Join Collective Travels Director, Kimberly Hamilton for a talking-tour around one of her favourite family holiday destinations, Hawaii!
“My favourite thing to do when I land in Hawaii is to hire a car (usually a Jeep), load all your gear in and hit the highway to drive around the island. As you drive along, wind the windows down, breath in the fresh Hawaiian air and take in the lush green landscape. What I notice is how the islands changes dramatically no matter what direction you drive. You can go from beautiful sunny skies and 30-degree temperatures; to misty 18-degree weather within 20 minutes… it’s really cool. One moment it’s dry, the next it is raining! Don’t worry too much about that weather forecast you’ve been looking up all week, it won’t matter when you get there as no one can predict Hawaiian weather! Without exaggeration, you could look 3km to the left and see a raincloud hovering, then turn your head directly above and see only clear skies.
While heading along the coastline, watch out for a fish taco van. You must pull over as it will be the best you’ve ever tasted, I guarantee it! It’s such a cool experience, just sitting by the food van, enjoying the best fish taco of your life, curling your toes through the sand and just feeling the sun; it’s really beautiful. What a welcome to Hawaii!
When you fly into Oahu, don’t just continue straight to the next island destination. There is a heap to do first! Unpack your suitcase for the week because you will need it to properly explore this island! Oahu has Pearl Harbour, the outlet stores and Waikiki beach, just for starters.
A climb up Diamond Head will take you 20 minutes, or a leisurely 40 minutes with children, and you will be rewarded with absolutely spectacular views across Honolulu, Waikiki and Oahu itself; it is completely breathtaking. When you finish your descent, what is waiting for you? Freshly cut, ice cold coconuts to drink from – delicious!
Hire a car for the day and take it to Oahu’s north shore, which is where all the surfers live in cool, modern, funky beach shack retreats. There are great burger joints and good restaurants to dine in; you will also find more great fish tacos here!
Stop by Dole pineapple plantation; a very interesting place with friendly locals, tours and freshly picked pineapple to enjoy. Then head back to Waikiki where you can soak up the restaurants, nightlife and shopping (note the shops are open until all hours of the evening!) If you find a good restaurant, don’t forget to book in as they can get quite busy. One of my favourites is dining at the Halekulani Hotel’s beach front restaurant. Here they have Hawaiians dancing and singing whilst you sit back and enjoy a delicious meal.
Now it’s time to Island hop! My favourite Hawaiian island is Kaua’i, which is famous for being one of the wettest places in the world. Its home to Hanalei Bay which is a gorgeous, blue bay with a backdrop of a volcano! Literally, calm ocean in Summer which is safe to swim in, soft sand beach then volcanic backdrop – you must go there! The mountains are velvety-green and lush, and often used in movies and by location scouts. If you choose to do a sunset cruise, you will even sail past King Kong who is etched into the cliff face of the island. Really cool!
My next favourite island is Maui which is dotted with amazing seafood quick-stop restaurants. Hop off the plane in Maui, collect your car and drive to your accommodation. We stayed at the Kapalua Resort situated on a golf course overlooking the ocean in villa accommodation which was absolutely beautiful, close to the beach, shops to pick up supplies and of course quality restaurants. I highly recommended staying in a villa if you’re travelling with family as you will have more room to move. If you’re after more of a hotel style accommodation, then the glitzy Ritz Carlton is just down the road.
Every town in Hawaii has corner ‘ABC’ shops to pick up supplies, including the essential choc-coated macadamia nuts, which are famous for a reason! We ate bags of them and everyone there does! Maui is famous for shopping, beaches and generally being a relaxing island; you can’t go wrong booking time on this island.
The Big Island is exactly that: big! Its official name is Hawaii, and it is quite spectacular, and has so much character to it. On the west coast is the lush, green and very sunny Kona, which is famous for its coffee plantation – you would be familiar with Moccona Coffee! – which runs tours.
Kona is where Captain James Cook first settled when he discovered Hawaii and, it is also where he died during a later visit to the South Pacific. You can take a tour on a Zodiac to snorkel in the historically significant reef where Captain Cook was killed.
In Kona, we also hired a car and drove to Mauna Loa volcano, which is currently active with flowing lava in the region. When we visited in April, it was a misty 18 degrees which made it feel like you were in a rainforest on top of a volcano. You can take a guided hike up the volcano to the top of the crater where you can look down and see the lava flowing and feel the heat envelope you.
There is a gorgeous restaurant there, and while you eat dinner you can see the red glow from the active crater; it is quite a unique dining experience!
I recommend a morning hike for sunrise, so you can see the red lava reflecting through the breaking dawn, which is amazing. We then wandered through a cave that was so dark we had to use our phone torches to see, which felt like quite an adventure at 6am!
After a morning hike, it was so lovely to head back to our cottage and enjoy a hot tub, relaxing in the misty warmth. It’s a real experience to be in that area of the island.
The next day we went to the bottom part of the island, about 30min south of Kona, which is heading back towards the airport, and stayed in the Hawaiian village of Waikoloa. It’s a very tourist driven area, but on the plus side you will see natural volcanic rock everywhere. Waikoloa has gorgeous pools and resorts, exclusive shopping, expensive restaurants – you name it, it’s there. This is where we ended our family holiday.
There are other Hawaiian islands, of course! But we have taken you across 4: Kaua’i, Maui, Oahu and Kona, which are the most famous islands in Hawaii.
My order of preference for these islands is Kaua’i, and then Kona because it is so diverse, followed by Oahu because there is so much to do you could easily spend a week there, which is so great for families who don’t want to have multiple flights to connect.
Generally, the good thing about the inter-island flights is that usually they cost next to nothing when you book a major flight, they are only about 20 minutes long and depart every 20’ish minutes, which is so perfect for young families juggling nap times, feeding, activities and Kids Club bookings!
I love Hawaii for family holidays or couples retreats. I’m sure you will too.”