Are the most visited Hawaii activities necessarily the best?

This topic was sparked when we discovered that the Dole Plantation, in Wahiawa, central Oahu, is the second most visited attraction in all of the Hawaiian Islands, with 1.5 million visitors last year alone. We just don’t get it! The Dole Plantation, although deemed a landmark due to its historical value, is totally touristy in its attractions, gift shop, and things to do. Regardless, this “pineapple experience” has folks coming from around the globe to see and taste the infamous Dole pineapple, but as far as it being an extremely fun activity to do while on Oahu… well, we question it.

Which brings us to our monologue rant topic of the day: Just because an activity is popular among tourists, does that necessarily mean it’s one of the best and that you should experience it too? With so many tours, attractions, and activities being marketed in Hawaii, and with all of them claiming to be “the best” or “the most fun” or “Hawaii’s greatest” it really is hard to sift through what’s actually great, and what’s just a tourist trap.

And with all the user review sites popping up these days (Yelp, Tripadvisor, etc.) it’s easy to read what others are saying about a particular activity, restaurant, attraction, etc. And it’s usually a good idea to read up a little about a certain venture, especially if you plan to go out of your way to access it. Yes, we also do agree that sometimes spontaneity is the best way to explore the island, but keep in mind that many attractions usually cost money. And they’re also good at luring you in to spend more once you’re within their grasp. And just because they have good marketing tactics, doesn’t mean that what they offer is necessarily worth the money.

We don’t believe in trying something just because everyone else does. It’s just not worth the time or money. If something is truly worthwhile, you usually get a pretty good feel for it, either from your travel company, agent, or someone who has already experienced it. A good way to find out if an attraction or activity is valuable is to ask a local. Next time you’re enjoying lunch or dinner, ask your server, bartender, or hostess for their opinion on your itinerary. So you’re looking to check out the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, but you’re not sure if it’s just another tourist trap that appears enticing. You ask your waitress and she starts gushing about what an incredible place it is and that you should definitely carve out a day to see everything it has to offer. Obviously, this is a good sign. Or if you’re hoping to book a cruise, ask someone at the front desk of your hotel what they recommend and chances are they will have a personal opinion on which cruise stands out amongst the others. This is an especially good technique if you’re trying to find a good hike, picnic spot, or swimming beach, because many locals are well versed in knowing where the best places are for some authentic activities.

But this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t experience any tourist attractions while in Hawaii. Trust us when we say, not all activities are touristy. You can have a genuine adventure kayaking to the Moku islands on Oahu, ziplining through Kauai’s rainforest, or visiting museums and landmarks on Maui. The Dole Plantation just happens to be extremely gimmicky and we are beside ourselves with trying to figure out how in the world it became the second most visited attraction in Hawaii! But many activities are worth your time and money, as they help to create an unforgettable vacation, not to mention memories that will stay with you for a lifetime. All we’re saying is, don’t always follow the crowd, because a lot of times you’ll be led to the most visited attraction merely for its reputation, and not its authenticity. And we all know reputations are only as good as the last experience.