Guide to Island Hopping in Hawaii

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Aloha! Hawaii welcomes you to its eight stunning islands. Their beautiful scenery and warm locals have made this island destination synonymous with paradise. And what better way to explore this region of the world than island hopping?

Island hopping in Hawaii via a cruise will save you both time and money. Instead of spending your limited time researching the best inter-island flights and hanging out at airports, you can enjoy your time hanging ten, snorkelling with the sea turtles, or just lounging about on the beach when a cruise is your taxi from island to island. A cruise also covers a lot of holiday expenses you would normally have to account for separately – accommodations, dining, and transportation. Make the most of your Hawaii holiday by opting for an island-hopping adventure on a cruise ship.

Hawaiian man

Each Hawaiian island boasts its own culture, personality, and landscape, so incredible sights and impressions will surprise you wherever you go. Whether you’re hopping from Honolulu to Hilo or from Kauai to Kona, Hawaii’s majestic volcanic landscape will look astounding from every angle.

If you plan on island hopping through Hawaii or are still deciding where to go on your next cruise holiday, our comprehensive guide will give you some inspiration! Here, we outline what you absolutely must see and do when you are island hopping through the Hawaiian Islands.

woman with flower in hair in Honolulu Hawaii

Honolulu

Hawaii’s capital is a vibrant port city and popular tourist destination, where the island’s turbulent history meets the vibes of modern Hawaii. There’s so much more to it than sunscreen and lazy days spent on the beach.

  • Pearl Harbour Memorial: tour the sunken USS Arizona and the USS Bowfin, memorialising the deadly attacks that pulled the United States into World War II
  • Iolani Palace: walk through a beautifully restored, iconic 19th-century landmark in downtown Honolulu, once an opulent home to Hawaii’s royal families
  • Manoa Falls: explore the dense tropical jungle while walking up the falls, obverse the beautiful flora, swim the waters at the bottom of the falls
  • Hanauma Bay: study the diverse marine life – from exotic fish to sea turtles – as you snorkel through the naturally protected waters of the bay
  • Diamond Head: enjoy the spectacular panoramic view of Honolulu from the top of Diamond Head volcano, formerly a military base
  • Water Sports: whether it’s surfing the waves or paddleboarding along the beach, there are plenty of ways to enjoy Honolulu’s waters
  • Luau at Paradise Cove: participate in a traditional luau with Polynesian entertainment – stringing leis, weaving a headband, throwing a spear, and enjoying Hawaiian delicacies

Kauai Hawaii

Kauai

Lush, verdant rainforests, rainbow-encompassed rocky canyons, and long, secluded beaches fill the “Garden Island”.

  • Waimea Canyon: nicknamed the ‘Grand Canyon of the Pacific Ocean’, every vista of the canyon brandishes reds, greens, and browns from centuries of volcanic flow
  • Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge: the lush green slopes of the extinct volcano roll down to rocky cliffs and into the Pacific; expect to see plenty of amazing wildlife
  • Film Tour: learn where all your favourite films and series, such as Jurassic Park and Lost, were filmed across this magnificent island
  • Kauai’s Hindu Monastery: throw on some modest clothes to learn about the Hindu religion in this gorgeous monastery
  • Wailua River: take a boat trip down the river to see indigenous wildlife before disembarking at the stunning Fern Grotto
  • Kilohana Plantation: investigate Kauai’s agricultural past; visit Gaylord Wilcox mansion and take a ride on the sugar train plantation railway
  • Ishihara Market: enjoy some authentic poke with raw fish and marinated rice and veggies where the huge food trend first began

Hilo Hawaii

Hilo

On this spectacular island, there are plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in the culture and heritage of the region.

  • Rainbow Falls: head to Wailuku State Park to see waters cascade over a legendary cave, showering rainbows on the way down
  • Farmers’ Market: watch more than 200 vendors hawk their wares of locally sourced produce, homemade food, handmade crafts, aromatic flowers, and other knickknacks
  • Richardson Ocean Park: pick a shady coconut tree and grab your snorkel as you won’t want to miss these black volcanic-sand beaches
  • Downtown Hilo: full of local charm, the Old Town is populated by cute shops, quaint streets, and picturesque streets – in true Hawaiian fashion
  • Imiloa Astrology Centre: watch stunning shows in the planetarium and learn about the stars’ importance to early Polynesian voyagers
  • East Hawaii Cultural Centre: get a thorough overview of Hawaiian culture, history, and art through enriching exhibitions, workshops and performances

Anaehoomalu Bay on Kona Coast

Kona

With so much happening on the Big Island, you might not know where to start. Check out these highlights and get ready for the adventures you could be having.

  • Luau Show: feast on the buffet – including pork cooked in a traditional underground oven, join in the dancing, and listen to music and traditional stories
  • Puakō Petroglyph Park: get insight into the island’s culture before Western influence by studying the petroglyphs depicting animals, objects, and other symbols
  • Kona Coffee Living History Farm: learn about the history of coffee growing in the area as workers in traditional costumes demonstrate customary craft and daily activities
  • Diving with Manta Rays: put your diving or snorkelling gear on and hop in; night dives with manta rays is undoubtedly an unforgettable experience
  • Lounging on the Beach: whether it’s sunbathing, snorkelling, or swimming you’re after, the island provides both white sand and black lava sand beaches
  • Kona Brewpub: sip on the best beers from Kona Brewing Company fresh from the tap; tour the brewery and enjoy some delicious pub food
  • Shave Ice: with all kinds of syrups and toppings, return to your childhood and treat yourself to a snowy treat

We hope our guide to Hawaiian highlights has sparked some interest in the region. If you’re ready to start planning your island-hopping adventure in Hawaii, check out our top Hawaii cruise deals. Should you have any questions or require assistance booking, ring our Australia-based cruise experts on 1300 857 345.

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About Author

Josh K

Josh is a content manager and blogger at Cruise1st. His love of travel has driven him to share his expertise in the cruise industry. When he's not writing, you can catch him playing a game of foosball, sticking his nose in a book, or trying out a new restaurant.

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