Mount Everest, The Matterhorn, The Meteor Crater, Victoria Falls, Ayers Rock, The Great Barrier Reef and The Grand Canyon; they’re the seven Natural Wonders of the World. Each is pretty impressive in itself, all right, but you have to go a long way out of your way to see any one of them.
Here in Hawaii, we have our own natural wonders; and, once you visit our islands, they’re all reachable! We humbly point out that any one of Hawaii’s wonders is pretty amazing. The more of them you can take in while you’re here, the more fulfilled you’ll be. Let’s take a quick look at them, one at a time:
WAIMEA CANYON, KAUAI
Nicknamed “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” Waimea Canyon is an enormous (3,500 feet deep) canyon offering stunning panoramic views of crested buttes, rugged crags, and deep valley gorges, and they go on for miles. There are several lookout points on Waimea Canyon Drive where you can gaze over Kauai’s dramatic interior.
KAUAI’S NAPALI COAST
Also on Kauai and a little harder to get to, the spectacular Napali Coast provides panoramic views of the ocean. You can walk among high, sheer, green cliffs and postcard waterfalls that drop into deep valleys, but the only way to get there by land is via the challenging Kalalau Trail, an 11-mile trek that crosses five different valleys; but Zodiac boat tours and kayaking trips allow you access to awe-inspiring views of the coast and the cliffs, and helicopter tours can show you scenic Napali areas that aren’t accessible by land or water.
Much easier to find (You can’t miss it if you stay in Waikiki) The Diamond Head crater on Oahu is Hawaii’s most famous landmark. It got its name when 19th century British sailors thought they had discovered diamonds — actually worthless shiny calcite crystals — on its slopes. It was named a National Natural Landmark in 1968. Diamond Head’s a popular hiking destination, especially for the super views it provides along the way.
Hanauma Bay, at the southeastern end of Oahu, was once a volcanic crater. Now, having been fashioned by wave erosion, it’s Hawaii’s most popular snorkeling place, famous for its clear blue waters and its reefs burgeoning with colorful fish of endless varieties. You can rent masks, snorkels and fins (or bring your own), and you’ll need to go through the education center’s exhibits, information and theatre presentation to help you preserve the fragile marine ecosystem of the bay.
PAPOHAKU BEACH PARK
On the quiet little island of Molokai, you can spread out and enjoy the ambience of the beautiful – and largest (three miles long) — white-sand beach in a state littered with white-sand beaches. Papohaku Beach, each May, is the setting for the Molokai Ka Hula Piko, the island’s largest cultural festival. The area offers campsites, showers, picnic areas and restroom facilities year-round – and certainly not a lot of crowd.
KEAHIAKAWELO, THE GARDEN OF THE GODS
On the even-quieter island of Lanai, Keahiakawelo is an astounding rock garden. Its eerie, other-world topography is filled with rock towers of all sizes. Try to be there at dusk, when the sunset reflects from the rock sculptures illuminating them in brilliant reds and purples. The garden is, aside from the island’s overall peaceful ambience, Lanai’s most popular visitor attraction.
Haleakala Crater, on Maui, is the largest dormant volcano on earth. More than 10,000 feet above sea level, it could contain the entire island of Manhattan and can be seen from just about any point on the island. In the park that contains it, you can go to the top of the crater’s highest peaks and actually walk above the clouds, or you can hike across the amazing landscape. Consider driving up to catch the sunrise – it’s more than worth arising early.
Kilauea on the Big Island is one of the few places in the world where you can witness, up close, an active volcano — a “shield” volcano that produces fluid lava flows that form gently sloping shield-like mountains. (A farther-inland example of a shield volcano is Mauna Loa, the most massive mountain on earth, that covers half of Hawaii’s Big Island.) Kilauea has been continuously erupting since 1983. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the home of Kilauea, is the state’s top visitor attraction where you can feel the mana, or spiritual power, generated by the volcano’s phenomenon.
So if you want wonders, we have them here. There are packages and tours that will give you great options for visiting any of them. Go back to our home page (Hawaii-aloha.com) and pick an agent, or call 1-800-843-8771.
Posted by: Bruce Fisher on Jun 6, 2008