In Hawaii, we like to make the most of our mornings – the beaches are deserted, the air is cooler, the sunrises are phenomenal, and don’t even get me started on the Kona coffee and breakfast options. Even if you are a self-proclaimed night owl, there is something magical about rising before the sun while in Hawaii. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that if you’re visiting the islands, the time difference is usually drastic enough that you’ll wake up early most mornings anyways. From stuffing your face with Hawaiian pastries to climbing a mountain to witness the sunrise, here are 13 phenomenal ways to start the perfect Hawaiian day.
1. Start your day with a sunrise hike.
They say that you should work out first thing in the morning if you're able to, and while I personally hate thinking about exercise first thing in the morning, I'll lace up my hiking boots for views like this one any day.
2. Drink a cup of coffee from The Coffee Shack.
With a lanai that overlooks 26 miles of coastline, this island-style coffee shop is the place to go while in Captain Cook. You’ll be able to grab delicious coffee grown on-site, a decadent pastry or dessert item, and even take some breathtaking photos while you’re there. If you're not on the Big Island, any coffee shop that serves up Hawaiian-grown coffee will do.
3. Catch some waves.
There is little better than an early morning surf session - the air is cooler, the waves are killer, and the ocean is nearly deserted.
4. Watch the sunrise from the summit of Haleakala.
Translating to “House of the Sun,” Haleakala rises more than 10,000 feet above sea level, comprises 75 percent of Maui Island, and is home to desert-like conditions, rainforests, and everything in between. The summit is also home to some of the best sunrises - and sunsets - you will ever witness.
5. Enjoy an acai bowl for breakfast.
The acai bowl may be a fad in the mainland, but once this delicious superfood blend was introduced in Hawaii, everyone became instantly obsessed. Essentially a thick acai-based smoothie, these bowls are typically topped with fresh fruit, granola and honey – and it will not only satisfy your sweet tooth, but also makes for the perfect breakfast/
6. Go snorkeling.
Snorkeling is best in the early morning - before the waves and currents pick up, and before too many tourists have had the chance to scare off any of the sea life. This is especially true at Molokini, where too many visitors will scare off many of the larger sea creatures you may come in contact with; that's why the best tours require you to be at the boat harbor by 5 a.m.
7. Fill up on malasadas from Leonard’s.
Malasadas – Portuguese donuts without a hole – are wildly popular in Hawaii, and nowhere does them better than Leonard’s Bakery, a Honolulu staple since 1952.
A crispy golden brown exterior gives way to a soft and chewy inside in flavors like cinnamon sugar – some malasadas are even filled with custard or haupia, and there is a malasada flavor of the month. In addition to Leonard’s mouthwatering malasadas, there are also a variety of pastries, cookies cakes and pies on the menu.
8. Start kayaking before it gets too hot.
Not only will you be some of the first people out on the water - you won't have to worry about getting too warm, or reaching your destination too late if you get a head start on your kayaking excursion for the day.
9. Grab breakfast from Cinnamon’s.
Guava chiffon pancakes, cinnamon buns, banana cream cheese French toast, Hawaiian omelets and eggs benedict, oh my! This charming eatery located in the heart of Kailua town is an island favorite, and they serve some amazing breakfast foods.
10. Take a sunrise walk along the beach.
If you're not quite adventurous enough - or awake enough - to start your day with a surf session, sunrise hike, or kayaking trip, why not just take a leisurely stroll down the beach, preferably with a cup of Kona coffee in your hand?
11. Visit the famous Liliha Bakery.
A full-service bakery, coffee shop and diner located in Honolulu, Liliha Bakery has been a community staple since its doors where opened in 1950. In addition to their famous coco puffs, the Coffee Shop serves up traditional Hawaiian breakfast favorites, including pancakes, and Portuguese sausage and eggs.
12. Visit a local farmers’ market.
Unfortunately, because so much of the food produced in our beautiful state gets exported, the produce we find at grocery stores doesn’t often last too long, considering it has been shipped to the islands. Luckily for us, the Hawaiian Islands are home to some amazing produce farmers and even better farmers’ markets for us to enjoy.
13. Go on a whale-watching tour.
While the whales that frolic off the Hawaiian coast are active at all times during the day, you'll get the calmest tours during the morning hours.