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Hawaii is the ultimate vacation destination with its lush vegetation and sparkling blue waters. This state consists of eight separate islands: the Big Island of Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, Kauai, Molokai, Lanai, Niihau, and Kahoolawe. Each island has its own defining characteristics and list of can't-miss activities. Hawaii is a six-hour flight from Los Angeles and while many repeat vacationers have a favorite island they return to every time, travel between the islands is easy and relatively inexpensive. This allows a traveler to experience the excitement of multiple Hawaiian islands in one trip.

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Snorkel

Snorkeling is at the top of the list for things to do in Hawaii, and people travel from all over the world to explore Hawaii's reefs. Hawaii is home to majestic sea life such as the Hawaiian green sea turtle, moray eels, parrotfish, and the popular but difficult to pronounce humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa. Take a day trip to Molokini by boat for some of the best snorkeling in Maui.

If you have room in your luggage, purchase snorkel gear at home and pack it for the trip. This ensures you will have quality equipment throughout your vacation and saves you money on overpriced rentals.

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Take a Surf Lesson

Surfing originated in Hawaii in 1779, and this state has some of the best waves for experienced and beginner surfers alike. The giant waves of Mahaka in Oahu and Waimea Bay on the North Shore are best left to professional surfers. However, almost every island offers lessons for those that have never surfed before. A surf lesson typically runs between one and two hours and the instructor will provide wetsuits and the surfboards.

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Drive the Road to Hana

The best way to explore Maui is by renting a car and driving on the highway known as the Road to Hana. This five-hour drive includes numerous checkpoints to stop at and explore. Waterfalls are one of the biggest draws on the Hana Highway, and you can stop and hike to these beautiful waterfalls before continuing on the drive. Other fun spots to check out on the Road to Hana are the black sand beach and the Seven Sacred Pools of O'hea Gulch.

A tip for budget-conscious travelers is to pack a lunch in the car and enjoy a picnic by a waterfall. This saves money on overpriced meals on the road.

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Visit an Aquarium

Snorkeling provides a front-row seat to Hawaii's marine life. However, it is unlikely you will get to see all the animals Hawaii has to offer while snorkeling. Visiting one of Hawaii's aquariums, such as the Waikiki Aquarium or Maui Ocean Center, ensures that you will get to see all the iconic creatures.

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Attend a Luau

A luau is a Hawaiian or Polynesian feast accompanied by storytelling, dancing, singing, and chanting. The evening includes hula dancing, drumming, and fire dancers. Enjoy local flavors like poi and Kalua pig while sipping on a tropical cocktail. Many luaus include participation activities such as basket weaving and hula lessons. The following islands will all hold luaus year-round:

  • Maui
  • The Big Island
  • Oahu
  • Kauai
  • Lanai
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Go Whale Watching

Humpback whales can be seen in Hawaiian waters from any of the islands. Whale watching season runs from November to May when the North Pacific humpback whales make their annual migration. Book a boat tour for the best view of these giant creatures. Don't forget to pack your sunscreen, camera, and binoculars for the best whale watching experience.

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Take a Helicopter Ride

Kauai is known as the Garden Island due to its lush vegetation and beautiful flowers. This scenic island is so beautiful it is the filming location for movies and television shows such as Jurassic Park and Lost. However, over 70% of Kauai is inaccessible by land so to get the best views of the island, book a helicopter tour. Make sure to book your helicopter tour ahead of time to get the best deal and ensure a spot on the tour.

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Visit Pearl Harbor

The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military attack on the United States by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service on December 7, 1941. This attack precipitated the United States' involvement in World War II. Visit Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu to learn about this historical event and its impact on the world. A visit to Pearl Harbor includes the Remembrance Circle, the Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, and entrance into the Pearl Harbor Memorial Theater.

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Golf

Golfers around the globe flock to Hawaii for some of the best courses set against the tropical backdrop of the Hawaiian islands. Golf courses range from public courses accessible to everyone to exclusive private clubs. Visit Maui in January for the PGA's Annual Hyundai Tournament of Champions at the Kapalua Resort.

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Take a Sunset Cruise

Hawaii is known for its breathtaking sunsets and the best way to experience this time of day is on a boat. Any one of the main islands will offer a variety of sunset cruises for you and your family or friends. During the winter, many sunset cruises double as whale watching tours. If you are in Hawaii during the summer, book a cocktail dinner cruise for delicious food and tropical drinks while you watch the sun go down.

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