Lana’i is advertised as “Hawaii’s Most Enticing Island”. I’ve never been there but I know several people who have. When I ask what it’s like, their eyes glaze and they tell me there’s not much to do. That many change. Reportedly, Larry Ellison, Oracle Corporation founder, has bought 98% of it from Dole’s David Murdock. The Huffington Post says Ellison plans to make Lana’i an “environmentally sustainable enterprise”.
Hawaii’s most Hawaiian Island is said to be Ni’ihau, which has been dedicated to preserving the traditional way of life since 1864. Again, I, being a non-Hawaiian, have never been there since you have to be invited by a resident. Boat tours go near but don’t land. For $385 per person, however, you can take a Ni’ihau Helicopters ride and land on an exclusive beach.
The most visitable Hawaiian Island that best preserves the traditional way of life is Moloka’i. For that reason and more it’s my 2nd favorite. In my opinion, the 3 best attractions on Moloka’i are Kalaupapa National Historical Park, site of Father Damien’s colony for sufferers of Hansen’s Disease (take the mule ride down if possible), King Kamehameha V’s Kapuaiwa Coconut Grove, and the Highway 450 drive to Cape Halawa (fish ponds, barrier reef, etc.) You won’t want to spend much time in Kaunakakai, the island’s only town, or exploring its west coast.
O’ahu has so many worthy attractions it’s hard to pick 3. But for me, Pearl Harbor, the Diamond Head climb, and the underrated Bishop’s Museum and the Iolani Palace in the Capitol District leave lasting memories. In my opinion, O’ahu’s most overrated attraction is the Polynesian Culture Center, an ethnic theme park.
Hawai’i, the Big Island, beckons with Volcanos National Park where you definitely want to include the Thomas A. Jaggar Museum in your visit, Mauna Kea and its observatories, and the Waipio Valley’s unbeatable view and more. Skip Akaka Falls, pretty but how many similar waterfalls can one hike to in a lifetime?
Maui is where we’ve spent the most island time and I’ll write about it later. For now, our 3 favorite attractions would be: Haleakala National Park (silverswords, nenes, etc.), the ‘Iao Valley, and dining at Mama’s Fish House in Paia then watching the windsurfers at Hookipa Beach, the world’s windsurfing capital. Most overrated attraction: the seemingly endless road to Hana.
My favorite of the Hawaiian Islands is Kaua’i where the Kilauea Lighthouse, Waimea Canyon (take a helicopter ride to best see it and the Napali Coast), and botanical gardens all thrill. Visit at least one garden like the National Tropical BG where Jurassic Park is certain to be mentioned. Skip the Fern Grotto.
p.s. When I realized I was a 50 Stater to the max, I also realized there is only one Ruth & I have been to only once–Delaware. To fix this, we are leaving tomorrow for an East Coast trip that focuses on the First State. As usual, I’ll post from the road.