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Visiting Hawaii? Here’s Where to Go
Like a string of emerald gems strewn across an azure ocean, Hawaii has beckoned travelers to its exotic shores for centuries. Whether it’s your first trip to the islands or you’ve been many times, the sheer amount of beaches, historic sites, natural wonders and hidden villages make it difficult to construct an itinerary. There are so many islands of Hawaii it can make it had to know which island to visit. If you’re wondering exactly where to go in Hawaii, you can’t go wrong with this list of some of its most stunning destinations.
Hawaii, the Big Island
This mountainous island has a variety of terrains and is the largest in the archipelago. With its stunning volcanoes and telescopes, it makes the perfect destination for those interested in volcanology or stargazing. For beaches, hiking and snorkeling, the Big Island can also hold its own against any of the other islands.
The largest town on the island and perfect for use as a base to stay while exploring the volcanoes. Because of its tropical climate, there are several botanical gardens.
Located on the leeward side of the island, this town is famous for its beaches, scuba diving and coffee.
Ala Kahakai National Historical Trail –
Spanning 175 miles along the leeward coast, this trail passes by beaches and resorts, a stunning way to experience the island.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
With 6 active volcanoes this is a must visit on your trip to Hawaii. You’ll want a jacket just in case, as this park rises thousands of feet above sea level. There’s hiking, an informative visitor’s center, a crater rim drive and lava flows to see.
Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park
An ancient haven for Hawaiians who broke any taboo, today it makes a stunning setting for understanding Hawaiian history.
Ka Lae (South Point)
The southernmost point in the United States and a beautiful if craggy coastline where ancient traces of the first Hawaiians can still be found.
A breathtaking waterfall is the highlight of this deep and lush valley.
Star-gazing is just one activity at this dormant volcano, also the tallest mountain in Hawaii. From its peaks visitors can see glimpses of some of the other islands, but you’ll want to bring a jacket, as temperatures are quite cold even in summer.
At the foot of Mauna Kea, this coastline has lovely, jagged cliffs and is spoken of in Hawaiian legends.
Punaluu Black Sand Beach
Created from basalt and cooled black lava, this unique beach creates beautiful visual contrast and is perfect for picture taking.
The white sand and turqoise water make this one of the most beautiful beaches of any Hawaiian island.
Kilauea Iki Crater
An invigorating hike through a rain forest brings visitors to this fascinating rim crater in the shadow of the Kilauea caldera.
Oahu, the Gathering Place
One of the most popular places to visit in Hawaii, Oahu has the most development of any island, offering excellent accommodation, dining and sightseeing. As the heart of Hawaii, it offers some of the most quintessentially Hawaiian experiences, from sampling fresh pineapple from the fields in the countryside to surfing world-class waves on the North Shore. Its largest city, Honolulu, lays claim to glamorous Waikiki Beach.
Hawaii’s state capital and home to some of the best galleries, shopping, resorts, restaurants and entertainment on the islands. Most visitors will start their Hawaiian adventure here when flying from the mainland.
One of the most famous beaches on the planet, and also one of the liveliest, Waikiki offers the gamut of five star resorts and hole-in-the-wall eateries with a backdrop of stunning ocean scenery.
Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona National Memorial
A somber remembrance of the military personnel who died while under attack by Japanese forces during World War II.
This distinctive volcanic formation dominates the skyline above Honolulu and provides expansive views and picture taking opportunities for intrepid hikers.
Located on Oahu’s windward side, this beach stands out for its ethereal beauty and shallow, turquoise waters.
This curved formation of land creates a protected nature preserve featuring hundreds of species of marine life, including sea turtles. Visitors can lounge on the beach or enjoy snorkeling to better appreciate the wildlife.
This is known as the canyon of the pacific. It is Hawaiis answer to the grand canyon. In ancient times, this valley was the abode of a priestly class, and its stunning beauty still entrances visitors today with waterfalls, lush plant life and ancient ruins.
Nuuanu Pali Lookout
For the best view over Oahu, drive just minutes from Honolulu to this majestic cliff for a panoramic vista of the windward part of the island.
Beginners and professional surfers alike love the North Shore for its impressive waves and spectacular beauty.
Maui, the Valley Isle
Maui’s western side offers sleek resorts in Lahaina, Kaanapali and Kapalua, while its east is wild and untamed, a feast for the eyes on the drive to the quaint village of Hana. To the south, Kihei and Wilea offer amazing beaches.
Iao Valley State Monument
A distinctive needle-shaped rock formation is a picturesque focal point of this lush, rainforest-covered valley.
Makena “Big” Beach
The quintessential spot for a day at the beach, featuring clear water perfect for snorkeling and golden sand.
Haleakala National Park
This arid and otherworldly valley sits at the base of a volcano and provides sweeping vistas of multicolored rock and sand.
Road to Hana
This 65-mile journey is just as fun as the destination, a twisting and turning spectacle of waterfalls and lush greenery that ends in the charming town of Hana.
This beautiful, sandy beach is located near the resorts but is open to the public. Stretch out in the sun to work on a tan or cool off in the sea with some snorkeling.
Lahaina Town Whale Watching
Lahaina’s harbor is home to humpback whales in season, although there’s a chance of spotting rarer species as well as dolphins. Boats leave regularly for whale-watching adventures.
Kauai, the Garden Isle
Known as the garden island for a good reason. Kauai has one of the rainiest spots on the planet, and all of this moisture results in a wealth of stunning orchids, jade-green jungle and magnificent waterfalls. For beachgoers wanting to sprawl in the sunshine, Kauai boasts more sandy coastline than any other island.
This spectacular double waterfall gushes over a stark cliff, falling nearly 200 feet into a lovely pool below.
Popular with kayakers, this gentle river flows through lush and mountainous terrain, offering beautiful views.
Running 11 miles along Kauai’s Na Pali Coast, this trail is a stunning, if sometimes treacherous, way to take in the ocean and coastal views.
The golden sand of this wide beach beckons those wanting to lounge in the warm sunshine. Shopping and restaurants are conveniently located nearby.
This red rock canyon with lush green vegetation is a feast for the eyes that plunges 3,000 feet to the valley below and extends for 10 miles.
Kokee State Park
Hiking on more than a dozen trails, bird watching and photography are the draws of this dramatic valley.
An exemplary example of a small Hawaiian town, it makes a charming place for a stroll while eating ice cream. Its nearby Glass Beach is a fascinating remnant of industrial times.
A pretty town right on the sea that is a popular stop for cruise ships and the site of the island’s airport.
Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail
This trail stretches for nearly four miles along an undeveloped stretch of coast, allowing hikers to view the island as it once was. Rocky formations, cliffs and whale watching are highlights.
Nā Pali Coast State Wilderness Park
One of the most dramatically beautiful sights on any of the islands, this coastline features steep, lushly wooded cliffs plunging into the sea.
Molokai, the Friendly Isle
Perfect for visitors who don’t like the crowds of Waikiki, Molokai provides the most authentically Hawaiian experience of all the places to visit in Hawaii. It has the beautiful beaches, lush jungle, natural beauty and amazing scenery offered by more popular destinations, without all of the visitors that can be found at the height of the tourist season on more well-known islands.
Kalaupapa National Historical Park
Set aside in the 1800s for use as a leper colony for sugar plantation workers stricken with the disease, the area is now a preserved museum of that era.
This tiny town is nevertheless the largest on the island and has little shops and eateries perfect for spending an afternoon.
As some of the tallest cliffs in the world, this area is perfect for photographing and is best seen from the sea.
This ancient rock is part of a legend involving a jealous goddess and makes a fun destination for a short hike through the forest at Pala’au State Park.
Hike this lush valley to spy waterfalls and ancient ruins that date back more than 1,000 years, to the earliest peopling of the Hawaiian islands.
A nature preserve that features windswept sand dunes, sea turtles and rare species of plants, where visitors can take guided and informative tours from park rangers.
Perfect for watching a beautiful sunset, this wide beach has picturesque vistas and a laidback vibe.
Lanai, the Pineapple Isle
Visitors wondering where to go in Hawaii that’s off the beaten track will flourish in the tranquil beauty and solitude of this small island off the coast of Maui. Luxuriate in its tropical beauty and explore some of the oldest remains of human habitation of anywhere in Hawaii.
Beachcombers will love the large tide pools on this appealing beach that features golden sand and gentle waves.
Garden of the Gods
A legend calls this the site of a great battle between two priests. Its rocky landscape creates the best views as the sun is setting.
Also known as Sweetheart Rock, there’s a legend of star-crossed lovers who died tragically here. Visitors will love the picturesque scenery and might even spot dolphins swimming in the bay.
The haunting, rusted ruins of many shipwrecked vessels dominate the skyline along this section of coastline, perfect for taking photographs.
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