You don’t have to go much further than the US borders to discover lush forests, pristine beaches, and the dreamiest winter escape to Hawaii.
You’re standing on the deck of a superyacht looking at a landscape that’s straight out of a Jurassic Park movie. Beneath you, the ocean is a thousand shades of blue. Ahead of you, the waves churn to foamy white as they crash against craggy, black cliffs. Volcanic mountains rise from the sea to majestic peaks carpeted in emerald foliage.
A gusty breeze swirls, picking up the soft, floral scent of the lei about your neck. The steward hands you an authentic shave ice, sweet and cold, it’s the perfect afternoon treat. As you take your first tantalizing bite you close your eyes, turn your face to the sun and exhale a contented sigh. Aloha!
Welcome to Hawaii
With year-round fair weather, miles of sandy beaches, and a natural beauty surpassed only by the grace of her people, who doesn’t dream of vacationing in Hawai’i?Situated in the middle of the Pacific, halfway between Japan and the mainland United States, this archipelago represents one of the most remote inhabited lands on Earth. But far from being isolated, it is a vibrant oasis where island culture mixes with Eastern and Western influences to create an entirely unique experience. You won’t find as many charter options here as you would in the Caribbean or the Mediterranean. And since the Hawai’ian islands are separated by stretches of rough seas they don’t lend themselves to island-hopping. But the travel ambassadors at OceanScape Yachts are here to work with you to arrange your perfect Hawai’ian retreat.
O’ahu, The Gathering Place
Perhaps the most well-known of the Hawaiian islands, O’ahu is home to historic Pearl Harbor, world-famous Waikiki beach, and Kualoa Ranch (which you may not know by name, but you’ve seen in countless Hollywood movies and TV shows, Jurassic Park included). It is also the most densely populated and Westernized of the Hawai’ian islands.
You’ll find no shortage of 5-star resorts, fine dining, and high-end shopping in the city of Honolulu. But we recommend heading out from the city to find the (somewhat) quieter parts of the island.
Sailing up the windward coast you might stop for a visit at the Byodo-In Temple. Built to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first Japanese in Hawai’i, it’s a replica of the nearly millenia-old Byodo-in Temple in Uji, Japan. Surrounded by incredible landscapes, a large koi pond, free-roaming swans, and beautiful gardens you can’t help but feel serene.
Or head up to the north shore. Away from the beaches (which boast some of the best surfing on the planet) and the town of Haleiwa (with loads of shops, restaurants and street vendors), you’ll find the ancient ruins of Pu’u O Mahuka Heiau. Three hundred feet above Waimea Valley, this quiet spot overlooks Waimea Bay. It’s said that the native Hawai’ian’s who built this temple could see signal fires from Kaua’i.Finally, no visit to O’ahu would be complete without a stop at Ka’ena Point. The northwestern most part of the island is home to a State Park and Nature Reserve where you’ll find hiking trails, Hawai’i’s beloved monk seals, and sandy beaches. It’s also the darkest part of the island where star-gazers are treated to a clear view of the Milky Way.
Maui, The Valley IsleMaui is best known for its beach resorts, but the best of Maui can be found away from the tourist areas. The town of Paia on the island’s north shore, for example is often overlooked, but is well worth taking time to explore. The tiny main drag is filled with little shops, art galleries, a Buddhist stupa, restaurants, and even a saloon where it’s rumored Willie Nelson will stop in to play.
Further inland, on the slope of Haleakala volcano, you’ll find Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm. At 4000 ft elevation the gardens here offer exquisite views. Explore on your own or join one of the guided tours, just don’t miss the gourmet picnic lunch or the gift shop where you can buy everything from lavender laundry detergent to lavender aromatherapy shampoo for your pet!
Back on the water, head west to the channels between Maui and neighboring Molokai and Lanai islands. Here, you’ll find some of the best whale watching in Hawai’i. Humpback season stretches from November through April during which time these gentle giants gather to mate and calve their young. To locate them, keep your eyes open for the telltale spray of one coming to the surface for a breath.
Moloka’i, The Friendly Isle
Speaking of Moloka’i, if you’re looking for a truly authentic Hawai’ian experience then you simply must spend some time on The Friendly Isle. Unlike her sister islands, Molokai has fervently resisted commercial development and retains its original island charm. You won’t find many amenities here, but you will find incredible scenery and the laid back atmosphere that defines island life. Just don’t show up unannounced as the locals have been known to turn back ships that attempt to dock unexpectedly.
Hawaii, The Big IslandLegend has it that the fire goddess, Pele, lives in Halema‘uma‘u Crater at the summit of Mount Kilauea on the Big Island. Kilauea is the most active volcano on the planet. It had been continuously erupting for decades when Madame Pele went quiet in 2018. Even without active lava flows, however, a visit to Volcanoes National Park should be at the top of your to-do list.
The park covers approximately 523 square miles of awe-inspiring landscapes shaped by the eruptions of two active volcanoes (Kilauea and Mouna Loa). You can explore craters, lava tubes, and even rainforests. Just be sure to abide by the guidance of park staff as unmarked or closed trails can be dangerous.
From the park, sail around the southern tip of the island and head up the leeward coast. On your way to the Kona District, consider stopping at Pu‘uhonua O H‘naunau National Historical Park. This sacred site was once a place of refuge for native Hawai‘ians. It has been preserved and maintained by the national park service and is an excellent place to learn about Hawai‘ian history and culture.
When you’re ready for black gold–and by that we mean Kona coffee–head up the shore to Holualoa. This small village is surrounded by some 500 coffee farms, many of which offer tours. The town itself is something of an art enclave with stunning views of Kailua-Kona. You’ll want to get yourself good and caffeinated while you’re here in preparation for staying up late to enjoy night diving with manta rays off the Kona coast.
Kaua’i, The Garden Isle
There may be no better way to visit Kaua’i than on a chartered yacht. That’s because the island’s rugged terrain makes it difficult to traverse by land. There’s only one main, C-shaped road near the coast that takes you from Waimea to Hanalei, so travel times can be ridiculous.
Onboard your yacht you’ll be able to explore the famed Na Pali coast on the island’s north shore. These dramatic mountains and ridges are accessible only by air, sea, and foot. The view from the water is breathtaking and if ocean conditions are calm enough, you’ll be able to take the tender to explore sea caves along the shoreline.
For an entirely different perspective on Kaua’i’s natural wonders, we suggest taking a helicopter tour. From the air you’ll see cascading waterfalls, mist-covered mountains, canyons, rainforests, and volcanic craters. The tour guides will usually share the legends of the island. You can even land at the foot of the famed “Jurassic Falls.”
Of course we haven’t covered half of what there is to do in Hawaii. Between the mythic natural beauty, the rich culture and history, endless hiking trails, wildlife, snorkelling, diving, whale watching, shopping, surfing, dining… you could easily return year after year and still find something new every single trip. Bring your keiki (children), bring your kupuna (grandparents), Hawai’i truly has something for everyone.
Contributed by: Alexa Steele