Hawaii is a dream destination for many. It is exotic and
warm and full of daydream-worthy landscapes that are constantly featured in
calendar images on computer desktops around the world. Since it's a part of the
United States, Americans don't need a passport to visit Hawaii, and yet the
state feels worlds away from the rest of the country.
Chances are that Hawaii is probably on your bucket list too.
But, contrary to popular belief, you don't have to go on an expensive cruise or
book a guided tour to properly enjoy these islands.
Here are some things you can do in Hawaii on your own,
without a tour guide:
Exploring Hawaii on your own terms is quite easy. You can
rent a car on nearly every island and then seek out the places that interest
you most. Find those secluded beaches and jungle overlooks on your own
schedule, and stop at whatever towns or attractions sound appealing to you.
Some rental car agencies have pre-programmed driving guides with their GPS
systems, like on Maui. There the little voice in the box will guide you around
this beautiful island, from the Road to Hana to Haleakala.
Popular road trips:
With seemingly endless stretches of coastline and some
monster waves, Hawaii is known as one of the premier surfing destinations in
the world – in fact, it's said that the sport was “born” in these waters.
Whether you want to take a lesson yourself or just watch the pros at work,
there are ample spots to suit would-be surfers on nearly every island.
Popular surf spots:
Rent a set of mask and flippers (or, better yet, bring your
own), and you can snorkel to you heart's content all over the Hawaiian Islands.
Keep an eye out for everything from green sea turtles (honu) to Hawaii's state
fish, the colorful reef triggerfish (the humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa in Hawaiian).
Popular snorkeling spots:
You may not immediately associate Hawaii with great hiking,
but there are actually quite a few diverse hikes here. Whether it's jungle,
mountains, coastline, or volcanoes that interest you, Hawaii has a trek for
you. In fact, the different ecosystems found around the islands surprises many
first-time visitors. Hawaii is not just about palms swaying in the afternoon
breeze, there are also dense forests, epic mountains and areas that look more
like the Pacific Northwest than an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Lastly, no trip to Hawaii would be complete without trying
some of the state's unique food. Cultures around the world have helped shape
Hawaii’s unusual culinary traditions, including Polynesian, Chinese and
distinct Japanese influences.
Popular foods to try:
You can even do tour-like activities on your own in Hawaii,
especially if you have a car. Visit Pearl Harbor on your own, check out the
Polynesian Cultural Center, take a helicopter ride on Maui, or go horseback
riding on Lanai. In Hawaii, the non-tour options really are endless.
What's at the top of YOUR Hawaii wish list?
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Graduate student by day and avid traveler and blogger by night (and on weekends and during holidays), Amanda is just a small-town Ohio girl trying to balance a "normal" life with a desire to discover the world beyond her Midwest bubble. Amanda's adventurous nature and inability to say "no" have led her to some pretty amazing adventures all around the world. But she has no desire to stop exploring anytime soon. Read Amanda's blog, A Dangerous Business, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus.
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