ELLE Adventures To… Hawaii

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If you fell in love with Hawaii while watching the first series of The White Lotus, now’s the perfect time to channel Tanya McQuoid and head off to this clutch of captivating tropical islands. Scattered around the Pacific Ocean, about 2,000 miles from the US mainland, Hawaii became the country’s 50th state in 1959. Today you’ll find a blend of Polynesian charm and American culture, where surfing is practically a religion and nature takes centre stage. Yes, there are beautiful beaches, but there’s so much more to this picture-perfect destination, where you can choose from a wealth of unforgettable experiences, from wildlife spotting to designer shopping. Luckily, Visit the USA is here to help guide your trip, with a plethora of suggestions of where to go and what to do, from the best independent shops and restaurants to adventures off the beaten track.

Wildlife Spotting

Hawaii is a bird-watchers paradise, from the famous honeycreeper to a plethora of endangered water birds, like the Hawaiian goose, black-necked stilt and Hawaiian duck. Get up close and personal with Hawaii Bird Tours, whose team of all-female guides provide a knowledgable and fun experience. Unsurprisingly, as an island nation, dolphin and whale spotting is also popular, particularly in winter, when humpbacks journey here from Alaska to start breeding in the warmer waters.

Outdoor adventures

For avid hikers, there are dozens of scenic trails that criss-cross Hawaii’s eight main islands. Don your best lululemon kit and head to Halona Cove (where Burt Lancaster kissed Deborah Kerr amid the crashing waves in that iconic From Here To Eternity scene), home to the famous Halona Blowhole and beautiful lava rock formations, making it the perfect backdrop for a dramatic Instagram snap (just be careful on your way back down, as it’s very steep). And named as one of the most beautiful, if somewhat hair-raising, treks in the US is the Kalalau Trail on Kauai, running for 11 miles from Ke’e Beach to Kalalau Beach along the striking Nāpali Coast.

Turn the adventure level up a notch by ziplining through the islands’ abundant green scenery. Kauai has some of the of the longest courses and most breathtaking views – try the Kīpū Zipline Safari, where you’ll soar over locations made famous by movies such as Jurassic Park, Pirates of the Caribbean and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Or head to Maui for a thrilling ride over the slopes of Haleakala, a striking, dormant volcano which makes up over three quarters of the island. If you actually want to see a volcano in action, hitch a ride in a helicopter. Big Island (also known as Hawaii Island) is home to Volcanoes National Park, which contains two still-active volcanoes: Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. Flying over it, you’ll see steaming vents and lava fields and, if you’re lucky, rivers of molten lava. Here, you’ll also get a birds-eye view of lush tropical rainforest, vertiginous ocean cliffs and hidden valleys with roaring waterfalls.

Unique Dining Experience

By now, you’ll have worked up an appetite. Hawaii’s food scene goes big on fresh and local produce, and you can’t travel far within the islands without passing a farmers’ market or fruit stand. They offer everything from mouth-watering tropical fruit – think pineapple and papaya – to locally grown coffee, macadamia nuts, jams, baked goods and more. On Maui, look out for Hāna Farms for freshly-squeezed fruit juices and just-out-of-the-oven banana bread, while at the Kailua Farmers Market in Oahu, you’ll find an abundance of home-style cooking from family-run businesses such as Grandma G, which offers traditional Hawaiian breakfasts.

But Hawaii can do fashionable dining, too. Make like Barack Obama and Ben Affleck and book a table at one of Oahu’s most sought-after restaurants: family-run The Pig and The Lady. Specialising in modern Vietnamese cooking, its head chef, Andrew Le, is Honolulu born and raised. Then there’s Waiahole Poi Factory, an art gallery-turned-restaurant owned by native Hawaiians Charlene and Calvin Hoe. It serves local dishes such as Kalua pig and laulau (fatty pork and salted butterfish wrapped in leaves), with accompanying poi (hand-pounded and cooked taro root) to mop everything up with, Hawaiian style. If you’re lucky, you may even catch the Hoes’ sons making the poi themselves.

Retail Therapy

If high-end designers are your game, stick with Honolulu for the best shopping opportunities – you’ll find labels from Chanel to Dior at aptly named Luxury Row, while great designer discounts can be found at Waikele Premium Outlets in nearby Waipahu.

Unsurprisingly for an island nation, there is a thriving independent shopping scene. Honolulu’s We Are Iconic presents an impeccably curated selection of stylish island attire, while Olive (and sister shop, Oliver, for the men in your life) offers breezy resort wear from local Hawaiian designers. For quirky homeware and gifting pieces, try Kaimuki, which started as a mens shirt shop but recently gained a cult following for its interiors, or Number 808 in Honolulu, which stocks everything from ceramics to natural soaps.

Above all, what you’ll find in Hawaii is the warmest of welcomes, so why not book a trip now to find out just how they make visitors feel at home? Even Tanya McQuoid…

Plan your perfect trip to Hawaii, and discover all that the USA has to offer at visittheusa.com now

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