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Hawaii for the first time

Wailua Falls

Wailua Falls Photo Credit: Adam Keller, Fishers IN

Hawaii is renowned as a faraway American paradise thanks to its natural beauty and luxurious beaches.

But if you’re expecting a little bit more than sand and sun from your island getaway, check out some of the hidden treasures on Oahu, the Big Island and Kauai.

Oahu

Must see: Hawaii’s answer to the White House, the Iolani Palace in downtown Honolulu spells opulence and gives you a glimpse into the lives of Hawaiian royalty.

Hidden oasis: It’s an easy mile-and-a-half hike to see the Manoa Falls. The waterfall tumbles down an almost vertical cliff into a small pool 150 feet below. There’s no swimming or diving here.

To stay: Situated on Waikiki Beach, the Moana Surfrider Hotel is worth a visit whether you stay there or not. It combines the best of old Hawaii with modern conveniences.

Hip nightlife: Chinatown’s Bar 35 offers a menu of 150-plus beers and nine handmade, thin-crust pizzas by Chef Valentini. If beer is not your thing, try the Lychee martini.

The Big Island

Must see: Lava Ocean Adventures — When the volcano is active, you can see red-hot lava from Kilauea flowing into the sea. Early birds should definitely get up for the 4 a.m. “sunrise lava tour.” lavaocean.com

Hidden oasis: You’ll get a glimpse at how locals enjoy the beach at Hapuna Beach State Park, a scenic west coast haven in South Kohala. Its natural beauty is worth at least a half-day of exploration.

To stay: Fulfill your Hawaiian dreams at the Fairmont Orchid Hawaii resort. Views of the Pacific Ocean and surrounding volcanic mountains create an elegant hide-away ambience.

Hip nightlife: Huggo’s on the Rocks is worth a visit for the setting alone. At this “toes in the sand” joint at the water’s edge, order tropical cocktails and enjoy hula dancers by the buffet.

Kauai

Must see: Hanalei Bay lies just east of Princeville on Kauai’s north shore. The beach is a beautiful crescent of white sand, but beware of the strong current.

Hidden oasis: Cross seven one-lane bridges to get to the secluded Limahuli Garden. You’ll find fantastic views here of the Pacific Ocean and the Makana Mountain.

To stay: Marriott’s Kauai Beach Club on Kalapaki Beach offers everything from golf to a 26,000-square-foot swimming pool in a tropical-resort setting. marriott.com/lihka

Hip nightlife: Tahiti Nui is the place to go for live music, from Hawaiian slack key guitar to to aspiring local artists. George Clooney stopped by recently while in town filming “The Descendants.”

 

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