Best Hawaiian Sights: 9 Favorite Moments

The down-home North Shore Surf & Cultural Museum traces the rich history of Hawaii's native sport. Marco Garcia
By Jeanette Foster

The new Hawaii Day by Day features hundreds of gorgeous color photos of the sights and experiences that await visitors to the Pacific archipelago. Here are nine sights -- from the USS Arizona to the top of Mauna Kea -- you'll likely return to again and again.

Photo Caption: The down-home North Shore Surf & Cultural Museum traces the rich history of Hawaii's native sport.
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Step on the deck where the Japanese surrendered and World War II ended at Pearl Harbor's USS Missouri Memorial. Marco Garcia
The United States could turn its back on World War II no longer after December 7, 1941, when Japanese warplanes bombed Pearl Harbor. Standing on the deck of the USS Arizona Memorial
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A surfer walking along Oahu, Hawaii's North Shore. Frommers.com Community
Just an hour's drive from Honolulu, the North Shore is another world: a pastoral, rural setting with magnificent beaches and a slower way of life. During the winter months, stop and watch the professionals surf the monster waves.

Photo Caption: A surfer walking along Oahu, Hawaii's North Shore.
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A mecca for skiiers and snowboarders, Mauna Kea towers above the clouds at sunset. Bruce Omori
The Hawaiians thought the gods lived on Mauna Kea, the world's tallest mountain at 33,476 feet when measured from the ocean's floor. Don't miss the opportunity to see the sun sink into the Pacific and watch the stars slowly come out of the inky black sky. The summit is so clear that the world's largest telescopes are located here.

Photo Caption: A mecca for skiiers and snowboarders, Mauna Kea towers above the clouds at sunset.
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The Kilauea Caldera Overlook is a great place to get a glimpse of the lava flow from the erupting Halema'uma'u. Bruce Omori
Some call the 3-decades-long eruption of Kilauea the Eighth Wonder of the World. It's an awe-inspiring sight at any time, but especially dramatic at night, when you can watch the glowing red lava snake down the side of the island and explode into the ocean.

Photo Caption: The Kilauea Caldera Overlook is a great place to get a glimpse of the lava flow from the erupting Halema'uma'u.
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Waterfalls along the Hana Highway. Tor Johnson/The Hawaii Tourism Authority
The Hana Highway is much more than a way to get from point A to point B. Stop along the way to plunge into icy mountain ponds filled by cascading waterfalls; gaze upon vistas of waves pummeling soaring ocean cliffs; inhale the sweet aroma of blooming ginger; and take a walk back in time, catching a glimpse of what Hawaii looked like before concrete condos and fast-food joints washed ashore.

Photo Caption: Waterfalls along the Hana Highway.
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Sunrise over Haleakala viewed from the outlook near the summit. Hawaii Tourism Japan
Bundle up in warm clothing, fill a thermos full of hot java, and drive up to the summit of Haleakala to watch the sky turn from inky black to muted charcoal as a small sliver of orange forms on the horizon. Standing at 10,000 feet, breathing in the rarefied air, and watching the first rays of light streak across the sky is a mystical experience of the highest magnitude.

Photo Caption: Sunrise over Haleakala viewed from the outlook near the summit.
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The spectacular cliffs at Kalaupapa National Park are taller than 3 Empire State Buildings. Marco Garcia
Even if you have only one day to spend on Molokai, spend it on a mule. The Molokai Mule Ride trek from "topside" Molokai to the Kalaupapa National Historic Park (Father Damien's world-famous leper colony) is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. The cliffs are taller than 300-story skyscrapers, and the narrow 3-mile trail includes 26 dizzying switchbacks, but Buzzy Sproat has never lost one of his trustworthy mules (or any riders) on the difficult trail. The mules make the trek daily, rain or shine.

Photo Caption: The spectacular cliffs at Kalaupapa National Park are taller than 3 Empire State Buildings.
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Munroe Trail, Lanai Ron Dahlquist/The Hawaii Tourism Authority
From Lahaina, in Maui, take the Expeditions Lahaina/Lanai Passenger Ferry from Maui over to the island of Lanai and rent a four-wheel-drive jeep on your own. It's a two-for-one island experience: Board in Lahaina Harbor and admire Maui from off- shore, then get off at Lanai and go snorkeling in the clear waters, tour the tiny former plantation island, and catch the last ferry home.

Photo Caption: Munroe Trail, Lanai
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It'll cost big bucks, but a Blue Hawaii helicopter tour will buy eye-popping views of Kauai's spectacular North Shore. Dana Nadeau
Don't leave Kauai without seeing it from a helicopter. It's expensive but worth the splurge. You can take home memories of the thrilling ride up and over the Kalalau Valley on Kauai's wild North Shore and into the 5,200-foot vertical temple of Mount Waialeale, the most sacred place on the island and the wettest spot on earth.

Photo Caption: It'll cost big bucks, but a Blue Hawaii helicopter tour will buy eye-popping views of Kauai's spectacular North Shore.
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