Maui: Iao Valley
The beauty of this valley is totally worth the massive effort it is to hitchhike the three miles uphill from Wailuku to get there. The short, paved hike up to the first lookout is allegedly one mile, but even for those whose last exercise was learning to walk at age two, it is practically impossible to break a sweat. If you’re a bit of a Dora, at the peak you can step over the railings and embark on the real hike – a dirt track spanning a couple of miles through thick, damp scrub that will result in cool views and legs scratched to pieces. But the real reward is about a quarter of the way up the paved track: the refreshing icy river. Crystal clear and probably a lot more drinkable than the bottled water sold at the dodgy Japanese-Hawaiian grocers, the river is pure bliss to swim in. Apparently it has the propensity to flash flood, so use your common sense and don’t swim if there’s a hurricane approaching. Also be wary of the countless tour groups that pass by the path if you’re skinny dipping – most of the clientele are so elderly that they would probably have a heart attack at the sight of a bare bottom.