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What to Cover on Your First Trip to Hawaii

Waimea Valley

Are you a first timer to the beautiful islands of Hawaii? You’re in for a real treat of a lifetime. But, then, you already knew that, right? Being your first time, though, you may not know exactly what to cover on your first trip. Which attractions are must-sees? Why? Check out our guide on what to cover on your first trip to Hawaii.

Book Some Tours Ahead of Time

A big part of the planning of your first Hawaiian trip is booking things in advance. You can’t just show up and trust that everything you want will be available. If you plan on touring Pearl Harbor, for instance, hook up with a reputable tour company like Hoku Hawaii Tours that sells tour tickets to all the museums and ships, and provides top-notch touring services of the site.

Narrowing it Down

To narrow down which island/s to visit, you’ll have to ask yourself a few questions. Is there something you really want to see? How much time do you have? What fits into your budget? If your top priority is to see Pearl Harbor, your choice is clear: Oahu. This is the most popular island and has the best blend of commercialism (meaning it caters to tourists with plenty of hotels, beaches and attractions) and natural beauty. If you’re going on your honeymoon and want privacy, head to Kauai which is smaller and less touristy, with plenty of sandy beaches but with less noise and more romance. If you only have a week, choose one island and stick to it. If you have a week and a half to two weeks, you have a bit more leeway and can try hitting at least three of the major Hawaiian islands. Your budget will determine for how long you’re going and which type of resort you can stay at.


As the oldest and northernmost island, Kauai has all the natural beauty you could ask for in Hawaii, with many must see’s such as Kokee State Park and Limahuli Garden. Other highlights you can’t miss include:
• Wailua Falls
• Poipu Beach
• Kalalau Trail
• Waimea Canyon


Love to lay out on the beach? Maui is for you. This is where you’ll find some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet. You can go whale watching, collect sea shells, do water sports, go boating or enjoy some snorkeling. Must-do’s here in Maui for the first timer include:

• Haleakala National Park
• Lahaina Town for a historic stroll
• Road to Hana for a scenic drive
• Makena Beach State Park, a.k.a. Big Beach

The Big Island

As per its name, the Big Island is the largest in Hawaii, which interestingly is home to 11 out of 13 of the globe’s 13 climactic zones. You’ve got everything from shoreline and beaches to mountains and volcanoes, with everything in between: waterfalls, rain forests, gardens, national parks and much more. Don’t miss:

• Pu’uKohola Heiau
• Kilauea in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
• Waipio Valley
• Downtown Hilo
• Ka Lae


This is where you’ll find Honolulu, which is the state capital. Most of Hawaii’s population resides on this island, so it’s not as private as, say, Kauai. This is the place for natural and cultural wonders, world-class entertainment, surfing, memorials, museums, and beaches. Be sure to check out:

• Pearl Harbor
• Waikiki Beach
• Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve for snorkeling
• Nuuanu Pali Lookout
• North Shore for surfing

Planning your first trip to Hawaii will pay off big time once you get there. It’s important to know what to hit on your first time so you can take it all in.