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The Ultimate Eco-Guide to Hawaii

Hawaii is one of the few destinations in the world where you can experience almost all of the earth's climate zones across its archipelago. From sprawling grasslands to snow-topped volcanoes to black sand beaches, the islands have a life of their own. At Skyscanner Australia, we'll show you where to go and what to do if you're up for an adventure in Hawaii.

Throughout Hawaii, you’ll quickly discover that sustainable travel and exploration often go hand in hand. Sip a fresh cup of Kona coffee before trekking through the caldera of a once-active volcano. Snorkel with sea turtles in between lounge sessions on a sandy beach. The beauty of a holiday in Hawaii is that you can be as active or relaxed as you want.

What to know before you go to Hawaii

Hawaii is a state in the United States made up of eight main islands, though there are over 130 islands across its archipelago. The islands that most travellers come to visit are Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Island of Hawaii–often called the “Big Island.”

Island of Hawaii

Geologically, the island of Hawaii is the newest island in the archipelago. With frequent volcanic eruptions and lava that flows into the sea, the landscape of the island of Hawaii is ever-changing. Less touristy than its neighbours, venture here to leave the only footprints on a lonely beach, trek through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and spend your time exploring the underwater world rife with large marine life like whales, sharks, and manta rays.

Maui

Foodies should make it to Maui for some of the state’s best farm-to-table dining experiences. Marvel at big waves, sandy beaches, and lush forests best seen from the height of a heart-racing zipline course.

Oahu

Oahu and its sparkling capital city of Honolulu is often the main hub for travellers coming from Australia, as it hosts Hawaii’s major international airport. Venture here to experience laid-back city life, admire waves from the safety of the shoreline (or in the surf lineup), and hiking trails that’ll make you feel as though you’ve just become a ranger in Jurassic Park.

Kauai

Kauai rightfully earned its reputation as Hawaii’s “Garden Island” thanks its tropical rainforests. On Kauai, you can kayak along a tranquil river, walk to waterfalls, and enjoy the solitude of small town life no matter where you stay.

The best time to visit Hawaii

With incredible weather found all year long, there’s no bad time to visit Hawaii. Crowds tend to pick up from June to August, when tourists from the mainland United States tend to come over for their summer break. There’s also a holiday bump during December to early January. Expect hotel and flight prices to increase with the crowds. Visit from February to May or from September to November to enjoy a patch of sand all to yourself.

The best time to visit Hawaii depends on the type of activities you’re interested in. Beginner and intermediate surfers can usually find a friendly wave no matter the time of year, though experienced surfers will want to visit when large swells roll through–typically from November to April.

The best eco-friendly things to do in Hawaii

Catch a wave

Hawaii is no stranger to the sport of surfing. Ancient Hawaiian people used surfing as an art form as a way of garnering respect among their community–the better one surfed, the higher one’s ranking climbed. Today, surfing remains as large part of everyday culture in Hawaii.

Beginner surfers can find their footing on a friendly wave out front of Waikiki, where gentle waves break in front of Honolulu’s starlet neighbourhood. More experienced surfers can venture to Oahu’s North Shore, where tends of world-class waves break along just a few kilometres of shoreline. The stretch of land connecting the towns of Haiku and Paia on Maui also offer consistent waves for surfers who already know their way around a lineup.

Race through the skies on a zipline course

For travellers with a strong stomach and a penchant for heights, head to one of the many zipline courses throughout Hawaii. Each of the four main islands have courses where you can buzz across a forest with a cable suspending you overhead, but some courses stand out more than others.

On Kauai, Koloa Zipline has a course that’ll offer prime views of land and sea–with a special zipline experience at sunset. At CLIMB Works Keana Farms on Oahu, travellers can rappel, zipline, and cross a series of sky bridges. On the island of Hawaii, check out Umauma Falls from a zipline above. If heading to Maui, spend an afternoon at the kid-friendly organic farm and zipline area of Paradise Eco Adventures.

Explore a variety of trails to volcanoes, hidden beaches, and waterfalls

Whether you’re bringing along a carry-on backpack or maxing out a 23kg suitcase, save room for hiking trainers. Trails across the islands range from wheelchair-accessible to hand-over-foot scrambles through forests, along crater rims, and across rivers. No two trails are quite alike.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is one of the few places in the world where you can traverse across a volcanic caldera. Though the park has changed since the 2018 volcanic eruptions, there are still plenty of trails worth lacing up your shoes for. If staying in Honolulu, stroll to the top of Diamond Head Crater just after sunrise for a spectacular view of the city below. On Kauai, check out the gorges at Waimea Canyon State Park.

Snorkel and dive with the sea life

The islands of Hawaii are just as interesting underwater as they are on land. Marine life like monk seals, sea turtles, manta rays, whales, dolphins, sharks, and more call the waters surrounding these islands home.

The amount of ocean adventures you can have in Hawaii are limitless. Scuba divers and snorkellers will be well cared for when diving with the company of Pacific Rim Divers on the island of Hawaii. Watch humpback whales migrate along Maui’s coast from a traditional outrigger canoe with Hawaiian Paddle Sports. Snorkel tours run regularly to Hanauma Bay on Oahu, where spotting sea turtles from a distance is often a given.

Read: Coral Conservation 101: How to Protect Reefs as You Travel

Dine on fresh, local produce

Rich soil, sunshine, and an abundance of rain means that the produce grown in Hawaii has that extra punch when it comes to taste. Enjoy a variety of farm-to-table dining experiences throughout the state, where restaurants are often run by local chefs who use recipes that have been perfected over decades.

As a snack in between activities, be sure to enjoy a refreshing swirl of pineapple whip or a scoop of sugar-sweet shave ice.

Partake in Polynesian cultural activities

A luau is a traditional Hawaiian feast that is usually accompanied by music and dancing. While luaus can vary in terms of authenticity, they’re sure to provide a great time no matter which one you attend. Some standout luaus for tourists to experience can be found at the Sheraton Kona Resort on the island of Hawaii, the Kilohana Plantation on Kauai, the Old Lahaina Luau on Maui, and the Ko Olina Resort on Oahu. Many host a blend of Hawaiian and Polynesian elements from throughout the South Pacific.

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Ready to say aloha to Hawaii? Skyscanner Australia can help you find the best flights, car hire, and hotel options for your stay.