From the moment the first lei is placed over your head and the smell of orchids wafts up to your nose, you’ll agree: Hawaii may just be the most romantic place in the United States. This series of tropical islands has it all: white-sand beaches, palm trees, tropical fruit drinks with paper umbrellas, and a rich local culture of food and music. Each island has its own personality, so a cruise is a great way to sample them all and decide which one is right for your next vacation.
While you’re there, you must — repeat after us — must see a luau, where you can watch a whole roasted pig being pulled out of an underground oven (called an “imu”) and see the local girls swing their grass skirt-clad hips. That’s also the place to try poi (pureed taro), hopia (coconut pudding), and lau lau (chicken) that’s been steamed in taro leaves.
Whatever you do, don’t overschedule yourself with sightseeing. To get the real sense of the islands — and the magical pull that brings people back year after year — you have to set aside plenty of beach time. Plan to spend a whole day on the sand on some islands, watching the surfers ride the waves and enjoying lunch from one of the state’s famous food trucks.