1. Hiking Diamond Head.
Diamond Head is overrated: crowded, noisy, and full of too many people to really enjoy the journey – or the view from the top. The trail is half-paved, and really not an accurate portrayal of hiking in Hawaii. Instead, head to Koko Head, the Lanikai Pillboxes, or even Makapu’u Lighthouse.
2. Visiting the Waipio Valley Lookout.
Waipio Valley is said to be one of the most gorgeous spots on the Big Island – and it definitely is, but if you don’t plan on adventuring past the lookout point, Polulu Valley Lookout, on the other side of the Pu’u O Umi Natural Area Reserve, offers some pretty stellar views as well, as well as access to a stunning black sand beach via steep hiking trail.
3. Hanging out at a luau.
Let’s get one thing straight: Luaus can be pretty cool, but they cater almost exclusively to tourists who don’t know any better, and often cost far more than the average person can afford for mediocre Hawaiian food. Sure, the entertainment is pretty neat, but not worth the cost, at least to me.
4. Hanging out at Ka'anapali Beach.
Ka’anapali is one of Maui’s most stunning beaches, but it is often far too crowded to truly relax and enjoy your beach day. For a more memorable beach experience, head down the road to Hanakao’o Beach Park, a beautiful 4.8-acre oasis with a canoe clubhouse, lifeguards on duty, and picnic area.
5. Staying in Waikiki.
Waikiki is literally the biggest tourist trap there is in Hawaii. If you venture out of this area saturated with expensive food and luxury hotels, you are sure to find breathtaking waterfalls, pristine white sand beaches, and incredible, panoramic views - some just miles away.
6. Taking a surf lesson.
If you’re an adult and have never been surfing before - or don’t plan to commit a substantial portion of your life to learning the sport - a surf lesson could ultimately be a waste of both time and money that might be better spent snorkeling, kayaking, or enjoying the ocean in a much easier manner.
7. Getting Shave Ice from Matsumoto's.
Located on Oahu’s north shore in the sleepy surfer town of Haleiwa, Matsumoto’s is famous, and the shop makes more than 1,000 shave ices on any given day, and is, unfortunately, inconsistent at best. I’ll be honest: I much prefer the shave ice from Anahulu’s down the road.
8. Touring the Mauna Loa Factory.
The Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory tour might be an excellent stop for a rainy day on the Big Island, but that’s about it. You can buy their products anywhere, and I’m personally not terribly interested in the farming of macadamia nuts. Instead, consider checking out any of the Big Island’s beautiful botanical gardens or coffee farms.
9. Going to Pearl Harbor only for the USS Arizona Memorial.
The USS Arizona is a breathtaking piece of American history, and it is entirely worth the trip, but I can guarantee you will enjoy exploring the USS Battleship Missouri more. And you won’t need to get to Pearl Harbor by 7 a.m. to reserve those free Arizona tickets.
10. Eating at Zippy's.
Can I be honest with you for a second? I don’t like Zippy’s, nor do I think it is representative of the amazing Hawaiian food available throughout the islands. I can see how it would be an excellent hangover food, but I’d rather eat elsewhere.
11. Visting Maui's Ohea Gulch.
Maui’s “seven sacred pools” are heralded as being one of Maui’s greatest gems, and while the pools are beautiful, I think that the nearby Pipiwai Trail - which leads to two gorgeous waterfalls through a stunning bamboo forest is clearly the better attraction.