Dolphins at Sunset from Makani Catamaran, Oahu, Hawaii

Travel Hawaii: 4 Must-Do Excursions on Your Next Trip to the Islands

Hawaii tops most every vacationer’s bucket list. It’s vast, beautiful, almost otherworldly. But with so many islands to explore, there’s so much to consider when planning your next trip! Getting to and around Hawaii, what to do when you’re there … all in usually less than a week (for most Americans) and all without breaking the bank.

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Here, we present four of our favorite must-do’s on your next visit to Oahu and Maui:

Dolphins at Sunset from Makani Catamaran, Oahu, Hawaii
© Makani Catamaran

#1: See the Sunrise from Atop Diamond Head (Oahu)

Some might consider this “hike” (it’s more a simple stair climb) a bit tedious, particularly in the early morning hours when you’ll be following the crowds, one foot in front of the other, in near darkness. But the sunrise views from the top are simply out of this world. No trip to Oahu is complete without a trek up to the Diamond Head summit.

#2: Drive the Road to Hana (Maui)

Rent a convertible (sure, all the tourists do, but with good reason!) and take your time on this long, impossibly winding road along Maui’s northeast coast. The stunning, lush green landscape along the way is otherworldly – one writer perfectly described it like a place where god sprinkled Miracle Gro over everything. I recommend grabbing a hotel at the end of the route so you have nearly two full days to traverse the road – one day there, and day return.

#3: Hike the Haʻikū Stairs (Oahu)

This “off the beaten path” path is a steep hiking trail on the island of Oahu in an area few folks, let alone day trippers, ever venture.

Installed in 1942 to provide access to a then important military radio station, this so-called “Stairway to Heaven” guarantees bold travelers breathtaking views from high above the island’s HaÊ»ikÅ« Valley. All you need to do is slip past the onsite guard (or go when he’s not around), swallow any residual acrophobia and hike the almost 4,000 steps to the top.

Sweeping View Overlooking Kualoa Ranch, Oahu, Hawaii
© Mike Richard

#4: Tour Kualoa Ranch (Oahu)

This massive ranch on the north side of Oahu is famous the world over. Even if you’ve never actually been there, you’ve probably seen it as the backdrop for many huge Hollywood blockbusters, including Jurassic Park, Lost, and the new Hawaii Five-O.

Curious tourists and movie lovers are invited to tour the property via any one of their onsite excursion offerings. Adventure-seeking travelers will love the ATV, horseback, and jungle trek options; while those seeking a more relaxing go of it can opt to see the property from the ocean or to simply hike it at their own pace.

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