Napali Coast off Kauai, Hawaii© Mark SwieckiNapali Coast off Kauai, Hawaii
© Mark Swiecki
As one of America's most popular vacation destinations, Hawaii seems like the sort of place that scarcely needs an introduction.

Many first-time visitors head to Oahu, where the bustling city of Honolulu and famous Waikiki Beach offer every sort of amenity a sun-seeking traveller could want: soft sand, famous hotels, bustling restaurants and more. You'll also find exceptional attractions, including the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, the Iolani Palace (once home to Hawaii's royal rulers) and the Polynesian Cultural Center. You can even see some of the locations used to film the hit TV series Lost.

But there's much more to Hawaii than Oahu. The state has five other main islands, each with its own unique attractions and charms.

Maui's tourism sector is well developed, with luxury spas and appealing boutiques, although the island as a whole is quieter than Oahu. One of the most popular excursions is a pre-dawn trip to Haleakala, the world's largest dormant volcano. Watch the sun rise over the crater and then, if you're keen, cycle down the mountain slope.

The island of Hawaii, usually called the Big Island, is wonderfully varied—you'll find rainforests, cacti, a snowcapped mountain, sandy beaches and even volcanoes. The star attraction of Hawaii National Volcanoes Park is Kilauea, which has been spewing lava into the sea since 1983, making it the most active volcano on earth.

On quiet Molokai, you can take a guided hike to Halawa Falls, where experts will fill you in on the local history. The island is also home to the world's highest sea cliffs, a popular destination for hikers, cyclists and horseback riders.

Light House, Kauai, Hawaii© Mark SwieckiLight House, Kauai, Hawaii
© Mark Swiecki
On Kauai, the northernmost of the state's main islands, you can fish for marlin on the southeastern coast, enjoy sweeping views from the cliff-hugging trails in Na Pali Coast State Park, or explore the National Tropical Botanical Garden.

Tiny, sparsely populated Lanai draws outdoorsy types, who come to scuba dive, surf, go whale watching or just sunbathe on quiet beaches.

by Laura Byrne Paquet

Stock Photos from 123RF

Stock Photos from 123RF