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Explore Hawaii's Four Biggest Islands By Road

Hawaii is a land of spectacular contrasts, perfect for exploring with a rental car. From metropolitan Honolulu to the wild coastline of Maui, you will not be short of attractions to discover. If you're planning on visiting Oahu, Maui, The Big Island or Kauai, here is quick guide to how you should spend your time exploring the region by road.

Marvel at monumental coastal vistas in Kauai

Coastline of Kauai, Hawaii

DAY ONE: Once you arrive into Lihue Airport, pick up a rental car to discover the famous island of Kauai, the filming location of many Hollywood blockbusters. Spend a day exploring the beautiful waterfalls of Wailua River State Park. The park is home to two stunning waterfalls: Opaekaa Falls and Wailua Falls. Explore a number of historic sites where visitors can learn more about the history of Hawaii.

DAY TWO: On route to Hanalei Bay, stop in and see the phenomenal views of Queen's Bath in Princetown. A short drive on from there will take you to Hanalei Bay. The historic town of Hanalei features many local art galleries featuring work from Hawaiian artists. The Pier is a popular place for fishing and enjoying the views over the scenic bay. Another worthwhile stop along this route is the Kilauea Lighthouse, which offers dramatic views of the coastline. The area is also the home of a wildlife refuge where you can see wildlife native to Kauai, as well as many species of birds. 

DAY THREE: Dedicate a day to exploring the Kalalau Trail, which takes you along miles of unbelievable jagged coastline. The trail begins at Ke'e Beach, and you will need to apply for a permit if you intend on hiking past the Hanakapi'ai Valley. The trail is 11 miles in length, and traverses the uneven Nepali coast. The hike is only recommended for able hikers.

Enjoy the sun and the surf in popular Oahu

Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii

DAY ONE: Spend your first day soaking up the sunshine and seeing the sights of Honolulu. Hawaii's vibrant capital city is full of exciting things to do. Try some delicious local cuisine and spend some money in the stores. Don't forget a swim in the famous Waikiki Beach. Your Oahu adventure wouldn't be complete without a visit to the historical site of Pearl Harbor, where you can see the USS Arizona Memorial, and explore a museum documenting the history of aviation in the area. Make sure you reserve your tickets in advance; Pearl Harbor is a popular place to visit. 

DAY TWO: Looking to see some marine life? You can snorkel at the beautiful Hanauma Bay, where there hundreds of different species of fish. The bay is ideal for swimming and relaxing on the golden sands. Particularly great if you are traveling as a family is the Sea Life Park. Get up close to  dolphins and other marine wildlife.

DAY THREE: Head to Lanikai Beach, and for those up for a challenge take on the Lanikai Pillbox Hike. The steep trail is a difficult one, but those who make the journey will be rewarded with fantastic views. For another stunning lookout, take a short drive to the Nuuani Pali Lookout. A short hike offers fabulous panoramic views of Oahu.

Watch lava collide with the ocean on the Big Island

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

DAY ONE: Start your journey from Kona International Airport. As you head south along the coast you will come across many historical landmarks like the Kamakahonu National Historic Monument and the Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historic Park. You can also visit the site where British explorer James Cook was killed in 1779.

DAY TWO: Head to the violent, other-worldly landscape of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. As the home of one of the most active volcanoes on earth, witness the lava fields and  watch the brightly colored lava collide with the Pacific Ocean. You will find plenty of stops along the road where you can view the lava fields. Don't miss this unforgettable stop on the Big Island.

DAY THREE: Continue your drive to Hilo, where you will find fascinating museums, art galleries and even an Astronomy Centre. The region is also home to a number of beautiful waterfalls, and is close by the Akaka Falls State Park. Head back to the airport, but be sure to stop in at the Waipio Valley on your way. The fertile land was once home to Hawaiian royalty, making it an important historic site. From the Waipio Valley Lookout you will be offered stunning views of the coastline.

Watch the unforgettable sunrise from Maui

Sunrise Over Maui from Mountain

DAY ONE: Kick off your road trip in Kahalui. Maui's main city is the perfect place to stock up on everything you will need for your trip. If you'd like to start sightseeing early, you can also visit the Sugar Museum to learn more about the history of Maui's significance in the industry.

DAY TWO: Take the winding road up to Haleakala Summit to see the famous view at sunrise. You will need to reserve this in advance, and keep in mind that the roads can get quite busy during the early hours of the morning. Allow plenty of time to arrive at the summit. The region is also worth a visit during sunset, when the colors are incredible in the night sky.

DAY THREE: As you head toward Maui's north shore, stop in at the unconventional town of Paia. Along with unique artwork, you will also find boutique local stores. Next, begin your journey on Maui's most popular road, the Hana Highway. As you wind your way across the north shore, stop in and visit beaches, scenic waterfalls, and end your day at the black-sand beaches of Waianapanapa State Park. There are also caves to explore in the area. The Wailua Falls are located not far past Hana, and you can also journey to a popular tourist stop, the Seven Sacred Pools and Ohe'o.

Have you been to Hawaii? What would you recommend adding to a road trip itinerary?

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