“Best of Hawaii” 2009: Our favorite Hawaii road trips

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The 2009 edition of one of HAWAII Magazine's most popular issues of the year is here! Our annual “Best of Hawaii” issue.

As always, it’s packed with picks from our well-informed HAWAII readers and editorial staff sharing their insights on the best of everything in the Islands.

HAWAII subscribers are already receiving the “Best of Hawaii” issue in their mailboxes, already using it to plan their next vacations in the Islands. Not a subscriber? You can purchase a subscription to HAWAII Magazine here, or pick up the September/October 2009 “Best of Hawaii” issue in bookstores and on newsstands nationwide now. You can also read the "Best of Hawaii" issue instantly online by purchasing a digital copy of the magazine here.

For our 2009 “Best of Hawaii” issue, we’ve collected who, what and where HAWAII readers selected as their favorite towns, favorite places to stay, favorite places to shop, favorite places to eat and more. And we’ve got our own editorial staff picks for our favorite Hawaii snacks, favorite festivals, favorite indoor and outdoor activities, favorite restaurants and more.

More than 101 Hawaii travel secrets, hotels, beaches, restaurants and festivals throughout the issue.

You’ll have to pick up a copy of the “Best of Hawaii” issue to see all of our reader and editor picks. But for Web site readers, we've decided to share picks from one of our favorite editorial staff categories: HAWAII Magazine's Four Favorite Hawaii Road Trips.

Enjoy the ride!

best_of_Hawaii_favorite_road_trips1. Kauai’s North Shore

The Garden Isle’s best road trip is traveling to Kauai’s North Shore starting from Lihue and ending in Haena. You’ll see green mountains and meadows on the left side, and beautiful beaches on the right. On the way to Haena and Princeville, you’ll pass many towns, including Wailua, where the famous Coco Palms Resort once stood in its glory. There are wet and dry caves to explore, eating places to try and landmarks to visit, such as the Kilauea Lighthouse and the Hanalei taro patches.

best_of_Hawaii_favorite_road_trips2. The Big Island of Hawaii’s Hamakua Coast

The Hamakua Coast stretches from Hilo to Waipio Valley along the Big Island’s northeastern coastline. It offers something for every road tripper. Folks with a fondness for scenic wonder love its lush, forested valleys, waterfalls, sea cliffs and incomparable views of the Pacific. People with an appreciation of the coast’s rich and storied agricultural history enjoy the rustic charms of its many former sugar plantation towns, and its rolling fields of prime farmland, which continue to produce some of the finest produce in the Islands. For the rest of us, who dig it all? We’re figuring out ways we can spend our retirement there.

best_of_Hawaii_favorite_road_trips3. Oahu’s Windward Side

Sure, a road trip through Oahu’s North Shore is great, but we prefer to drive along the island’s sleepy Windward Side. Hop across the H-3 freeway into the town of Kaneohe. While you’re there, tour the famed Byodo-In Temple at the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park, or explore the lush grounds of the Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens. You know of Mokolii island—commonly known as Chinaman’s Hat—in Kualoa, but how about Mokuauia—or Goat Island—further north in Laie? Sitting 200 yards off shore, the islet can be walked to or swam to, tide permitting. Or head south along Kamehameha Highway, through the rural town of Waimanalo, and trek up the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail to view the jagged Windward Oahu coastline and Molokai in the distance.

best_of_Hawaii_favorite_road_trips4. Maui’s Road to Hana

There’s no more famous road trip in Hawaii than the road to Hana—52 miles, 600 curves, 59 bridges, 46 of which are one-lane. On the way there are waterfalls, bamboo groves, lush greenery, ocean views and a sense you’ve slipped out of civilization When you get to Hana, you’re likely to say there’s nothing there, nothing except tranquility and a unique, small community. People drive both ways in a day, but that’s a tough day. We suggest spending at least the night in Hana to really appreciate the drive. Mo bettah no hurry.

Got your own favorite Hawaii road trip you’d like to share with other HAWAII readers? Leave a comment below, or on our Facebook or Twitter pages.

Photos: David Croxford (top pg. 1, pg. 3), Derek Paiva (bottom pg. 1), Commons Wikipedia (top, bottom pg. 2)

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