Hawaii is unique for many reasons, including its tropical climate and laid-back Pacific Island vibe. These islands are on the tops of huge volcanic mountains that stick out into the sea. They have a beautiful landscape that ranges from the stark lunar surface of the Kilauea volcano to lush green forests full of exotic flowers.
On the dramatic Na Pali coast, waterfalls flow down the sides of the mountains like tears, and ancient rivers cut deep into the rock of Kauai to make the Waimea Canyon. On the Big Island, there is an active volcano. On Oahu, Pearl Harbor and its long history are located.
All of them are surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, which is home to a wide variety of sea life. You can snorkel, scuba dive, surf, or go for a swim after sunbathing. But the people on the islands might be the best thing about them. Their friendly nature makes you feel like you’re in paradise.
With our list of the best places to visit in Hawaii, you can learn about the islands and the best places to go.
1. Pearl Harbor and USS Arizona Memorial, Oahu, Hawaii
Pearl Harbor is a National Historic Landmark and an active military base that earned its place in history because of the attack on the USS Arizona in 1941, which killed 1,177 service members. The site today houses numerous attractions as part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific Monument. One of these is the USS Arizona Memorial, which floats above the wreckage of the sunken ship, parts of which can be seen sticking out of the water. A memorial tour is free, but it is best to make a reservation because it is so popular.
The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is free to get into and is where tours start. One time takes people to the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island, where they can see WWII planes and artifacts and use a flight simulator to land an airplane on an aircraft carrier.
The USS Oklahoma, USS Utah, and the Battleship USS Missouri, whose deck can be toured, are other things to see.
2. Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park, Kauai, Hawaii
Some of the most beautiful places in the world are in the Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park on the island of Kauai. These were made famous by the movie Jurassic Park, which showed a dramatic coastline with cliffs that seem to ripple, and the “Wall of Tears” on Mount Waialeale, which got its name from the way hundreds of waterfalls flow down the sides of the mountain.
Some of the best ways to see the scene are to get there by water or take a helicopter tour to see the breathtaking view above. The Kalalau Trail is for experienced hikers. It is eleven miles long, goes through five valleys, and takes a full day to hike each way.
3. Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaii
Volcanoes National Park, which is located on the Big Island of Hawaii, provides a unique, up-close look at an active volcano system where lava pours from fissures in the earth. Cooled lava rock, both old and new, has shaped the landscape. It has flowed over roads to show how strong it is.
Kilauea, the central part of the park, has been active in recent years. In January 2021, it erupted and made a lava lake. Visitors should know that parts of the park are closed when there are earthquakes that could be dangerous.
The Thurston Lava Tube, Devastation Trail, and the boiling Halema’uma’u crater are among the many things to see and do in the park. Tourists can experience the thrill of feeling seismic activity, hearing the boom of gas releases or even seeing a pillar of ash escape into the air at the area’s most active moments.
4. Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii
Haleakala National Park, which is on the island of Maui in Hawaii, provides access to the almost 10,000-foot-tall Haleakala Volcano, which is dormant. The top offers panoramic views of the entire island, which are especially stunning in the morning.
While other portions of the park are covered in subtropical rain forests, which are home to endangered species, the dormant crater is uncovered, revealing a lunar-like scene. Visitors can freely explore the park’s numerous hiking paths or sign up for guided tours conducted by rangers. The more daring can camp overnight in the park among some of Hawaii’s most breathtaking scenery.
5. Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head State Monument, Oahu
Waikiki, with its stunning beachfront, is the most popular tourist destination in Hawaii. Waikiki is a popular suburb of Honolulu known for its large resorts, restaurants, entertainment, and shopping.
A gold medal-winning Olympic swimmer and ardent surfer from Waikiki, Duke Kahanamoku, is the inspiration for several of the historical markers on the Waikiki Historic Trail constructed out of surfboards.
While most of the neighbourhood’s eateries and shops are located on Kuhio and Kalakaua Avenues, the boardwalk known as the Waikiki Beach Walk is dotted with cafes and entertainment establishments.
Diamond Head State Monument is located at the end of the crescent-shaped beach, giving the coastline a distinct profile. It was previously a key vantage point for the island’s coastal defence, and a steep trek to the top leads to the historic bunkers and artillery control station, as well as panoramic views.
6. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, Oahu, Hawaii
Hanauma Bay, a distinctive sheltered bay formed inside the crater of a volcano on the island of Oahu, has long been a favorite among snorkelers. The harbour has been restored to its former glory and is once more open to visitors after overuse damaged the sensitive reef habitat and caused pollution.
The Hanauma Bay Education Center is a fantastic resource for learning about the bay. Several rental shops instruct snorkelling equipment so tourists can get close to the stunning coral system and its residents.
It used to be a common tourist activity to feed tropical fish frozen peas, but now that is prohibited. A nine-minute movie about marine life, safety precautions, and preservation is also obligatory for all first-time visitors to protect the area for future generations.
The park’s kiosk offers equipment rentals, including life jackets and snorkelling equipment. In the winter, securing a spot in the paid parking lot can be difficult, as the 300-car lot fills up rapidly. Those over 12 are charged a fee to access the park, while Hawaii residents gain entry for free.
7. Road to Hana, Maui
Hana Road, often known as Hana Highway, is a 52-mile picturesque highway that winds from Pia through lush forests and along the ocean to the secluded hamlet of Hana on the Hawaiian island of Maui. This excursion is worthwhile for the vistas along the breathtaking drive, the activities along the way, and the town itself. Numerous hiking paths, waterfalls, picturesque vistas, and beaches are found along the route.
Because Hana is relatively isolated from the rest of the island, it has been able to preserve a more traditional Hawaiian culture than neighboring towns.
8. Hanalei Bay, Kaua‘i
Hanalei Bay is the postcard-perfect beach on Kauai, welcoming surfers, paddlers, bodyboarders, and beach bums. It is a pristine crescent of golden sand lining the two-mile span of the lovely bay, which runs west from the Hanalei River mouth. It is divided into four designated sectors, but it is impossible to distinguish between them while strolling the beach. Please don’t assume it’s safe to enter the ocean along the continuous strip, as each location offers distinct swimming and surfing conditions.
9. Kona Coffee Living History Farm, Hawaii
The Kona Coffee Farm is the only living history farm in the country that focuses on the history and traditions of coffee farming. Even if you dislike coffee, you should go to at least one coffee farm while visiting the Big Island. Kona has a large number of coffee farms. Choose a handful and tour them all in one day, just like a winery. Visit coffee fields and mills to see how the beans are prepared. Try all of the tastes that stem from Hawaii’s agricultural traditions. Dressed-up interpreters can be found all over the grounds doing things like making food or doing farm work. They are always happy to answer questions.
You are welcome to look around the coffee plantation, where you might even see a Kona Nightingale. Modern Kona coffee producers like Hula Daddy and Mountain Thunder Plantation offer tours of their plantations and roasting facilities.
10. Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai
Waimea Canyon State Park is often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”, located on the west side of the island of Kauai. At various points, the canyon is over 10 miles long, reaches depths of 3,600 feet, and is a mile broad. This dramatic scene is best observed from Puu ka Pele and Puu hinahina, the two most prominent vantage points.
The canyon’s environment consists of multicoloured rock layers and several spectacular waterfalls. There are guided tours along the numerous difficult hiking trails and rafting tours that explore the river below. At the same time, the adjoining Kokee State Park offers additional trails for hikers of various skill levels.