Aloha! Did you know that Hawaii is the #1 aspirational destination for North American travelers? Maybe a post about reasons to vacation in Hawaii isn’t necessary if so many people already want to travel there. On the other hand, maybe you do need 36 reasons to get that Hawaii vacation scheduled sooner rather than later.
My husband and I went to Hawaii for our final vacation before having kids. Then we went again in 2015 with our kids to complete our family goal of visiting all 50 states. I knew that Hawaii was one of the places I wanted to specialize in, so I became a Certified Hawaii Destination Specialist.
I’m sure there are way more than 36 reasons to visit Hawaii, but when I went through my Hawaii photos looking for the ones I wanted to share, that’s the number I came up with. So, here we go.
The moment that floral lei goes around your neck, you know you’re really on vacation. There’s nothing else like it!
2. Beautiful beaches
You know this had to be on the list somewhere, so let’s get it out of the way early. So many beautiful beaches! (And if you know anything about my family, you know we had to build sand castles on several of those beaches!)
3. Amazing sunsets
I remember when I was planning my first trip to Hawaii, a friend had a calendar of Hawaiian sunsets. I couldn’t wait to see them in person.
4. A glowing volcano
Depending on the timing of your visit, you might be lucky enough to see flowing lava. If not, you might be able to see the glow coming from Kilauea at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
5. Steaming volcanic vents
There’s no chance you’ll forget you’re on top of an active volcano when you hike past these steaming volcanic vents.
6. Vast lava beds
It’s hard to comprehend the vast desolate beds of lava until you’ve seen them in person.
7. Fascinating lava formations
Do you know the difference between pahoehoe and a’a lava? We love to learn new things when we travel and Hawaii is an excellent place for a geology lesson.
8. Lava tubes
Speaking of interesting lava formations, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to walk through a lava tube.
Natural lava formations aren’t the only ones of interest; check out the petroglyphs carved into the lava rock by the people of Hawaii.
10. Black sand beaches
When all of that lava hits the coast, Mother Nature turns it into beautiful black sand.
11. Colorful tropical flowers
Standing in stark contrast to all the black lava are the most colorful tropical flowers you can imagine. I love to take pictures of flowers when I travel and Hawaii was an utter delight. I took some of these pictures in a botanical garden, but several of these flowers surrounded a house that we rented.
12. The scent of plumeria flowers
Not only are those flowers a feast for the eyes, but for the nose as well. The first time I visited Hawaii, there was a plumeria tree right outside our hotel room and it smelled heavenly.
13. The most amazing climbing tree ever
While I’m on the subject of Hawaii’s botanical delights, I must mention the amazing banyan trees. My kids (and a bunch of other kids) had an absolute blast climbing this one.
14. Cliff jumping
Climbing trees wasn’t an activity that we planned in advance and neither was cliff jumping, but kids often want to do what the other kids are doing. And it proves that sometimes the best activities are the free ones.
15. Dramatic coastlines
There are some really gorgeous views along the coastlines. Some are great for cliff jumping, and others are just for admiring.
16. Breathtaking views
I highly recommend renting a car for at least part of your stay in Hawaii so that you can explore on your own. While you can take a helicopter ride to see some of the breathtaking scenery, I took this photo from our car.
There’s nothing like the view of a waterfall to remind you that you are in paradise…
18. Shrimp trucks
Moving along to the culinary reasons to visit Hawaii, let’s start with Shrimp Trucks. Yum!
19. Hawaiian pizza in Hawaii
And if you’re a fan of Hawaiian pizza, like my son, you simply must try it in Hawaii!
20. Macadamia nuts
And the only thing better than macadamia nuts is free samples of macadamia nuts. This was a must-do for my macadamia-nut-loving husband and daughter.
We loved learning about how pineapples grow.
22. Kona coffee
There’s only one coffee drinker in our family (my youngest daughter), but the rest of us still found our tour of a Kona coffee plantation very interesting.
23. More varieties of SPAM than you’ve ever seen before
Even if you’re not a fan of SPAM, you simply must visit a grocery store just to see all the varieties of SPAM they sell in Hawaii. I think I counted 13 in this picture.
24. Fishing trips
Maybe you’d like to catch your own fresh fish, like this woman we saw after one of our scuba dives.
25. Manta Rays
Speaking of scuba diving, if you are a certified diver, you must do the manta ray night dive. Just trust me on this one. If you aren’t a diver, there is also a snorkeling option in which you swim above the manta rays.
26. Giant sea turtles
While we’re on the subject of giant sea animals, let’s talk about turtles. I know you can’t see it well in this picture, but trust me, there’s a giant sea turtle there.
27. U.S.S. Arizona Memorial
Interested in history? You won’t want to miss the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, where World War II began for the United States.
28. See where World War II ended
You’ll also want to see the spot where the peace treaty ending World War II was signed on the Battleship Missouri.
29. U.S.S. Missouri tour
The rest of the tour of the Battleship Missouri is also fascinating.
30. Stand on a volcano above the clouds
It’s hard to believe that you can get in your car at sea level and drive up, up, up a volcano until you are above the clouds.
31. See the world’s largest astronomical observatory
And what’s up there? The world’s largest observatory.
Yes, there’s snow in Hawaii, up on top of that volcano. My kids even built a tiny snowman with the snowballs they’re holding. Snowman and sand castles on the same vacation!
33. The view from Diamondhead
While we’re talking about views from above, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the view from the top of Diamond Head. It’s worth the hike!
From Diamond Head, you can see Waikiki Beach, which is where you can learn to surf.
35. Hawaiian music
While we enjoyed the more laid back parts of Hawaii more, we did spend a couple nights in a hotel on Waikiki Beach in order to experience that atmosphere. One night we stumbled upon a free concert. It wouldn’t be Hawaii without Hawaiian music.
36. Stunning scenery
Have I mentioned that Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places on earth? There are so many beautiful things to see.
If this post has convinced you that Hawaii needs to be your next vacation destination, please consider letting me help you plan your trip. I can help tailor a trip that’s just right for your family’s interests. Read about how my services work here.