The 25 Best Places to Visit in Hawaii

In the midst of the Pacific Ocean, the sun-drenched Hawaiian archipelago is made up of eight large islands surrounded by numerous atolls, bays, and inlets. The bulk of visitors are attracted to the islands by the promise of long sunny days on the beach and endless hours of water sports in the warm tropical waters, but Hawaii’s six major tourist islands have much more to offer. The top locations to visit in Hawaii are listed below. Certain attractions may be closed temporarily or require reservations in advance. It’s possible that the hours and availability have changed.

  1. Best island in Hawaii: Maui
Maui, Hawaii.

On Maui, the fun never stops, and you’ll find yourself wishing for more hours in the day to explore the many attractions available. There are over 30 beautiful beaches on the island where you may relax, swim, snorkel, scuba dive, and paddle. You can either watch big-wave surfing events or go out and grab a wave yourself — instruction and equipment are readily available.

You may stroll through the lush and picturesque Iao Valley State Park to discover where ancient conflicts took place, or attend the daily sunset cliff-diving ceremony at Kaanapali Beach to learn about the island’s history. Haleakala National Park is a popular tourist destination in Hawaii. A trip on the 1890s Sugar Cane Train and a visit to the Maui Ocean Center are two family-friendly activities.

  1. Best Hawaiian Island to Visit: Hawaii Island
Big Island Hawaii.

Hawaii Island (also known as the Big Island) is the Hawaiian archipelago’s largest and youngest island, offering travelers nonstop fun and adventure. In Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, you may witness an active volcano and climb over 150 miles of trails through scalded deserts, craters, and rainforest, stroll through a 500-year-old lava tube, and learn about volcanology at the Thomas A. Jaggar Museum.

Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park, where you may scuba, snorkel, or kayak, is one among the many historical and historic places you can visit. Many artists have been inspired by the island’s spectacular natural beauty, and their work may be found in many galleries as well as the East Hawaii Cultural Center and the Lyman Mission House Museum in Hilo.

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  1. Best island in Hawaii: Oahu
Oahu island, Hawaii.

Honolulu, Hawaii’s capital, and beautiful Waikiki, where the sport of surfing began, are both located on Oahu, the third biggest of Hawaii’s six main islands.

After a day on the beaches, history buffs will find plenty to keep them occupied – in downtown Honolulu, visit the historic Lolani Palace, and at the Pearl Harbor National Historic Landmark, take a tour of the five historic sites that commemorate the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II. The Bishop Museum is dedicated to Oahu culture, while the Hawaii State Art Museum is dedicated to visual arts.

  1. Best island in Hawaii: Kauai
kauai, Hawaii.

The action begins the moment you walk off the aircraft on Kauai, which is recognized as the Hawaiian archipelago’s adventure capital. In addition to snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming, and sunbathing, you may take fantastic scenic/snorkeling boat rides down the Na Pali Coast, where you have a good chance of seeing dolphins, or try kayaking on the lovely Wailua River.

Tubing down the historic water canals of Lihue (which were created to irrigate the sugar plantations), zip-lining high above the Kauai rainforests, and off-road 4X4 activities are all unique to Kauai. Hiking at Kokee State Park or Waimea Canyon, golfing, or taking an aerial tour of the island with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters are all options.

  1. Honolulu
Honolulu, Hawaii.

Honolulu is Hawaii’s largest metropolis and home to a major portion of the state’s population. The state capitol, several historical sites, a bustling arts scene, excellent shopping and entertainment, and, of course, the famed Waikiki beach, where surfing was developed, are all located in the city.

Historic architecture enthusiasts may visit downtown Honolulu’s Lolani Palace and take a walking tour of the surrounding streets to see the Hawaiian State Art Museum and other historical monuments. At the Pearl Harbor National Historic Landmark, you may learn all about the horrific Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II and shop till you drop at the Ala Moana Center and other world-class retail centers. Finish your day in downtown and Chinatown with delicious local cuisine, live music, and dancing.

  1. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

The Klauea Volcano, the world’s most active volcano, regularly generates lava flows in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii Island, where you can practically witness the Earth take shape before your eyes.

You may take the Crater Rim Drive Tour or drive the Chain of Craters Road after visiting the Klauea Visitors Center to get a good picture of all the park has to offer. Those who are feeling active might select from a variety of short day treks (and there are some invigorating backcountry trails for the super-fit).

  1. Best places to visit in Hawaii: Hilo
Coconut island Hilo, Hawaii.

Hilo grew from humble origins as a farming and fishing settlement to a flourishing town in the 1800s supporting the sugar industry. Today, the village serves as a fun and handy headquarters for guests who wish to see the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which is only 45 minutes away from Hilo.

You may visit the neo-classical Palace Theater (1925), various art galleries, and the Hilo Farmers Market in downtown Hilo, which is home to many early structures, several of which are on the National Register of Historic Places. The Pacific Tsunami Museum, the Lyman Mission House and Museum, the Mokupapapa Discovery Center, and the Imiloa Astronomy Center are all worth a visit if you can drag yourself away from the beach. Hikers may enjoy the Wailuku River State Park’s waterfalls and the Boiling Pots.

  1. Molokai
Molokai, Hawaii.

Molokai is the ideal Hawaiian island for travelers looking to get away from the glitter, glam, and shopping malls of the major islands and reconnect with nature in a Robinson Crusoe-style environment. Spend your days lounging beneath a palm tree or becoming as active as you like in the inviting warm waves.

There are various outfitters that can lend you everything from a kayak or surfboard to dive gear and fishing tackle, as well as plan the perfect whale watching adventure or take you deep sea fishing. Other activities include seeing a macadamia nut farm and a coffee plantation, as well as a mule ride down terrifyingly steep coastal cliffs to the historic leper colony of Kalaupapa National Historic Park.

  1. Lanai
Lanai, Hawaii.

The charming island of Lanai was once the world’s greatest producer of pineapples, and today you can visit this friendly island known for its ‘aloha’ vibe and meet relatives of the original plantation workers. The protected waters of Hulopoe Bay are appropriate for novices, while expert divers may explore gigantic underwater lava tunnels at the Lanai Cathedrals location.

Lanai is a great place to go dolphin and whale watching, and if you want a change of pace, you can go four-wheeling around the island’s hundreds of miles of dirt roads. Bring your hiking boots because there are several hiking routes that will lead you to breathtaking views.

  1. Best places to visit in Hawaii: Kailua
Kailua, Hawaii.

Kailua is a lively coastal town on Oahu’s windward eastern coast, with sandy beaches, warm tropical waters, and a seemingly endless number of activities. Relax under a leafy tree on Lanakai Beach or try a new water activity in Kailua Bay’s tranquil sheltered waters.

In the tranquil, clear seas, you may go diving or snorkeling, or try kayaking, surfing, wind-surfing, kite-surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, or sailing. Strong swimmers and kayakers may explore a bird refuge and uncover distant secret coves by crossing to the magnificent offshore islands in Kailua Bay. You may play golf on one of the area’s six courses, browse at some interesting tiny boutiques, and go to the weekly farmers markets on Thursdays.

  1. Hana
Hana, Hawaii.

The little village of Hana is located on Maui’s mountainous eastern coast, and getting there will undoubtedly be a highlight of your trip. The 52-mile trek from Kahului is one of the most picturesque drives in the world, and it may take anything from two to four hours.

There are 620 spectacular twists and 59 bridges on the Lana Highway, which will take you past jungles, waterfalls, and magnificent seaside lookouts. There are various spots where you may stop and take in the scenery, or perhaps have a picnic. You may simply relax on the beaches, participate in a variety of water activities, go snorkeling in Wai’anapanapa State Park, or go hiking in Haleakala National Park after you are at Hana.

  1. Waimea Canyon State Park
Waimea Canyon State Park.

A trip to Hawaii would be incomplete without a stop at Waimea Canyon, one of the archipelago’s most spectacular natural wonders. The canyon, which spans over 14 miles and reaches depths of up to 3,600 feet, is known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.

The top and lower viewpoint sites, which provide panoramic vistas of craggy crags and deep mountain canyons, are where most tourists travel up Waimea Canyon Drive. Visitors who are up for a hike can choose from a variety of attractive hiking paths. A terrific tour option combines a ride to the top of the canyon with an easy mountain bike ride back to ground level, or you may take a scenic flight to get an aerial view of the canyon and the entire island of Kauai.

  1. Hawaii points of interest: Haleakala National Park
Haleakala National Park.

Haleakala National Park, located in a remote section of Maui, protects a holy Hawaiian environment that includes a towering extinct volcano (the Summit District) as well as the Kipahulu Coastal District. Witnessing the sunrise or sunset from the crater rim, 10,000 feet above sea level, is a highlight of every trip to Maui.

The rocky Summit District has 30 miles of trails (including overnight back-country hiking expeditions) while the Coastal District has 3 miles of lovely woodland paths. Other activities include camping, wildlife viewing, and star gazing, as well as ranger-led programs that educate visitors to the park’s unusual flora and creatures (some of which are found nowhere else on Earth).

  1. Napali Coast State Wilderness Park
Napali Coast State Wilderness Park.

The Napali Coast State Wilderness Park preserves a 16-mile length of coastline on Kauai’s northern tip, where towering cliffs (up to 4,000 feet above sea level), called in Hawaiian as pali, plunge spectacularly into the Pacific Ocean. The Kalalau Trail, a 22-mile circle that passes through 11 miles of woods, valleys, and gorges on its way to Kalalau Beach, is a hard but scenically stunning journey (the first 11 miles take at least a full day and the trail is only recommended for fit and experienced hikers).

Less enthusiastic tourists can take a day trek around the trail’s first two miles, which will reward them with spectacular vistas. At Kalalau Beach, there are simple camp sites, and animal viewing, fishing, and hunting are popular activities in the park.

  1. Diamond Head State Monument
Diamond Head State Monument.

Diamond Head (Hawaiian: Le’ahi) is a volcanic tuff cone that rises 761 feet above sea level and is one of the most well-known Hawaiian sights. The monument, which rises over Honolulu, is a favorite hiking destination for both locals and visitors, and is one of Oahu’s most popular attractions.

The 300,000-year-old crater rim is accessible through a small route (approximately one mile long), but it is a tough climb that takes roughly two hours owing to the steep elevation. Your efforts, however, will be rewarded with spectacular panoramic views of Honolulu and the Pacific Ocean.

  1. Hawaii points of interest: Mauna Kea Summit
Mauna Kea Summit.

Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Because the volcano’s summit is Hawaii’s highest point, it has become a global hub for astronomy research and is home to the world’s biggest observatory, which has 13 telescopes operated by astronomers from eleven different nations.

The summit of Mauna Kea (13,800 feet) is not simple to climb; you’ll need a heavy-duty four-wheel drive vehicle to get to the rim, and both hikers and vehicles frequently suffer from altitude sickness at the top. You can, however, attend a free weekly star gazing event or a regular Saturday night astronomy or astrophysics lecture at the visitor’s information center (at 9,200 feet).

  1. Kilauea Iki Trail
Kilauea Iki Trail.

Hiking the distinctive Kilauea Iki Trail in Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park is a highlight of every vacation to the state. The route will provide you with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to stroll through a sea of molten lava and explore the volcano’s still-simmering heart, which last erupted in 1959.

The 4-mile track, which reaches a height of 3,874 feet above sea level, requires average fitness. You may start exploring the route from the Kilauea Iki Overlook on Crater Rim Drive, which will take you through thick rainforest around the crater rim and down to the crater floor. Along the walk, there are various interpretive stops that illustrate the spectacular sequence of events that transpired during the previous eruption.

  1. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve.

Hanauma Bay is a wildlife sanctuary nestled under a volcanic cone that offers tourists one of the most unique snorkeling and diving experiences on the Hawaiian islands. In 1967, the bay was designated as a protected marine conservation area, and it is home to a vast array of marine species, including green sea turtles.

You may go to the bay by vehicle, bus, or shuttle and spend the day exploring the pristine underwater wonderland, which is home to millions of aquatic critters and beautiful coral. There are a number of outfitters where you may rent snorkeling equipment and take instruction. Hike one of numerous paths or take a short tram ride to the crater rim for a spectacular view of the bay.

  1. Kalalau Trail
Kalalau Trail.

Hikers who are ready for a challenge and want to see what National Geographic calls the greatest coastal hiking path in the world may put their fitness and sense of adventure to the test on the Kalalau Trail in Kauai’s Napali Coast State Wilderness Park.

The track is a 22-mile circle that runs through one of Hawaii’s most beautiful areas, nestled between towering pali (cliffs) and the magnificent Pacific Ocean. On Day 1 of your journey, you’ll travel 11 miles through woods, valleys, and gorges to the stunning crescent-shaped Kalalau Beach, where you’ll camp overlooking the Pacific’s blue waves in one of Hawaii’s most secluded corners.

  1. Wai’anapanapa State Park
Wai’anapanapa State Park.

Wai’anapanapa State Park protects a variety of intriguing and rare geological structures, including a black sand beach, sea stacks, blow holes, lava caverns, and anchialine pools, along an isolated section of Maui’s coastline. You may spend hours walking along a paved historic promenade along the coast, passing through native hala woodland, a religious temple, and a tiny cemetery on your approach to the volcanic black sand beach.

Hiking (the Ke Ala Loa O Maui/Piilani Trail is a 2-hour climb), fishing, sightseeing, and swimming are all available in the park. You may even take a plunge in an anchialine pool, which is a freshwater rockpool with a subterranean link to the ocean.

  1. Kailua Beach Park
Kailua Beach Park.

Kailua Beach, on Oahu’s windward coast, is less than 30 minutes from Honolulu and is often regarded as one of the greatest beaches in the United States. Visitors to Kailua Beach Park may enjoy a half-mile of beautiful white sand, warm tropical seas, and just enough wind to keep things cool. Simply relax or participate in a wide range of water sports such as bodyboarding, surfing, kayaking, paddleboarding, snorkeling, and diving.

There are various outfitters where you can rent equipment and take lessons, as well as several spots to stop for a drink or a meal, as well as picnic tables, showers, and bathrooms.

  1. Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area
Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area.

On the island of Hawaii, Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area is home to one of Hawaii’s most stunning beaches, with half a mile of silky sand and glistening turquoise seas. Bring a picnic and utilize the picnic tables and barbeque facilities, or stop by the on-site snack bar for a drink or snack.

Hapuna Beach is ideal for swimming and snorkeling when the sea is calm, and when the surf is up, you may try your hand at bodyboarding. Volleyball, beach football, sandcastle building, and simply relaxing on one of Hawaii’s greatest beaches are all popular beach activities.

  1. Lanikai Beach
Lanikai Beach.

Imagine a sandy palm-fringed beach lapped by the turquoise tropical waves of the Pacific, and you’ll have a good impression of what Lanikai Beach is like.

Lanikai Beach is completely undeveloped (if you want kiosks, rentals, and facilities, go to Kailua Beach Park, which is just one mile away), and provides a nearly wave-free sheltered location ideal for family enjoyment. The tranquil seas are ideal for kayaking, and if you’re feeling really active, you can paddle over to the outer islands to discover little-known hideaway coves and inlets. This hidden gem of a beach may be found on Oahu’s windward shore, about 30 minutes from Honolulu.

  1. Napili Beach
Napili Beach.

On Maui’s northern coast, Napili Beach is located in a gorgeous tiny bay sheltered by two rocky outcrops. A reef approximately 30 yards off shore protects the whole bay and provides some of Maui’s greatest snorkeling.

The water clarity is outstanding, and you can easily swim out to the reef and spend hours admiring the underwater beauty, potentially even swimming with green turtles. In the winter, a strong shore-break assures enough wave action to keep surfers and bodyboarders happy, and while these conditions exist, rookie swimmers should be very cautious, opting instead to sunbathe and relax on the sandy beach.

  1. Akaka Falls State Park
Akaka Falls State Park.

The Akaka Falls State Park on Hawaii’s Big Island is home to thick forest, waterfalls, and a deep valley, making it a great area for nature enthusiasts to visit when they want to get away from the island’s beautiful beaches.

As you walk through thick tropical foliage along a concrete route that leads to many viewpoint locations, you can see the flowing Kahuna Falls and the spectacular Akaka Falls. The Akaka Falls Loop Trail is less than a mile long, and the moderately steep hike, which includes many stairs and is not ideal for wheelchairs or children’s buggies, will reward you with a spectacular view of the 442-foot Akaka Falls, which plunge spectacularly into the water-eroded valley far below.

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