We are back with KPG Healthcare’s Travel Series for 2021! This month, we are headed to the country’s only tropical islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Hawai’i!
Hawai’i is derived from the Proto-Polynesian word “Hawaiki,” which translates to “Place of the Gods” or “Homeland”. The entire Hawaiian archipelago is composed of 137 volcanic islands spanning 1,500 miles including the eight main islands, Kaho’olawe, Ni’ihau, Kaua’i, O’ahu, Moloka’i, Lāna’i, Maui and Hawai’i. However, of the eight main islands, seven are inhabited but only six are open to tourists and locals.
KPG Healthcare currently staffs travel nurses and other healthcare professionals in O’ahu, Kaua’i, Maui and Hawai’i. Let’s take a virtual trip to Hawai’i!
**Please note: All visitors must provide a NEGATIVE COVID-19 test result from trusted testing and travel partners when they arrive, failure to do so will result in a 10-day mandatory self-quarantine. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is NOT currently a recognizable exception to avoid self-quarantine. Learn more here.
O’ahu, “The Gathering Place”
Nicknamed “The Gathering Place” or “Heart of Hawai’i,” O’ahu is the island many people first travel to and for good reason. It is here where you’ll find Honolulu, the state capital of Hawai’i, and many famous attractions like Pearl Harbor, Waikiki, Diamond Head and the Dole Pineapple Plantation – to name a few.
Being labeled as the “Heart of Hawai’i,” O’ahu offers visitors an array of activities, restaurants, local delicacies, incredible experiences and breathtaking natural areas. Interested in surfing? Head to North Shore to catch some of the best surfers in the world during the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing competition in the winter. While you’re out there, check out Haleiwa Town for some amazing food trucks, local shops and art galleries. Make sure to check out the many beaches of O’ahu, you won’t regret it.
One of the big things O’ahu is known for, besides their Aloha spirit, is its diversity and you can experience that diversity through its people and cuisine. O’ahu has a rich history with historical sites including Iolani Palace, Chinatown, Bishop Museum, Queen Emma Summer Palace and more. The diversity in the cuisine of O’ahu takes center stage with local produce and ingredients combining the flavors of traditional Hawaiian cooking with influences from Japan, China, the Philippines and America. Don’t pass the opportunity to try Hawaiian Poke, mainland (nickname for America) poke does not come close.
So, has O’ahu won you over yet?
Maui, “The Valley Isle”
An island known for its world-renowned beaches, lush valleys, locally sourced cuisine and one truly magnificent sunrise and sunset on a volcano, this is Maui.
Two things people will say any first-time visitor “must-do” in Maui: Haleakala National Park and the Road to Hana. Haleakala Crater is the star of the show standing at 10,023 feet above sea level with a range of breathtaking landscapes and skyscapes. Many visitors come to Maui to watch the sunrise/sunset above the clouds on top of Haleakala, but to partake, you need to make reservations (does not include entry into the park). There are also numerous hiking trails ranging from rock gardens to lush waterfalls on the coast.
The Road to Hana is a beautiful, scenic drive that takes you around the eastern side of Maui hitting incredible hiking trails, views, waterfalls and great roadside food stalls. Visitors have the option to tackle the road by renting a car or joining a tour group to avoid the hassle. The road spans 64.4 miles that connects Kahului to the town of Hana on the eastern side of Maui. It is nearly impossible to hit all the stops along the road within 24 hours, so it is recommended to spend two or three days.
Besides Haleakala National Park and the Road to Hana, there’s plenty of other great activities to participate in throughout Maui. Golf courses on Maui are truly memorable with seven of the 14 courses being ranked at or near the top of the “world’s best” list. Head to Lahaina or Whalers Village to find some local shops lined with unique souvenirs, aloha wear, handcrafted goods and more.
Has Maui won you over yet?
Kaua’i, “The Garden Isle”
The oldest island in the Hawaiian island chain known for its vast valleys, mountain spires, jagged cliffs, tropical rainforests and jaw-dropping waterfalls, welcome to Kaua’i.
With a population of roughly 70,000 people, one of the other appeals to Kaua’i is the small-town charm which is rich with Hawaiian culture. Don’t underestimate the island as there are plenty of things to do, see and eat.
Like its neighboring sister islands, Kaua’i’s cuisine scene is defined by the local fresh ingredients and vibrant colors of the island, whether roadside stalls or fine dining. Then, there’s always the Hawaiian shaved ice after a long day of hiking, snorkeling or tubing down the mountain. Can always check out a luau for some local flavors.
The #1 appeal to Kaua’i is the natural beauty the island possesses. From its beautiful beaches to the Na Pali Coast, Waimea Canyon to Hanalei Bay, it’s no wonder they nicknamed this place “The Garden Isle”. Waimea Canyon is also known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” with its 14-mile-long and approx. 3,600-feet deep gorge, this is a must-see. Or if you’re up to spend a little money, a helicopter tour of the Na Pali Coast is not only breathtaking but worth every penny.
It goes without saying, Kaua’i is a no-brainer.
Hawai’i, “The Big Island”
Last but not least, the youngest and largest island of the Hawaiian archipelago showcasing four climate zones, unforgettable hikes and active volcanoes, welcome to the Island of Hawai’i.
Nicknamed “The Big Island,” Hawai’i is nearly double the size as all of the other Hawaiian Islands combined. The sheer size of the island contains at least 10 climate zones – Humid Tropical, Arid and Semi-Arid, Temperate and Ice. Yes, you read that correctly, ICE. Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano, is the highest point of the state standing 13,803 ft above sea level and is known for its incredible stargazing, sunrise/sunsets and snowfall.
If volcanoes pique your interest, take a trip to the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park to witness “some of the most unique geological, biological and cultural landscapes in the world” featuring two of the world’s most active volcanoes. Visitors have the opportunity to hike along craters, Sulphur banks, lava tubes, active volcanoes, lava fields and more. There’s so much to do and see here, you’ll spend more than a day here. You’ll also find the famous Punaluu Black Sand Beach nearby the park.
Like the rest of the Hawaiian Islands, Hawai’i is no stranger to incredible beaches, lush tropical rainforests and delicious local eateries. Head to Hilo to explore local shops, art galleries or taste the flavors of Hawai’i at the Hilo Farmers Market. While you’re on the Big Island, make sure to check out the 100-year-old Kona Coffee Living History Farm on the Kona Coast as the nation’s only living history museum.
The Big Island definitely won you over, right?
Hawai’i is a top destination for people all over the world, not just travel nurses, and it makes sense why. Each island has its own personality, charm, atmosphere and offerings for all visitors who come to this land of paradise. By the end of this blog post, if you are still debating about whether or not Hawai’i is the next travel destination for you, just GO FOR IT! The perks of being a travel nurse or a traveling healthcare professional is the luxury of being able to pack up and leave at the end of your assignment.
So, the next question is, when can you start your assignment in Hawai’i?
Disclaimer: As a rule of thumb, NEVER turn your back to the ocean. Never take lava rocks, sand or stones from the Hawaiian Islands, those who do suffer from bad luck until returned. Respect nature, at all times.