Though we are lucky enough to experience a seemingly endless summer here in Hawaii, there are some activities and destinations that just lend themselves to those summertime vibes. From cruising down the Wailuku River and experiencing hidden caves to grabbing coffee from Greenwell Farms and visiting stunning beaches, here are 17 destinations across the Hawaiian Islands to visit this summer.
1. Wailuku River
Located on the Big Island, the Wailuku River is one of the longest in the state at nearly 28 miles long, and lies almost directly between the lava flows of Mauna Kea, and those of neighboring Mauna Loa.
2. Nawiliwili Bay
Once an important harbor on Kauai's eastern shores, Nawiliwili Harbor is now home to beautiful hotels, mouthwatering restaurants, and pristine beaches. Oh, and it was also used as a backdrop in the film, "Raiders of the Lost Ark."
3. Lyon Arboretum
While this beautiful arboretum has been open to the public for more than 40 years, many locals and tourists alike opt for the more popular Manoa Falls. The 194-acre research site is home to more than 5,000 tropical and sub-tropical plants, as well as 12 beautiful gardens and seven miles of hiking trails. The main trailhead leads to the stunning, and not too crowded Aihualama Falls.
4. Kauai Mountain Tubing
Let Kauai Backcountry Adventures take you on a magnificent journey through an old sugar cane plantation irrigation and canal system. Imagine your favorite water park lazy river and multiply the experience by 100 – it’s that awesome.
5. Greenwell Farms
Established in 1850, visitors are able to learn about each stage of production of Kona Coffee on this historic farm. Anyone can stop by the farm to take a personal walking tour through the coffee fields, and the processing facilities, while experiencing all that a working Hawaiian farm has going on.
6. Kaiwi Shoreline Trail
Instead of heading to the paved Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail, veer right at the trailhead and take the dirt path that leads down to the ocean, Kaho‘ohaihai Inlet, Pele's Chair, and beyond. The trail is approximately 2.5 miles long round trip, and will surely leave you feeling at peace with the world.
7. Kauai's Blue Room
Found on the northern coast of Kauai, is an otherworldly cave that glows with a striking blue light. Waikapalae Cave, also known as the blue room, is quite simply the stuff of dreams, and the movies - the cave made an appearance in the 2011 film “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” as the fountain of youth.
8. Paradise Bay Resort
Tucked away in Kaneohe Bay is an intimate, boutique resort with some of the best views around. Seriously, could you even imagine sipping coffee on this incredible oceanfront deck?
Often described as one of Hawaii Island’s best-kept secrets, Hawi is perched along the northern coastline of the Kohala coast, and is home to some of the greatest ziplining, skydiving, farm tours, and a pretty charming vibe.
10. Sharks Cove
With crystal blue water and impressive sea life, Sharks Cove is one of the best snorkeling spots on Oahu during the summer months, but perhaps more amazing are the neighboring tide pools.
11. Ono Organic Farms
Also known as the Maui Exotic Fruit Farm, this farm is family-owned and produces an extensive selection of rare tropical vegetables and fruits, chocolate, and Hawaiian coffee. Located in Kipahulu, off Hana Highway, visitors can attend a fruit tasting tour, where they will sample 10 to 12 organic tropical fruits, and locally-grown coffee, as well as learn a thing or two about organic farming.
12. KIlauea National Wildlife Refuge
Located on Kauai’s north shore is 203 acres of protected land, where the Pacific golden plover, Laysan albatross and the nene – the Hawaii state bird – live. The Kilauea lighthouse is just a short walk from the parking lot. First illuminated on May 1, 1913, it is the northernmost point of the inhabited Hawaiian Islands.J
13. Shangri La
Often considered to be one of Hawaii’s most architecturally significant homes, Shangri La is an utterly enchanting Islamic-style mansion built in the late 1930s by heiress Doris Duke near Diamond Head just outside Honolulu, and overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
14. Volcano Winery
This unique winery is nestled between two volcanoes on lava-covered land that allowed Symphony Grape Vines to flourish. Tropical fruits – like yellow guava or starfruit – are blended with traditional wine grapes to create vibrant wines that capture the Hawaiian spirit. I’m definitely going to have to try their Macadamia Nut Honey Wine.
15. Oahu's Secret Island
Though there are few private beaches in Hawaii, Secret Island is located on Oahu’s east shore, and the only way to (legally) visit is to book a tour through Kualoa Ranch.
16. Pipiwai Trail
Located in southeast Maui, off Hana Highway and near the Pools of Oheo, is the unforgettable Pipiwai Trail, a four-mile round trip trek that will take you on quite the enchanting journey through a lush Hawaiian tropical rainforest to four absolutely incredible natural wonders: two towering waterfalls, a bamboo forest, and a massive banyan tree.
17. Polihua Beach
Though often overlooked for the larger, more populous islands, Lanai is a secret paradise full of secluded beaches. Polihua Beach feels especially hidden though, as it is located on the island’s northwestern coast and is only accessible via four-wheel drive vehicle.