Hawaii: Top 10 Things to Do in the Aloha State

Statue of King Kamehameha in Hilo on the Big Island. Photo Credit: Tor Johnson Courtesy of the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

Travel Destination

Hawai’i has had a special place in my heart since I made my first trip there at the age of 18.

This post was originally published on 3 March of 2010. It is republished today in commemoration of Kamehameha Day.

From surfing to playing golf to soaking up the rays at tropical beaches, no other place on earth offers such a wide variety of things for visitors to see and do as Hawai’i, the 50th – and arguably most beautiful – state in the United States of America.

Here is a short list of just a few of the many ways you can while away your sunny days and balmy nights in what American author Mark Twain described as “the loveliest fleet of islands that lies anchored in any ocean”.

1. Play Golf

When it comes to playing golf, you will be spoiled for choice in the Aloha State. Hawaii has more than 80 golf courses, many of them overlooking the ocean. All six of the main islands sport golf courses, many of them rated among the world’s best.

2. Attend a Luau

Feast on kalua pig, lau lau, and poi at a luau. The pig is roasted all day long underground in a pit. Lau lau is meat, poultry or fish that is steamed in ti leaves. Poi, which is made from taro, is a staple of the Polynesian diet.

Hawaiian music and chants as well as Samoan fire dancers and Tahitian drumming are part of parcel of most luau. Weather permitting, they are usually staged outdoors and under the stars.

3. Learn How to Surf

The beach boys will have catching a wave and sitting on top of the world before you can say humuhumunukunukuapua’a! They’ll start by teaching you water safety. Then they’ll show you how to paddle, catch a wave, and stay balanced while standing up on the board.

Kuhio and Waikiki beaches in Honolulu – with their gentle waves – are among the best spots in the world for beginners. If that’s too much of a challenge, consider riding in an outrigger canoe or taking a sunset cruise on a catamaran off the shores of Waikiki.

4. Go Shopping

No man returns from Hawaii without at least one aloha shirt, and no woman comes home without at least one muumuu. Both are colourful and loose-fitting, perfect for Hawaii’s warm climate.

Aloha shirts are worn outside the pants, which are usually white. Muumuus are floor-length dresses.

Couples often wear matching aloha shirts and muumuus as they parade up and down Waikiki’s Kalakaua Avenue. Other must-haves include Kona coffee from the Big Island, jewelry made of seashells, and Hawaiian quilts.

But please! If your next vacation is to Europe, please leave your Hawaiian clothes home! It’s one thing to wear matching aloha shirt and muumuu parading up and down Kalakaua Avenue in Honolulu – and quite another to do the same on the on the Chanps-Elysees in Paris.

5. Get Married

Surely there could be no more romantic spot on earth to get married than Hawaii! Whether it’s on the beach, at a plantation, or on a boat sailing up the Waimea River, no Hawaiian wedding would be complete without a soulful rendition of the Hawaiian Wedding Song. And for your wedding banquet, why not a luau?

6. Drink One Too Many Mai Tais

Mai tai is Tahitian for good, and good they are! Despite their high alcohol content, however, they go down so easily that you don’t realize how potent they are until you try and stand up after stuffing yourself at a luau.

Recipes vary, but they usually contain from one to three types of rum (white, dark, and/or golden) plus orange curacao, and rock candy syrup. Served in wide rimmed cocktail glasses, they are garnished with a wedge of pineapple, lime, and an orchid. Say “suck ’em up” before imbibing!

7. Eat Plate Lunch

You haven’t experienced the real Hawaii until you’ve eaten plate lunch at one of the many mom and pop shops that dot the islands, and in my opinion, the best place to enjoy them is on the beach or in a park.

A plate lunch consists of two scoops of white rice, macaroni salad, and some kind of meat. Terriyaki beef is my favourite! They are usually served on sturdy paper plates so that you can balance them on your lap.

8. Act Like You’re Not a Tourist

Art galleries in downtown Honolulu (not to be confused with Waikiki) throw their doors open the first Friday of every month, offering exhibits, free entertainment, and light refreshments. Why not drop by and rub shoulders with the artsy-fartsy crowd?  

9. Have a Hawaiian Massage

From seaweed body wraps to warm lava-rock massages to traditional lomilomi massages, there ‘s nothing like a Hawaiian style spa treatment to wash away your cares. For total indulgence, have your treatment outdoors!

10. Learn the Lingo

Hawaii has two official languages (English and Hawaiian) and one unofficial language (Pidgin English, which educators have been trying to stamp out for decades, but to no avail).

Few people speak Hawaiian fluently, but residents of the state like to sprinkle their English with Hawaiian words – aloha (for hello, goodbye, and I love you), mahalo (for thank you), lanai (for veranda), pupu (for hors d’oeure), and haole (for white person).

Hawaiian was a dying language, but there has been a campaign in recent years to give it a new lease on life. Do your part by picking up a few words while you’re in the islands!

For More Information on Hawai’i

Hawaii Vistors and Convention Bureau


For More on Hawaii and Hawaiian Tourism and Travel

Hawaii: Your Guide to the Aloha State

Top10 Things to Do in Hawaii

United States: Top 10 Things to Do for Free or Nearly Free in Kauai

My First Trip to Hawaii: Collecting Sunsets

My First Trip to Hawaii: Departure from Oakland Airport

My First Trip to Hawaii: the Big Island

My First Trip to Hawaii: Arrival in Honolulu

My First Trip to Hawaii: Pineapple Surprise

My First Trip to Hawaii: Lazy Days and Sundays

My First Trip to Hawaii: Here Today, Gone to Maui

California, Here I Come!

Click on the following link for Hawaii travel ideas: Hawaii Destination Guide.


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: