Most fairy tales don’t include palm trees, but a visit to the tropical Hawaiian islands of Kauai and Hawaii will convince you they should.
You’ll learn daring stories of kings and adventurers, taste coffee straight from the farm and marvel at spectacular landscapes that are unlike any others. To truly explore Hawaii’s varied, stunning attractions, start your visit in Kona, a storied region on Hawaii Island, then travel to Kauai, whose natural beauty is spellbinding.
Starting in Kona
After flying into Kona, spend a few days exploring the Kona Coast on the western side of the island. It’s easy to forget that lava from active volcanoes flows nearby when you drive through the town of Kailua-Kona and into the lush hillside communities in South Kona.
Spend at least a day in Kailua-Kona. The former home of Hawaii’s ruler, King Kamehameha, has morphed from a quiet fishing village into a charming hub with tropical-themed shops and diverse restaurants. Next, tour the island’s coffee farms and explore Kealakekua Bay, the site of the first European landing in Hawaii. You’ll need a car to get around; the island of Hawaii is often called “the Big Island” to avoid confusion with the state of Hawaii and because it’s larger than all the other Hawaiian islands combined.
Kayaking with tropical fish in Kealakekua Bay's clear waters
Where to Stay on the Island of Hawaii
You have many options up and down the coast. There are luxury resorts like the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai and mid-range options, which include Hilton Waikoloa Village and Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. A wide variety of condos, where you can cook your own food, also are available.