Although no point on the tiny island of KAUAI is as much as a dozen miles from the sea, the variety of its landscapes is quite incredible. This is the oldest of the major islands, and erosion has had more than six million years to sculpt it into fantastic shapes. The mist-shrouded extinct volcano Mount Waialeale at its heart is the world’s wettest spot, draining into a high landlocked swamp. Nearby is the chasm of Waimea Canyon, while the north shore holds the vertiginous green cliffs of the awe-inspiring Na Pali coast, familiar from films such as Jurassic Park and South Pacific, but the sole preserve of adventurous hikers. Kauai is a place to be active, on sea and land; if you only take one helicopter flight in your life, this is the place to do it.Read More
Gorgeous Lumahai Beach, at the western edge of Hanalei Bay, has starred in countless movies, among them South Pacific, but is too treacherous for swimming. All the roadside beaches from here on, however, are good for snorkelling. Just two miles from the start of the Na Pali coast, the Hanalei Colony Resort (t 808/826-6235 or t 1-800/628-3004, w www.hcr.com; $201–300) is Kauai’s most dramatic waterfront property, within a few feet of the pounding surf; all its units have two bedrooms. The road finally comes to an end at Kee Beach, perhaps the most delightful spot of all, with safe inshore swimming.