The experiences in Hawaii had been so overwhelming that I packed them in 2 posts. Here you can find out where you might want to go if you wish for less tourism on Maui and Big Island.
Part 2 is about Oahu my highlights, learnings and don’ts in general.
Looking back feels like it’s been ages since we were in Hawaii. In reality, only a month passed by since we returned from our 16-day round trip on Hawaii. To double the value of this long flight, we have combined it with a road trip at the Californian west coast.
Read more in my LA Guide.
Our actual plan for Hawaii was to visit all 4 main islands, Kauai, Maui, Oahu and Big Island. In the end, we changed our plans slightly and said, let’s do rather less, but more appropriate :). It became Maui, Big Island and Oahu. All 3 islands are a dream and also quite different. I would like to say in advance that I don’t have a favorite island. All of them are unique in different ways. I spoke to a lot of friends and residents with more Hawaiian experience and got different answers to my question about their favorite island. In the end it is the moments, experiences and people that we make or meet at the respective place. For example, I also liked Oahu very much, the island which is sometimes described as “least worthwhile”.
Our Hawaiian experience started on Maui, the second largest island of Hawaii with it’s long picturesque beaches, crystal clear blue water and rocky sandy bays. Since we didn’t have a car, we didn’t see everything we wanted to within our 3 days. But enough to get a Maui picture. We slept in a hostel called “Banana Bungalow” and did a couple of their hostel tours. The tours are great, but also a bit touristic.
Those free tours are offered in the 2 most beautiful main hostels, Banana Bungalow and Aloha Hostel. If you are there, I can highly recommend the Road to Hana Tour. Unfortunately we were late for the registration but it’s recommended by locals so it gets a pass :).
Paia, Lahaina and Kanaha plus Iao Valley State Park are worthwhile for a real Hawaiian feeling.
Iao Valley State Park is directly at the Banana Bungalow. There are some nice hikes with a view that will amaze you. Maui Wowie, I’m just saying.
Paia is a wonderfully cute little town with one of these white, endless beaches. Since you’re in town, it’s worth having an Acaii Bowl at Paia Bowls and taking a look at an the many small shops. You will find everything from swimwear over summer fashion to jewellery you might have seen on Instagram.
Lahaina is more touristic. If you want to mix with people, this is the place for you. The atmosphere is incredible. I had two goosebumps there.
- The Choir of Mauis in church during sunset
- The nocturnal twittering of birds in the biggest and oldest Banyan Tree of Hawaii
Kanaha Beach is another of those endless long and white sandy beaches which is especially popular for windsurfing and kitesurfing. We met turtles, some lonely swings, picnicked there and watched the surfers.
After 3 days Maui, we flew to Big Island with Mokulele Airlines, the smallest airplane in the world (at least in which I have been so far). This Airline with ists small Cessnas is awesome. There is no proper gate and neither a boarding pass or a complicated check in. Announcements and safety instructions are done by the rear facing co-pilot directly out of the cockpit :). Pleeeaase give Mokulele a try if you are there :).
On Big Island we were lucky to find some couchsurfing spots and a cheap retreat based on donations. The rest of the nights we covered with Airbnbs of which one was a self-sufficient house. This bunkhouse was really ingenious, there was even an outdoor kitchen and for every imaginable part of the house a second use was found. We paid around $50 per person and night. Expensive but okay for Hawaii (we also booked last minute, as usual 😀 ).
However, most of the time we spent in Volcanoes National Park, very close to where the retreat was located.
From our base, the retreat, we made some trips by car. Our highlight was Mauna Kea.
Mauna Kea is with about 4205 m the highest mountain in Hawaii. The ascent is definitely worthwhile, but you should be thoroughly explored and prepared for the hike. We underestimated the whole thing a little bit, went up and down in quite a rush and arrived at the start with quite an altitude sickness. It feels like drinking way too martinis and curing it in the sun.
Other worthwhile trips were Black Sandbeach (Punalu’u Beach), White Sandbeach and Green Sandbeach (Papakolea Beach).
The Black Sandbeach is quite touristic and a short time there is enough.
The Green Sandbeach can only be reached by foot or by certain jeep rides which can be booked there. However, this is only possible at a later time in the morning so the Green Sand Beach is still abandoned in the morning. We went there straight with the sunrise. You can count with a walk of a good hour, but with a very nice one.
The most known White Sand Beach is Hapuna Beach. But for us it seemed too touristy, so we followed the very good tips of our dear Couchsurfing Host. Waialea Beach (also Beach 69) was the our choice and our favourite.
The hikes at the Polulu Valley are said to be particularly beautiful. Unfortunately, the pouring rain put a spoke in our wheel. However, we were there (in the car) and saw some really astonishing rainbows :)).
We spent 7 days on Big Island and now we had 6 days on Oahu. My Oahu part plus top to do for unforgettable Hawaii-feelings, top not to do and how to save money can you find here.
Have you already been on Maui or Big Island? If so, feel free to share your tips.