The 17 most beautiful places in Hawaii
Rugged volcanic coastlines, warm tropical temperatures, rare wildlife, stunning sea cliffs, spectacular beaches: there is simply no end to the scenic spots Hawaii has to offer. Explore the magic of Hawaii with this guide to some of the state’s most beautiful places.
Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai
Address Waimea Canyon Dr, Waimea, HI 96796, United States Waypoint Phone +1 808-274-3444 Internet Visit Website
Although Waimea Canyon is much smaller than the Grand Canyon on the mainland, it is still one of the most spectacular sights in Hawaii. Unlike the beach-like atmosphere that Kauai is usually known for, Waimea has earned its reputation as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” with a gorge 10 miles wide and 3,600 feet deep. Waimea means “reddish water” in Hawaiian, an homage to the canyon’s famous red soil. The state park itself has many hiking trails and several observation decks that showcase the beauty of the canyon.
Hanauma Bay, Oahu
Address Hanauma Bay, Hawaii 96825, USA Get directions
With its sparkling blue waters and abundance of tropical ocean life, there’s a reason Hanauma Bay is without a doubt the most popular snorkeling destination in the entire state of Hawaii. Visitors will need to arrive early to get a parking spot, as the parking lot is known to fill up quickly, and all newcomers should watch an informational film about reef safety before even entering the water. For those who don’t want to get wet, stop at the observation deck for incredible views and great photo opportunities overlooking the pristine bay.
Na Pali Coast, Kauai
Find the Na Pali Coast State Reserve on the northwest side of Kauai, encompassing just over 6,000 acres of trails, valleys and high coastal cliffs. The rugged Kalalau Trail starts near Key Beach (great for snorkeling) and runs for 11 km of steep secluded beaches and waterfalls in hidden valleys. Some say the Na Pali coast is best viewed from a helicopter, but a boat ride on the ocean side will also give visitors access to the sea caves and a chance to experience firsthand the massive sea cliffs that epitomize the Na Pali coast. .
Papakōlea Beach, Hawaii Island
Address Naalehu, HI 96772, USA Route Phone +1 808-464-0840 Internet Visit Website
Carved by nature as a 49,000-year-old cinder cone at the foot of Mauna Loa Volcano in the Kau area of Hawaii Island, Papaklea Beach is considered only one of four green sandy beaches on Earth. Access to the beach requires a little hiking, but that just means you’re more likely to have the area to yourself or share it with a smaller crowd than more accessible Hawaiian beaches.
Lanikai Beach, Oahu
Lanikai Beach boasts exactly the kind of soft sand and clear water that Hawaii is known for. The islets of Na Mokulua, less than a mile away by kayak, are visible from shore, and the water is usually perfectly prepared for ocean sports such as bodyboarding, kitesurfing and paddle surfing. Just a short walk from the beach you’ll find the popular Lanikai Pilbox hike with stunning views of the beautiful beach below.
Pipiwai Trail, Maui
Address Pipiwai Trail, Hana, HI 96713, USA Get directions
Located on the south side of the Kipahulu region of Haleakala National Park, the 4-mile Pipiwai Trail is a great way to turn off the road into Hana on Maui. The well-maintained trail passes an Instagram-worthy bamboo forest and banyan trees and ends with a scenic view of the 400-foot-high Waimoku Falls. If you don’t have time for the entire hike, stop at the 185-foot-high Makahiku Falls after about a half-mile to walk the trail.
Molokini Crater, Maui
You’d be hard pressed to find a list of the best snorkeling spots on Maui that doesn’t include the famous Molokini Crater. There are hundreds of different species of fish around this crescent-shaped crater, and the location of the partially submerged crater helps protect the area from rough waves and currents. Given that this is one of the world’s most famous snorkeling spots, there are many tour companies that offer day trips to the crater, including snorkeling gear, lunch, and drinks.
Punalu’u Beach, Hawaii Island
Address Punaluʻu Beach, Hawaii, USA Get directions
Located just a 20-minute drive from Volcano National Park, Punalu’u Beach with its black sand was created from small fragments of black lava rocks flowing into the sea. It’s one of the most popular black sand beaches in Hawaii, and the combination of the coconut palms lining the shore with the charcoal-black sand provides stunning photo opportunities. Another feature of Punalu’u is the Hawaiian green sea turtles, which love to sunbathe on the warm sand and feed near the shore. A trip to Volcanoes National Park combined with a visit to Punalu’u Beach is a great way to spend a day on the island of Hawaii.
Akaka Falls, Hawaii Island
Akaka Falls State Park is about 17 kilometers north of Hilo and is one of the best places to visit while on vacation in Hawaii. The park itself is 65 acres of rainforest with a paved path that leads past Kahuna Falls, wild orchids, bamboo and Hawaiian ferns. It takes about 30 minutes to complete the hike, including time for photos, and the trail is very easy to find from the parking lot. The biggest highlight of the short loop trail, however, is the 442-foot Akaka Falls. Since this location is near Hilo, it’s a great addition to a trip along the Hamakua Coast.
Waianapanapa State Park, Maui
Address Waianapanapa, Hana, HI 96713, USA Route Phone +1 808-248-4843 Internet Visit Website
A popular stop on Maui’s majestic Hana Road, Waianapanapa State Park is home to a striking black sand beach, exotic bodies of water, campgrounds and hiking trails. Although the entire road to Hana is nothing short of spectacular, this 122-acre state park is one of the most spectacular attractions because of its lush green jungle with rugged volcanic shoreline.
Visible from almost any part of the island of Maui, the towering crater of Haleakala (which means “house of the sun” in Hawaiian) rises more than 10,000 feet above sea level. The dormant volcano is the highlight of Haleakala National Park, which covers more than 33,000 acres of the island. While most visitors come to Mt. Haleakala to enjoy the sunrise over the crater, there are many other activities such as hiking, camping and biking down the steep road from the park entrance. Keep in mind that the temperature near the summit is about 32 degrees Fahrenheit lower than on the beach.
Molokai Cliffs, Molokai
Address Molokai, Hawaii, USA Get directions
Few sights are as impressive as the first few glimpses of the Molokai Sea Cliffs, some of the tallest sea cliffs in the world. Towering above the ocean – up to 3,900 feet in some places – the view of the sea cliffs as your plane makes its final descent to Molokai is the perfect introduction to the natural and historic island. A visit to the infamous Kalaupapa National Historical Park will provide some of the best views of the cliffs, or if a trip to the park is not possible (access allowed by invitation or tour only), take a trip and explore the surrounding Kalaupapa Lookout and nearby Kaule-o-Nanahoa, or “Phallic Rock.
Mauna Kea, Hawaii Island
Perhaps one of the most unique attractions on the island of Hawaii, a trip to Mauna Kea gives visitors the opportunity to climb from sea level to 14,000 feet in about two hours. The mountain is actually a dormant volcano and is home to some of the most spectacular views in Hawaii, as well as local flora and fauna. The high elevation provides incredible stargazing (which is probably why the famous observatory is on top), and there are telescopes in the center for visitors, open to the public on certain nights.
Puu Pehe, Lanai
Address Lanai City, HI 96763, USA Route Phone +1 800-525-6284 Internet Visit Website
This unique rock formation rises about 80 feet above the sea off the south coast between Manele and Hulopoe Bay on Lanai Island and has become one of the island’s most iconic landmarks. The rock’s nickname, “Sweet Rock,” comes from a tale from Hawaiian folklore about two lovers and is just a short walk from Hulopoe Beach, not far from the Four Seasons Resort Lanai. The hike takes only 15 to 20 minutes and takes you past coastal tide pools and scenic views of the bay.
Volcano National Park, Hawaii Island
In short, Volcano National Park is one of the undisputed treasures of Hawaii’s national parks program, not to mention the most visited place on the island of Hawaii. Within this park are two of the most active volcanoes on earth, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. You can easily spend a few days wandering around this special place full of historical sites that highlight Hawaii’s ancient and volcanic landscape of the island.
Mokuleia Beach, Oahu
Address Mokuleia Beach, Kapalua, HI 96761, USA Get directions
Fans of the TV show “Staying Alive” are sure to recognize this massive isolated beach on the north shore of Oahu, which is also the starting point to Kaena Point. Because of its distance from the city (about an hour’s drive from Honolulu) and its large size, Mokuleia Beach is often sparsely populated. Although swimming here is not always possible due to unpredictable currents, this beach is a great place to take pictures, relax, and sunbathe.
Waipio Valley, Island of Hawaii
Address 48-5561A Waipio Valley Rd, Honokaa, HI 96727, USA Get directions
There’s a reason Waipio Valley was the permanent home of early Hawaiian royalty, including King Kamehameha when he was a child. Located on the coast of Hamakua. The majestic valley is as dramatic as it is beautiful, one mile across and five miles deep with surrounding cliffs that rise more than 2,000 feet. The famous Hilawe Falls, the highest waterfall in Hawaii at over 1,200 feet, is located in the back of Waipio. The valley was once home to thousands of Native Hawaiians, but now there are fewer than 100 residents who continue to live and thrive in the valley. Travelers can explore the valley on a guided tour, a hike, or from the Waipio Lookout at the end of the Hamakua Heritage Corridor.
The 10 most beautiful towns in Hawaii
The 10 most beautiful towns in Hawaii
Video: Honolulu /Honolulu/ Beautiful cities, beautiful music 2022, September
It would be hard to imagine a more beautiful place than the Hawaiian Islands. Each of these islands is unique and offers many cultures and stories. Away from the crowded cities of popular tourist traps, small towns live a little slower. We highlight ten of the most beautiful towns that preserve the culture and natural beauty of Hawaii.
Oahu is the most populous of Hawaii’s islands, and the state capital, Honolulu, attracts millions of visitors each year. But 30 miles north of the city, the famous but crowded Waikiki Beach is in Haleiwa: a town that exists almost as much as it did decades ago. The town was developed on several large sugar plantations that defined Haleiwa’s commercial and manufacturing industry. The city is now better known as the surfing capital of the world. Experienced and professional surfers head to Haleiwa for world-class waves, but there is fun for travelers of all ages and experience in the pristine water and local stores of this small town.
Naalehu is a vibrant little town that proudly claims to be the southernmost place in the United States. With fewer than 1,000 residents, it’s a destination for visitors looking to get away from some of Hawaii’s larger, more commercial cities. Naalehu sits on the edge of the Kau Forest Preserve with the powerful Mauna Loa volcano. Just nine miles north of Naalehu along the coastline is Punaluu: the famous black sand beach. Naalehu is a sleepy town where visitors can visit several local restaurants, bars and bakeries, as well as enjoy the island’s natural beauty.
Located on the northernmost tip of the Big Island of Hawaii, Hawi is an ideal city while time away. The small central business district has a delightfully strollable stretch of art galleries, restaurants, and boutiques. Hawi has a rich history of sugar production, with brightly colored plantations offering tours and a glimpse into the history of the area. Every fall, the otherwise quiet town is a thrill of excitement as athletes in the world-famous Ironman Triumph turn in town during the bike portion of the race. For more adventurous spirits, travelers can take a ride through nearby Kohala Fruit Farm or ride the Kohala Postal Service lines.
Like many other towns on the island of Hawaii, Honokaa grew out of a prolific and lucrative sugar industry. Since the largest sugar company near Honokaa closed in 1994, the town has calmed down considerably. It now has a charming historic downtown with a beloved community theater, restaurants and stores. In addition to the famous sugars, coffee and pineapple crops, ranching is also a strong industry on the island. Every May, Honokaa hosts Western Week, a lively celebration of the town’s ranching history, with live music, a festival and rodeo events. For guests wanting to get into a rodeo adventure, several touring companies offer tours through the nearby Waipio Valley horse.
Kaunakakai is a peaceful town on the lesser-known island of Molokai. The town boasts a history of fishing, ranching and farming, and the locals are believed to be a paniolo, or Hawaiian cowboy, destination. Just 12 miles north of Kaunakakai is Kalaupapa, a town that served as a colony for exiled lepers for nearly a century. The Isolation Act, which banned people with leprosy, was lifted in 1969, and the town returned to its former state as a quiet fishing village. Today Kiowea Beach on the west end of town is a great place to see Kapuaiva, an ancient royal coconut grove.
City of Lanai, Lanai
A Mormon colony was once born on the island of Lanai. But in 1922 a company that would later be called Dole began growing pineapples. Within seventy years Lanai was the world’s largest pineapple producer, increasing 75% of world demand. As a result, the small island earned the nickname “Pineapple Island”. Lanai City is geographically located near the center of the island and is about 1,700 feet above sea level. The charming little town has several restaurants serving traditional Hawaiian food, art galleries, jewelry stores and coffee shops. Visitors can take bike tours of the town and nearby coastal views. Other outdoor activities such as horseback riding, golf and clay shooting are available in Lanai City.
The town of Hana is secluded and somewhat inaccessible, which adds to the magic of this remote village. Hana is 52 miles from Maui’s largest city, Kahului, and is connected by a winding and rushing highway. The road to Hana is famous for its stunning views, narrow passages and hairpin turns. Once arrived in Hana, the experience is unlike any other. The town is pristine and austere, seemingly stuck in a bygone era. Popular attractions and activities include snorkeling, hiking, a tropical botanical garden and a black sand beach. Hana is also home to Pi’ilanihale Heiau, a basalt temple dating back to the fourteenth century.
Lahaina is one of the larger towns on our list, but this historic town should not be overlooked. The town was once the capital of the entire kingdom of Hawaii, and its port was extremely busy in the nineteenth century as a center for whaling. Herman Melville, author of the literary classic Moby Dick, even passed through by going to Lahaina during his years at sea. Much of the town is designated as a historic district and has been preserved for locals and visitors as a delightful homage to the past. First Street Lahaina is home to dozens of stores, art galleries, restaurants and an elevated nightlife scene. A number of theaters also offer world-class shows and performances, theatrically highlighting and sharing local dances, clothing and customs.
The first Europeans in Hawaii landed on Kauai in Waimea, just 16 miles from Koloa. The town is tiny: it covers just over one square mile. Koloa was one of the first places in Hawaii to open a sugar mill, which dominated industry on the islands during the nineteenth century. Sugar production led to an influx of immigrants to Koloa, contributing to the colorful and diverse population today. Retail businesses now populate the former plantation buildings in Coloa’s quaint Old Town. The hiking and biking trail, called the Koloa Heritage Trail, is a ten-mile stretch popular for hiking and biking through parks, churches, historic landmarks and beautiful beaches.
Across the island from Koloa is the north shore of Hanalei. The town has a unique history, with a Russian imperial presence that occupied forts in nearby Princeville. Today, Hanalei is known for stunning beaches and plenty of outdoor adventure opportunities. Windsurfing, ziplining, hiking, river rafting and snorkeling are all available activities in Hanalei. There are regular ukulele concerts and music festivals enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. Hanalei’s Waioli House and Church were created by early Christian missionaries and are now a National Historic Landmark and would be the perfect place to spend the day.