Hawaii: awesome surfing, snorkelling and whalewatching

Your chance to visit what is regularly voted the world's best beach

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The Independent Travel

Suggest a holiday to Hawaii and many people will think you've lost the plot. The journey is long (at least 17 hours from London or Manchester, including a change of plane) and expensive: around £750 return in the lowest of seasons. But in exchange for that investment of time and money, you could soon be riding first-class waves and sending smug selfies to your friends at home.

It is possible to claw back your budget by saving on accommodation. And staying close to the perfect beach isn't out of the question: ignore the touristy hotels in favour of local owners who'll happily rent you a room in paradise for a fraction of the price.

Simon Potts, a former record exec (he signed The Cure no less), owns the Hanalei Surfboard House in Hanalei Bay, Kauai (hanaleisurfboardhouse.com), one block back from what is regularly voted the world's best beach. Choose between the Elvis suite, with its authentic Blue Hawaii double bed, or the Cowgirl suite.

On Maui, one block from the beach and close to the centre of Paia, is the Green Turtle House (bit.ly/TurtleHouse). For around £160 per night you can take the whole house (which sleeps four) and be minutes away from the North Shore beaches of Paia Bay, popular with kitesurfers. It is also a short distance from Ho'okipa Beach Park, great for advanced surfers, and the cliffs overlooking the infamous surf break known as "Jaws", where some of the world's biggest waves are ridden.

No trip to Hawaii would be complete without visiting the North Shore of Oahu, one of the most famous stretches of surfing coastline in the world. Seven miles of challenging breaks from Sunset Point to the town of Hale'iwa, including perhaps the world's most famous wave: Pipeline. And nowhere is a more fitting place to stay than the Backpackers Inn, Waimea (backpackers-hawaii.com), the original surf digs started by legendary big wave surfer Mark Foo in the 1980s.

If you fancy the surf vibe but are only just starting out, on the south shore of Oahu lies Waikiki Beach, home to some of the best longboard waves in the world. The beach itself is over-shadowed by high-rises now, but the city still has charm, and the Beachside Hostel (waikikibeachsidehostel.com) – one road back from the beach – is a cheap local surfers' hangout.

The island of Lanai has Hulopoe Bay, one of the most exclusive – and expensive – destinations for rich Americans. By Hawaiian standards, the surf isn't as good as some of the other islands, but the snorkelling and whale watching more than make up for it. Ignore the Four Seasons Resort and instead rent a house like Lana'i Cinderella House (bit.ly/LanaiCinderella) which sleeps seven for less than £300 per night.

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