Maui (Hawaii) in 4 days

Maui is a small but beautiful island of Hawai’i. Here is a recommended 4-day itinerary for Maui. This is a slightly modified version of what I was able to do. The public transport on the island is poor. For solo travel outside the rainy season, I would recommend renting a moped to go around. Otherwise, rent a car.

The island has a much more developed western part consisting of Kaanapali which has major resorts and Lahaina which area.

Day 1

Start with Road to Hanaa, it’s a day-long activity and you do want to do this early on when it’s not raining.

My trip overlapped with Deepak Sharma

My trip overlapped with Deepak Sharma

Don’t forget to eat Aunty Sandy’s Banana bread on the way.

Day 2

Wake up early to get to Haleakala National Park to watch a beautiful sunrise. You can hike down in Haleakala National Park afterward. Its interesting flora and fauna but not a great hike.

Sunrise at Haleakala National Park

Hiking at Haleakala

In the evening, head to Kaanapali, the beaches are great and do jump off the Black Rock cliff into the Pacific ocean.

Day 3

Head south to Makena State Park, Big beach is another beautiful beach there. Do note that it is very similar to Black Rock beach, so, you can skip this entirely. In the evening, head to Lahaina to check the largest Banyan tree in the United States.

Day 4

Head to Iao Valley State Park for hiking. Spend rest of the day checking Wailuku and local delicacies.

 

 

Big Island (Hawaii) in 5 days

The Island of Hawai’i, popularly known as the Big Island is the biggest island in Hawai’i. Unlike other islands, this one is too big for driving around with mopeds. The island has two cities at the two corners, Kona and Hilo. If you are a coffee junkie, Kona indeed is the place where Kona coffee comes from.

Day 1

Flew into Kona late night and drove directly to Holo Holo Inn. It’s a beautiful rustic place to stay next to the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. The park had an active volcano till 2013. Now, only the dried magma is left. The petroglyphs are good but nothing worth spending too much time on.

Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

There is an active volcano outside of public reach but one can go close enough to get a photo taken there. One has to wait till the evening for good photos, so, in the meanwhile, do drive through the chain of craters road.

Active volcano (that's how close they let you go to it)

Active volcano (that’s how close they let you go to it)

Day 2

I had an unsuccessful attempt at hiking the Mauna Kea Observatory, it was too windy and everyone else turned back the midway. It is possible to drive there but if it’s too windy that’s explicitly prohibited, as it was that day. From there, I headed to Kaumana caves, this was my first time doing a cave spelunking, so, couldn’t go too far but it is a great experience and I would highly recommend that.

Kaumana caves

Kaumana Caves

Akaka Falls State Park is nearby and is worth checking out, though can be skipped if you are short on time.

Alaska Falls State Park

Akaka Falls State Park

Day 3

I started with Waipi’o Valley. The distance is too far to walk down, and too steep to drive back with a 2WD. But Hawaiians are friendly, just ask for a lift and you will get to hitchhike. Do carry swimsuit down there, since it is beautiful to swim there. From there, I headed to the Botanical Garden, beautiful & mesmerizing but not very different from other botanical gardens. So, do it if you have not done any before. Kilauea Caverns of Fire is another cave worth checking out.

Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden

Day 4

I started the day with Honaunau bay, this has a historic park with some artifacts and a nice spot for snorkeling. Mauka meadows have a beautiful infinite-ish swimming pool where one is not allowed to swim but still great views of Kona. Highly recommended for its scenic beauty.  Followed this with Kealakekua Bay which has a mildly strenuous hike to Captain Cook monument. Then I stopped by Original Hawaii Chocolate Factory to see chocolate making, do make an advanced reservation for it. And a free bee tour at Big Island Bees was the highlight of the day. 

Day 5

I started the day with Coconut Island & Liliuokalani Gardens. And followed it with Hawaii maritime museum, which I would highly recommend if you are a geography lover. From there, drove along the south to reach South Point which is the southern most point of any US state.

A bakery near South Point

A bakery near South Point

 

Oahu (Hawaii) in 5 days

The island of Oahu which contains the capital city of Honolulu is an amazing combination of urban amenities, nature hikes, and beautiful beaches. If you are doing only one island out of the four major islands Of Hawai’i then this is the one I would recommend. I did it during Thanksgiving which is the last week of November. While this island is not as big as the “big island”, public infrastructure outside of the city of Honolulu is not great. Therefore, I would recommend taking a moped rental(30-40$ a day) for a solo trip. Roads are narrow and the moped turns out to be a better choice than a car, both for driving and parking. The only time a moped gave me trouble was when it rained. Outside of the city of Honolulu, there is nothing much to do after the sunset, so, plan your trip accordingly. Do check out local food items, like Shave Ice cream and Banana bread from local markets. But don’t carry any of it for the return journey.

Hawai'i

Hawai’i

 Day 1

I reached in the afternoon and started my journey with an easy but picturesque hike to the Diamond Head crater which overlooks the city of Honolulu.

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The city of Honolulu in the background from the top of diamond head crater

 

I checked out the Waikiki beach afterward. Since its next to the city of Honolulu, you are not going to miss it.

Day 2

My plan for the second day was to spend a few hours at the Pearl Harbor Memorial. But I underestimated the number of things to see there. I spent the whole day till the evening checking out the various warships. There are always guided tours going on, so definitely check them out.

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Day 3

The rainfall slowed me down a bit. I started with Buddhist Temple and then spent my time connecting with a few locals to plan my “Stairway to Heaven” trip. After that, I headed to Kuhio beach for a traditional Hawaiian dance “Hula” ceremony. It’s a free, open to the public event every Saturday. Don’t pay anyone for Hula shows till you have watched this public ceremony.

Buddhist Temple

Buddhist Temple

One dance during the ceremony

One dance during the ceremony

Day 4

“Stairway to Heaven” or “Haiku stairs” is closed to the public. A guard comes at about 4 AM at the entrance. And therefore, you have to enter before he reaches there. I, along with, a few locals started at 2:30 AM at night. The entrance goes through private property and a cut fence. It is very hard to find it out without the help of the locals. And don’t try it unless you are an experienced hiker. Once you cross all that hurdles, you will be rewarded with a strenuous hike on metal stairs which of course will hurt your shins every time you slip on them. There isn’t much to see during the journey but views are beautiful from the top. It takes about 4 hours to reach the top.

Keep climbing

Keep climbing

I continued my journey to Hanauma Bay which got destroyed by heavy rains. I did Makapuu Lighthouse trail while it was drizzling, it wasn’t a great hike. I would actually recommend Maunawii Trail which I had to skip since rains slowed me down heavily.

Day 5

I started the day with a straight hike up the Koko crater trail. Amazing views from the top. Carry lunch there and have it while you are watching natural slopes on one side and urban Honolulu on the other.

Koko crater trail

Koko crater trail

Top of the Koko head crater

I headed to Chinaman’s hat from there. It was a bit late and being solo, I decided to skip swimming to it. It was already evening and I was close to Polynesian Cultural Center, so, I decided to watch a two-hour musical show of “Ha” there. It’s a bit expensive. I made a mistake of reaching almost on time for the show, arrive at least an hour in advance to check out the center there. I found the show to be OK but not great.

Day 6

I started the day with Shark Cage diving but the amount of time and money one ends up spending on it is a total rip-off. I found the tour in Belize to be much more worthwhile. I continued my anti-clockwise tour of the island with Shark Cove, followed by World’s largest maze.

The best shaved ice I had in Hawai'i

The best shave ice I had in Hawai’i