Aloha fellow Hawaii adventurers!
If you’re anything like me, the thought of exploring the stunning tropical paradise of Hawaii is enough to get your heart racing. With beautiful islands like Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island to choose from, it’s no wonder my boyfriend and I can’t resist its allure year after year. As a seasoned island hopper with countless experiences under my belt (or should I say lei?), I’ve made it my mission to seek out the most unforgettable guided tours that showcase everything this incredible destination has to offer.
Now, I know planning an epic Hawaiian adventure can be overwhelming – there are just so many amazing things to see and do! But fear not, because, after painstaking research and firsthand experience (tough gig, huh?), I’ve managed to narrow down the absolute must-dos on these gorgeous islands. From snorkeling with vibrant marine life at Molokini Crater and frolicking with dolphins near Lanai to soaking in breathtaking sunsets on Waikiki cruises and stargazing from Big Island’s summit – our happiness knows no bounds!
Warning: Be prepared for some serious post-vacation blues once you return home from your Hawaiian escapades. It’s a tough life but someone has got to live it!
So sit back, relax with a tropical drink in hand (I recommend a Mai Tai), and join me as we dive into the ultimate guide for making memories that’ll last a lifetime in beautiful Hawaii!
Also known as the Gathering Place, Oahu is the most famous Hawaiian island among tourists for its vibrant nightlife and large-scale resorts. You can visit plenty of great places in Oahu with guided tours, like the Pearl Harbor National Monument, taking a sunset cruise from Waikiki, and a circle island tour of Oahu’s best sights.
Oahu Hidden Gems Circle Island Tour
The best way to explore Oahu’s best sights in a day is with a circle island tour which stops by famous island landmarks to hidden scenic lookout points and includes sampling local food. You can take a full-day trip with Go Tours Hawaii, which includes a visit to the beautiful Waimea Botanical Gardens and waterfall.
The trip begins with early morning hotel pickups followed by a visit to the Diamond Head Monument and lookout point. Here guests can snap pictures and enjoy views of Hanauma Bay’s colorful reefs. You’ll also stop by the naturally occurring Halona Blowhole, spot Waimanalo’s sea cliffs from Makapuu Point, and visit the Tropical Farms to sample locally grown macadamia nuts, coffee, and chocolate.
In addition, the tour takes a stop at the secluded Sandy beach before heading to Waimea Botanical Gardens. Guests can explore hundreds of plant and flower species here and take a refreshing swim in the waterfall pool.
We loved taking this extensive trip around Oahu, as it’s one of the best tours in Hawaii to see the island in full. Here’s why you’ll agree:
- You can switch the Waimea visit to a stop at the historic Byodo-In temple.
- On this trip, guests can sample freshly grown local fruits from the Kahuku Farms.
- The guides are great and inform you about the history of places you pass by.
Pearl Harbor and USS Arizona Memorial Tour
A visit to Oahu is incomplete without paying homage to the Pearl Harbor National Monument and the USS Arizona Memorial in Honolulu. This famous historical landmark commemorates the attack on Hawaii during World War II in 1941, and visitors can explore the historical sites through a guided tour.
The tour includes a stop at the visitor center to explore gallery exhibits such as ‘Road to War’ and ‘Attack,’ and also going inside a real warship for a self-guided audio tour that narrates how the events at Pearl Harbour unfolded. The best part of this trip is the boat ride to the USS Arizona Memorial, which you can’t experience without a tour.
In addition, the tour stops by famous island landmarks like the Iolani Palace, King Kamehameha’s statue, the Aloha Tower, Kawaiahao Church, and Honolulu’s government buildings.
My boyfriend and I loved learning about the events of Pearl Harbor on this historical tour, and it’s surely one of the best tours in Hawaii. Here’s why you’ll agree:
- Taking the tour helps you skip long lines outside the monument.
- The tour gives a pickup and drop-off facility directly from your hotel.
- The onsite Pacific Historic Parks gift shop allows visitors to purchase souvenirs remembering the event.
Glass Bottom Boat Tour from Waikiki
Waikiki has a gorgeous shore teeming with marine life and offers views of the Diamond Head volcano from the Pacific Ocean. So take a tour aboard the Haleiwa Queen, Waikiki’s glass-bottom boat, which sails far from the crowded city to live tropical reefs and one of Hawaii’s shipwrecks.
The ship sails over the Pacific Ocean floor’s clear waters, which are visible from the glass-bottom viewing room at the ship’s base. Here, guests can spot marine life like Hawaiian green sea turtles, eels, reef sharks, dolphins, and schools of tropical fish from the vessel’s deck and through glass viewports.
In addition, guests can enjoy unmatched views of Waikiki beach and the Diamond Head from their vantage point on the sea, which is an incredible sight.
My boyfriend and I were in awe of the beauty from Oahu’s shores seen from the Haleiwa Queen, as it’s one of the best tours in Hawaii. Here’s why you have to try it:
- There’s an onboard tour guide giving commentary about Oahu shores and wildlife.
- There are complimentary bottled drinks and beverages available on the ship.
- The crew of locals is terrific, and they make sure each guest enjoys themselves.
Best of Hawaii Photography Tour from Waikiki
Memories won’t be enough to capture the beauty of Oahu, so take a photography tour of the island, which passes by the most scenic spots for snapping photos and videos. This half-day tour is accompanied by a professional photographer guide and goes to Oahu’s most photogenic locations, followed by a lunch from town.
You’ll stick mostly to the island’s southern and eastern sides, with views of the Pacific Ocean. Some picture-perfect locations on the tour include Hanauma Bay, the Halona Blowhole, Sandy Beach, and Makapu’u Point Lookout, each offering unique angles of Oahu’s beauty.
The tour also stops at the breathtaking Ko’olau Mountain range and Jurassic Valley, Waimanalo Beach, and the Nuʻuanu Pali Lookout to capture the stunning views. Lastly, you’ll enjoy a delicious lunch from local eateries in Kailua or Waimanalo.
We loved snapping away on this stunning photography excursion, and it’s undoubtedly one of the best tours in Hawaii for those wanting to see the island’s raw beauty.
- Guests can try the famous North shore Ono Steaks & Shrimp Shack on the tour.
- You can bring any camera for taking photos, and the guide ensures you get the best ones.
- You’ll take short walks and hikes on the dramatic landscape between locations.
Maui is aptly called the Valley Isle for its rugged natural beauty and is home to lush landscapes, rainforests, and waterfalls on every corner. Visitors to this island can enjoy snorkeling tours with marine life on its shores, watch the sunrise from Haleakala on a guided tour, and explore the Road to Hana.
Molokini Crater and Turtle Town Snorkeling Tour
Maui is filled with incredible places to snorkel with the native marine life, such as the Molokini Crater and Turtle Town, a short sail from South Maui. So take a snorkeling tour aboard the Calypso cruise, a triple-decker luxury catamaran with spacious decks to see the marine life swimming by.
The famed Molokini Crater is a volcanic caldera rising from the sea between Maui and Kahoolawe islands. Nearly 200 tropical fish species flock to the crater and nearby reefs, along with eels, turtles, manta rays, sea urchins, and the occasional shark and octopus.
Your snorkeling tour will begin with a sail to Turtle Town, where expert guides help you swim alongside giant Hawaiian green sea turtles. Next, you’ll cruise to Molokini and watch the beautiful sea life flitting past your ship from the glass-bottom viewing room. Here you can get snorkeling with the colorful marine animals or simply enjoy views of the coast from the ship.
My boyfriend and I were in awe of the amazing snorkeling in Maui, and we consider this trip one of the best tours in Hawaii. Here’s why you will too.
- There are lots of native birds flying over the crater, which acts as a bird preserve.
- The tour provides breakfast and lunch to guests.
- The excellent guides ease guests into snorkeling and make the activity enjoyable for everyone.
Whale Watching from Lahaina Harbor
Maui is the perfect Hawaiian island to spot humpback whales during their winter migration to its shores. If your trip falls between December to May, take a whale-watching tour from Lahaina Harbor in West Maui, which attracts the most whales.
This small-group tour boards only 20 passengers on a spacious cruise ship with an experienced guide and a marine naturalist present on board. As you sail to the whale pods, you’ll learn about these creatures, their behaviors, and natural habitats from the naturalist. Then, once you close in on the whales, watch these magnificent creatures break the shore, interact with each other and swim past your cruise, which is an incredible sight.
The best part about this tour is the ship’s spacious open deck, allowing everyone to see the whales clearly without crowding near the rails.
We’re always amazed by Maui’s marine life, and seeing humpback whales here was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us. So make sure to take this trip, as it’s one of the best tours in Hawaii.
- The crew is terrific and ensures each passenger can see the whales.
- The ship has quiet engines and travels at high speed to maximize time with the whales.
- You can take great pictures of the whales from the ship.
Haleakala Sunrise Tour with Breakfast
The Haleakala volcano in East Maui offers one of the world’s most beautiful sunrise views from its summit, which is at a 10,000-foot elevation inside the Haleakala National Park. You can experience this gorgeous sunrise on a guided tour up to the volcano, which ensures scenic sunrise views and a delicious breakfast.
The tour picks up guests from their hotels late at night for the long journey ahead. From there, you’ll be seated inside comfortable cars with large windows that give views of the scenic East Maui landscape as you drive past it.
Once at the top, the tour’s vehicles will be one of 150 cars that the National Park allows on its huge summit, making for a secluded experience. Take in the breathtaking views as the Maui mountainscape slowly comes to light at sunrise, which resembles a scene from a movie. After sunrise, the tour drives to Kula Lodge for a delicious traditional breakfast.
We were amazed by the Haleakala sunrise, as the trip up to the volcano is one of the best tours in Hawaii. Here’s why you’ll agree:
- The guides give interesting information about Maui’s history, culture, and wildlife.
- You’ll be given warm clothing for the sunrise viewing as it gets cold at the top.
- A percentage of your ticket price helps conserve Hawaii’s environment.
Small Group Road to Hana Tour
A trip to Maui is incomplete without a road trip on the Hana Highway, which spans 64 miles on East Maui, leading to the town of Hana. It can take up to 2 days to explore each stop on the road, so take a guided tour instead, which guarantees seeing all the best places on a one-day trip.
Your trip will begin early in the morning as your cars set off to Ho’okipa Beach, a beautiful shore known for the windsurfing on its rough waves. Next, you’ll stop by the triplet Waikani falls, visible from the highway, followed by a drive into the Waianapanapa State Park with ancient blowholes, lava tubes, and a gorgeous black sand beach.
A favorite stop on this tour is the Ke’anae village which offers breathtaking sights from its fields and beaches, attracting photographers from all over the world. You’ll also stop for lunch and snacks at Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread food truck, which serves the best baked goods in Maui.
My boyfriend and I love taking the Road to Hana, as it’s the highlight of any Maui trip and one of the best tours in Hawaii. Here’s why you don’t want to miss it:
- You’ll get to see secluded beaches and waterfalls at every turn on the road.
- There are incredible photo ops throughout the journey.
- You’ll pass by the sacred Ohe’o Gulch waterfalls, largely considered the world’s eighth wonder.
As one of the smaller Hawaiian islands, Kauai is less-visited than its counterparts, but that says nothing about its beauty. Known as the Garden Isle, Kauai has a rustic landscape, gorgeous plant life, and stunning views from the Na Pali coast. You can take a helicopter tour over Kauai, snorkel with marine life on its shores and try ziplining over its valleys.
Helicopter Tour over Na Pali Coast and Waimea Canyon
Kauai has many parts unreachable by land, which you can view with helicopter tours over the island. You’ll fly over the Garden Isle on this breathtaking hour-long flight over crystal clear waters, soaring red cliffs, majestic lush valleys, and roaring waterfalls.
The tour boards a few passengers on the helicopter and takes flight over the cathedral-like spires of the Na Pali coastline, soaring high above Hanalei Bay’s white crescent sand beach and making a loop over the red valleys of the Waimea Canyon.
In addition, your expert pilot will provide commentary on the scenic spots you pass by, detailing their age-old history.
We were in awe of Kauai’s natural beauty seen from this helicopter tour, and it’s one of the best tours in Hawaii. Here’s why you shouldn’t miss it:
- You’ll also learn amazing Kauai legends from your guide and pilot.
- The scenery offers unmissable photo ops of cascading waterfalls from a bird’s eye view.
- The helicopter’s huge windows allow uninterrupted views of the land below.
Na Pali Snorkeling and Raft Adventure
The Na Pali Coast is a 17-mile stretch of jagged cliffs and emerald valleys along Kauai’s northwestern shore, offering perfect scenic tours. You can take a tour aboard rafts on the shore, which passes through sea caves and under waterfalls and snorkel with a ton of marine life.
The tour begins at the Port Allen Marina Center, where your experienced captain boards 14 passengers on an inflatable raft and gives safety briefings for the journey ahead. As you set sail, the nimble vessel passes swiftly through the gorgeous waters of the Na Pali coast, with a chance to see raging waterfalls if weather conditions permit.
The crew on board helps you spot marine animals like dolphins, sea turtles, and even whales during the winter season. Here you’ll don snorkel gear and swim in the Nu’alolo Kai, exploring one of the best coral reefs in Kauai.
My boyfriend and I can never get enough of Kauai’s coasts and marine life, which is why we consider this trip through the Na Pali Coast one of the best tours in Hawaii. Here’s why you will too:
- The tour provides an onboard picnic of gourmet sandwiches, tropical fruit, and snacks, with beverages throughout.
- You’ll learn about Kauai’s marine life from a skilled captain and crew.
- You can choose between morning and afternoon tours according to your schedule.
Ziplining Tour in Koloa
Ziplining is a favorite activity in Hawaii, as its lush rainforests and vast valleys have the best zipline courses. You can find one such terrific ziplining adventure near Koloa, where 8 ziplines run over a dense rainforest canopy, guaranteeing a thrilling ride over the longest zipline in Kauai.
The Koloa zipline tour is ideal for people of all ages and skill levels, as there are expert guides present who maintain your safety and get you comfortable on the lines. The course passes over a rainforest canopy and the calm bodies of water that form the Waita Reservoir. You’ll enjoy ziplining over this lush landscape with views of the Pacific Ocean throughout.
In addition, the lines are perfect for thrill-seekers who can try daring moves like the Superman, and acrobatic stunts with the hands-free ‘Flyin’ Kauaian’ harness.
We loved the super fun activity provided by the Koloa zipline, and it’s one of the best tours in Hawaii. Here’s why you’ll agree:
- This course is family-friendly and ideal for beginners.
- You can enjoy snacks after the tour under the rainforest’s beautiful eucalyptus trees.
- The guides also teach beginners how to ride and try some fun moves on the ziplines.
The Island of Hawaii is also known as the Big Island and is home to volcanoes, expanses of empty land, and the breathtaking Kohala Coast. Visitors can explore its vast land by taking tours for snorkeling with manta rays and climbing the Mauna Kea summit for stargazing.
Night Manta Ray Adventure with Kona Sunset
Each island in Hawaii boasts a different marine life hub, and on the Big Island, you can find tons of manta rays from the Kailua-Kona coast. The best way to see these beautiful creatures is via nighttime tours from manta ray hotspots led by expert guides.
You’ll board a ship for this 2-hour tour which sets off before sunset to the manta site. Here you’ll watch the gorgeous Kona sun setting into the shore, and as the light fades, your guides will gear you up for the adventure ahead. Then, after being fully equipped with snorkeling gear and bright lights, you’ll head into the waters and swim alongside manta rays.
Watch the creatures glide gracefully around the waters, feeding and interacting with each other under neon lights, and enjoy swimming with them as your flashlights illuminate the surroundings.
We loved seeing manta rays up close on this rare snorkeling opportunity, and it’s one of the best tours in Hawaii. Here’s why you should take it:
- The tour guarantees manta ray sightings; otherwise, your next trip is free!
- You’ll get complimentary snacks and refreshments during the tour.
- The guides help you get comfortable with swimming with the manta rays.
Mauna Kea Explorer Tour with Stargazing
The Mauna Kea volcano rises at a 13,000-foot elevation and is one of the largest volcanoes in the world. Although it’s dormant, you can tour the observatory set up on its heights, which gives views of the incredible starlit island sky at night.
You can take a full-day tour of the volcano, which includes a stop at the gorgeous Rainbow Falls and Kanauma Caves, before climbing to an ideal location on Mauna Kea for stargazing. The tour has state-of-the-art aperture telescopes set up with fast focal ratios enabling you to see sprawling wide views of objects in the night sky that are impossible with other telescopes.
In addition, expert astronomers on the tour provide narration as you observe galaxies, nebulas, star clusters, planets, and double star systems on the clearest nights.
We loved the breathtaking views of the Big Island’s night sky, and this is one of the best tours in Hawaii. Here’s why you have to try it:
- The tour also includes a visit to the Mauka Meadows Coffee farms.
- The gorgeous astronomy light show at Mauna Kea is at a 9000-foot elevation.
- The tour guides are terrific and answer all your questions about the volcano.
Which Hawaiian island has the best excursions?
Each island in Hawaii offers terrific activities and tours on its shores. Oahu has the most tourist excursions, like circle island tours perfect for groups, while the Big Island has incredible volcanoes and land activities. You should head to Kauai and Maui for scenic hikes, waterfalls, ziplining, horseback riding, and other outdoor activities.
How many days should be spent in Hawaii?
If you want to visit all the main islands, plan between one to two weeks in Hawaii, with 2-3 days per island. However, you’ll need to spend more time on Oahu and Maui, whereas Kauai and the Big Island can be explored easily in less time.
What is the best time of year to go to Hawaii?
The months of March and September are the best time to visit Hawaii. Since these are the summer months, there’s the least amount of rainfall on the islands, making it perfect for beach-hopping, hiking, and swimming in the waterfall pools.
What is the number one thing to do in Hawaii?
This depends on each visitor to the island, but nothing beats the Hawaiian beaches. From colorful sands, vast shorelines, waters teeming with marine life, and excellent water activities, you can’t miss out on Hawaii’s beaches.
Winding Up The Best Tours in Hawaii
If you’ve made it this far in the article, you know Hawaii has some incredible tours on its shores. Visitors to the islands can experience snorkeling with marine life, riding helicopters over the landscape, taking a sunrise tour from a volcanic summit, and watching the island sky light up with stars at night from the best tours in Hawaii.
We’ve traveled around the world, and nothing quite compares to the irresistible beauty of Hawaii, which everyone can experience from tours of its islands.
Want a family-friendly activity in Hawaii? Take a zipline tour in Koloa in Kauai and a road trip on the Road to Hana in Maui.
Need to see native marine life in Hawaii? Take snorkeling and whale-watching tours in Maui and a night manta ray snorkel on Big Island.
Want to see the most beautiful sights in Hawaii in a single day? Take a helicopter tour over the Na Pali coast in Kauai and a circle island tour in Oahu.
The best tours in Hawaii guarantee adventure and fun for everyone!
Last Updated on March 30, 2023 by Brigitte