above the clouds as the day begins is an unforgettable experience.
Stay: Plantation Inn