Best of Hawaii: Oahu, Big Island and Maui

Join locals to explore Hawaii with an insider’s perspective, learning about unique island ecosystems, exploring Volcanoes National Park and snorkeling colorful reefs in Lanai!
Rating (4.93)
Program No. 21586RJ
9 days
Starts at
9 days
8 nights
20 meals
8B 5L 7D
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At a Glance

Be immersed in the natural wonders, culture and history of America’s paradise — Hawaii! On this three-island adventure that begins on Oahu, journey along the breathtaking East Coast to marvel in the iconic natural beauty of Diamond Head and Hanauma Bay. Experience Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii, and cap off your learning adventure on Maui exploring a working pineapple farm and snorkeling its pristine waters.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking 1-2 miles daily. Elevations of 4,000-10,023 feet.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • On the east coast of Oahu, learn about environmental projects at a historic fish pond and education center.
  • Visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, home of the active Kilauea volcano!
  • Snorkel along the dazzling coral reef in Lanai.
Featured Expert
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Frank Lau
From serving in community development on the border of Mexico to developing an English curriculum for the Olympics at a 5-star hotel in Beijing, Frank’s life has fed his passion for the cross-cultural. Traveling has drawn him to fascinating locales across the globe, but his Hawaiian roots are perhaps strongest of all. His interest in Hawaiian culture and his desire to show his students an “insider’s” view of the Islands have made him a perfect match for Road Scholar’s Hawaii programs.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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Frank Lau
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Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Nation Within, The History of the American Occupation of Hawai'i
by Tom Coffman
Coffman follows the rising tensions between the U.S. and the once-independent Hawaii through the late 19th century, documenting how the native population resisted annexation.
Shoal of Time: A History of the Hawaiian Islands
by Gavan Daws
A vivid, scholarly history of Hawaii, from Cook's first visit to the islands in 1778 through statehood. A classic, well-told history, first published in 1968.
The Island Edge of America, A Political History of Hawaii
by Tom Coffman
Journalist Tom Coffman brings Hawaii's story into the twentieth century through this reinterpretation of major events leading up to and following statehood in 1959.
Travelers' Tales Hawai'i True Stories
by Rick Carroll (Editor)
This terrific anthology includes contributions on the history, culture and nature of Hawaii by an impressive group of writers, including Paul Theroux, John McPhee and Maxine Hong Kingston.
by Alan Brennert
Set in Hawaii more than a century ago, Brennert's richly imagined novel of seven-year-old Rachel Kalama -- full of tales of stories of old Hawaii -- draws on historical accounts of Kalaupapa, the isolated leper colony on the island of Moloka'I.
Eyewitness Guide Hawaii
by Eyewitness Guides
An on-the-ground guide to the Hawaiian Islands -- handsome, comprehensive and superb.
Aloha Betrayed
by Noenoe K. Silva
Silva draws on newspapers, books, letters and contemporary accounts in Hawaiian for this eye-opening account of popular resistance to the annexation of Hawaii by the United States.
Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen
by Liliuokalani
A poignant plea for sovereignty. Queen Liliuokalani, deposed by the United States in 1893, tells the story of her islands.
Lost Kingdom
by Julia Flynn Siler
Royalty and rogues, sugar barons, politicians and missionaries all figure in Siler's riveting tale of Liliuokalani, the last queen of Hawaii.
Hawaii, Islands Under the Influence
by Noel J. Kent
A history of economic development in the islands from sandalwood and whaling to sugar, tourism and Japanese investment in the 1980s.
From a Native Daughter, Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawaii
by Haunani-Kay Trask
Trask, a descendant of the Pi'ilani line of Maui and the Kahakumakaliua line of Kauai, explores issues of racism and imperialism in Hawaii, documenting the work of native Hawaiian student organizations and the native Hawaiian self-governing organization Ka Lahuni Hawaii.
The Food of Paradise, Exploring Hawaii's Culinary Heritage
by Rachel Laudan
Laudan takes readers on a thoughtful, wide-ranging tour of Hawaii's farms and gardens, fish auctions and vegetable markets, fairs and carnivals, mom-and-pop stores and lunch wagons to uncover the delightful complexities and incongruities in Hawaii's culinary history. With 150 recipes.
Dismembering Lahui, A History of the Hawaiian Nation to 1887
by Jon Kamakawiwoole Osorio
Osorio charts the effects of Western law on the national identity of Native Hawaiians in this political history of the Kingdom of Hawaii from the onset of constitutional government in 1840 to the Bayonet Constitution of 1887.
Oahu Revealed
by Andrew Doughty
Candid, comprehensive and well illustrated, this up-to-date local guide covers the nature and culture of the island as well as adventures and activities.
Hawaii, Travellers' Wildlife Guides
by Les Beletsky
This all-around field guide features color illustrations of commonly encountered birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish with notes on Hawaii's geology and popular parks and reserves.
Born in Paradise
by Armine von Tempski
The autobiographical tale of childhood on a Maui ranch in the early part of this century. A classic account of old Hawaii, warm-spirited and evocative.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
by Trails Illustrated
This handy map, with trails and visitor information, includes the entire park area.
Hawaii Wildlife
by James Kavanagh
A fold-up, laminated card featuring color drawings and short descriptions of commonly encountered birds, mammals and other critters of Hawaii.
Paradise Remade, The Politics of Culture and History in Hawaii
by Elizabeth Bentzel Buck
By focusing on the experience of the indigenous people of Hawaii rather than on that of their colonizers, Buck considers the transformation of Hawaiian culture over the past 200 years.
Captive Paradise, A History of Hawaii
by James L. Haley
A fascinating history of America’s youngest (and, arguably, most unique) state. Historian and biographer James Haley charts Hawaii’s epic journey from kingdom to statehood with authority.
Unfamiliar Fishes
by Sarah Vowell
Tracking the Americanization of Hawaii from the arrival of the first missionaries in 1820 to the annexation in 1898 (Queen Liliuokalani was in Washington lobbying to save her nation during the McKinley inauguration), Vowell shows the complex interplay of god, business and tradition with her usual acerbic wit (and research).
Pearl Harbor Ghosts, The Legacy of December 7, 1941
by Thurston Clarke
A well-researched and evocative look at the bombing of Pearl Harbor by a veteran travel writer. Clarke compares and contrasts the social life and culture of Hawaii on the day of the bombing and sixty years later, enumerating the changes wrought by WWII.
Hawaiian Islands Map
by Nelles
A map of all the individual Hawaiian Islands, including maps of O'ahu, Kaua'i, Maui, Moloka'i and Lana'i at 1:150,000 and of Hawai'i at 1:330,000. Includes an inset map of Waikiki.
A Field Guide to the Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific
by H. Douglas Pratt
This landmark field guide with chapters on the islands and habitats features superb color plates by Pratt and a checklist of birds.
Plague And Fire, Battling Black Death And the 1900 Burning of Honolulu's Chinatown
by James C. Mohr
Mohr relates the gripping tale of the bubonic plague that reached Hawaii's shores just as the islands were about to become a U.S. territory through the eyes of the people caught up in the vast conflagration that engulfed Honolulu's Chinatown.
Mark Twain's Letters from Hawaii
by Mark Twain
These observant and often wildly hilarious letters from an 1866 trip display Twain's famous wit.
by James Michener
A romantic, fictional overview of the islands' history, people and culture from prehistoric times to statehood in 1959.
Hotel Honolulu
by Paul Theroux
This hilarious sendup of ex-pats and their ilk, drawing on Theroux's time in the islands, where he has a home, features a full cast of eccentrics who reside in and visit a fleabag hotel on the coast of Oahu.
Shore Fishes of Hawaii
by John Randall
A pocket field guide to all the reef fishes that a casual snorkeler or diver is likely to see.

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