Camping Gems - Hawaii
Polipoli Spring State Recreation Area, Maui
Cool and misty, Polipoli spring is set at 6200 feet elevation in the glorious Kula Forest Reserve. The area is accessible by four-wheel drive, but bring your walking shoes because the best way to explore the reserve is on foot. You'll find stunning views of Maui, the Maui Mountains, Lanai, Kaholawe, and Molokai.
Kona Coast, Hawaii
If you're looking for sheltered swimming, colorful fish, and a mild climate, head to the Big Island's Kona Coast. Sheltered in the lee of the Mauna Loa and Hualalai volcanos, this seashore has calm weather and gentle ocean waters. Head down the black-lava "steps" into the ocean and get a view of the gorgeous tropical fish that live here.
With its golden beaches, lush tropical landscape, and clean-washed blue skies, Maui is a vacationing wonderland. In this land of superlatives, the little town of Hana offers a get-away that surpasses the imagination. Even locals flock to Hana to escape from it all, get back to nature, and relax. Head to Hamoa Beach, which author James Michener called ‘South Pacific beauty in the North Pacific.’ You’ll find a red cinder beach and lovely lagoons at Kaihalulu Beach, and a black sand beach at Waianapanapa State Park.
Take a step off the beaten path by taking a trip to the island of Lanai. This quiet island doesn't have Oahu's flashy resorts, but it does offer a wild and rugged glimpse of native Hawaii. Take the Munro Trail through pines and palmsto the island's highest point, or head to Hulopoe Bay to watch for spinner dolphins. Take a four-wheel drive up to Keahiakawelo and experience a landscape called th "Garden of the Gods."
Na Pali Coast, Kauai
Water sports rule on Kauai's Na Pali Coast. Whether you're looking to sail, snorkel, stroll the beach, or watch for monk seals and dolphins, this is the place to be. You'll send on a sandy beach, looking up at 200-foot high waterfalls and green mossy cliff walls. (Caution - waves tend to be high from late September to early May)
Haleakala Mountain, Maui
Ready for a bike-riding adventure you'll never forget? Head to Maui's Haleakala Mountain, one of the largest mountains in the world. Climb to the top and look down into the crater (3,000 feet down!), or admire the views from the peak.
Kapalua Hiking Trails, Lahaina, Maui
At the Kapalua Resort, you'll find two remarkable hiking trails – the Village Walking Trail and Maunalei Arboretum Trail. Catch views of the West Maui mountainside or enjoy the vistas of neighboring islands and other majestic views
Opaekaa Falls, KauaiShangri La, near Waikiki, Oahu
To reach these stunning falls, you'll need to blend kayaking with hiking. Take your kayak to the Wailua River near the Wailua Marina. Kayak up the river for about half a mile, then follow the Opaekaa Stream (to the right, under a bridge). Follow the Opaekaa Stream to its end, secure your kayak, and carry on by foot. Follow the stream bed until you reach the falls. With their setting in lush jungle, far off the beaten path, this trek is definitely worth the effort.
Doris Duke once owned this grand estate with its incredible collection of Islamic Art. Today, you can tour this 1937 villa by making a reservation with the Honolulu Academy of Arts. Be sure to take a swim in Shangri La’s rock-ringed ocean pool. If you prefer, use the public access to reach the beach -- follow Diamond Head Road to Kahala, turn right on Kulamanu Street and park in Black Point. Walk down Kulamanu Place to the small beach.
Chinatown, Old Honolulu, Oahu
You'll get your fill of fresh fruits and veggies in this open-air market that's surrounded by shops, art galleries, a Buddhist temple, and a Japanese shrine. Stop by a Visitor's Center for a map or head in on your own. You'll find leis and lei-making shops, stands full of fresh herbs, fruit, and fish, as well as outstanding Chinese food.
Camping Gems - Places to Go in Hawaii
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Big Island
The park highlights two of the world's most active volcanoes, and offers insights on the birth of the Hawaiian Islands and views of dramatic volcanic landscapes. This is also a great place to enjoy a hike, a bike ride, scenic drive, or to learn more about Hawaii's plants, wildlife, and Kilauea, the world's most active volcano.
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, Oahu
Swim with the fishes at Hanauma Bay! The nature preserve is well prepared to help families explore Hawaii. You can snorkel in the bay, carrying a laminated fish chart to help you identify the colorful fish you see swimming below.
Diamond Head State Monument, Oahu
Bring a flashlight and good walking shoes when you tackle Diamond Head. This stunning landmark is easy to summit via a 1.4 mile hike, but the trail goes through long tunnels in places and is steep enough to warrant handrails. In Hawaiian, this landmark is called Le'ahi because it resembles the forehead (lae) of the yellowfin tuna fish ('ahi). From the top, you'll have an unparalleled view of Honolulu and the ocean surrounding the island.
Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge, Kauai
If you've come to Hawaii to see exotic wildlife, this is the place to go. At the Kilauea refuge, you can see red-footed boobies, Laysan albatrosses, shearwaters, and many other seabirds including Hawaii's State Bird (the nene). Just off shore you might glimpse humpback whales, Hawaiian monk seals, spinner dolphins, and green sea turtles.
Haleakala National Park, Maui
The journey to the summit of Haleakala brings you from coastal Maui to the remote, native, high-elevation world protected by the park. Here on Maui's highest peak you find an island in the sky where the clouds spread out below you like a second layer of ocean. Cindercones, rare plants, native birds, and hiking trails await your discovery. Don't mis the hike through Oheo Gulch and a swim in one of the lower pools.
USS Arizona Memorial, Oahu
See the place where American involvement in World War II began -- The USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. This is also the final resting place for many of the battleship's 1,177 crew members who lost their lives on December 7, 1941.
Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, Big Island
Step back in time to a sanctuary of Hawaii’s past where traditional Hawaiian lifestyle is preserved. Ancient temples and ki’i (wooden images) whisper stories from the past. This place provided refuge to Hawaiians who came here, people who had broken ancient Hawaiian law. Be sure to watch for green turtles on the beach.
Panaewa Rainforest Zoo, Big Island
Visit the only tropical rainforest zoo in the United States! This Hilo zoo is bursting with color, from the brilliant plumage of the rainforest birds to the bright mammals like white Bengal tigers, spider monkeys, lemurs, and over 80 other animal species. Be sure to bring your camera, so you can capture both the animals and the amazing array of palms, orchids, and other flowers growing in the zoo.
Kalalau Valley & The Na Pali Cliffs, Kauai
Catch incredible views of the Hawaiian islands and the ocean from the Na Pali cliffs. Follow the trail through the Kalalau Valley as it climbs more than 4,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean. Lush green forests and "garden" landscapes fill the stunning Kalalau Valley.
Waimea Canyon, Kauai
Known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, this landscape of rocky crags, red canyon walls, dramatic plinths extends for miles. The canyon is 3,000 feet deep. Bring your camera and your hiking shoes and get ready to enjoy a unique view of the Hawaiian landscape.
Camping Gems - Places to Eat in Hawaii
Matsumoto Shave Ice - for a refreshing afternoon treat. (808/637-4827)
Chef Mavro Restaurant (808/944-4714)
Hanapepe Cafe & Espresso Bar (808/335-5011)
Hilo Farmers Market (or Honolulu's Chinatown) for fresh fruit (pineapples, lychees, mangosteens, mangoes, papayas)
Nori's Saimin & Snacks (808/935-9133)
Haliimaile General Store (808/572-2666)
Pineapple Grill Kapalua (808/669-9600)
Camping Gems - Things to Do in Hawaii
Surf the beaches of Oahu
Go canoeing on Kauai's Na Pali Coast - watch for monk seals and dolphins
Climb Diamond Head on Oahu
See an active volcano (at Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island)
Buy fresh fruits at a local market (Hilo Farmers Market and Honolulu's Chinatown are good choices)
Watch for humpback whales breaching in the ocean (best in the cooler months)
Snorkel with some colorful fish (Hawaii's Kona Coast; Molokini)
Bike down Maui's Haleakala Mountain
Eat shaved ice while you stroll on the beach
Attend an authentic luau and learn to hula