10 Breathtaking Places to Visit in Hawaii
Hawaii is one of those magical looking places you always see in movies and TVs. Whenever you think of how big the United States is, you have to remember somewhere like the concrete jungle New York City and lush island of Oahu are in the same country! Even beginning to plan a trip to the island state can be overwhelming, so here’s a list of some of the most breathtaking places to visit in Hawaii to get you started!
Things to Know About Hawaii
There are actually eight main islands that comprise of what we think of as Hawaii — the Big Island, Maui, Oahu, Kauai, Molokai, Lana, Niihau, and Kahoolawe. Most of my places are on the Big Island, Maui, Oahu, and one on Kauai.
Where to Stay in Hawaii
There are so many places to stay! You have the big, fancy resorts that cater to honeymooning couples, Hawaii vacation condos, and much more around the islands. You can even go camping! Some of the longer hikes require it anyway.
Do You Need a Car for Hawaii?
Most likely, yes. Unless you plan on dong tours for many places, you’ll want a car. Plus, it’ll give you more freedom to visit some of the more popular attractions without the crowds.
1. Waipi’o Valley
Waipi’o Valley is full of stunning landscapes, and many Hawaiian chiefs and kings called the area home. For the most beautiful view of the area, you can walk down to the lookout point from the parking lot. There are also a few falls around the valley, such as the Hi’ilawe Falls (seen above) and, if it’s been raining a lot, the Kaluahine Falls. Head down to the valley floor, which is 2,000 ft (610m) below sea level, where you can see some taro farms and a black sand beach. Bring a suit so you can go swimming!
2. ‘Akaka Falls State Park
‘Akaka Falls State Park, along the Big Island’s Hilo Coast, is best known for its two stunning water falls — the Kahuna Falls at 100 feet and the Akaka Falls which is an impressive 442 foot drop. Don’t worry about any intense hike either. The trail to se these two falls is only half a mile long and takes about 30 minutes even for the most leisurely hiker. It’s also through lush rainforest, so there’s something scenic to enjoy the whole way.
3. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (Hawaii)
Did you know you can see an active volcano on the Big Island? In the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, there are two — the Kilauea and the Mauna Loa. Kilauea is known as one of the world’s most active volcanoes, and has been erupting since 1983. If you’re there at the right time, you can go lava viewing. It’s active enough that the park sometimes must close to fix damage, like it recently did for four months last year.
4. Na Pali Coast State Park (Kauai)
Over on the island of Kauai is the Na Pali Coast State Park. Some of the cliffs of the park are as tall as 4,000 feet (1,200m), hence its name “na pali,” which means “high cliffs.” The best thing to do is hike the Kalalau Trail. If you only want to do a short hike, you can start at Ha’ena State Park and finish at Hanakapi’ai Beach, or you could aim to do all 11 miles! Just know you’ll need to prepare to camp if you want to do the full trail.
For the less active, you could go for a boat tour to se the cliffs or even go for a helicopter ride.
5. Road to Hana (Maui)
The Road to Hana on the island of Maui is perhaps one of the most scenic drives in the world. It’s one of the few times you don’t want to rush through to the final destination. The highway stretches along Maui’s northeast coastline, and you’ll want to plan where to stop ahead of time. Some must-see stops include Twin Falls, where you can take a quick dip, Ho’okipa Beach Park, great for water sports, Wailua Valley State Wayside, which offers incredible panoramas, and many, many more places.
6. Seven Sacred Pools (Maui)
Also known as the Pools of ‘Ohe’o, the Seven Sacred Pools sits within the Oheo Gulch part of Haleakala National Park. It’s a pretty valley with a tiered waterfall and plunge pools where you can even go swimming.
If you want to do more than swimming, you can follow one of the trails in the park, such as the Pipiwai Trail, where you’ll see the 400-foot high Waimoku Falls.
7. Waihee Ridge Trail (Maui)
This is one of the hikes that’s probably going to be a bit difficult, but the views will be well worth the struggle. The trail is 5-miles round trip, and eventually ascends 1,500 feet (457m), and will take you up to the clouds. It sits in the West Maui Mountains, and the views might make you forget the calf pain for a bit.
8. Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens (Oahu)
Over on the island of Oahu, the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens was built by the US Army Corps of Engineers to help against flooding. That doesn’t necessarily sound majestic, but the gardens have proven to be one of the greenest, lushest places to visit in Hawaii. The entrance alone (above) looks as though you’re about to enter another planet. Enjoy over 400 acres of plant life, landscapes, and more.
9. North Shore of Oahu
This one is for the surfers coming to Hawaii, who are hoping to catch the perfect wave. The North Shore of Oahu is over 7 miles long and home to some of the most famous surfing competitions, like the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. Don’t worry if you’re a beginner — the summer month waves are much tamer for newbies to learn on. Head over to Haleiwa Town and try some shaved ice while enjoying the laidback area.
10. Lanikai Beach (Oahu)
Lanikai Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in all the Hawaiian islands, and it’s constantly appearing on “best of” lists. Only about half a mile long, it has the prettiest views of the Na Mokulua Islands, which makes it a magical place for sunrise or sunset.
Have you ever been to Hawaii? What would you add to this list?