Does this sound familiar? You jump off the plane, ready to start your relaxing tropical vacation, and suddenly you're hitting all the best hikes, driving around the island in a day, shopping for local goods, chowing down on Hawaiian Regional Cuisine every chance you get, getting your surfing-kayaking-scuba-diving sessions in and... vacation's over. It blew by in a frenetic burst of activities.
Yes, you want to do it all, but if you must do one thing on your Hawaiian vacation, it's this: Get on Hawaii Time. For locals, it means a start time or meeting time is flexible; no one here is in a rush. For visitors, take a moment to appreciate where you are.
Best possible way to take advantage of Hawaii Time? A leisurely stroll. Enviable coastline is Hawaii's specialty, which means the Islands have some of the best scenic strolling anywhere. Any of her beaches would suffice, of course. Here are our recommendations:
Hanalei Pier, Kauai
Like something from a dream: Hanalei Pier. Photo: B Mully/Creative Commons.
It isn't long, so if you really want to get your stroll on, you'll likely continue walking along the beautiful Hanalei Bay shoreline. But this charming pier may delay you a while: It's a favorite of kids who like to jump off it into the bay, fishermen looking for a nibble and locals just lazing the afternoon away. Built in 1892, it became famous in 1957 when it was featured in Hammerstein's "South Pacific." FLY TO THE HANALEI PIER IN 3D »
And on other side of the island: The two-mile Mahaulepu Heritage Trail on Kauai's southern coast is chock full of geological wonders befitting one of the oldest of the Hawaiian Islands. LEARN MORE, FLY THERE IN 3D »
Alii Drive, Kona, Hawaii
Alii Drive runs along the picturesque Kona waterfront, past small-town shops and restaurants, historical sites such as Hulihee Palace and Mokuaikaua Church, and the gorgeous Kona Bay. Best time to stroll: Sunset. FLY TO KONA IN 3D »
And on the other side of the island: If you love the botanical monoliths known as banyan trees, take a stroll along this Hilo street. Some of these banyans were planted by celebrities. FLY TO BANYAN DRIVE IN 3D »
Wailea Coastal Walk, Maui
Morning (pictured) or evening, you'll feel like you fell into a postcard on this stroll. Photo: Neeta Lind/Creative Commons.
Take in the views of Kahoolawe and Lanai, the Crayola blues from ocean to sky, breaching whales (in winter) and the occasional celebrity on a jog — all along this pathway that fronts five beaches in the resort town of Wailea. FLY TO WAILEA COASTAL WALK IN 3D »
And on the other side of the island: A resort row of a different stripe along one dynamic beach. The pathway that fronts the Kaanapali Beach resorts offers impressive views of Lanai and Molokai, plus the beachfront Whalers Village shopping center for a bite or a fun find. Don't miss the silhouette of Black Rock against the sunset. FLY TO KAANAPALI BEACH IN 3D »
Waikiki Beach at sunset
Another day ends at Waikiki Beach. Photo: Onecle/Creative Commons.
Yes, it's the center of tourism, yes, there are lots of people. But assuming you're not an agoraphobe, you can't help but be moved by the twinkling lights of waterfront Waikiki set against the sunset. Take a stroll along Kalakaua Avenue heading toward Diamond Head to Kapahulu, enjoy watching the kids jump off the groin and wrap-up the last daylight's worth of boogie boarding, then stroll back up the beach. The ocean, the breeze, the buzz of the city meld into a symphony. FLY TO WAIKIKI BEACH IN 3D »