Experience the very best of this magical Pacific paradise, from the tropical glamour of Honolulu to the black-sand beaches and legendary surf spots of Maui.
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Your first point of call is San Francisco, the cultural heart of northern California. Upon arrival, you’ll be met and transferred to the Argonaut, a refined hotel set on Fisherman’s Wharf with superb views across San Francisco Bay.
Highlights include riding the cable car up to Nob Hill, visiting the infamous prison island of Alcatraz and taking the ferry to Sausalito – returning to the city by open-topped bus across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Not forgetting to drop into the excellent California Academy of Sciences. You should also plan on eating out in two different neighbourhoods, Chinatown and the distinctly Italian North Beach where you can also browse in the City Lights bookstore (cultural crucible of the Beat poets).
Stay: Two nights at the Argonaut Hotel
Leaving the urban bustle of San Francisco behind, you’ll now board a six-hour flight to Kauai. The oldest island in the Hawaiian chain, the natural beauty of the ‘Garden Isle’ is truly unmatched, from the ‘Jurassic Park Falls’ of Mana Waiapuna to the sculpted beauty of the Na Pali coastline – best admired from the skies on a helicopter flight.
You’ll be based at the ultra-luxurious St Regis Princeville overlooking stunning Hanalei Bay. You can while the hours away on the soft sand beach or try your hand at surfing, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding. Just beyond the resort, you’ll find yet more activities to enjoy, from zip-lining and horseback riding to biking and helicopter tours. With 90% of the island inaccessible by car, be sure to pack a good pair of hiking boots!
Stay: Four nights at St Regis Princeville Resort
Your next flight lands you in Oahu, where the majority of Hawaii’s diverse population reside. Here you’ll be staying at the prestigious resort of Halekulani on the world-famous Waikiki Beach, where rooms boast exquisite views of the blue-green sea.
Each corner of Oahu has its own distinct personality, from the tropical glamour of Honolulu with its iconic crescent beaches to the quieter, less-developed Leeward Coast. Surfing lessons, deep-sea fishing expeditions and snorkelling can all be arranged, as well as birding expeditions to discover the endemic Oahu Amakihi and Oahu Elepaio. Be sure to watch pro surfers take on 30-foot waves at North Shore, experience the incredible storytelling dance of the hula at a traditional lu’au and take a day trip out to Pearl Harbour and the sites commemorating those who lost their lives during WWII.
Stay: Four nights at Halekulani Hotel, Honolulu
Studded with earth’s most active volcanoes, the Big Island (officially named Hawaii) has the awesome power of nature on full display. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the site of the world’s only ‘drive-in’ volcano, is the star attraction, but there’s also miles of glorious coastline lapped by marine-rich waters. Enjoy snorkelling with manta rays and fishing from traditional canoes, as well as visits to petroglyph fields and guided hikes to ancient caves. Palm weaving, hula lessons and lei making are available for those looking to immerse themselves in Hawaiian crafts and culture.
Relax between excursions at the luxurious Fairmont Orchid, an oceanfront oasis home to the award-winning Spa Without Walls.
Stay: Four nights at Fairmont Orchid
The last stop on your Hawaiian tour is the beautiful island of Maui, whose black, white and red-sand beaches beckon with their cobalt-blue waters. There’s excellent surfing, swimming and snorkelling to be had, as well as bathing on sun-kissed beaches and wonderful hiking through the lush Iao Valley.
Early risers should climb the dormant Haleakala volcano to catch the most sensational sunrise from atop the clouds. It’s also worth hopping on the ferry over to neighbouring Lanai to discover playful spinner dolphins and tide pools carved out of volcanic rock. Set on the golden, crescent-shaped Wailea Beach, the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea provides an idyllic base with its breezy ocean-facing cabanas and sumptuous spa.
Stay: Four nights at Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea
From Maui, you’ll fly back to the mainland for a couple of nights in Southern California’s glitzy, sprawling city of Los Angeles. Everyone will have their own checklist of essential LA viewings. Take your pick from Hollywood with its iconic ‘Walk of Fame’, the exclusive boutiques along Rodeo Drive and funky Venice Beach – from here you can walk along the promenade to neighbouring Santa Monica, famous for its historic pier and boutique shopping.
There’s also the movie star homes of Beverly Hills, the buzzing nightlife on Sunset Strip and the sky-lit galleries of the Getty with its vast collection of European art. And if you’re travelling with the kids, tours around Universal Studios and trips to Disneyland should also be on the agenda.
Stay: Two nights at Andaz West Hollywood
Today you’ll head to the airport to board your return flight home.