Hawaiian Islands What is known for

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Fly direct to Honolulu (HNL) from numerous airport on several airlines, including Seattle (SEA), San Francisco (SFO), Minneapolis/ St. Paul (MSP) or Los Angeles (LAX) on Northwest Airlines. nwa.com

Stay at a variety of places. The following have especially easy access to Hawaiian culture and sites. On Maui, the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, which recently reopened after a $130 million renovation, is a destination in itself: The mauka-to-makai (mountains to the sea) property encompasses 100 square miles of rainforest with mountain hiking trails and eight zip lines, plus spectacular white- sand beaches. Rates from $599, ritzcarlton.com. On Oahu, the Kahala Hotel & Resort offers lei-making classes, ukulele lessons, surf coaching, dolphin excursions and hula aerobics. Rates from $395, kahalaresort.com. On the Big Island, Kilauea Lodge is situated in Volcano Village and surrounded by rainforest and lush tropical landscapes. Rates from $155, kilauealodge.com. On Lanai, the Hotel Lanai and its guesthouse decor -- plantation style with local artistic flair -- will remind you of the island's agricultural history. Rates from $139, hotellanai.com. On Kauai, the Hanalei Colony Resort has no telephone, television or radio in your room, so you're free to luxuriate in the Old Hawaii way of life. Rates from $240, hcr.com.

Eat on the Big Island at the Kilauea Lodge's restaurant for its locally grown salads, fresh fish and the signature dish, Duck L'Orange, kilauealodge.com. On Lanai, the Lanai City Grille in the Hotel Lanai has pan-seared loin of venison with wild mushroom risotto and cranberry demiglaze while the sounds of live music float from the lanai, mixed with the aroma of encircling pine trees, hotellanai.com. On Oahu, Alan Wong's Restaurant, winner of the prestigious James Beard award, is the place to go for poki-pines, crispy wonton ahi poke balls on avocado with wasabi sauce or Kona coffee crusted Maui Cattle Company striploin. alanwongs.com

Explore the natural beauty of Hawaii's native flora and fauna with the guides of Hawaii Forest & Trail, which is on the 2009 ISLANDS Blue List as one of the world's best eco-adventures. hawaii-forest.com

Relax on Lanai at the Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay. The resort borders Hulopoe Bay, a marine reserve, so from your perch on the ocean, keep an eye out for spinner dolphins. fourseasons.com/manelebay

Visit secret Hawaiian beaches sprinkled throughout the islands. On Oahu, try Kahala Beach, Halona Cove in Koko Head Regional Park, and Bellows Field Beach Park. On Kauai, go to Mahaulepu Beach and Kekaha Beach Park. On Maui, see Napili Bay and Mokuleia Beach. On Molokai, go to Kiowea Park. On the Big Island, visit Pauoa Beach. On Lanai, try Puu Pehe Cove. And on the private island of Niihau, go to Nanina Beach. (Read more.)

Learn more at gohawaii.com.