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Enjoy Hawaii without breaking bank

By Fabian Behnke, Contributing writer
Published On: Aug 16 2011 10:35:02 PM CDT
Kilauea Volcano Park in Hawaii

National Park Service

Diamond Head Crater Hiking Trail

More than 3,500 feet in diameter with a 760-foot summit, Diamond Head in Waikiki is one of the world’s most recognized volcanic craters. It is a remainder of a volcanic explosion about 500,000 years ago.

The 0.7-mile hike up Diamond Head is a moderate climb that will take you about an hour to reach the summit, and half that time for the return. You will be rewarded with some of the finest panoramic views on Oahu. Park hours are from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and there are no facilities at the summit.

Hanauma Bay

The Hanauma Bay was declared a protected marine life conservation area and underwater park in 1967. It is a perfect place if you are new to scuba diving or snorkeling with a diverse population of marine life and a large, rich coral reef. But also advanced snorkelers and divers can also the beauty of this bay as the reef extends throughout the cove into deeper water. The fees at Hanauma Bay are $1 per car to park and $7.50 per person to enter. The entrance fee is waived for children under 13 years of age.

Fern Grotto

The Fern Grotto is a fern covered, lava rock grotto located on the Wailua River on the eastern side of Kauai in the Hawaiian archipelago. The acoustics within this natural amphitheater are fantastic and greatly enhance the singing and guitar accompaniment. The grotto is only accessible by boat, but several boat companies give river tours that lead to the grotto. Prices are around $15 per person.

Kilauea Volcano Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park lets visitors get close to 70 million years of geologic restlessness. Kilauea is currently the most active volcano in the park -- and on the planet. Kilauea is not only an invaluable resource for volcanologists, but is also the planet's most visited active volcano. Kilauea is the most recent of a series of volcanoes that have created the Hawaiian Archipelago, as the Pacific Plate has moved and is moving over the Hawaii hotspot. With luck, the volcano will be streaming rivers of red lava when you visit the park.

Haleakala National Park

Haleakala, originally part of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, was re-designated as a separate entity in July 1961. Haleakala National Park was designated an International Biosphere Reserve in 1980. Of its 28,655 acres, 19,270 are wilderness. From the 10,023 foot summit, the Big Island of Hawaii can be seen and it is an ideal spot to watch the sunset.

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