A: As I’ve said before in this column, Hawaii is one of my favorite destinations. The scenic beauty, the friendliness of the people, the weather: it’s all magical. No visit would be complete without getting a feel for Oahu, the “main” island where Honolulu is located. Stay in a nice hotel on Waikiki in an oceanfront room (the Halekulani if you can afford it, or the Sheraton Waikiki) and just soak in the atmosphere.
But my favorite is the “Big Island,” which somewhat confusingly is called Hawaii. I would visit the Kilauea Volcano site there (watching the lava flow at night is fascinating) and if you’re into horse riding, Paniolo Adventures offers trail rides on an 11,000-acre “upcountry” cattle ranch. I like the Big Island, too, because it’s the least touristy and has the largest variety of microclimates and scenery.
Another highlight is taking the long, windy road to the town of Hana on Maui, where you’ll find a less-touristy look at how Hawaii might have looked years ago. The beaches are fabulous in and around Hana, too. Another great thing to do is a sunrise bike trip down Haleakala, a mountain formed by a dormant volcano, also on Maui. The trip is no effort at all (it’s all downhill) and the 3000 foot deep crater is a wonder to see.
A popular activity on Kauai is to take a helicopter tour. Blue Hawaiian is the premier operator, and although it’s expensive and sounds a bit touristy, it’s not to be missed.
I’m sure I’ve left out many other things that readers love about Hawaii, so feel free to send them to me and perhaps we’ll include them in a future column. I can’t think of any particular hazards, but just don’t get too close to an active lava flow!
Best time to go weather-wise: November to February is the wettest period, and April to September the driest, so I might suggest avoiding the winter if at all possible. For more ideas and information, visit www.gohawaii.com/bigisland.