We can't believe anyone wouldn't want to go to Hawaii, especially in winter. Whereas most of the rest of the country is an arctic tundra, Hawaii is warm and sunny and gorgeous all year round. The white sandy beaches don't freeze over, you won't have to wear a puffer coat - or any coat really, and you can eat shave ice to your heart's content without feeling chilled to the bone.
Of course, if those aren't reason enough, The Active Times has thought of 15 more reasons you need to go to Hawaii this winter. We have highlighted scenic landscapes, gorgeous beaches, tasty drinks, good food, and amazing hotels and spas that we think are reason enough to take the trip west. These spots are some of the best in Hawaii as ranked by The Active Times.
Pack your bags or even pack a mini Christmas tree if you're worried about missing out on the fun in the mainland, and book your flight to Hawaii. We promise you won't need to bring coats, gloves, or even a scarf, just your aloha spirit, which is just one more of the 15 reasons you need to go to Hawaii this winter.
It's winter, so unless you live in Los Angeles, Miami, or parts of Arizona and Nevada, it's cold where you are! However, it's incredibly temperate in Hawaii. You'll forget that it's snowing in Des Moines or wherever it is you're from while you're soaking up the sun on a white sand Hawaiian beach with a tropical drink melting in your hand. Your friends practically freeze just walking to their cars, but not you. Not on this winter vacation.
Ka'anapali Beach (Lahaina)
Maui is known for its beauty, and its most beautiful beach is located in the hippest city in Hawaii, Lahaina. Now a popular beach retreat for many from around the world, Ka'anapali Beach used to be a favorite of Hawaiian royalty, and for good reason. Gorgeously clear water and a pristine white shore stretches for 3 miles in what became Hawaii's first planned resort and later an example for many future resorts around the world. Stay until sunset for the cliff diving ceremony, in which a diver lights torches along the cliff, known as Puu Kekaa, or Black Rock, before diving off of it to reenact a legendary feat of the Maui King Kahekili.
Maui Brewing Company's Imperial Coconut Porter won the gold medal at the 2016 Great American Beer Festival for Field Beer, and it's been a favorite of fans and critics alike ever since. Thanks to its malted toasted coconut flavor and creamy, silky mouthfeel, this 9 percent brew goes down smoothly.
Hawaii's Ala Moana Center is the seventh largest mall in the U.S. Visitors can inhale the fragrant Honolulu breezes as they peruse the over 340 shops in this open-air mall. Plus, six days a week the Ala Moana Hula Showcase performs traditional hula dancing for the mall's guests. Plus, it's also a great place to pick up Christmas presents and souvenirs for your friends and family freezing back on the mainland.
Hawaii undoubtedly has some of the best seafood in the U.S. It can be found in amazing Hawaiian dishes like the Ono Burger at Paia Fish Market, the fish tacos at Coconut's, and the shrimp at Giovanni's food truck. Hawaiian fish even takes center stage when prepared Japanese-style at Sushi Sasabune, the best sushi restaurant in Hawaii. However, the same fish can be found cooked with Italian and Mexican flavors in Hawaii's best Italian and Mexican restaurants Arancino di Mare and Alejandro's, making you wonder whether you're still in Hawaii at all or possibly transported to the Amalfi Coast or even a beach town in Baja California.
The Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa was voted one of the Top 10 Spas in the United States by both Condé Nast Traveler and Travel & Leisure. This 40-room spa is the largest spa in Hawaii. Guests can experience Roman tubs, saunas, waterfalls, soothing massages, body care treatments, and five specialty baths. Be sure to eat at one of the best places for food and drink in Hawaii after pampering yourself silly. You're worth it!
On Maui's stunning North Shore rests the gorgeous town of Paia. Full of hippies, trinkets, yoga classes, and galleries, the town of Paia is easily the most bohemian town in Maui. When locals aren't catching waves in the crystal blue waters of Ho'okipa Beach Park, many can be found showing reverence at The Great Paia Lha Bab Peace Stupa at the Maui Dharma Center. A memorial to the legacy of Lama Tenzin, this Paia landmark is a gorgeous 27-foot-high structure with hand-painted murals and a large Manu prayer wheel inside.
Nā Pali Coast
This is a place you can only see by kayak, and the trip is worth it. The 17 miles of ocean shores is one of the most popular attractions on Kauai. The 4,000-foot tall cliffs along the coastline are some of the most dramatic in the world. You'll see dolphins, seals, sea turtles, sea caves, mangoes, waterfalls, and many stunning and secluded beaches. Visit the state park and hike the rugged, but beautiful Kalalau Trail. It may be tough, but you'll never forget those views.
Haleakala National Park
If you only do one thing on the island of Maui, it should absolutely be a trip to see the famous Haleakala Crater in Haleakala National Park. But first, a science lesson: Unlike most craters formed by volcanic activity, Haleakala was actually shaped over eons as the result of erosion of the entire volcanic mountaintop. When the smaller lava flows back-filled the eroding valley, this built the floor of the crater, which is why it is officially called the "Haleakala National Park Summit Area" instead. For the best experience, wake up extremely early (about 3 a.m. local time) and make the drive (or take a bus tour) all the way up to the 10,000-foot-high summit, where you can view the sun rising in the distance while looking down at the crater through the clouds. It is one of the most spectacular National Parks in America.
Say aloha to your dream Hawaiian vacation. At Travaasa Hana, programs and activities fall under the resort's five "experiential pillars": Adventure, Culinary, Culture, Fitness, and Wellness. In addition to full access to all of these, the all-inclusive package includes being greeted by a Welcome Banana Bread once you arrive on site, unlimited bottled water and organic fair-trade coffee, spacious and luxurious rooms, and three meals a day prepared by a chef, as well as $175 in resort credit (eligible to be used for spa services and private classes) every day for each guest. In addition to the usual water adventures, guests can also take a trail ride around the island on horseback or take to the skies on a glider adventure, where you can even pass over the world's largest dormant volcano, Haleakala.
Road to Hana
The Road to Hana is a must-visit on your trip to Hawaii. It means the road to heaven, and with sights like this, it's pretty hard to argue that it's anything but heavenly. This road is one of the most sceneic roads in America, and will take you past the scenic Twin Falls, the absolutely stunning Garden of Eden Arboretum, upper Waikani Falls, the Hana Lava Tube, gorgeous beaches, and quite a few places to stop and grab a bite to eat or take home a souvenir from your path to "heaven."
The Ice Cream
Locals and visitors to Hawaii always make it a point to stop by Lappert's, which has locations across the islands. There are Hawaiian-inspired flavors such as Hanah Road and Hawaiian Sea Salt Caramel, but there are also world-inspired flavors such as Manila Mango, Costa Rican Plantain Cajeta, Mexican Chocolate Cinnamon Swirl, and Philippine Macapuno Peach Sorbet.
The Shave Ice
Shave ice is a Hawaiian tradition. Yes, you can get it in other parts of the country, but it tastes best in Hawaii (where it's actually from). The ice is softer ice than a snow cone, and the syrup tastes so much better, plus shave ice is frequently topped with sweet toppings like condensed cream, coconut, nuts, even chocolate sauce. We can't imagine enjoying this in 30-degree weather - that's why you have to come to Hawaii this winter to try it!
Located more than 1,000 feet above the Kalaupapa National Historical Park, Molokai's Kalaupapa Lookout used to be the location of a leprosy colony. Now home to over a dozen residents, the spot is a great place to whalewatch, as humpback whales make an appearance off the coast during winter. Tell me: How many wales can you see leaping out of Lake Michigan in December?
Hawaii is known for its high-quality coffee. This state cultivates a few different varieties of coffee, but is most notable for its beans from the Kona region on the Big Island. Grown on the slopes of the Hualalai and Mauna Loa volcanos, Kona coffee is immensely popular thanks to its buttery finish, deep aromatics, and medium body. Starbucks recently added it to their collection, but there's nothing quite like drinking a cup on the beaches of Hawaii's Big Island.
Still not convinced that you need to hit up Hawaii as soon as the temps start to drop? Maybe we can appeal to your stomach. Check out all you'd be missing if you didn't go try some of the best food and drink in Hawaii.