Aloha, Mahalo and Everything in Between

Explore the Big Island and Maui with two guidebooks that highlight outdoor adventure in the Hawaiian Islands.

When going to the Hawaiian Islands, you need to pre-program your brain for an island attitude: Hang loose and slow down. The next two guidebooks made me want to grab the next flight, a cold mai tai, a comfortable hammock, a snorkel and some hiking boots. Not necessarily in that order, but you get the picture. Both the Big Island and Maui offer such an abundance of activities that there’s something for everyone and every whim.

by Andrew Doughty. Wizard Publications, Inc., 2008; $16.95.

It never hurts when a guidebook is written about such a picturesque location as Hawaii—when the photo of a lone palm tree can leave you as breathless as the one of molten lava. But it isn’t just the stunning sights that make Hawaii a great place to visit, and this book by Andrew Doughty dives into all the attractions that keep tourists coming back time and again.


The guide is logically divided into 15 different sections ranging from the standards, such as: beaches, where to eat and stay, and activities—to a section called The Basics, where you can learn the best way to treat a Portuguese Man-of-War sting to what vog is (it’s a mixture of water vapor, carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide).

I like that the guide offers information on a wide range of activities, including hiking, surfing, scuba, caving, fishing, golfing, helicopter tours and even snow-skiing. One hike that intrigued me was the Rain Forest Lava Tube, accessible via a one-hour trek (moderate) through lush forest. The cave is “long and loaded with lava stalactites.” And I know my young boys would love wading in the Leleiwi tidepool at the end of Kalaniana’ole Street in Hilo, just past all the beach parks.

I will admit that one of my favorite parts of the book was where Doughty gives a lesson on the Hawaiian language. I just gobble this up. When I visited Turkey in 2006, by the second day I had memorized nearly thirty Turkish words so that I could say hello, ask for the check and walk through the Grand Bazaar knowing how to bargain. So when I saw a list of vocabulary and commonly used Hawaiian phrases, I could hardly contain myself. When someone is staring at you, in Hawaii you can say, “I owe you money or wot?” And did you know the state fish of Hawaii is the humuhumunukunukuapua’a?


I really didn’t have many bones to pick with this one. The only thing that bothered me—but only marginally—was the fonts used for the headers in the activities section. They looked a little bit like someone pulled them from PowerPoint. But really, that’s splitting hairs.

Worth buying?

Overall, the guide is good. I give it two thumbs up. And if you like this one, Doughty also wrote one for Maui called Maui Revealed: The Ultimate Guide, 4th Edition.  

Destinations: Hawaii, Big Island of Hawaii, Maui

Themes: Family Travel, Outdoor Adventures

Activities: Hiking, Fishing, Golf, Scuba Diving, Snorkeling, Surfing, Swimming, Caving

User Comments

Favorite island: Maui; favorite airline: Hawaiian Air; favorite town: Lahaina; favorite guidebook: Maui Trailblazer; favorite tourist attraction: Maui Ocean Center; favorite Hotel: Sheraton Maui; favorite hike: Waimoku Falls

Trailblazer series fan I'm a Trailblazer believer and have all their books except Oahu. I own a timeshare on Maui and have visited a half dozen times within the last ten years. The reason I like these books: content and plenty of it. I have my favorite beach pages dog-earred and I still haven't completed all the hikes. A big one on my list is the one that accesses Haleakala Crater from the Kaupo side. Ambitious! The authors really know every inch of Hawaii and I'm glad they have shared their experiences in their wonderful guides.

The whole Hawaii revealed series is great! I haven't tested this particular book on the Big Island yet, but I did use the guidebooks in that series on previous trips to Maui and Kauai and I must say they're the best! They're written by locals who actually live there and review points of interest candidly and anonymously. Those guys know and share all kind of off-the-beaten-path gems, special places where you'll only find other people with the same guidebook. Some are semi-legal to access, but trespassing is oh so exciting! The authors are also very funny and entertaining in the way they write about the local culture and attractions. Those books are the definitive guides to Hawaiian Islands!