Hawaii for beach haters
USS Arizona Memorial
The tragic events of 7 December 1941 are memorialised at Pearl Harbor, just a short drive from downtown Honolulu. The USS Arizona lies where it sank, the resting place of more than a thousand of the US sailors who died in the Japanese attack. In 1962 the memorial was opened, with a structure built over the ship that allows you to view its remains poking out of the shallow water below; a marble wall inside is engraved with the names of the honoured dead. A visit to Pearl Harbor will leave you with a palpable sense of the history that was made there.
This gigantic chasm at the heart of Kaua'i is one of the island's greatest natural wonders, and its red-and-black-striated lava-rock walls contrasted with the lush green forests that blanket its top is a true sight to behold. Its name comes from the Waimea River, which runs through the bottom; the canyon was formed by a combination of erosion and the partial collapse of one of the island's shield volcanoes. Waimea Canyon State Park has lookout points over Kaua'i's stunning Na Pali cliffs, as well as numerous hiking trails through and around the canyon, a wilderness lover's delight.
Helicopter ride over Kaua'i
Way more thrilling than a day at the beach is a helicopter ride over the interior of Kaua'i, most of which is too densely forested and mountainous for wheeled vehicles. Numerous helicopter companies (most based in Lihu'e) offer up-in-the-air jaunts over waterfall-striped Mt Wai'ale'ale, the island's central shield volcano and one of the wettest spots on Earth, and the sheer-hewn sea cliffs of the Na Pali coast, accessible otherwise only by ocean kayak.
Kalaupapa National Historical Park
Hansen's disease (leprosy) was introduced to Hawaii by foreigners in 1835, and soon spread through the islands. King Kamehameha V, in an attempt to stop the epidemic, created a law banishing all those afflicted to this remote peninsula jutting out from beneath the towering sea cliffs (the world's highest) of Molokai's north coast, which became the final home for the unhappy exiles. Around 40 years later, a compassionate Belgian missionary named Father Damien came to visit, and remained with the colony for 16 years, when he died after contracting the disease himself (he is currently a candidate for sainthood in the Catholic Church). The enforced isolation law was finally revoked in 1969; today, only a handful of patients, all senior citizens, remain. You can visit the peninsula to see the village and Father Damien's church and gravesite only by pre-arranged tour - either flying down to the peninsula (which takes about eight minutes) or riding a mule down a steep, 2-mile (3.2km) route zigzagging across the cliffs.