Grab your sunscreen, wax up your board, lace up your hiking boots, and get ready for adventure in these hidden Hawaiian gems. Whether you’re looking for outdoor excitement or time to relax on a quiet beach, these out-of-the-way villages have everything you need to make magical memories.
On the northwest corner of the “Big Island” of Hawai’i, the small beachside village of Waikoloa is an ideal hub from which to launch your outdoor adventures. Snorkel in the calm waters of Anaehoomalu Bay, explore the volcanic tide pools, or relax on the black sand beaches — you might see one of the resident sea turtles come ashore to soak up the sun with you. Experienced surfers — or those who wish to learn — can enjoy the swells that make the Big Island one of the world’s top surfing destinations.
A scenic drive down the western Hawai’i coast brings you to Kailua-Kona — not to be confused with the larger city of Kailua on the island of O’ahu. It was here in the early nineteenth century that King Kamehameha I established the kingdom unifying the cluster of islands that we know as “Hawaii.” Adventure hikers can tackle the difficult summit of Mauna Kea — a dormant volcano and Hawaii’s highest peak — for great views of the coast and the volcanic landscape of the Big Island. Non-hikers can take a rental car or a guided tour to the visitor center for an evening of spectacular stargazing.
Image via Flickr by mail_collector
The calm waters on the southern side of the island of Maui are perfect for relaxing recreation on the water. Stay at one of the many affordable resort hotels in Wailea and try your hand at standup paddle boarding, practiced for centuries by native Hawaiians. First-time snorkelers can learn the basics in the easy waters of the many beaches that put Maui on the map. You may even catching a glimpse of the small humuhumunukunukuapua’a (triggerfish), the state fish of Hawaii. Hikers can travel inland to the Kula Forest Reserve for accessible and well-kept trails through a pristine tropical forest.
On Kaua’i, one of the westernmost and far-flung islands in the Hawaiian archipelago, the small seaside village of Kapa’a is the gateway to rugged adventure on Hawaii’s wildest island. Why not check out Kauai Shores, a seaside hotel just minutes from Nounou, the mountain known as the “Sleeping Giant.” From the summit of this man-shaped mountain, enjoy the panorama of the Wailua River to the south and the forest preserves in the center of the island. More-adventurous hikers can take a side trip to Na Pali Coast State Park, a rugged, remote stretch of seaside cliffs and forest on the northwest side of this small island.
Image via Flickr by Jeff Kubina
Away from the crowded tourist resorts and the busy city of Honolulu, these lesser-known (but growing) coastal villages have all the amenities of the big destinations, while offering something for everyone; be they thrillseekers, surfers, hikers, or busy parents looking to soak up some quiet rays and catch up on that summer reading list.
Cory Hanson is an American travel writer specializing in American and European travel. This is part of a series of American destination posts sponsored by travel search and booking service Hipmunk. Find more Hipmunk posts here, and a full sponsored content disclosure here.