Hawaii July 04, 2017
12 Epic Things You Never Thought Of Doing In Hawaii, But Should
The Hawaiian Islands are known for a few things: pristine beaches that stretch on for miles, lush tropical forests, panoramic views, and the Aloha spirit. That isn’t all you’ll find in Hawaii, though; the islands are home to countless unexpected and surprising – but simply amazing – places to visit. From strolling through cactus gardens and redwood forests to playing in the snow, here are 12 unexpected things you probably never thought of doing in Hawaii – but totally should.
1. Stroll through a phenomenal cactus garden.
Cacti and Hawaii aren't necessarily synonymous, are they? A 60-acre garden within the Koko Crater, this botanical garden is also known as the Charles M. Wills Cactus Garden – a name that suits the hot, dry climate and the flora that are able to thrive in this environment. Oh, and this terrifying plant is an octopus cactus, in case you were curious.
Read more about the Koko Crater Botanical Garden
2. Go ziplining beneath the stars.
Sure ziplining is a staple of the quintessential Hawaiian vacation, but we bet you never thought about soaring through the night skies. Head to Koloa Zipline for their epic Sunset + Night tour, a 3.5 hour adventure which features sunset views, stargazing, and eight of Kauai’s longest ziplines.
3. Play in the snow at the summit of Mauna Kea.
No one really expects to see snow when they visit Hawaii, do they? Mauna Kea measures in at 13,796 feet above sea level, the highest point in the state of Hawaii. In fact, when measured from its oceanic base deep in the vast Pacific, the mountain measures in at more than 33,000 feet tall – that’s higher than Mount Everest. And in the winter, there's snow!
Read more about Mauna Kea
4. Hang out in a swamp.
Nestled in the heart of Koke’e State Park, just north of Waimea Canyon, is the Alakai Swamp, a truly one-of-a-kind Hawaiian landscape. The Alakai Swamp Trail is approximately seven miles round trip, and takes you on a journey through lush forests and ethereal swamplands. Most people start the trail at the Pu’u o Kila Lookout, meander along the Pihea Summit Trail, and traverse approximately 3.5 miles of boardwalk through a unique wet forest, and a boggy swamp.
Read more about the Alakai Swamp Trail
5. Check out the beautiful murals of Honolulu’s Kaka’ako neighborhood.
When in Hawaii, you don’t expect to do much city exploring, but you’ll want to trade your slippers for sneakers to explore the gorgeous murals that populate the Kaka’ako neighborhood of Honolulu. You’ll find murals depicting everything from floral landscapes to your favorite Anime characters in these epic art installations sponsored by Pow! Wow! Hawaii and replaced once a year.
6. Explore the Ka’u Desert.
This vast and mysterious land located within the southwesternmost district on the island of Hawaii is known as the Ka’u desert, and is home to dried lava remnants, volcanic ash, sand, and gravel – and little else. Inhospitable conditions paired with a lack of rainfall, extreme heat, and a severe scarcity of plant life cause most people to overlook the raw - and desolate - beauty that is the Ka’u Desert.
Read more about the Ka'u Desert
7. Hike to Kauai’s stunning lithified sand dunes.
These sand dunes along Kauai’s southern shore have slowly been turned to stone – or lithified – over time. You’ll have to hike to this location, but the beautifully strange photo opportunity is definitely worth the trek.
8. Mountain bike down the slopes of Mount Haleakala.
Just 27 square miles short of equaling the entire size of Oahu, Mount Haleakala is a gentle giant – a dormant volcano that has inspired those who make the journey to its summit for centuries. Translating to "House of the Sun," Haleakala rises more than 10,000 feet above sea level, comprises 75 percent of Maui Island, and is the perfect place for an epic mountain bike ride!
Read more about Mount Haleakala
9. Dive with manta rays on Hawaii Island’s Kona Coast.
For a wild adventure, head to Honokohau Harbor to embark on a night time scuba dive cruise with Big Island Divers. Opt for the two tank charters, where you will enjoy a twilight reef dive before watching the sunset and taking to the water again - where the boat's dive lights will attract plankton and feeding manta rays.
10. Visit a cat sanctuary on the small island of Lanai.
More than 500 felines call the Lanai Cat Sanctuary home. The three-acre lush oasis on one of Hawaii’s most isolated and remote islands is operated as a non-profit organization, relying largely on the charity of its visitors to fund the care for hundreds of rescue cats. We bet cats weren’t necessarily on your list of must-see animals while in Hawaii…
11. Learn about Hawaiian history at the Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs.
Found off the breathtaking Chain of Craters road within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, this petroglyph site is both gorgeous and culturally significant. More than 23,000 petroglyph images can be found in this expansive field, and you will see many of them along the 1.5-mile (round trip) boardwalk trail.
12. Hike through a majestic redwood forest.
Located approximately 7,000 feet above sea level in Polipoli State Park is this forest is populated by redwood trees that were brought to Hawaii in the 1920s to re-establish the watershed. The popular Redwood Trail is 1.7 miles, and guides hikers through a forest of baby Redwood trees, and is the access point for many other trails.
Have you visited any of these incredible yet unexpected places? What about
some of Hawaii’s best-kept secrets?