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Vancouverites began flocking to Hawaii in the 1960s and, with the strong Canadian dollar, we’re back in a big way. The islands’ high-end retail will appeal to any shopaholic, luxe residences have come way down in price, and their economic slowdown has hotels scrambling to fill rooms. There’s never been a better time to stock up on surf, sand, and sunshine.
For drama, go big—the Big Island, that is. With the world’s largest mountain (Mauna Kea is 4,000 feet higher than Everest, if you count from its seafloor base) providing peerless star-watching and even some skiing, it’s the most diverse as well. Traditional time-outs are still the main attraction, of courses: hiking, surfing, and sipping mai tais are popular pastimes on the largest island in the U.S.
Those who equate vacations with shopping malls will find retail Nirvana on well-trodden Maui, but with 81 accessible beaches (boasting a volcanic-sand rainbow from garnet to gold) it’s also the most swim-friendly in the group and home to a menagerie of the world’s more exotic tropical critters.
“There’s always something new” promises the island that means Waikiki and little else to many. But it’s true: whether it’s the summertime Dive ’n’ Movies (watch new releases from your innertube) or the Dole Plantation’s two-acre pineapple maze (gunning for world’s largest), you’ve got options should that endless white sand ever start to bore.
This sleepy sister to the bigger, more glamorous destinations is the paradise builders forgot. Development of circular Kauai is capped at five percent, which means 95 percent plantations (coffee, taro), golf, and beaches, beaches, beaches—think Blue Hawaii.
Kissing cousin to Maui and Molokai, the lovely Lanai is a one-town island still struggling to articulate its identity after decades as a Dole plantation. Whether the Secluded Isle will attract enough tourism to expand its roster of Four Seasons properties will dictate the pace and direction of future growth.