Top 5 things to do in Hawaii
With its sugary beaches, technicolor coral reefs and volcanoes beckoning adventurous spirits, it's easy to see why Hawaii has become synonymous with paradise.
Hawaii's Top Five
1. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
And you thought Earth was firm ground.
Set on the sloping hillside of the world's tallest volcano, this fantastic national park will remind you that nature is very much alive.
An extensive network of trails encompasses lava flows, steam vents, lava tubes and, if you wish, wild backcountry. Alternatively, you can take in many of the major sights by car in one long downhill drive.
The highlight is the stunning panorama of Halema'uma'u, an enormous crater spewing tons of ash into the sky.
2. Na Pali Coast
The Na Pali Coast should top everyone's Kauai to-do list.
Make a gentle oceanic journey by boat, with motors or sails or, for true sea adventure, pit your paddle and kayak against the elements: wind, swell and sunshine.
For hikers, Ke'e Beach is the entry point for the rugged 11-mile-long Kalalau Trail. This trek will transport you to a place distant and distinct from all others, with verdant cliffs soaring above a sloping valley abundant with fruit trees, naked hippies and solace seekers.
3. Road to Hana
Hold on tight! Of all the jaw-droppingly dramatic drives in Hawaii, this is the Big Kahuna.
A roller coaster of a ride, the Hana Hwy twists down into jungly valleys and back up towering cliff s, curling around 600 twists and turns along the way.
Fifty-four one-lane bridges cross nearly as many waterfalls - some eye-popping torrents, others soothing and gentle. But the ride's only half the thrill.
Get out and swim in a Zen-like pool, hike a ginger-scented trail or savour some coconut ice cream.
4. Waikiki Beach
Waikiki is back, baby. Hawaii's most famous beach resort may be a haven for tacky plastic lei, coconut-shell bikini tops and motorized hip-shaking hula dolls.
But real aloha and chic modernist style have revived this prototypical paradise. Beachboys surf legendary waves by day and after sunset tiki torches are lit at Kuhio Beach Park.
Every night hula dancers sway to ancient and modern rhythms - backed by famous island musicians strumming slack key guitars and ukuleles - at oceanfront hotels, bars and even shopping malls.
5. Puna's Lava Tours
The Big Island is a raw place. Creation occurs daily here as a jagged, stark coast is carved out by fire, wind and water.
You can witness this handiwork before your very eyes in Puna.
Hike over steaming black lava fields or take a boat skimming over indigo waves to places where Pele, goddess of fire and volcanoes, bleeds her molten fury into the Pacific even as building-sized waves crash against the lava flow.
The primal power of this clash of elements is unforgettable.
This is an edited extract from Lonely Planet Hawaii (11th Edition) by Sara Benson, et al. © Lonely Planet 2013. Published this month, RRP: $39.99.