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Island-hopping around Hawaii


When it comes to celebrating a milestone birthday, a special anniversary, a honeymoon or simply a totally unique holiday, an island-hopping adventure around Hawaii will be a memorable one.

My interest in Hawaii was first piqued by Magnum PI in the 80s, immediately being drawn to the islands’ amazing beaches and scenery, plus the variety of shirts that Tom Selleck sported whilst chasing criminals in his glamorous Ferrari.

I got my first taste when working at sea when I was fortunate to be on a cruise ship that called into the main Hawaiian Islands and I loved it so much that I took some local leave, staying in Maui and Kauai.

My fascination continued via the television with the new production of Hawaii Five-0. Being just too young to remember the original, I loved the updated remake of this show and was very sad when it ended last year.

In addition to being home to these and other TV shows, Hawaii is of course world-renowned for its spectacular scenery, its rolling surf waves and its glorious beaches.

However, delve a little further and you will uncover vibrant birds of paradise, exquisite orchids, exotic flora and fauna, deep rainforests, tumbling waterfalls and the world's most active volcano.

There are six main islands: Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui and the 'Big Island' of Hawaii itself. Each offers something totally different, making it a wonderful choice for a spot of island-hopping.


Kauai, the 'Garden Island', is the oldest and northernmost of the islands. Centuries of growth have formed tropical rainforests, forking rivers, cascading waterfalls, emerald valleys, sharp mountain spires and spectacular jagged cliffs, like those of the Napali Coast. They rival any of the world’s grandest coastlines and can only be seen from the sea, by air or by hiking the Kalalau Trail.

Surrounded by 50 miles of shimmering white-sand coast, Kauai is also home to some of Hawaii’s most picturesque beaches.


Oahu is home to the majority of Hawaii’s diverse population, a fusion of east and west cultures rooted in the values and traditions of the native Hawaiian people. This contrast between the ancient and the modern is part of its appeal, from the bustling city life of Honolulu to the laid-back surf towns on the infamous North Shore.

Small extinct volcanic outcroppings are scattered throughout the island, including the popular attractions of Leahi (Diamond Head) and Punchbowl Crater (home to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific), whilst Oahu’s paradise beaches provide everything from high adventure on the sea, gentle waves for a first surfing lesson, the romance of a dramatic sunset view or a family-friendly swimming spot.


Molokai, located in the centre of the Hawaiian island chain, is an island of outdoor adventure and a cultural favourite. Only 38 miles long and 10 miles across at its widest point, it was formed by two volcanoes: Mauna Loa to its west and Kamakou to the east.

With one solitary two-lane road, it is easy to drive and exciting to explore - plus, you'll probably have most of it to yourself.


The smallest inhabited island in Hawaii is the 'Pineapple Island' of Lanai, a peaceful haven where couples can escape to find serenity, adventure and privacy.

Lanai can feel like two vastly different places. The first is found in its luxurious resorts, where visitors can indulge in world-class amenities, whilst the other is found bouncing along the island’s rugged back roads in a 4-wheel-drive exploring off-the-beaten-path treasures.


Maui, 'The Valley Isle', has consistently been voted 'Best Island in the US" by Condé Nast Traveler for over 20 years and is my personal favourite of the islands.

Observe the majesty of the migrating humpback whales, drive up to Haleakala, the island’s highest peak, to see the sun rise over the clouds, count the waterfalls together on the legendary Road to Hana, dine on sumptuous farm-to-table cuisine before taking an evening stroll on one of Maui’s serene beaches.

The historic town of Lahaina, once the original seat of the Hawaiian monarchy, a bustling seaport and whaling village is now one of Hawaii’s most popular areas for entertainment with ocean sports, boat trips, museums, restaurants, art galleries and shopping. Its main drag, Front Street, was recently named one of the 'Top 10 Greatest Streets in the USA.

Historically an ancient Hawaiian fishing community, the Ka’anapali Beach coastline is one of Maui’s popular resort areas, lined with hotels, condominiums, restaurants, ocean activities and shopping.


Nearly twice as big as all the other Hawaiian Islands combined (hence, its nickname, 'Big Island'), is the island of Hawaii itself.

You can travel through all but four of the world's different climate zones here, a result of the shielding effect and elevations of the massive volcanoes Mauna Kea and Maunaloa, whose activity have shaped and influenced the island’s beauty and produced some of the most picturesque and varied beach landscapes in the world.

I was lucky enough to take a helicopter tour over this island and the views were mesmeric.

One of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kilauea in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, is also located here.

Due to the geographical isolation of the Hawaiian Islands and their volcanic origin, unique marine life can also be found with endemic species of turtles, manta rays, sharks, humpback whales and bottlenose dolphins all regularly observed.

Weather is consistently warm throughout the year, with the region’s trade winds creating a cooling breeze. The wettest months are from November to March, but winter rains are very localised, meaning there will always be a sunny spot to be found around the coast.

You are unsurprisingly spoilt for choice when it comes to hotels with a profusion of desirable options. I love to mix and match for an island-hopping itinerary, with the iconic Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu, Maui’s Four Seasons and The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas and the Hyatt Regency on Kauai, being just a selection of my personal choices.

A Hawaiian holiday will create lasting memories whatever you may be celebrating, just leave enough luggage space to bring home some Kona coffee, macadamia nuts and a colourful Hawaiian shirt.


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