Hawaii without the beach is the bomb- mountain and volcano tour
Anthony Craig, RSVP ONLINE – Updated 10th October 2017
(RSVP ONLINE) – What’s the first thing you think about when you hear Hawaii? The foaming-white sea lapping at a golden-sand beach surrounded by palm trees swaying in the breeze? Well, sure– Hawaii’s one of the world’s supreme beach locations, an island paradise made for basking in the sun drinking daiquiris or striking the waves to surf some righteous tubes.
But exactly what to do if you’re one of those people who simply cannot stand beaches? (Scorching sunburn, salt in your hair and sand all over!) If you’re a beach hater, do not dismiss Hawaii just yet: there’s plenty to do on the Hawaiian islands where you’ll never have to step foot on the sand. Here are some of our tips.
1. HAWAI’I (the Big Island).
This dormant volcano’s peak is 4205 m (13,796 ft) above water level– the highest mountain in the state of Hawaii. (If you measure from its base beneath the Pacific, though, it’s 10,000 m (33,000 feet) high– making it the highest mountain in the world.).
With such a clear perspective, it’s not surprising that its snowy summit is dotted with the greatest collection of huge telescopes in the world. The Onizuka Center here uses astronomy displays and nighttime stargazing programs to the general public.
Experienced mountaineers can even hike 12 miles to the summit through a transcendent landscape of volcanic cinder cones and ancient historical sites.
2. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.
If you ‘d prefer to see some live volcano action, head southeast to this unique national forest, where Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano, has been emerging continually considering that 1983.
Outside the park borders, depending upon conditions the day you go to, you may even be able to see fresh molten lava streaming into the sea (which is slowly however undoubtedly making the Big Island even larger, every year).
But even if the volcano goddess Pele isn’t working together, there are still a lot of interesting sights within the park’s confines: hollowed-out lava tubes, steaming craters, tropical rainforest and old lava routes.
Rangers offer guided walks and other activities at the visitor center. For details on volcanic activity, the National Park Service has useful updates (plus lava web cam).
Upcountry Maui and Haleakala National Park.
The volcanic soil and sloped pastures of Mt Haleakala have sustained much of Maui’s farming and livestock for the past two centuries, and the paniolo (cowboy) ambiance is still strong in the areas like rustic Makawao.
A drive through the luxurious pastures of the Kula area will take you previous cattle ranches, vineyards with cellar-door sales, goat dairies and a substantial lavender farm (with a cafe and gift shop offering lavender variations of just about any food items or cosmetic product you can picture– and even those you cannot).
If you keep driving you can follow a long road up the flank of Mt Haleakala itself, up 3055 m (10,023 feet) to the summit, where you can explore the surreal, lunar-like landscape– home to distinct plants such as the ten-year-blooming Haleakala silversword, which grows no place else in the world– and look down at clouds filling massive volcanic craters listed below you.
If you can get up early (or stay up late) enough, book a tour to catch the sublime sight of daybreak from the peak; you can also have a van take you and a bike as much as the leading so you can ride– er, roll all the way down.
This vibrant town was as soon as the whaling capital of the Pacific, where ships would dock for supplies, sailors, and shore leave. Today the casino, saloons, and brothels that kept the whalers hectic have actually been changed by the best dining establishments on Maui, art galleries that host complimentary “art nights” every Friday, bars with live music from Irish trad to jazz and, obviously, souvenir shops (c’mon, it is Hawaii). Meanwhile, Lahaina’s seafaring past is kept alive by the many whale-watching cruises that depart from its harbor.
This extinct volcanic tuff cone stands guard over Waikiki and is O’ahu’s signature background. You can hike to the top in about an hour or less– a paved path leads 1.3 km (0.8 miles) all the way to the top, which at 232 m (760 feet) affords some quite incredible views of Waikiki. (OK, you’ll still have to see a beach. However, you won’t have to step on it. Delighted?).
USS Arizona Memorial.
The terrible events of December 7, 1941, are memorialized at Pearl Harbor, simply a short drive from downtown Honolulu. The USS Arizona lies where it sank, the resting location of over a countless the U.S. sailors who passed away in the Japanese attack.
In 1962 the memorial was opened, with a structure built over the ship that enables you to see its remains poking out of the shallow water below; a marble wall within is etched with the names of the honored dead. A visit to Pearl Harbor will leave you with a palpable sense of the history that was made there.
This enormous gorge at the heart of Kaua’i is one of the island’s biggest natural wonders, and its red-and-black-striated lava-rock walls contrasted with the lavish green forests that blanket its top is a real sight to witness.
Its name comes from the Waimea River, which goes through the bottom; the canyon was formed by a mix of erosion and the partial collapse of one of the island’s shield volcanoes.
Waimea Canyon State Park has lookout points over Kaua’i’s sensational Na Pali cliffs, along with various trekking trails through and around the canyon, a wilderness lover’s delight.
A helicopter trip over Kaua’i.
Way more awesome than a day at the beach is a helicopter ride over the interior of Kaua’i, the majority of which is too largely forested and mountainous for wheeled vehicles.
Many helicopter companies (most based in Lihu’e) provide up-in-the-air jaunts over waterfall-striped Mt Wai’ale’ ale, the island’s central guard volcano and among the wettest spots on Earth, and the sheer-hewn sea cliffs of the Na Pali coast, available otherwise only by ocean kayak.
Kalaupapa National Historical Park.
Hansen’s illness (leprosy) was presented to Hawaii by foreigners in 1835 and soon spread out through the islands. King Kamehameha V, in an attempt to stop the epidemic, created a law getting rid of all those afflicted to this remote peninsula jutting out from underneath the imposing sea cliffs (the world’s greatest) of Molokai’s north coast, which ended up being the last house for the dissatisfied exiles.
Around 40 years later, a thoughtful Belgian missionary called Father Damien concerned check out, and stayed with the nest for 16 years when he died after contracting the disease himself (Father Damien was officially canonized by the Catholic Church in 2009).
The enforced seclusion law was finally withdrawn in 1969; today, just a handful of clients, all seniors, remain. You can go to the peninsula to see the village and Father Damien’s church and gravesite just by pre-arranged trip– either flying down to the peninsula (which takes about eight minutes) or riding a mule down a high, 2-mile (3.2 km) path zigzagging across the cliffs.