A Week in Hawaii

Written by  James Dunford Wood

Feeling stressed? Need a break? Hawaii may be halfway around the world for some, but it's that very distance that makes all the difference. Standing marooned in the middle of the Pacific, these islands have a pace and an enchantment all of their own.

With six diverse islands (Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, and Hawaii, the Big Island), clear blue water, waves ideal for surfing, and pristine beaches, Hawaii is a perfect place to relax and soak up the sun, or explore until your heart’s content.

So, how to fill a week? Ideally you should take two for the full experience, but on the assumption that you have only a week, here's a list of top things to do: Base yourself on Maui, the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands. There are numerous resorts and activities here, as well as some of the most spectacular snorkeling in the world at Molokini Crater. This partly collapsed volcanic crater is home to 200 acres of prolific marine life, now a marine sanctuary. The coral laden middle of the crater is a favorite haunt for the bright yellow butterfly fish.

Apart from taking a day or two to explore the island and visit some of the spectacular beaches (don’t forget the shopping!), you should also make time to take a boat to watch humpback whales frolic along the coast (December through May).

From Maui, you have a number of options for day trips. Closest to the northern tip of the island is Molokai, the assumed birthplace of hula, where hula dancers and traditional food create a tantalizing atmosphere on a warm night. Molokai is home to numerous resorts and magnificent sea cliffs. If you feel adventurous, take out a kayak and get a feel for the ocean. Known as the Friendly Isle, Molokai is easily accessible from Honolulu on the island of Oahu and the most central of the islands.

Another trip to consider is to Lanai, just a short distance to the west of Maui. On Lanai, you can swim with dolphins in the clear waters of Manele Bay and explore the tranquil island. There are no traffic lights or shopping malls, just miles of dirt roads and great scenery, best explored by a 4x4. For golfers, the Four Seasons resort has a magnificent course.

For the more adventurous, or with more time to spare, consider a trip to the most northerly island, Kauai. This 'garden' isle is an oasis of greenery, a patchwork quilt of fertile valleys of sugar cane, guava, mango and pineapple. It's a great place for hiking – for the most spectacular and scenic trails, head to the Waimea Canyon, locally known as the 'Grand Canyon of the Pacific'. Alternatively, in exactly the opposite direction, the main island of Hawaii, the 'Big Island', is the most southernly. The big draw here are the volcanoes – all five of them, three of which are still active, and the most famous, KÄ«lauea, currently erupting – as it has been continuously since 1983.

Last, on your way home, leave some time before your flight departs to explore Oahu, or perhaps stay overnight. Take a trip to one of Hawaii's two most famous beaches, Lanikai and Waikiki. For pure beauty, Lanikai is a favorite of both locals and tourists for swimming and kayaking, and is a great stop for photographers. For a lively and a great farewell to Hawaii, spend some time in Waikiki, lounging on the beach or climbing nearby Diamond Head Crater for spectacular views. You'll leave on the plane on a high – dreamy with the scent of oleanda, and inspired to return with the spirit of Aloha. So get planning at gohawaii.com/perfect, where you’ll discover a host of ideas you'll find it hard to resist. Ready, set – go.

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