Hawaii is revered for its surf breaks and Mai Tais, but for those seeking an alternative to hang tens and hangovers, the underrated spots of Kailua-Kona and Kauai offer plenty of hidden gems: secret beaches, lava fields, volcanoes and rainforests right out of Jurassic Park.
Get to adventuring in savagely beautiful Kailua- Kona. Home to crystalline ocean and black-sand beaches, the locale also boasts an active volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park — you can witness Kilauea glowing fiery orange against a starlit sky. It feels deeply romantic, which makes sense given that native Hawaiians consider the crater to be the home of Pele the Fire Goddess: Any eruption symbolizes her desire to be with her true love. Afterwards, raise a glass of bubbles at The Rim restaurant, where views of the billowing Halemaumau Crater act as your back- drop.
Next stop? Kauai. Since tropical rainforest covers most of its surface, the Garden Isle is, naturally, pretty dramatic. Explore the Na Pali Coast on a luxury catamaran with Capt. Andy’s Sailing Adventures while taking in the emerald cliffs and cascading waterfalls. You’ll want to bring your snorkel along too — Kauai offers the most protected-reef ecosystems of all the major islands.
WHERE TO STAY A day at sea requires a night of pampering. Look no further than the luxe St. Regis Princeville on Kauai. From the stunning panorama of Hanalei Bay to the swish ninth-floor lobby to your butler-appointed oceanfront suite with a massive picture window offering sunset views, this hotel is fodder for a dream sequence from which you will never want to wake.
This article originally appeared in the January 2018 issue of ELLE Canada.