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20 Awesome Alternatives to Hawaii

Hawaii

Hawaii is one of the most popular vacation destinations around the world. Based on figures from the Hawaii Tourism Authority, over eight million people visited Hawaii in 2023, showing the huge demand for trips to Hawaii. Most of these visitors come from the United States, but large numbers also come from Japan, Canada, and Europe. Known as paradise, Hawaii offers a getaway for anyone who needs a change of pace and wants to be surrounded by breathtaking scenery and fun outdoor activities.

While Hawaii is a great place to visit, there are many reasons that you may want an alternate choice. For some, Hawaii is overly expensive based on what they can get, and they’d rather choose a more affordable but equally rewarding. Even just the flights and accommodations can seem like a small fortunate to some families. Add on food, activities, and other costs, and you’re looking at a lot of money.

Other people are concerned about overcrowding and want to find a calmer vacation location. Additionally, too much tourism could even harm Hawaii’s ecosystem, so choosing more diverse choices could even keep Hawaii a destination that people can enjoy for many years to come. All theses reasons and more show that Hawaii may not be the best choice for your next trip.

Fortunately, Hawaii isn’t the only paradise out there. While no place can be exactly like a trip to Hawaii, there are plenty of places around the world that you can go to if you want a similar experience but don’t want to commit to the price and atmosphere of the heavily trafficked Hawaii. Choose from one of these 20 awesome alternatives to Hawaii.

How We Compiled This List

Hawaii is an amazing destination, but we wanted to help give people some great alternatives that will fulfill their needs and offer them the chance for new adventures around the world. No matter why you want a Hawaii alternative, our list has been designed to give you a range of amazing but sometimes underrated destinations.

We compiled information from locations from around the world to find areas that would promote a balance between different factors. Some of the main factors we considered were:

  • Cost was one of the most important factors we looked at. While we didn’t want to eliminate expensive places automatically, we wanted to make sure that more costly places had other attributes that made up for the cost. We prioritized value over outright cost, but we did look at how much it would cost visitors to plan their trip compared to a trip to Hawaii.
  • Atmosphere was another detail we looked at. We wanted to provide people with choices that had a good atmosphere, often similar to Hawaii. We looked for things like beautiful beaches and nature. We wanted these places to feel like paradise.
  • We also looked at the tourism industry. Our goal was to find places that didn’t have overtourism or weren’t overcrowded but would still offer a suitable amount of support and accommodations for visitors.
  • Unique experiences were also important because although we were looking for Hawaii alternatives, we didn’t want to just copy and paste all the features of Hawaii. Instead, we wanted to show you why choosing these places doesn’t mean “settling.” Rather, it is embracing a less familiar but still incredible place that has its own assets.

There are so many places in the world, so why not consider one of those unique vacation destinations? They can offer you a more affordable experience without forcing you to compromise on how much enjoyment you’ll get out of your trip. We love Hawaii, but we’re excited to finally reveal Hawaii vacation alternatives.

20. Turks & Caicos

Turks & Caicos offers a paradise-like feeling, from the turquoise-colored water to gorgeous sandy beaches on the Atlantic Ocean. Also, Turks & Caicos has 40 small islands and cays home to more than 31,000 residents, attracting millions of tourists every year. It’s a superb destination for watersport lovers, beach loungers, snorkel enthusiasts, and swimming lovers. The best resorts to visit on these sandy beaches are COMO Parrot Cay, Grace Bay Club, The Shore Club, Wymara Resort and Villas, and many others.

If you’re looking for unique experiences, there are lots of activities tourists love to check out while they are at this location. In the 1900s, salt production on these islands was a huge industry, and they were exporting more than a million pounds of salt, and you can learn more about salt production by going to the Salt House Museum in Grand Turk or Boiling Hole in South Caicos. Other fun locations include Her Majesty’s Prison, Half Moon Bay Beach, and Chalk Sound National Park.

19. Exuma, Bahamas

Exuma is one of the districts in the Bahamas with over 365 islands and the most beautiful beaches in the world. The sandy beaches aren’t the only tourist attractions you should expect. Instead, you have the Bahamas archipelago to drool over, a perfect place for nature lovers. This place holds the title for maintaining Bahama’s rich history, with educationists frequenting it to learn more about early settlers. Exuma, Bahamas, is also famously known for the swimming pigs in Big Major Cay. The journey started with five newborn pigs who are all grown. They are so friendly to people that they swim to let you feed them whenever you come closer.

If you’re in Exuma, there are plenty of bucket-list items that you can check off, but whether you’re looking for something relaxing or adventurous, there’s an activity for you. If you’re into outdoor activities, Exuma is known as a great place for bonefish fishing. Conch diving is another popular activity, and is a popular activity among touring companies. If you’re looking for a break from quite so much nature, you can visit George Town. Check out the Straw Market or George Town’s famous government building.

18. Grenada

If you’re a seasoned or first-time snorkeler or deep-sea diver, a Caribbean country like Grenada is the place to be on this coming holiday. Beneath the waters are historic shipwrecks like King Mitch, Rhum Runner, and Buccaneer, to mention but a few. The Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park is the one place you want to explore if you are a marine life explorer. You might want to visit the Grand Anse Beach (St. George), Belmont Estate, Seven Sisters Falls, Fort George, Carenage, and Palm Tree Gardens Botanical Garden in St. David.

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to make a trip to Grenada a memorable experience. If all the fun destinations above don’t sound like enough to do, make sure to check out Granada’s BBQ scene. When the weekend comes, grilling becomes more popular as grillers cook favorites like fish, chicken, or pork. Another food option is the Creole Shake restaurant, which is known for its macaroni pie and authentic Caribbean cooking.

17. Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia is another excellent beach destination packed with plenty of activities to try, like snorkeling, scuba diving, and other water-based activities. The most popular hangout spot is the Anse Chastanet Beach in Soufriere, an excellent location for engaging in the activities mentioned.

While St. Lucia isn’t as flashy as some of the places on the list, its natural beauty shines through. If you’ve ever heard about a drive-in volcano, you will be pleased to learn that Santa Lucia is home to Sulfur Springs. You must see the Pitons, which are the twin peaks that St. Lucia is known for and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There’s also a lot of amazing cuisine in Saint Lucia, which is guided by African, British, and French influences.

One of the things that makes Saint Lucia so great is that you can check out the sites and beaches without it becoming too crowded. Yes, there will be other tourists, but there are nowhere as many as in places like Hawaii.

16. Cyprus

Are you a history lover? If yes, you have every reason to go to Cyprus, a Turkish Kibris and Greek Kipros on the eastern side of the Mediterranean Sea. Today, the island is a popular tourist destination for honeymooners as it boasts the legendary Aphrodite’s home. Also, has some of the cleanest beaches in Europe, so you have every reason to go for a swim or watersports. So, whether you’re a surfer, swimmer, scuba diver, or sightseer, Cyprus is your go-to place offering Hawaii-like benefits. It will also please you to learn that it’s native to Goddess Aphrodite of the BC days. Plus, there are lots of historical ruins you can check out.

If you want to go beyond the beaches, there are plenty of attractions you can visit to see more of what Cyprus has to offer. Tourists love to check out Sant Hilarion Castle. This ancient ruins castle is an amazing part of history and is surrounded by natural beauty as well. It does take a good bit of climbing to get there, but it’s well worth it. For those who love museums and relics, check out the Kykkos Monastery, which is one of the wealthiest of all monasteries in Cyprus.

15. Antigua

Ever imagined going to a place whose locals have a welcoming spirit? Imagine reaching there to be welcomed by many friendly locals who are ready to show you around and give you a taste of the ultimate Caribbean experience. Before you know it, you discover ultra-modern hotels with state-of-the-art amenities. Look no further than Antigua, the home to the most beautiful sandy beaches. Away from a good hospitality experience, Antigua also has many attractions waiting for you to explore. There’s a romantic accommodation facility called Dickenson Bay. It is no surprise that it was voted the “Most Romantic Resort in the World.” Expect temperatures from 77-degrees Fahrenheit in January to 82 degrees Fahrenheit in August.

There are plenty of excursions to keep you busy while you are in Antigua. For those who want to know more about Caribbean culture, the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda explores the country’s history and is housed in what is believed to be the islands’ oldest building. You can even learn to cook Caribbean recipes at places like Nicole’s Table because what’s cooler than learning skills you can take home with you? If you love shopping, you have to check out Heritage Quay, which is known for local items as well as high-end products from around the world.

14. San Diego, California

Like Hawaii, San Diego offers city excitement and beach getaways such as Carlsbad, Coronado, and Point Loma. The neighborhoods like Balboa and Victorian-era Gaslamp are also historical, giving you the chance to learn more about the early settlers.  This may not be an island vacation, but it’s still one that many vacationers love. If you live in the United States, you won’t even need a passport!

There are endless things you can do when in San Diego. The San Diego Zoo is one of the most exciting zoos around the world because of its huge size and conservation attempts. You can even check out the giant pandas that the zoo homes and breeds. Art lovers will love the San Diego Museum of Art, which loves to have fresh exhibits and well-loved works. Other attractions include Balboa Park, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, and La Jolla Cove.

13. The Maldives

According to Nomadic Matt, the Maldives is a line of approximately a thousand islands with only 200 harboring residents, and only five are sparsely populated. Its capital city, Malé, is one the most densely populated cities globally, though the locals are friendly. Also, it is the flattest and lowest nation in the world. Most of these islands are in the center of the Indian Ocean.

The 2004 Tsunami wreaked havoc on most islands. Fortunately, the government established flood barriers to prevent this from happening again. Today, the coral islands in the Maldives attract thousands of vacationers from all over the world. Apart from the white sandy beaches, the Maldives is the ultimate destination for snorkeling, diving, and other watersports.

Some locations you can check out include the National Museum, attend a fish market or Malé Atoll. Many people who visit the Maldives like to island hop. However, most people who vacation in the Maldives mostly stick to whatever their resort offers, and some islands may only be open to resort guests, so plan accordingly.

12. Bali and the Gili Islands

Bali and Gili are among the best tropical islands guaranteeing a Hawaiian experience. These Indonesian islands have the most delicious cuisine from local farms. These two islands are great to explore, and you may want to take time to see both.

Thanks to the friendly locals, Bali is the place to be if you’re a party-goer. Also, there is a volcano to help you try your climbing skills. The second island in Indonesia you should explore is the Gili. It’s a perfect getaway go-to place after Bali Island, with Gili Trawangan being the most cosmopolitan.

The best part about vacationing on these islands is the tropical weather, and they’re close to each other. The best time to tour these two islands is between April and October when the weather is hotter, but there’s something to do all year round. Many people like to go snorkeling, bike around the islands, hike to the highest part of Gili Trawangan (only 200 feet above sea level), watch the breathtaking sunset, or go spearfishing.

11. Fiji

Something about Fiji spells an unmatched paradise experience, and you can’t help but marvel at the 322 islands it hosts. Almost everywhere you go on, the archipelago is an attraction spot. It can take you a whole year to tour all the islands if you have the time and money, giving you enough reasons to backpack.

Another unique trait that Fiji has is that it welcomes everyone regardless of their age, gender, socio-economic status, or religious affiliations. Whether you’re an ardent snorkeler, whale-watcher, sailor, or diver, there’s always something for everyone. The constant tropical climate throughout the year is Fiji’s most significant selling point. You might want to watch out for cyclones from November to January.

If you’re looking for cool things to do at Fiji, many visitors who love action like to go on the Cannibals Chase tour. There are no real cannibals, but this creepy experience has you trying to escape “cannibals” as you go through a maze. For something more tamed, Island Adventurers Kid Show is an adventure made for kids that guides them across caves, rivers, and forests. Kids also love the Kula Wild Adventure Park, which has wildlife like raptors, fruit bats, iguanas, and parrots. Another cultural show is the Fiji Untold Show, which is more geared towards adults who want to learn about Fiji through song and dance.

10. Tahiti

Have you ever wondered where celebrities take pictures of tropical bungalows in the water? You might not believe this, but Tahiti is where you’ve been drooling over all these years. Interestingly, most people who’ve visited the island before know how it complements honeymoon settings. It is no surprise most honeymooners consider it one of the most romantic destinations in the world.

Tahiti has many mouth-watering cuisines your taste buds have never encountered in matters of food and drinks. Fresh cocktails accompany every meal; a perfect way to call it a day and pave the way for some partying. The only thing to worry about is the high prices because Tahiti’s target clients are affluent. The all-year-round tropical weather is the icing on the cake.

Some must-see sights include Fa’aruma’I Waterfalls. The Museum of Tahiti and the Islands shows off the culture, history, and nature of Polynesia, and it only costs around $10 for entry. If you want to get to the heart of Tahiti, check out the Papeete market, which includes fresh seafood, fruits, and veggies. The variety is astounding. Visitors also love the Harrison Smith Botanical Garden, Aremiti, and Pointe Venus.

9. The Cook Islands

Deep in the heart of the South Pacific are 15 Cook Islands, with Rarotonga and Aitutaki being the most visited. As the name suggests, the Cook Islands were named after an explorer named James Cook, who discovered them. Surprisingly, it’s one of the least visited islands, but it’ll do you great justice should you be a history lover. Like other islands on this list, the Cook Islands enjoy all-year-round tropical weather. So, get your swimsuit ready as you are about to go on a South Pacific experience like no other.

The Cook Islands are home to many stand-out markets like the Muri Night Markets or the Punaga Nui Market. If you love cycling, storytelling cycling tours are a great way to learn and see the sights that the Cook Islands have to offer. Don’t forget to check out Wigmore’s Waterfall or try taking an Aitutaki day trip lagoon cruise to take in the beauty of Aitutaki.

8. Jamaica

Are you a fan of reggae and want to have a meet-and-greet session with some of the most talented singers? If so, then Caribbean Jamaica is the country to consider on your wanderlust bucket list. Jamaica’s best beaches to tour include the Boston Bay beach, Seven Mile Beach, Cornwall Beach, Reggae Beach, and Doctor’s Cave Beach. Unless you have limited time, you should consider touring the Bob Marley Museum to understand the history of reggae and its roots. Call it a day by partying at the beaches, and your dream will be accomplished.

There are plenty of common sights and hidden gems that you may want to check out when you are in Jamaica. If you want to see long-historied botanical gardens, check out Castleton Gardens, which is a 15-acre garden with more than 180 species of trees and plants. Want to see water that can catch on fire? Try the Windsor Mineral Spring. There’s no limit to the exploration you can do when you go the Jamaica.

7. The Dominican Republic

In 1969, Punta Cana, a popular resort area, was built for tourists. Since then, it’s become one of the most visited hotspots in the Dominican Republic, hosting 2.5+ million tourists every year. One of this resort’s most significant selling points of the resort area is its accessibility, thanks to its airport. It’ll only take you three hours to fly from New York, and you will be in Punta Cana in no time. Unlike Hawaiian resorts, Punta Cana has a set price for its cuisines and won’t impose separate charges for drinks, meals, and accommodation fees.

While it’s obvious that you’ll want to check out the stunning beaches and may opt for an all-inclusive resort, there are other activities you can choose in the Dominican Republic that are off the beaten path. For example, you can go see the Dudu Lagoon Cenote, which refers to a sinkhole that creates a pool and cave. There’s even a zipline! For cigar lovers, the La Aurora Cigar factory is a fascinating site that’s full of history. Hiking in Jamao al Norte is also a great experience travelers will love to try.

6. Barbados

Barbados is home to a famous American pop singer named Rihanna, giving every reason to go there. The country hosts people from different racial backgrounds, making it one of the friendliest tourist destinations. Also, there is a direct flight from the US or UK to Barbados, so you don’t have to worry about connecting flights that will leave you jetlagged. While there, visit Crane beach, Gibbes beach, Mullins, Archer Bay, and many others.

There are plenty of must-see attractions that you’ll want to check out when you are in Barbados, beyond just the beautiful beaches. For example, Barbados is great for those who love to hike, and guided hikes are recommended. Some of these hikes are even run for free! It’s also popular to head to Barbados Turf Club to experience horse racing, an activity that is held throughout the year. If you want a quieter experience, check out the east coast. There are lots of gardens, too, such as the Animal Flower Cave or Andromeda’s Gardens.

5. Mauritius

Mauritius is an Indian Ocean island nation in East Africa, offering the Hawaiian-like experience at a lower cost. Mauritius has beautiful beaches and a rich cultural history that will captivate you. Mauritius beats Hawaii hands down when comparing the prices of spa treatments, catamaran cruises, windsurfing, kite-flying, and watersports. The only things to worry about are the flight cost to the country and your accommodation.

There’s never a shortage of places to explore. From Caudan Waterfront, Port Louis, Chinatown, and UNESCO World Heritage sites to the Central Market Bazaar, there’s always something for everyone in Mauritius. If in Port Louis, the Apravasi Ghat Museum is a great place if you’re interested in history. You may also want to check out La Souffleur and the Natural Bridge, which are natural wonders. Morne Mountain is a site that is not only beautiful but it showcases the tragedy of slavery in Mauritius.

4. Lakshadweep Islands, India

India is home to 36 Lakshadweep islands known for lush green landscapes and exotic beaches, making them perfect for honeymooners and anyone who just wants to get away for a while.

Every island you visit in Lakshadweep spells serenity and romance, complementing the Laccadive Sea. The archipelago’s islands cover an area of 36 sq km. Lakshadweep boasts plenty of water sports activities like wind-surfing, scuba diving, kayaking, canoeing, and yachting, thanks to its scenic beauty and isolated status. Bangaram Island, Agatti Island, Kadmat Island, Kalpeni Island, and Minicoy Island are the best islands to visit, but you really can’t go wrong with any of them and island hopping is a great option for an exciting trip.

If you’re looking for some can’t-miss destinations, check out Kavaratti Beach, which has gorgeous golden sands, clear waters, and coconut trees. To experience local culture, go to markets to buy woven tapestries and other handicraft souvenirs as well as eat amazing seafood cuisines and spicy curries. You’re sure to have a serene, relaxing, and inspiring trip.

3. Belize

If the crowded atmosphere in Hawaii during peak seasons awakens the claustrophobic experience you’ve always avoided, Belize is the place to be. The nation is known for beautiful Caribbean shorelines to the east. Besides ancient ruin tours, Belize is a tourist paradise offering parasailing, zip-lining, scuba diving, and spelunking activities.

If you’re looking for incredible places to visit, check out the Ambergris Caye, which is one of the coolest places to visit. It is located in San Pedro, so it’s right in the heart of Beliz and serves as a central location for water activities. You can then check out day trips to the jungle, Maya ruins, or other popular spots.

2. Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

The second alternative to Hawaii on this list is the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia. It mainly consists of two islands, Kecil and Besar, perfect for diving and snorkeling. Anything you have always wanted to see first-hand, like the sea turtles, sharks, and reef fish, is at your disposal. The activities lined up are snorkeling in D’Lagoon and Shari-la resort, deep-sea diving in Coral Bay, and quant fishing at the coastline.

Both islands are worth a visit because there are differences between each one. Besar is the larger of the two islands, and it tends to be more focused on the locals and families. Kecil is smaller, and it tends to be more attractive for people on a budget, especially backpackers. Don’t worry; you can easily get back and forth between the islands, and a ferry will take you in around 10 minutes.

1. Miami, Florida

Miami is in the heart of South Florida culture, with loads of fun activities. The city faces the Atlantic Ocean, with Greater Miami and Miami Beach being the hotspots. The region is home to many attractions, including coral reefs.

While in Miami, the activities you can enjoy private sailing adventures in Biscayne Bay, a fishing trip at Half Day Deep Sea, and a nature walk with naturalists in Everglades National Park. While Miami and Hawaii are excellent for surf, sun, and family-friendly beaches, Miami beats the latter in proximity to the US population. Also, Miami’s beaches transform into nightspots and clubs when the sun goes down. The best time to tour the place is in spring (mid-February through May) when the weather is warm and the hurricane season hasn’t arrived.

If you want some more unusual activities in Miami try attending a jai alai game. This sport has passed its peak popularity, but it remains fast-paced, and people of Miami are trying to keep the spirit of the sport alive. Locations like Shark Valley, Fairchild Botanical Garden, and Curtiss Mansion are also intriguing places that visitors may not know to go to if they are unfamiliar with Miami.

Choose Your Own Paradise

All the twenty destinations on this list offer a Hawaiian experience on a budget. They all give you the chance to see the world and the attractions it holds. However, they each also embrace the unique qualities of their local area. Before deciding where to go, find out how much it’ll cost in their itinerary and the activities to determine if there’s anything worth your touring needs.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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