North America's farthest reaching Pacific states, Alaska and Hawaii, don't immediately spring to mind when you think of a USA holiday. The icy tundra in the north and boundless beaches in the south are polar opposites, each offering a glimpse of nature at its best. If your time or finances don't stretch to both ends of the States, how do you decide which to choose? Hawaii or Alaska? Fire or ice?

As far as relaxation goes, Hawaii has the upper hand. Hawaii's 19 islands, some still active volcanoes, are embellished with idyllic golden beaches and washed with supreme surf. If diving the coral reef, lazing under swaying palms and seeing the sunset from the top of a rocky volcanic peak is your idea of a dream holiday, Hawaii might be the way to go. On the other hand, nothing says serenity quite like being cosied up by the fireside in an Alaskan cabin with a locally brewed beverage in hand.

Swap the sand for the snow

America's final frontier, as Alaska is often called, is paradise for intrepid travellers who are keen to tackle the frosty landscapes. Navigate your kayak around mammoth icebergs in Kenai Fjords National Park, scour the snow-capped mountains at Glacier Bay, take a hike as the midnight sun lingers overhead or make your way to Fairbanks to marvel at the Aurora Borealis. Not to be outdone, Hawaii has a smattering of activities for the adventurous too, from swimming with wild dolphins on Big Island to parasailing over Waikiki Beach and cave diving in Lanai.

Looking for a sun-kissed honeymoon? You can't go past Hawaii's capital, Honolulu. Thinking about a luxury cruise holiday? Take in the stunning arctic wilderness from the comfort of your cabin en route to the Alaskan capital, Juneau. It's not an easy choice, but you can't go wrong with two diverse destinations that deliver big on natural beauty, unique culture and mouth-watering cuisine.