Interested in taking a solo trip to Hawaii? The prospect of vacationing alone is daunting for most. Sure, you have complete autonomy to determine your schedule and see the places you want to see. And you won’t have to deal with the typical bickering and chaos characteristic of the standard family vacation. A solo trip to Hawaii is thus an excellent opportunity for both adventure and rest.
But solo travel can also be stressful. It can be hard to decide exactly where to go or what to do without a vacation partner in crime. That can be especially true in an unfamiliar area. And you don’t have the comfort of finding a home away from home in a family member or significant other. But it’s precisely the daunting nature of a solo trip to Hawaii that makes it that much more rewarding! We see a whole host of solo travelers come through our retreat center. Across the board, they report that traveling alone to Hawaii is a fulfilling adventure. They also have the chance to mingle with our friendly staff and establish lasting connections that they wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.
We highly recommend a solo trip to Hawaii for both novice and expert travelers. Below are the places that you absolutely must see on your solo trip to Hawaii.
City of Refuge
Pu’uhonua Honaunau National Historic Park, known locally as the City of Refuge, is a true novelty. Bestowed with both unparalleled beauty and historical significance, City of Refuge offers intellectual stimulation, relaxation, and adventure.
The City of Refuge was so named because it served as a protective place for Native Hawaiians guilty of violating the kapu system of political and religious laws. Violating the kapu system was punishable by death under the Hawaiian priests and chiefs of centuries past. Kapu, which translates to “sacred” or “forbidden,” were designed to preserve the mana, or spirit, of Hawaii’s religious and political elite. Those in violation were forced to flee to a pu’uhonua, or place of refuge. There, under Hawaiian custom, they could not be harmed. These places of refuge were also safe territory for non-combatants or defeated soldiers in times of war.
A trip to the City of Refuge will expose you to the architecture and artifacts of the Native Hawaiians. A meander around the grounds includes sights of dwelling structures, canoes, and tools. If you’re looking for exercise and adventure on your solo trip to Hawaii, you can traverse the trail from City of Refuge to Ho’okena Beach. Doing so is a great way explore the unique microclimate characteristic of the West Hawaiian coast line.
Pololu Valley is the Northernmost valley that juts into Hawaii’s oldest volcano, Kohala, in the Northeast. This valley is one of the seven on the Kohala coast produced in a massive landslide that occurred over 250,000 years ago. Today these valleys are popular destinations for both sightseers and hikers. Their breathtaking views and lush tropical landscape offer an inexplicably wondrous sensory experience.
The steep, rocky hike into the valley permits an incredible, bird’s eye view. From there you can see the black sand beach, rich blue waters, and bountiful countryside. Once you have arrived in the valley, you will find old hammocks and rope swings, a black sand (or, more accurately, black stone) beach, and dunes, marshes, and ironwood trees. This isn’t the kind of beach you can lay out on, as the rocks are pretty substantial in size. However, there is ample space for enjoying a solo picnic lunch in the shade. Unless you are an advanced swimmer, avoid the water, as the high surf and rip tides can be intense.
The trail on the other side of the valley ascends to abundant green fields and another breathtaking overlook of Kohala’s cliffs and valleys. These trails can be steep and dangerous, so if you’re on a solo trip to Hawaii, be sure to let both a relative back home and a local contact know where you are and when to expect your return.
Green Sand Beach
Papakolea, the Big Island’s Green Sand Beach, is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. The beach is located next to a cinder cone that formed 49,000 years ago in the wake of a Mauna Loa eruption. It is from this cone that the “sand” on the beach, which is really tiny, olivine crystals, derives. Today, the waters of the bay wash the olivine crystals out of the rocks formed in the aftermath of the eruption and onto the shores of the beach. There they mix with ash, black pyroxene, and glass to create the unique blend of colors of Papakolea’s “sands.”
From there, it is a short drive to the southernmost tip of the island, South Point. Formally known as Ka Lae, South Point was the landing place of the Polynesian settlers that populated the Islands 1,400 years ago. There you will find the remnants of Native Hawaiian temples, fishing shrines, and other hallmarks of Hawaiian culture. The tranquility of the fields and the views that lay beyond can easily entrance the solo traveler for hours. Bring a picnic lunch or a journal and revel in the atmosphere.
The Kava Bar
The Kava bar may seem like an irrelevant add on the majestic natural and historical sites we previously listed. But, like these sites, the Kava bar is great for solo travelers and unique to Hawaii. It also provides a visceral Native Hawaiian cultural experience. That’s because Kava was integral to Hawaiian culture. Native Hawaiians used the root of the kava plant to create an earthy drink that promotes relaxation and eases anxiety. A ceremonial drink, Kava was served at religious and cultural celebration and forbade ill behavior and fighting. While we thankfully no longer have to chew and spit the roots to make the drink (today it is dried and processed to create a power), it still has a powerfully calming, near spiritual effect.
The Kava Bar at Coconut Grove offers kava served in coconut shell cups. They also serve an array of delicious Hawaiian food. Service is relaxed and the venue is quaint, and you’ll often find that people visit the Kava Bar solo. Thus, it’s a great place to relax and meet people in a unique and unforgettable way.