The 10 best things to do in Hawaii

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The Hawaiian islands can swell with upwards of 10 million visitors each year, so getting off the beaten path is the best way to appreciate the islands’ multicultural history.

Beyond its sandy beaches and seductive, jewel-toned waves, Hawaii‘s lesser-known local tours and activities make the days in paradise more meaningful. Whether it’s mellowing out at a rum tasting that acknowledges Hawaii’s sugar-producing past or exploring the lush countryside on horseback, these are our 10 favorite ways to embrace Hawaii’s aloha spirit. 

Make the most out of every adventure with help from our weekly newsletter delivered to your inbox. Local rum and spirits on the shelf at a bar in Honolulu, HawaiiSome rum in Hawaii is made from locally grown sugarcane © Theodore Trimmer / Shutterstock

1. Taste locally made rum on Oʻahu and Kauai

For more than 100 years, the sugar industry shaped Hawaii into one of the most diverse populations in the world as plantation laborers and managers arrived from China, Japan, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Portugal’s Madeira islands and other parts of Europe. Although the last sugar mill closed in 2016, visitors can still taste its history today.

Manulele Distillers in Oʻahu cultivates more than 30 varieties of native Hawaiian sugarcane as part of their Kō Hana line of agricole rum. While most rum on the market is made from molasses, Kō Hana spirits are made from pure sugarcane juice. Witness part of the process in action with a tour, which passes through its native cane garden and includes a rum tasting. Bring home a sippable souvenir, like their rum aged in koa wood barrels available exclusively in Kō Hana’s tasting room. 

On Kauai, Koloa Rum Company offers daily tours and tastings at Kilohana Plantation in Lihuʻe,…

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