What should I do in Hawaii? This is the most common question that readers ask me. Here is a list of the best things to see and do on each island, and how to do them so you can spend more time "doing" and less time "getting there."
First, here's the best advice I can give you: Do not plan to see more than one island per week. With the exception of the ferry between Maui and Lanai, getting from one island to another is an all-day affair once you figure in packing, checking out of and into hotels, driving to and from airports, and dealing with rental cars, not to mention time actually spent at the airport and on the flight. Don't waste a day of your vacation seeing our interisland air terminals.
Second, don't max out your days. This is Hawaii -- allow some time to do nothing but relax. You most likely will arrive jet-lagged, so it's a good idea to ease into your vacation. In fact, exposure to sunlight can help reset your internal clock, so I include time at the beach on the first day of most of these itineraries.
Third, if this is your first trip to Hawaii, think of it as a "scouting" trip. Hawaii is too beautiful, too sensual, too enticing to see just once in a lifetime. You'll be back. You don't need to see and do everything on this trip.
Finally, keep in mind that the following itineraries are designed to appeal to a wide range of people.
One last thing: You will need a car to get around the islands. Oahu has an adequate public transportation service, but even so, it's set up for residents, not tourists carrying coolers and beach toys (all carry-ons must fit under the bus seat). So plan to rent a car. But also plan to get out of the car as much as possible -- to smell the sweet perfume of plumeria, to hear the sound of the wind through a bamboo forest, and to plunge into the gentle waters of the Pacific.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.