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Searching for the perfect paradise for a summer getaway? Escape to Hawaii to celebrate the 58th anniversary of US statehood! From divergent landscapes to unique activities, here’s everything you should consider in preparation for your Hawaiian escape:
Choose your adventure
While exciting, planning a vacation to this highly sought after travel destination can actually be rather daunting. Start by mapping out which days will be spent relaxing and which days will be allocated to exploration. With over 100 islands in the Hawaiian archipelago, designing your trip around how you want to spend your time will be half the battle.
If you’re an active explorer seeking unparalleled scenery, Maui, Hawaii’s second most popular destination, may be right for you. Start your trip with a hike at Haleakala National Park during sunrise or sunset to visit Maui’s highest volcanic peak.
For a day trip, rent a car and drive the scenic Road to Hana, Maui’s undisputed top attraction. The legendary road is only 52 miles from Kahului, but the drive can take anywhere from two to four hours as it’s full of narrow one-lane bridges, hairpin turns and incredible island views. The road showcases some of the island’s most beautiful rainforests, waterfalls and seascapes and is not a site to miss!
Finally, take a catamaran out to Molokini, a small, crescent moon-shaped island. This partially submerged volcanic crater is a prime spot for snorkelers and divers. Visitors can see more than 250 marine species and enjoy clear visibility.
Are you a history buff? Head to Oahu! According to USA Today, Oahu is the most popular tourist destination by far (attracting twice as many visitors as Maui annually), Oahu is the most populated island and is home to capital Honolulu. Pick from one of Oahu’s eight Hawaiian Heritage Sites, which are places that provide significant historical, cultural and environmental contributions to Hawaii. The most notable is the WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument, where you can visit the USS Arizona and Pearl Harbor. Other heritage sites include Diamond Head (Leahi) State Monument and ‘Iolana Palace State Monument, the only official state residence of royalty in the U.S.
Culture connoisseurs might consider staying on the Big Island. Start your day with a “coffee cupping” in Kona to find your perfect brew. Then hit the beach and learn to surf in calmer waters of Kahalu’u Bay in Kona.
As a day trip, venture 90 minutes across the island to explore the city of Hilo. Take a stroll through the Hilo farmer’s market where more than 100 vendors congregate each week selling produce, seafood, crafts, clothing and more. Buy local and try lesser-known Hawaiian fruits like jaboticaba and rambutan (also known as lychee), but don’t be afraid to bargain!
When you travel to a new destination, one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the culture is try the local cuisine. For a true taste of the islands, try:
Poke, a food craze that struck the mainland a few years ago, however has long been a staple in Hawaiian cuisine. The word in Hawaiian simply means “chunk,” which refers to small cubes of marinated seafood. The most common and traditional type is Ahi Poke consisting of raw tuna cut into cubes marinated with soy sauce and sesame oil and mixed with onion. At both upscale restaurants and delis alike, you can try a gamut of different fish, flavors and textures of poke.
Manapua – a steamed, pork filled bun. Dating back to the 19th century when Cantonese immigrants arrived in Hawaii, Manapua is found everywhere from Chinese restaurants to bakeries to convenience stores.
Saimin is an iteration of a Chinese egg noodle soup that fuses various cultures’ cuisines into one bowl, a true representation of Hawaii’s melting pot heritage. Saimin features Japanese dashi broth and Chinese chow mein-style noodles with a combination of other ingredients including green onions, kamaboko (cured fish paste), kimchi, Portuguese sausage and Spam. Saimin can now even be found at sports stadiums and McDonalds’ across Hawaii.
If you’re looking for Hawaiian comfort food, try a Loco Moco. Available at most of the islands’ “mom and pop-style” eateries, Loco Moco is truly unique to Hawaii. While it’s generally agreed that the dish originated in Hilo, Hawaii in the late 1940’s, the dish’s true founder is widely debated. This enormous dish consists of white rice topped with a hamburger patty, sunnyside-up egg and covered in gravy. The dish can be ordered for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
No matter how you choose to travel, before you go be sure to check out the AARP Members Advantages website for discounts available to members on travel essentials and great vacation packages from top brands.
These articles present general information and are for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for legal, financial, medical, or other professional advice.