Hawaii for Every Style

by Janean Flowe

By Katie McElveen

With its perfect blend of exotic beauty, timeless history and fun diversions for every taste, the Hawaiian Islands embody everything you love about a tropical vacation.

Whether it’s the Big Island’s natural drama, the laid-back charm of Kauai, Oahu’s endless array of diversions, Maui’s welcoming vibe, Lanai’s country-club chic or Molokai’s remote allure each island brims with its own personality and style. There’s a perfect island to match your style, and AAA preferred travel partner Pleasant Holidays can help you make the most of your vacation!

Best for outdoor adventurers: Kauai

Kauai’s lush valleys, tall waterfalls, empty beaches and sheer cliffs are so striking that they’ve set the scene in movies like Jurassic Park and Raiders of the Lost Ark. They’re easy to explore, too, either on your own or with one of Pleasant Holidays’ partner operators, who can organize explorations ranging from rugged to refined. Kayakers can paddle through spooky mangrove tunnels and past spectacular 3,000-foot tall cliffs along the Napali Coast. There are two ways to take in Waipo’o Falls, the nearly impossible to miss two-tiered waterfall that courses down a sheer rock cliff into the 3,600-foot deep Waimea Canyon. One is to hike to a lower tier, where you can splash around in the misty pool; another is to follow the trail to the top, an up and down climb that ends with a view into pleated depths of the canyon. Other parts of the island offer opportunities for river tubing, ziplining, snorkeling, sailing and surfing.

Runner up for outdoor adventurers: Hawaii Island

With the reopening of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, visitors to Hawaii Island can once again hike through lush rainforest and lava tubes and to active lava fields. Experience two of the island’s most popular adventures, diving (or snorkeling) with manta rays and lava tours by boat.

Best for history buffs: Oahu

Long before 1959, when Hawaii became the 50th state to join the union, it was a multi-island kingdom, complete with kings, queens and palaces. Trace this history all the way back to Hawaii’s earliest Polynesian roots with a visit to the Bishop Museum, which was created by Charles Bishop to honor his wife, Hawaiian Princess Bernice Pauahi. The collection began with the family’s centuries-old collection of Hawaiian artifacts and royal possessions and currently houses over 24 million treasures. Overflowing with more than 3,500 pieces of art from Iran, Egypt, India, Morocco, Syria, and Iraq, Shangri La — tobacco heiress Doris Duke’s 14,000 square foot home — is straight out of an Arabian Nights fantasy. The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and its museums pays tribute to the 2,341 military personnel and 49 civilians who died as a result of the December, 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor. Although the USS Arizona Memorial has been closed since May of 2018, the museum and visitor center remain open and 30-minute narrated boat tours of the harbor are offered each day. Tours booked through Pleasant Holidays include transport between various museums and a private guide.
Best for serenity seekers: Maui

Though nearly 3 million people visited Maui in 2017, it’s easy to find a quiet patch of paradise on the island. Early risers can watch the sun rise over Haleakala, Earth’s largest dormant volcano; at night, the deep, dark sky that surrounds the crater becomes a wonderland for star gazers. Spa lovers will also find bliss on Maui. Massages, facials and full-body therapies at Montage Kapalua Bay’s pampering retreat utilize local ingredients and can be experienced outdoors, where you’ll be cooled by sea breezes or inside, cocooned in a cozy spa suite. Either way, plan to spend the day enjoying the spa’s infinity pool, steam, sauna and full lineup of classes ranging from yoga to hula. Ho’omana Spa Maui relaxes, revitalizes and smooths away tension with traditional Hawaiian treatments such as lomi-lomi massage, a ti leaf ritual and back walking. All spa products are made in house from coconut oil, sea clay, cane sugar, lemongrass and other natural ingredients.

Runner up for history buffs: Molokai

During the 19th century, Hawaii’s King Kamehameha V exiled all Hawaiians suffering from leprosy — now called Hansen’s disease — to the quiet island of Molokai, where they were held until their deaths. Guided tours of the colony offers insight into the lives of both the patients and their care givers.

Best for serenity seekers: Maui

Though nearly 3 million people visited Maui in 2017, it’s easy to find a quiet patch of paradise on the island. Early risers can watch the sun rise over Haleakala, Earth’s largest dormant volcano; at night, the deep, dark sky that surrounds the crater becomes a wonderland for star gazers. Spa lovers will also find bliss on Maui. Massages, facials and full-body therapies at Montage Kapalua Bay’s pampering retreat utilize local ingredients and can be experienced outdoors, where you’ll be cooled by sea breezes or inside, cocooned in a cozy spa suite. Either way, plan to spend the day enjoying the spa’s infinity pool, steam, sauna and full lineup of classes ranging from yoga to hula.  Ho’omana Spa Maui relaxes, revitalizes and smooths away tension with traditional Hawaiian treatments such as lomi-lomi massage, a ti leaf ritual and back walking. All spa products are made in house from coconut oil, sea clay, cane sugar, lemongrass and other natural ingredients.

Runner up for serenity seekers: Hawaii Island

Featuring outdoor treatment hales, or huts, perched over the ocean, next to a waterfall or set amid fragrant greenery, the Spa Without Walls at the Fairmont Orchid resort is a relaxing oasis.

Best for foodies: Oahu

Thanks to the Chinese, Japanese and Portuguese immigrants who arrived in the 19th century to work on Oahu, the island, particularly around Honolulu and Waikiki Beach, is a delicious mishmash of flavors and cooking techniques. Get a sense of the diversity at the KCC Farmer’s Market, which is held each Saturday and features local tastes like creamy poi made from taro root, sweet Portuguese doughnuts called malasadas, tropical mochi, local cheeses, Vietnamese street food and ahi tuna burgers. At the other end of the scale are restaurants like Chef Mavro, which put Oahu on the international dining map more than 20 years ago with innovative interpretations of island specialties—think local fish provençale–and a passion for pairing food and wine. Newer offerings include Waikiki Yokocho, a Japanese food hall serving everything from ramen to sushi under one roof; Herringbone, where beautiful seafood can be enjoyed in an open-air lanai and Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s Morimoto Asia.

Runner up for foodies: Kauai

A spike in tourism has helped give Kauai’s food scene new life. Bar Acuda, with its dedication to local providers and impeccable cooking set the stage when it opened in the early 2000s; recent additions include NOM Kauai, which elevates burgers, fried chicken and brunch dishes to haute cuisine status and The Lanai, an open-air restaurant and bar serving Hawaiian-style ceviche, fresh fish in creamy chowder scented with lemongrass and macaroni and cheese studded with shrimp and pork belly.

What’s your Hawaii style? Your AAA Travel Agent can help curate an island escape perfectly tailored to you! Call 800-750-5386 today!

(Traveler Spring 2019)

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