The only U.S. State outside of North America is situated about 3,200 kilometers (2,000 miles) from the mainland in the Pacific Ocean. Hawaii consists of 137 tropical and volcanic islands that span an area of 2,400 kilometers (1,500 miles).
This means that the state of Hawaii has the 4th-longest coastline in the United States. Beaches and other natural wonders make this one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, regardless of its remote location.
Even though it’s one of the smallest and less populated states, it’s still the 13th-most densely populated. Most of the population lives on the island of O’ahu which is home to the state capital, Honolulu.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the best things to do in Hawaii so you can start making a bucket list for your visit to this amazing U.S. state.
1. Hike to Mauna Kea’s summit
If you plan to visit Hawaii, why not start by hiking to the top of the highest mountain in the state, right?
Maun Kea is located on the island of Hawaiʻi and stands 4,207.3 meters (13,803 feet) above sea level. Remarkably, it’s only 38 meters (125 feet) taller than its stockier neighbor named Mauna Loa.
This not only makes it the highest mountain in the state but also the second-highest mountain on an island in the world. Only Puncak Jaya on the Island of New Guinea in Indonesia is higher at 4,884 meters (16,024 feet).
Even though it requires a decent level of fitness, Mauna Kea is one of the best places in Hawaii to hike as it provides astounding views of the surroundings.
The Mauna Kea Trail is the most popular and has a length of about 10 kilometers (6 miles). It takes you all the way to the summit of this dormant volcano.
If you reach the summit, you’ll notice there are multiple observation stations located here. That’s because this is one of the best places in the world for astronomical observation.
Official website: Mauna Kea
2. Explore the Waimea Canyon State Park
As you surely expected, the main attraction at the Waimea Canyon State Park is the enormous canyon that dominates the landscape in the western part of the island of Kauaʻi.
The Waimea Canyon is nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” and the main reason is that it has a length of 16 kilometers (10 miles) and reaches a depth of 900 meters (3,000 feet) at some points.
What’s remarkable about this canyon is that it was created by two things, the collapse of a volcano that created the entire island of Kauai, and erosion in a process that lasted millions of years.
This collapse in combination with the rainwater that carved its way through the landscape has created a magnificent area that has become a very popular tourist attraction in Hawaii.
Even though the state park only covers an area of roughly 7.5 square kilometers (1,866 acres), it’s filled with numerous hiking trails in one of the most fascinating wilderness areas you’ll ever come across.
Official website: Waimea Canyon State park
3. Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park
Even though the highest mountain in the state is a dormant volcano, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t any active volcanoes as well.
On the island of Hawai’i, we can find Kīlauea, a volcano considered to be one of the most active volcanoes on the planet.
Mauna Loa, the sturdy volcano nearby, is considered to be the world’s most massive shield volcano.
Visiting this park should be high on your Hawaii bucket list because it provides astounding volcanic landscapes some of the most bizarre fauna and flora on the planet.
Both active volcanoes are the main attraction of the Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. It covers an area of 1,308.88 square kilometers (323,431 acres) filled with volcanic rocks and lava flows.
This is not your everyday attraction!
Official website: Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park
4. Visit the Iolani Palace
Between the late 18th and late 19th centuries, the islands of Hawaii were ruled by the kings and queen (there was only 1) of the kingdom of Hawai’i.
One of the ruling dynasties, known as the House of Kamehameha, built an amazing palace in what is now downtown Honolulu, the state’s capital.
This structure is known as ʻIolani Palace and even though it was originally completed in 1879, it was completely restored and turned into a public museum in the year 1978.
The amazing palace is not only a National Historic Landmark but is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
This is not surprising because it’s the only former royal palace on US soil, quite amazing indeed!
An audio tour is available which allows you to learn all about how the final monarchs of the Kingdom of Hawai’i lived.
Official website: Iolani Palace
5. Hike at Diamond Head State Monument
One of the most astounding feats of nature in the world. Diamond Head is a so-called “volcanic cone,” a crater that was formed from the eruption of a volcano.
These take on the shape of a cone with a crater in the middle, something perfectly visible in this remarkable state monument.
It’s located on the island of Oʻahu, the third-largest and most populous island in the state. This dormant volcano is situated in the utmost southern tip of Honolulu, the state capital.
This also means that hiking to the top is one of the most popular activities in the city. multiple hiking trails can be found here and a decent level of fitness is required to reach the top.
That’s mainly because the summit is located at an elevation of 762 feet (232 meters) above sea level.
It’s worth it because you’ll get amazing views of the city when you reach it.
Official website: Diamond Head State Monument
6. Snorkel at Hanauma Bay
Even though it’s initially hard to recognize it as such, but Hanauma Bay is also a volcanic cone. It’s located within the same tuff ring as Diamond Head on the Island of Oʻahu.
It’s located on the southeast coast of the island. This astounding bay features a popular beach which is located within the crater of a dormant volcano.
It’s one of the most popular tourist locations on the island as well and has suffered from the huge numbers of tourists that visit this place.
At some point, over 3 million yearly visitors stayed in the area. That’s why the name was changed from Hanauma Bay Beach Park to Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve in an attempt to preserve marine life.
The bay features over 400 species of fish and green turtles can be found in copious numbers here as well. This makes snorkeling one of the bay’s most popular activities.
Official website: Hanauma Bay
7. Be mesmerized at Haleakalā National Park
One of the most desolate landscapes in the US state of Hawaii can be found in a national park named after a dormant volcano.
Haleakalā National Park covers an area of 33,265 acres (134.62 square kilometers) on the island of Maui and consists for the most part of a wilderness area.
That’s quite a big contrast from the mass tourism near Honolulu and the perfect place to hike if you enjoy the tranquility.
The most popular attraction in the park is the crater of Haleakalā, a volcano also referred to as the “East Maui Volcano.“
What’s remarkable about this “crater” is that it’s actually an “erosional valley.” The colors inside this enormous valley are amazing, and most visitors come here at either sunrise or sunset to enjoy the magnificent spectacle.
Official website: Haleakalā National Park
8. Nā Pali Coast State Wilderness Park
One of the most amazing coastlines in the world can be found on the island of Kauaʻi, the second-oldest of the main islands of Hawaii.
The Nā Pali Coast State Wilderness Park is located on the northwestern coast of the island and is dominated by enormous cliffs.
Nā Pali translates to “high cliffs” and for a good reason. Some of these giants rise to 4,000 feet (1,200 meters) above the Pacific Ocean, creating an astounding sight to behold.
This national park covers an area of 6,175 acres (24.99 square kilometers) and can be explored in multiple ways, including hiking, by boat, and even by helicopter.
Either way that you explore the park, you’ll be amazed by this magnificent landscape.
Official website: Nā Pali Coast State Wilderness Park
9. Take pictures at Lanikai Beach
It’s hard to deny that Lanikai Beach is considered to be one of the amazing beaches in the world, even though there are no public restrooms or showers.
It’s located just northeast of Honolulu on the island of O’ahu and is much less crowded than some of the most populous beaches on the island.
Regardless, it’s not easy to find parking space in the area since the beach is located in an upscale area of the town of Kailua.
Is it worth the long walk to the beach?
The amazing white sand in combination with the gentle blue color of the ocean makes this a pretty resounding yes.
The two islets in the background known as “Nā Mokulua” (“the two islands” in Hawaiian) also form the perfect background for taking pictures.
10. Hike at the Akaka Falls State Park
One of the multiple amazing waterfalls in the state is located on the largest island, Hawai’i Island. As the name implies, Akasaka Falls is the main attraction of a state park as well.
The park is easily accessible because it’s located just 11 miles (18 kilometers) north of the Hawaii County capital of Hilo.
A path brings you right up to the scenic waterfall that drops an amazing 442 feet (135 meters) down into the basin below.
The loop trail inside the park also brings you to another tall waterfall known as “Kahūnā Falls” which drops 300 feet (91 meters), and several smaller waterfalls.
This is quite a mountainous area so hiking is quite tiring, but worth it due to the natural beauty you’ll encounter.
Official website: Akaka Falls State Park
11. Learn at the Bishop Museum
The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum was renamed Hawaiʻi State Museum of Natural and Cultural History, something that indicates what it’s all about.
It’s not only the largest museum of its kind in the state but also the largest museum in the world to learn about Polynesian history and culture.
The number of natural history specimens exceeds 24 million items so you’ll surely be able to spend quite a while inside the museum.
The museum was founded way back in 1889 and was named after the man who established it, Charles Reed Bishop (1822-1915).
The remarkable story about the founding of the museum is that Bishop was married to Bernice Pauahi Bishop (1831-1884), a princess and therefore a member of the royal family.
She passed a large number of items into Bishop after she died in 1884 and he established the museum to preserve these royal items.
Official website: Bishop Museum
12. Discover black sand at Punaluʻu Beach
One of the remarkable beaches you’ll ever come across can be found on the Big Island of Hawaii, and that’s not because it’s an amazing place to sunbathe.
Punaluʻu Beach is located between the towns of Pāhala and Nāʻālehu in the southern part of the island is world-famous for its distinctively black sand.
This sand was created by lava flowing into the ocean and exploding upon reaching the water. The result is a beach full of basalt.
Even though it’s possible to swim here and there’s even a lifeguard present, you won’t find hoards of tourists lying on this beach.
Instead, the most prominent visitors are two endangered animals, the hawksbill sea turtle, and the green sea turtle. These two animal species enjoy hanging out at this black beach.
13. Check out the movie sets at Kualoa Ranch
On the east coast of the island of O’ahu, we can find a ranch that serves a couple of different purposes.
Even though Kualoa Ranch is a tourist attraction, it’s a private nature reserve and an active ranch with working cattle as well.
It’s located about 24 miles (39 kilometers) north of Honolulu and is world-famous for a particular reason. That’s because it’s a popular filming location that has been used in 79 movies and television series to date.
To name just a few of the most popular, movies such as Jurassic Park (1993), Jumanji (1995), and Pearl Harbor (2001) were filmed here, as well as the popular American television series “Lost.”
Guided tours on horseback are available if you want to discover where some of the most famous movies in history were shot!
Official website: Kualoa Ranch
14. USS Arizona National Memorial
Pearl Harbor in Honolulu is world-famous for being the location of the devastating events that unfolded here during World War II.
Today, a memorial is located in this lagoon harbor on the exact location that 1,102 marines and sailors lost their lives during this horrible attack on a ship called the USS Arizona.
This event happened on December 7, 1941, and the memorial was built just over two decades later in 1962.
What’s remarkable about this memorial is that the sunken hull of the ship is located just beneath it, but the memorial itself doesn’t touch it.
It can only be accessed by boat and is a remarkable attraction to visit for multiple reasons.
Official website: Pearl Harbor National Memorial
15. Admire the scenery at Hanalei Bay
The largest bay on the north shore of Kauaʻi island is named after the town that is located right in the middle of it, Hanalei Bay.
This enormous bay features nearly 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) of beach and is surrounded by majestic mountains. This makes it a picture-perfect location.
The beach is also perfect for swimming and surfing and the vast open space of the beach makes it appear much less crowded than many of the popular beaches in Hawaii.
If you want to enjoy the beach in a relaxing manner in one of the most magnificent settings imaginable, then this is the perfect beach to visit.
16. Scuba dive at Molokini
Some volcanic craters in Hawaii form magnificent landmarks, such as Diamond Head, others form remarkable bays, such as Hanauma Bay.
Molokini is another remarkable volcanic crater because it’s partially submerged. It’s located in the Alalākeiki Channel, right in between the islands of Maui and Kahoʻolawe, within Maui County.
The volcanic crater has been transformed into an islet and covers an area of 23 acres (9.3 hectares).
It has a diameter of just 0.4 miles (0.6 kilometers) and its cliffs reach a maximum height of 161 feet (50 meters).
If you’re into scuba diving or snorkeling, this is without a doubt one of the best spots in Hawaii for these activities.
The sea is relatively calm because the crescent-shaped rim of the crater protects it from waves. Numerous colorful fish can be admired up close here.
17. Have fun at the Polynesian Cultural Center
Another fascinating place to learn about the Polynesian culture is a theme park known as the “Polynesian Cultural Center.”
This tourist attraction and living museum are located in the town of Laie on the north shore of the island of O’ahu.
It’s quite big as it covers a total area of 42 acres (17 hectares) and is made up of 8 different tropical villages. Here you are welcomed by performers who teach you everything about life in Polynesia.
Originally founded in 1962, it has become one of the most popular attractions in the state and a must-visit place if you want to learn everything about the local culture.
Official website: Polynesian Cultural Center
18. Spend an amazing time at Kaanapali Beach
One of the most popular beaches on the island of Maui is located on its west shore. Kaanapali Beach is surrounded by popular resorts and was once named “America’s best beach.”
This beach started out as a popular retreat for Hawaiian royals but has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Hawaii today.
It features about 3 miles (4.82 kilometers) of white sandy beaches and crystal clear water, and shopping facilities and restaurants are just nearby as well.
The end of the beach features black cliffs known as “Puu Kekaa” (black rocks in Hawaiian) and the highlight of the day is the daily rock jumping ceremony.
This forms the perfect end of an amazing day as this event takes place at sunset.
19. Swim near Wailua Falls
Wailua Falls is a waterfall located in the eastern part of the island of Kauai. It’s located on the river with the same name and features 2 drops with a total height of 173 feet (52.7 meters).
The surroundings of the waterfall are nothing short of amazing and there’s a trail leading to the bottom of this natural wonder.
This means that it’s possible to swim here after a rather complicated hike down the trail as well.
Because of the enormous force of the water falling and strong current, it’s advised not to get too close to the waterfall itself though.
20. Explore Waiʻānapanapa State Park
A fascinating piece of nature can be found in the utmost eastern part of the island of Maui. This is known as the Waiʻānapanapa State Park.
Even though it covers just 122 acres( 0.49 square kilometers), it offers a wide variety of remarkable attractions, including black beaches, Hawaiian jungles, and seabird colonies.
One of the most remarkable natural phenomenons in Hawaii happens here a couple of times a year too. The pools inside the park turn red, most probably due to the arrival of small shrimp.
According to popular folklore, this is the blood of princess Popoaleae who was murdered here by her husband, Chief Ka’akea.
According to the story, this happened inside the lava tube, a tunnel formed by flowing lava, and one of the most amazing attractions inside the park.
Official website: Waiʻānapanapa State Park
21. Check out lava fields near Kīlauea
Kīlauea is one of the two volcanoes that are located within the Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawai’i.
This shield volcano is one of the 5 volcanoes that make up the island and the most active one as well. This results in a landscape that is nothing short but spectacular.
It has been a popular tourist attraction in Hawaii since the 1840s and more recently continuously erupted between 1983 and 2018.
This happened again in late 2020 but the Hawaiian Volcanic Observatory announced that most of it actively stopped on May 26, 2021.
This also means that Kīlauea is no longer closed to the public and you can admire magnificent scenes of immense lava fields on this active volcano again.
Official website: Kīlauea
22. Sunset Beach Park
The North Shore of the island of Oahu features one of the most amazing beaches in case you enjoy surfing (and have experience) known as “Sunset Beach.”
While you can enjoy swimming at the beach during the summer, the winter season is the perfect time to either surf or watch surfers conquering giant waves.
The beach has a length of about 2 miles (3.3 kilometers) and the waves are only suited for experienced surfers due to the presence of coral reefs nearby.
You won’t find any surfers here in the summer, though, because the water looks pretty much like a lake this period. This makes it a great beach for swimming with the whole family as well.
23. Enjoy the view at Waipi’o Valley
One of the greatest valleys in Hawaii can be found in the Hamakua District in the northern part of the Big Island of Hawai’i.
This valley is a remarkable spot in the history of Hawaii because it was here that many of the former chiefs and kings lived. It was the location of 4 sacred trees and the royal grass palace.
It’s believed that the last high chief to live here was a man named Umi-a-Liloa who reigned during the 15th century.
Today, the valley is a popular tourist attraction because it features one of the most astounding landscapes imaginable. The cliffs rise to a height of over 2,000 feet (610 meters) above the valley floor.
There’s a lookout point on top of the southern cliff with a small and steep road going down to the beach below.
Another interesting detail is that this was the filming location of the final scene of the movie “Waterworld,” (1995) which means that this valley represented “Dryland.”
24. The Byodo-In Temple
Even though the Byodo-In Temple on the island of O’ahu is considered to be a Buddhist temple, it’s non-denominational because there isn’t an active congregation or monastic community.
That being said, this magnificent structure is a replica of a 900-year old temple in the city of Uji in the Kyoto Prefecture of Japan. This original temple was built in the late Heian Period.
The temple in Hawaii features the same traditional Japanese architecture and was dedicated in August of the year 1968. This was to celebrate the centennial of the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaiʻi.
The main attraction inside the temple is a huge Lotus Buddha statue that stands 18 feet (5.5 meters) tall depicting Amitābha.
Apart from the building itself, the garden is equally magnificent. These Japanese gardens cover an area of 2 acres (0.81 ha) and feature multiple koi ponds. It’s also home to various types of birds, including sparrows and peafowl.
The temple in combination with the magnificent Hawaiian landscape makes this a remarkable place to visit during your stay in Hawaii.
Official website: Byodo-In Temple
25. Jump off the rock at Waimea Bay
Waimea Bay is located on the North Shore of the island of O’ahu in the community of Haleʻiwa. As the name implies, it’s situated at the mouth of the Waimea River.
The bay is another popular surfing location and has amazing beaches as well. Similar to other beaches in the area, surfing contests are only held in the winter because of the favorable conditions then.
During the summer period, the water is relatively calm which makes it an enjoyable beach to swim.
There’s a rock located at the beach as well which is a popular spot to dive off from.
26. Hike to Manoa Falls
Even though the name of the attraction solely refers to the waterfalls, it’s the trail leading up to this feat of nature that makes up most of it.
The waterfall is located at the end of the Manoa Falls Trail, a 1.6-mile (2.57 kilometers) hiking trail located just to the northeast of Honolulu on the island of O’ahu.
The hiking trail runs right through a tropical rain forest and ends at the 150-foot (45 meters) tall waterfall.
It takes about an hour to complete the roundtrip, and even though swimming in the pool near the waterfall looks quite tempting after a solid hike through the rain forest, it’s not recommended.
That’s mainly because it’s possible to catch a blood infection called Leptospirosis which causes flu-like symptoms.
So yes, simply looking at this magnificent spectacle is the best (and safest) way to enjoy Manoa Falls.
27. Find paradise at Polihale State Park
The Western Coast of the island of Maui is home to a secluded beach bounded by cliffs. This area is also a state park known as the Polihale State Park.
What’s remarkable about this park is that it’s situated at the utmost western tip of the island in terms of public accessibility.
And the accessibility to this park isn’t exactly top-notch either because it can only be reached through a small and poorly-marked dirt road.
The area around Queens Pond is the only area in the park that is safe for swimming, and there’s hardly any shade on the beach as well.
Once you reach this pristine beach, though, you’ll be amazed by the natural beauty of this place, that’s for sure.
Official website: Polihale State Park
28. Discover red sand at Kaihalulu Beach
Kaihalulu Beach is also known as “Red Sand Beach” and this pretty much describes this remarkable small beach on the island of Maui.
Also described as a “pocket beach,” it’s a secluded beach located on the opposite side of the island of Maui in its utmost eastern tip.
The color of the beach is deep red-black, one of the few of its kind in the world. The reason is because of the hill located right behind it that is extremely rich in iron and which transcends its color to the sand.
Another remarkable feature of this beach is the fact that it’s relatively sheltered from the rough sea by a coral reef located just offshore.
The huge waves colliding with this reef in combination with the red sand make this an extremely fascinating place to visit.
That’s also how the beach got its name, because “kai halulu,” means “roaring sea” in Hawaiian.
29. Walk in the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden
The Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden covers an area of approximately 400 acres (1.61 square kilometers) just north of Honolulu.
It’s part of the Honolulu Botanical Gardens as well and completely free to enter, except for special days such as Christmas or New Year.
The botanical garden features a fascinating 32-acre (0.12 square kilometers) lake in its center.
It was established in the year 1982 by the United States Army Corps of Engineers to prevent the area from flooding.
It’s a tropical garden and therefore features a wide variety of plants found in tropical countries all over the world.
Another important purpose of this facility is the conservation of Hawaiian and Polynesian plants, definitely worth checking out.
Official website: Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden
30. Visit Queen’s Bath
One of the most fascinating tide pools in the world can be found in the town of Princeville on the north shore of the island of Kauaʻi.
This natural miracle is known as “Queen’s Bath” and was created by a sinkhole that is now surrounded by rocks.
The name “Queen’s Bath” refers to a similar tide pool that could only be used by royals in ancient times.
This original Queen’s Bath isn’t this one, though as it was located on the Big Island of Hawai’i, and the water was considered to be sacred.
It was formed by a collapsed lava tube but was covered with thick lava flows in 1987 because of the eruption of Kilauea, effectively destroying it.
End even though it looks pretty tempting to dive into the tide pool, it’s not recommended to swim here due to the obvious danger of crashing into the rocks.
31. Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site
The Unification of Hawaii happened in 1810 and this officially ended a period referred to as “Ancient Hawaii.”
Even though the first small settlements in Hawaii are estimated to have been built between 300 and 800 A.D., the structures built in the final period were a lot more quite impressive.
The ruin of one of the final major Ancient Hawaiian Temples has been turned into a National Historic Landmark and the entire site is known as the “Puʻukoholā Heiau National Historic Site.”
This massive temple was completed in 1791 and covers an area of 224 by 100 feet (68 by 30 meters).
Even though the attraction features a visitor center, it’s not possible to access the temple itself.
That’s because archaeological excavations are ongoing and it’s believed human remains are still buried at the site.
Official website: Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site
32. Hike at Kaʻena Point State Park
Ka’ena Point or “Kaena Point” is the name referring to the utmost western tip of land on the island of O’ahu.
The pristine nature in the area in combination with unpaved hiking trails makes this quite literally a hiker’s paradise.
This location also features some of the highest waves in all of Hawaii during the winter. Some of these waves reach incredible heights as well.
It’s here that surfer Ken Bradshaw was photographed on January 28, 1998, a day known as “Biggest Wednesday.” The wave he was riding reached a height of 85 feet (26 meters), which is simply astounding.
This also means that it’s a popular place for surfers in the winter, while the summer months make this a great place for snorkeling.
Official website: Kaʻena Point State Park
33. Iao Valley State Monument
As the name of this remarkable feat of nature implies, the Iao Valley State Monument is located in the Iao Valley in the western part of the island of Maui.
The closest town in the area is Wailuku which is located just 3.1 miles (5 kilometers) to the west of the national monument.
The valley is part of the West Maui mountains, a range consisting of remnants of an extinct volcano.
The most distinctive feature is the so-called “Iao Needle,’ a remarkable peak formed by lava that is covered in vegetation.
When looking at this peak from a certain angle it appears to take on the shape of a needle as it rises about 1,200 feet (370 meters) above the valley floor.
It has been designated a U.S. National Natural Landmark since 1972 and is pretty much a must-visit attraction when you’re in Maui.
Official website: Iao Valley
34. Hike the Koko Crater Trail
We already mentioned a couple of volcanic craters that have become amazing tourist attractions in our ultimate Hawaii travel guide and this is yet another remarkable example.
Koko Crater is located just a few miles east of Honolulu and Diamond Head, the other fascinating landmark just near the city. Hanauma Bay is located just near as well.
This extinct tuff cone rises to a height of 1,208 feet (368 meters) above the surface of the nearby ocean.
The crater is part of the Koko Head Regional park and features multiple hiking trails. One of the most popular is the Koko Crater Trail.
This pathway of this trail was established on an abandoned railroad track. This 1.8-mile-long (2.89 kilometers) trail is arguably one of the most fascinating in all of Hawaii.
If you take a look at this magnificent natural landmark, then you surely understand why!
35. Swim at the big Makena Beach
Makena Beach is part of the Makena State Park and is also referred to as “Oneloa Beach” or the “Big Beach.”
It didn’t get this nickname for no reason because this extremely spacious beach is 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) long and over 100 feet (30 meters) wide.
It’s located in the southern part of the island of Maui and is one of the most popular beaches on the island and the perfect place for swimming and snorkeling.
Other popular attractions inside the park are Little Beach, as the name implies much smaller with a length of just 660 feet (200 meters), and Oneʻuli Beach, another black sand beach located just near Big Beach.
36. Banzai Pipeline
The North Shore area on the island of O’ahu is a surfer’s paradise. One of the best surfing locations in Hawaii is located in the town of Pupukea just near the Ehukai Beach Park.
This section features the so-called “Banzai Pipeline,” an area in the ocean in which waves start breaking when they reach the shallow waters of a reef.
This not only provides the most astounding waves for surfers to conquer but also an amazing spot to check out the mighty waves from a distance.
Quite an amazing sight, don’t you think?
37. Battleship Missouri Memorial
The USS Arizona National Memorial in Pearl Harbor isn’t the only memorial built to commemorate the people who lost their lives during the attack in December 1941.
Just nearby we can find the Battleship Missouri Memorial as well, the actual USS Missouri that was commissioned in June 1944 and which fought in multiple important battles.
It was also the ship on which Japanese foreign affairs minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signed the official surrender of Japan during World War II on September 2, 1945.
But that’s not all!
This ship fought the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa and later took part in the Korean War between 1950 and 1953 as well.
This ship received 11 battle stars and was donated to the USS Missouri Memorial Association in 1998.
It’s now one of the most popular tourist attractions in Pearl Harbor, located at a stone’s throw distance of the USS Arizona Memorial.
Official website: Battleship Missouri Memorial
38. Snorkel at Shark’s Cove
We already covered a wide variety of great snorkeling locations in Hawaii, but the one located near the town of Haleiwa on the North Shore of O’ahu Island is something special.
Regardless of its name, you’re unlikely to come across ferocious sharks in this part of the island. Instead, what you’ll find is an area filled with reefs and volcanic rock that harbor a wide variety of marine life.
A large number of rocks at Shark’s Cover create a wide variety of tunnels, caves, and crevices, in which you’ll find one surprise after another.
While the east side of the cove is pretty shallow, the west side is much deeper and perfect for snorkeling.
An abundance of marine life, including green sea turtles, in combination with crystal clear waters, makes this yet another snorkeling paradise.
39. Check out the view at Kōkeʻe State Park
In the northwestern part of the island of Kauaʻi, we can find another wonderful state park known as Kōkeʻe State Park.
This mountainous state park covers a total area of 4,345 acres (17.58 square kilometers) and features a wide variety of attractions, including waterfalls, cliffs, and a lookout point that will make you stand in awe.
This point is located at the end of the state road inside the park and overlooks the Kalalau Valley, quite an astonishing view.
The park is also a hiker’s paradise as it features a total of 19 amazing trails.
There’s also a museum known as “Kōkeʻe Museu” in which you can learn all about the local weather, vegetation, and birdlife.
Official website: Kōkeʻe State Park
40. Relish at the Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve & Garden
Just north of Hilo on the Big Island of Hawai’i you can find one of the most fascinating botanical gardens in the state.
The Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve & Garden covers an area of about 17 acres (6,800 square meters) and is in our opinion the most amazing of its kind, mainly because of its great location along the ocean.
Apart from the large amounts of tropical plants, it features streams, waterfalls, and scenic paths along the ocean that provide astounding views.
The garden features over 2,000 plant species, including more than 200 species of palms.
Even though the garden only opened to the public in 1984, it features coconut palm trees that are over 100 years old, quite amazing.
This in combination with the relaxed setting of the garden makes this an amazing attraction to visit.
Official website: Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve & Garden
41. Be amazed at the Kīlauea Lighthouse
Believe it or not but the lava outcrop known as “Kīlauea Point” was once bought by a sugar plantation company for $1 in 1909.
This amazing natural feature is located on the northern shore of the island of Kauaʻi.
They decided to build a lighthouse in this location to help bring in goods from the ocean. The construction of “Kilauea Light” started in 1912 and it was dedicated on May 1, 1913.
This means that this monumental structure, which was built in the Neoclassical architectural style, is well over a century old.
Even though the tower itself only stands 52 feet (16 meters) tall, it’s one of the most fascinating attractions in the area due to its intriguing location.
Want to take some breathtaking pictures? This is the place to go to.
Official website: Kīlauea Lighthouse
42. Check out the audio tour at the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park
If you want to discover what life was like inside a WWII submarine, then the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum is the place you want to visit.
Here you can get on board of a submarine that was first launched on December 7, 1942, and which has been on 9 patrols between its launch and the 1970s.
It was eventually turned into a museum ship located in Pearl Harbor in 1979 and has served this purpose ever since.
The submarine was named after the bowfin fish and we don’t really have to wonder why. The similarity in appearance is quite striking.
The ship has a total length of 311 feet 9 inches (95.02 meters) and can reach a speed of 20.25 knots (37.50 km/h) on the ocean surface and 8.75 knots (16.21 km/h) submerged.
There are both guided and audio tours available to learn everything about the submarine and its missions.
A visit to this attraction can perfectly be combined with the nearby USS Arizona and Battleship Missouri Memorials as well.
Official website: USS Bowfin
43. Sunbathe at Kalapaki Beach
One of the most perfectly-shaped beaches in all of Hawaii can be found in the second-largest town on the island of Kauai, Lihue.
This crescent-shaped beach is located in a sheltered cove which makes it one of the most enjoyable beaches to swim.
The beach is situated right in front of the Kauai Marriott Beach Resort, one of the most popular resorts on the island.
This means that this fascinating beach is often bustling with tourists as it forms the perfect spot to relax, sunbathe, or play a game of beach volleyball.
44. Discover trees & plants at the Lyon Arboretum
Even though this attraction is called the “Lyon Arboretum,” it’s actually a combination of an arboretum (a botanical garden solely featuring trees) and a botanical garden with plants.
This fascinating place is located just northeast of Honolulu and covers a total area of nearly 200 acres (0.8 square kilometers).
What’s remarkable is that the botanical garden is operated and managed by the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.
Apart from the trees and plant, the arboretum is also home to fascinating singing birds, ancestors of the birds that were once the main attraction of the theme park on this location named “Paradise Park.”
The best way to discover the tropical rainforest that cover the arboretum is by following the hiking trail that leads up to an amazing waterfall.
This in combination with the background of the nearby Mānoa Valley makes this an awesome place to visit.
Official website: Lyon Arboretum
45. Hike in the Kīlauea Iki Crater
One of the most amazing hiking locations you’ll ever come across is an area that was once a huge lava lake.
Kīlauea Iki is a so-called pit crater located right next to the caldera of the most active volcano on the Big Iisland of Hawai’i, Kīlauea.
Back in 1959, Kilauea was starting to make some noise and not too long after enormous lava fountains were spewing out of its caldera.
The eruption resulted in lava fountains that reached a height of up to 580 meters (1,900 feet), quite an astonishing sight.
Today the lava lake has disappeared and it’s possible to hike to the bottom of the crater by descending from Byron Ledge.
Even though there’s no lava flowing here anymore, parts of the crater floor are still hot, even 5 decades after the eruption.
The steam emerging from the floor is the result of rainwater seeping into cracks and coming into contact with the hot volcanic rocks below.
Official website: Kīlauea Iki
46. Discover Papakōlea Green Sand Beach
Wait a minute.
We already had white, black, and even a red beach in this amazing list of attractions in Hawaii. Could there be even more colors?
To emphasize how awesome Hawaii really is, the simple answer is yes, there is a beach named the “Papakōlea Green Sand Beach.”
What’s fascinating about this particular beach located in the utmost southern tip of the Big Island of Hawai’i is that it’s one of just 4 green sand beaches in the world.
Similar to how the Red Sand Beach got its distinctive dark-red color, the sand on this beach turns green because of the iron called “olivine” that is present inside the volcanic rock that surrounds it.
In order to reach this fascinating beach it requires either bringing a 4×4 vehicle or great walking shoes. Without a suited vehicle, it takes quite a walk to reach the beach.
Is it worth it? Most definitely!
47. Swim near the Upper Waikani Falls
The Upper Waikani Falls are also known as “Three Bears Falls” and as the name implies, it’s a set of 3 scenic and picture-perfect waterfalls.
These waterfall are located along the northeastern coast of the island of Maui.
Apart from being one of the most amazing location imaginable for a photoshoot, the pool in which the waterfalls drop is also the perfect place to go for a swim.
The highest of the 3 drops from a height of about 70 feet (21 meters) in the pool below.
The rocks, the vegetation, and the opportunity to swim make this a great place to visit , regardless of the short but steep hike down to reach it.
48. Check out the shows at Paradise Cove Luau
Hawaiians know how to party, and they even have a name for it, “Luau.”
It’s hard to find a better place to enjoy luau, a typically Hawaiian feast accompanied by various forms of entertainment, than in Paradise Cover Luau.
This amazing place full of fun and entertainment is located just a short drive west of Honolulu on the southwestern coast of O’ahu.
The beachfront facility covers an area of about 12 acres (48,560 square meters) and allows you to enjoy various shows featuring hula dancers.
Here you can also enjoy typical Hawaiian food such as lomi lomi salmon, kalua pig, and poi, a thick paste made of bananas and coconut cream.
Official website: Paradise Cove
49. Cruise along the Hana Highway
If you have a car available during your journey in Hawaii and you want to take it our for a ride, then the Hana Highway is without a doubt the most amazing scenic drive in the state.
It’s also referred to as the “Road to Hana,” a reference to the fact that the drive starts at Kahului and ends in the utmost eastern part of Maui near the town of Hana.
Along this drive you’ll come across narrow, windy roads, and a total of 59 bridges, 46 of which only feature one lane.
This means that this 64.4-mile-long (103.6 kilometers) could take up to 2.5 hours to complete.
The scenery you’ll come across along the road, including lush tropical rainforest and magnificent waterfalls, makes it all worthwhile.
Official website: Road to Hana
50. Enjoy morning snorkeling at Wailea Beach
One of the most beautiful and popular beaches on the island of Maui is located in the ultimate resort community called Wailea.
With over 1,500 acres (6 square kilometers) of perfect beaches, it’s no surprise that this town has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state.
A great sandy beach, gentle waves perfectly suited for snorkeling, and all of the facilities needed to enjoy a great vacation make this an amazing place to spend your holiday.
An interesting detail about Wailea Beach: it was named “America’s Best Beach” back in 1999, quite an achievement!
51. Hike in the Thurston Lava Tube
An astounding feat of nature is a so-called lava tube, a cave formed when flowing lava forms walls and a ceiling.
One of these amazing lava tubes is a popular attraction at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawai’i and was formed about 500 years ago.
It’s known as the Thurston Lava Tube and is situated on the crater of active volcano Kilauea at an altitude of 3,900 feet (1,188 meters).
This otherworldly attraction is about 600 feet (182 meters) long and the ceiling of this lava tube reaches a height of 20 feet (6 meters) in some areas.
Rest assured this will be one of the most fascinating attractions you’ll ever come across!
Official website: Thurston Lava Tube
52. Check out the views at Nu‘uanu Pali
The magnificent Koʻolau mountain range dominates the landscape just northeast of Honolulu on the island of O’ahu.
In between two sections of this range we can find the Nuʻuanu Valley which is bounded by “Nuʻuanu Pali,” a huge cliff that reaches an elevation of 1,168 feet (356 meters).
The name “pali” translates to “cliff” in Hawaiian.
A road leads up to an observation point that provides astounding views of the northeastern coastline of O’ahu. From here you can get great views of both Kāneʻohe Bay and Kailua.
The observation point is quite windy but the views are too amazing to let it pass by during your stay on the island.
Official website: Nu‘uanu Pali
53. Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park
If you want to see with your own eyes how native people on the island used to live, then you can head over the utmost western point of the Big Island of Hawai’i.
In the Kona District of the island, you’ll find the Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park. This park was estabished in 1978 for a particular reason.
It’s an archaeological site that features a traditional native Hawaiian town known as the “Honokōhau Settlement.”
This features traditional housing, religious buildings, and the “ʻAiʻopio,” a fish pond with a sea wall that was used to catch fish.
It’s fair to conclude that you can learn a lot here about ancient Hawaiian culture.
Official website: Kaloko-Honokōhau
54. Enjoy the relaxed Napili Bay
In the utmost northeastern part of the island of Maui you can find a relaxed beach located in the Napili Bay.
It has a sense of tranquility about it that is hard to find in many other popular tourist destinations in the state.
This bay is the perfect family location if you like to enjoy a beach vacation and much less crowded than other places in Maui.
Because the beach is protected by an outer reef, the sea is family-friendly as well as it doesn’t feature big waves.
Even though it’s much less commercialized, this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t provide all the facilities needed to enjoy your stay here.
On the contrary, this relaxed beach town offers everything needed while retaining an extremely relaxed atmosphere, which is quite enjoyable indeed.
55. Enjoy the scenery at Hamoa Beach
Just south of the town of Hana, on the east side of Maui and at the end of the “Road to Hana,” you can find a remarkable scenic and tranquil beach known as Hamoa Beach.
There aren’t any reefs protecting this beach, which means that the sea can get pretty wild here, adding to the already fascinating scenery.
The most amazing features of this crescent-shaped beach are the Hala trees that line it, quite an amazing sight.
The sand of this beach is soft as silk which makes it perfectly suited for either swimming, snorkeling, or surfing as well.
This in combination with the presence of the facilities needed to enjoy your stay make this yet another fascinating beach to discover.
56. Snorkel at Turtle Bay
Turtle Bay was named as because it’s a popular spot for green sea turtles to feed.
This was before mass tourism came to the place and the huge Turtle Bay Resort was built in this location on the North Shore of the island of O’ahu.
Regardless, it features a protected area which is home to these amazing creatures that can often be seen sunbathing on the beach.
The bay ecompasses about 5 miles (8 kilometers) of beaches and the rock formations are inhabited by a wide variety of colorful fish.
This in combination with the green sea turtles make this a great place to snorkel.
Other popular activies in the area are surfing and kayaking, and there are 2 golf courses here as well. A concrete bunker from World War II can be found at the utmost western tip of the bay.
57. Check out the waves at Sandy Beach
Just east of the fascinating Koko crater in the southeastern part of the island of O’ahu, you can find another beach with great waves.
Sandy Beach is renowned for featuring consintuous shore breaks and barrels which make it a perfect place to bodyboard or surf.
The downside of this place is that it’s only suited for experienced surfers, mainly because of the fact that the highest number of injuries with surfers in all of Hawaii occur here.
That’s why the beach has notoriously been called “break-neck” beach. Accidents are mainly caused by so-called “rip breaks,” strong currents that suddenly move away from the shore.
Even if you’re not an experienced surfer, you can still enjoy the amazing waves at the Sandy Beach park.
58. Hike the Makapuʻu Point Lighthouse Trail
The utmost southerneastern tip of land of the island of O’ahu is known as Makapuʻu Point. This is just a short drive east of the Koko Head Crater.
By the end of the 19th century, ocean traffic to Honoulu had increased so much that plans to build a lighthouse on this strategic location were made.
The sturdy lighthouse was eventually completed in the year 1909 and features the biggest lens of any lighthouse in the United States.
This remarkable structure was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1977.
The most popular way to explore this monument is by following the Makapuʻu Point Lighthouse Trail. This trail provides astounding views of the southeastern shore of O’ahu, as well as views of the Koko Head Crater.
Official website: Makapuʻu Point Lighthouse
59. Enjoy the secret Kauapea Beach
Even though Kauapea Beach is the official name of this remarkable beach on the northern shore of the island of Kauai, it’s often referred to by it’s nickname “Secret Beach” as well.
Nestled in between the Kilauea Lighthouse and Kalihiwai Valley, this stunning beach is just walking distance away from the town of Kilauea.
The reason why this secluded beach is described as being “secret” is because there are no public roads leading to it.
A sideroad of Kuhio Highway known as Kalihiwai Road leads up to an unpaved path that in turn leads up to the western edge of beach.
What you’ll find is an unspoiled beach with perfect sand in a wonderful setting.
60. Swim in the Pools at ‘Ohe’o bamboo forest
We already mentioned a couple of waterfalls with excellent pools to have a swim, but the Pools at ‘Ohe’o are something else.
Located near the eastern shore of Maui, this collection of 7 swimming holes are located in a scenic spot known as the ‘Ohe’o Gutch.
All 7 sacred pools are interconnected with each other by waterfalls located on a stream that starts just a short distance further inland.
The waterfalls are situating in a dense bamboo forest of the Haleakala National Park. This turns this already amazing setting into something truly magical.
A tip for visiting these pools is to head over to this place early in the morning, this way you avoid the big crowds!
61. Boogie board at Manini’owali Beach
One of the most amazing white sand beaches on the Big Island of Hawai’i can be found on the western shore of the island.
Manini’owali Beach is also known as “Kua Bay” is a relatively secluded beach located just north of Kona International Airport.
It’s not easy to reach which means it’s not that crowded as well compared to other white sand beaches on the island.
The extremely soft white sand makes this a great place to relax and sunbathe, and the water is great for snorkeling during the summer months when the sea is calm.
During the winter months, the sea is much wilder which makes it perfectly suited for boogie boarding and surfing.
62. Discover planes at the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum
The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum is a non-profit organization that was only established in the year 1999 with the intention to open up a museum dedicated to aviation.
The museum finally opened its doors on December 7, 2006, and features a wide variety of planes, many directly related to World War II and the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
The museum is located on Ford Island, an islet in the middle of Pearl harbor that features the iconic control tower featured in several movies about the attacks, including the 2001 blockbuster.
The museum had a price tag attached to it of $75,000,000 upon completion in late 2006 and is home to a large number of planes.
The great part about this museum is that you don’t really need to be a die-hard aviation fan to enjoy it.
If you are, though, then you’re in for an amazing experience!
Official website: Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum
63. Find peace at Ke’e Beach
On the northern shore of the island of Kauai you can find an idyllic beach that is protected by a coral reef. This means it’s the perfect place for swimming and snorkeling.
Even though the location and setting of this secluded beach are amazing and all the facilities needed to enjoy the beach are available, the best time of the day ot visit this place is in the late afternoon.
That’s because this is the perfect place on the island to enjoy an amazing sunset. It really becomes magical in combination with the rugged shoreline in the northern part of Kauai.
This also makes it less surprising that this beach is often used for wedding ceremonies as well. It really appears to be what dreams are made of, don’t you think?
64. Explore the Honolulu Museum of Art
The largest art museum in Hawaii can be found in the state’s capital, Honolulu.
The Honolulu Museum of Art was estabished in 1927 and has been referred to as “the finest small museum in the United States.ˮ
Even though the museum started out rather humble, it’s collection size has grown to over 50,000 items and it has one of the largest collections of Asian and Pan-Pacific art in the country.
Apart from featuring traditional Hawaiian art, it also features international works by some of the greatest artists in history.
These include artworks by Pablo Picasso, VIncent van Gogh, Edgar Degas, and Claude Monet, to name just a few famous European artists of which works are on public display at the museum.
Official website: Honolulu Museum of Art
65. Learn about Hawaiian history at Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau
If you broke the law, known as “kapo,” in ancient Hawaii, then there was a special place where you could go to in order to avoid being persecutated (or killed).
If the criminal or defeated warriors at battle managed to reach this spot, they were able to be freed from their sins by a priest who resided here.
This place of refuge was known as “puʻuhonua” and today, it has been turned the Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park.
This location also served as both a burial ground of powerful chiefs, and a reconstruction burial site known as the Hale o Keawe heiau has been built here. Important people were buried here up to 1818.
Other features at the park are Protector “kii” statues, and Hawaiian houses known as “hale.”
Official website: Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park
66. Hike the picturesque Kalalau Trail
The northern coast of the island of Kauai is home to one of the most fascinating trails in the entire state.
Along the magnificent Nā Pali Coast you can find the Kalalau Trail. It runs for about 11 miles (18 kilometers) along the rugged shore in between Keʻe Beach and the Kalalau Valley.
If you’re fit enough and start early in the morning, you can complete the entire roundtrip in a single day.
It’s also possible to camp along the trail in case you want to take your time to enjoy the magnificent scenery you’ll come across.
Camping is possible at either a campsite near the 6 mile mark of the trail, or at the picturesque Kalalau Beach.
And what you’ll see is pretty astonishing as this trail has been referred to as both the “most incredible” and “most epic” trail in the United States.
Official website: Kalalau Trail
67. Enjoy the setting at Ho’okipa Beach Park
A great spot to check out along the Road to Hana along the northern of the island of Maui is the Ho’okipa Beach Park.
This windy beach features some of the gratest waves on the island which automatically makes it one of the most popular surfing destinations as well.
The waves are special in the sense that they are stretched out by the reef system located just offshore. This results in perfectly-shaped waves that extend all along the bay.
If you visit this beach near sunset, you’ll be joined by famous inhabitants of this beach, green sea turtles. These animals come to the beach at night in order to rest.
They in turn are joined by volunteers who protect these animals and who are more than happy to answer any questions you might have regarding these amazing creatures.
68. Relax at the Kapiʻolani Regional Park
The official name of Kap-olani Park is the “Queen Kapiʻolani Regional Park.”
It was named after Queen Kapi’olani (1834-1899), the Queen consort of King David Kalākaua who reigned over the Kingdom of Hawaii between 1874 and 1891.
This huge park is located just west of one of Honolulu’s most prominent landmarks, Diamond Head.
It covers an area of 300 acres (1.2 square kilometers), which makes it the largest public park in the state.
It was established in 1877 and dedicated as the “first Hawaiian public space.”
Today, some of the most popular attractions and entertainment venues are located here, including the Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Shell, a popular concert venue.
It’s also one of the most amazing places in the city to relax and offers amazing views of the Diamond Head Crater.
Official website: Kapiʻolani Regional Park
We hope this list of attractions in Hawaii will help you to start planning your trip. As you can see, this paradise on earth has a lot to offer.
Regardless of the remote location of this fascinating U.S. state, it’s one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, and by now, you surely understand why.
All we can say is enjoy your stay in Hawaii, and we’re pretty sure that you will!