Without exaggeration, one can probably say that the Hawaiian archipelago is the one place on Earth that comes closest to actually being Paradise. From the moment your plane lands on these volcanic islands, the Aloha Spirit takes over and all of your stress evaporates into the Pacific Ocean air. We’d gladly spend months exploring volcanoes, playing in the waves, and enjoying tropical fruits and fresh fish. But since dreams and reality are two very different things (darn!), we’ve put our travel journals through the juicer to bring you the BEST there is to see on our two favourite islands: Maui and Kauai.

Maui

  1. The little town of Paia

This is the perfect spot to settle in for your stay on the island of Maui. It’s got everything you could ask for: a newly renovated inn that organizes free daily outings (Aloha Surf Hostel), a magnificent beach within walking distance, a yoga studio, fun shops selling décor, jewellery, and clothing, a spectacular crowd of surfers and modern hippies… and, above all, food to satisfy your every craving:

  • The incredible salads and vast selection of natural products at Mana Foods grocery store
  • Maka by Mana’ acai bowl
  • The Obama Burger at Fish Market
  • Paia Gelato‘s Sandy Beach ice cream (peanuts, coconut, and sea salt)
  • Delicious lattes from Anthony’s Ice Cream
  • Snacks eaten in the lush tropical setting behind Paia Bay Coffee
  • And more

 

  1. Big Beach and Little Beach

Both located in Makena Beach State Park, Big Beach and Little Beach each have their own very different personalities. On the first beach, you can spend a typical day tanning, playing volleyball, cooling off in the ocean, and eating watermelon. That being said, the real fun starts at 5 pm when you cross over the rock to get to Little Beach. Once there, it’s like entering a parallel universe that’s all peace and love, where you can dance the night away to the sound of drums with fellow revellers of every imaginable style. Note that bathing suits are optional on this section of the beach… Keep an open mind!

 

  1. The Road to Hana

The Road to Hana makes for one of the best road trips you can imagine. You can drive it in a day, as long as you start out early enough in the morning. Along the way, you can stop in the bamboo forest, take in the beauty of several waterfalls, picnic on Red Sand Beach, and swim in the Venus Pool. These magnificent places are not necessarily well indicated. Making friends with a local is a great idea if you want to make sure not to miss out on anything! One tip: if you tend to get carsick, plan on taking a couple of anti-nausea tablets so you can handle all the curves on the road.

 

Kauai

  1. Kalalau Trail

It would be unthinkable to set foot on Kauai without exploring the Napali Coast and its lush cliffs that fearlessly plunge into the Pacific Ocean. For a one-day hike, start at the parking lot at Ke’e Beach, about 20 minutes from Hanalei, making sure to bring along plenty of water and snacks. Walk two miles to get to Hanakapai’ai Beach; then, take the trail towards Hanakapai’ai Falls (another two-mile hike). The path is a difficult one, but wait until you see the falls: their splendour is sure to move you… seriously! After a well-deserved dip, retrace your steps. If you’ve still got it in you, go have a look at Queen’s Bath, near Princeville, an impressive natural tide pool formed by erosion.

*The more adventurous among you can travel the 11 miles of trail and camp at Kalalau Beach, which is only accessible on foot. But you’ll need to be well equipped and very careful!

 

  1. Waimea Canyon

You’ll most likely be sore from your hike along the Kalalau Trail, so why not take it a little easier the next day by exploring Waimea Canyon! After a (long) climb on board a motorized vehicle, you’ll arrive at the top of the canyon where there are several lookouts offering spectacular views of the deep and colourful valleys of Kauai. (Be sure to bring a cover-up, as it can get cool up there!)

 

  1. Rock Quarry Beach

A beach with perfect sand, hidden amid the dense vegetation of Kauai… who could say no to that? Rock Quarry Beach is a well-guarded secret and, consequently, is a quiet spot that’s just perfect for afternoon naps and some sun tanning.

With these “musts” on your itinerary, make a fist, stick out your thumb and pinky, and dive into adventure!