You don’t need to be on a honeymoon to enjoy the spectacular sights of the Aloha State. Hell, you don’t even have to be in love – the island life will offer you plenty to fall in love with.
Yes, Hawaii’s definitely got something for everyone; with beautiful landscapes spanning over 10,000 square miles, it’s just the place you’ll want to go to indulge your eyes while making everyone else back home horribly jealous. Here’s a list of some of the best and most beautiful places in Hawaii…
1. Haleakala National Park (Maui) – easily one of the most stunning places to explore in Hawaii
Because it is 10,000 feet above sea level, you’ll be amazed at some of the things you’ll see when you visit the park.
Perfect for stargazing, beautiful sunsets, and for enjoying numerous ecological zones, the park located on the Hawaiian Islands offers guided tours through miles of hiking trails from May through October, and if gorgeous scenery is what you love most, this is the perfect tourist attraction for you.
Just be sure you bring a sweater for much cooler temperatures once you get to the top.
2. Makena Beach State Park (Maui) – one of the most beautiful beaches to visit in Hawaii
With crystal clear waters and sand that almost looks like silk, Makena Beach is one of the best places to catch a sunset. The water has a tiny reef underneath it, and therefore you can see all the way to the bottom, making it an extraordinary sight indeed.
There are two areas of the beach, “Little Beach” and “Big Beach,” and on Little Beach, don’t be surprised to see drum circles, professional fire dancers, and even an occasional nude sunbather.
3. Waimea Canyon State Park – one of the best spots in Hawaii
Don’t bust out the bikinis just yet. If you’re looking for the most stunning spots to visit in Hawaii, our first suggestion is definitely more of a canteen and hiking boot destination: Waimea Canyon.
Though certainly not as large as Arizona’s own Grand Canyon and definitely greener, Waimea is still known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” and the name is well-deserved.
Located on the western side of Kauai, the gorge itself is over 10 miles long and boasts a depth of about 3600 feet – that’s enough to give just about anyone looking down little vertigo.
Part of Koke’e State park, there’s plenty to do and see while you’re out here (word on the street is the Pu’u Hinahina lookout is outta sight!), so bring a picnic basket and prepare to take on a few trails. It’s definitely not just a “sit back and relax” kind of spot, so leave the whiners at home.
4. Wailua Falls – a gorgeous natural beauty spot
It might certainly seem like you’re on Fantasy Island, but we promise Wailua Falls are real, and quite reachable for anyone visiting the island of Kaua’i. And if it seems familiar, it’s because Wailua Falls were featured in the opening credits of the popular show back in the 80s.
Definitely one of the best places to explore on the island, it’s easily accessible by car, so you could just stop in briefly for a few photo ops at dawn (when they say you’ll get the best views) and be on your way.
Or, if you’re feeling a bit braver, and have some previous experience, you could also take the slippery hike down and treat yourself to a refreshing swim at the bottom, surrounded by the breathtaking lush green scenery. How’s that for a fantasy come true?
5. Molokai Sea Cliffs – offering amazing views in Hawaii
Your fear of heights will be worth conquering for the view you’ll get at the top of the Molokai sea cliffs, which are the tallest, and certainly the most majestic, in the world. At times reaching as high up as 3,900 feet, the natural beauty of these cliffs is sure to leave you awestruck.
Those with a taste for historical sites and/or the macabre might want to check out Kalaupapa National Historical Park (whose eastern cliffs are amongst the highest of all), where Saint Damien once came to the aid of individuals with Hansen’s disease (a.k.a. leprosy).
Or, if you’re in the mood for a slightly more amusing (and maybe even arousing) side trip, don’t forget to stop by the Phallic Rock, just 200 yards from the Kalaupapa Lookout. It’ll be worth the story.
6. Lanikai Beach – a paradise-like beach to visit in Hawaii
Crystal clear waters, blue skies, white sand – it’s what you came to Hawaii for in the first place, right? Lanikai Beach is just the place to find exactly this, a little slice of paradise (appropriate since they say its’ name translates to “heavenly sea”).
Leave your worries behind you as you walk along the powdery sands, or take a little dip since, according to locals, Lanikai makes for one of the best swimming sand beaches in all of Hawaii.
If you’re feeling a bit restless, how about some kayaking, canoeing, or even windsurfing? Or maybe you’ll just want to have a few drinks under the coconut trees as you gaze upon the two little offshore islands up ahead, the Mokuluas. Ahh, heaven on earth is an understatement – definitely one of the most gorgeous places to visit in Hawaii!
7. Mauna Kea – a striking dormant volcano on the island of Hawaii
Bet you weren’t really thinking of seeing snow on your trip to Hawaii, huh? Well, what if we told you it’s totally possible?! Those who enjoy a colder climate, get yourself over to Mauna Kea, Hawaii’s tallest volcano!
Standing proudly at more than 13,000 feet above sea level, the 2 million-year-old lava-filled glacier-covered mountain offers some remarkable views not only of land but of the nighttime sky.
Mauna Kea, literally the “White Mountain,” is home to the world’s largest telescopes, and guides can help point out all the celestial bodies your heart has ever desired to see. From heaven on earth, you’ll get to see the heavens above in a whole new way.
8. Mokuleia Beach – a beautiful place to go in Hawaii
If starry nights and chilly heights aren’t your thing, fret not. We’ve got more beaches and tropical spots in the state of Hawaii for you to check out.
Now, anyone that ever caught an episode of two of that mind-boggling show Lost might recognize Mokuleia Beach, which was used as the site for the plane crash that started it all. If J.J. Abrams ain’t your cup of tea, though, there’s still plenty to enjoy on this popular sand beach.
While swimming might be a little more difficult here, there’s plenty of fishing and windsurfing to get done here. Just make sure to pay attention to what direction the winds blow – they won’t steer you wrong!
9. Ke’e Beach – an idyllic sandy island beach
When you reach the end of the road on the island of Kauai, you’ll know you’ve arrived at the ever-popular, always inviting. Also serving as the entrance for the Kalalau Trail, Ke’e has a personality on its own.
Walk along the shore, and don’t be surprised to encounter wild chickens; dip down into the water, and you might be privy to swimming alongside the highly coveted Ulua fish.
And then, of course, there’s the ridiculously gorgeous view of the Na Pali Coast, which is home to beautiful, untouched wilderness. Regardless of the time of the year, you’ll undoubtedly find the views along hiking trails on Na Pali Coast simply unforgettable.
10. Molokini Crater (Maui) – a stunning Hawaii Beauty Spot
This small volcanic cone is located just a few miles from the shores of Maui and offers spectacular snorkeling expeditions thanks to the thousands of tropical fish and beautiful coral reefs found underneath the water.
If snorkeling isn’t your thing, you can take a tour of the crater in a glass-bottom boat and look at the fish that way.
Either way, you’re in for a real treat whenever you visit this part of the Hawaiian Islands. It is the perfect attraction for people who love beautiful water, fish, and all of the wonderful underwater animals and plants you’ll see there.
11. Road to Hana on Maui – the undisputed top attraction on the island
Speaking of roads…who thought that some of the most breathtaking views in Hawaii could simply be seen from your passenger window? Our next destination will have you cruising down alongside the Hana coast.
Take to the road, the Road to Hana on Maui, that is. Named one of National Geographic’s Drives of a Lifetime, you’ll want to be sure to rent yourself a good car (we suggest something with the top down) and fill ‘er up as you make your way down 50 plus miles, 600 twists, and turns, and crossing nearly 60 bridges.
From the comfort of your Porsche (alright fine, Ford Focus), you’ll enjoy waterfalls, exotic plants, and of course, the great Pacific beckoning you to stop at every corner.
As if that weren’t enough, you’ll also be passing by the must-see Garden of Eden Arboretum and Botanical Garden, a familiar sight for anyone that’s ever seen, Jurassic Park. You probably won’t encounter any pterodactyls while on the Road to Hana, but the drive will still become one of your favorite memories. Make sure you stop in Maui to enjoy the views for a while.
12. Kaihalulu Beach – a dramatic and beautiful hidden cove to explore in Hawaii
From your road to Hana trip, we offer a little side-venture to Kaihalulu Beach, or the Red Sand Beach, as it’s more frequently called. This secluded little piece of land is a bit less family-friendly than other spots (depending on your family, of course).
There is no shying away from nudity as tourists get rid of their clothes to enjoy their tan-line free sunbathing, sprawled out without a care in the world. Beauty to some, perhaps a bit much for others. Regardless, these surrealistic sights of Red Sand Beach should not be missed.
13. Mount Kilauea – the beautiful Hawaiian volcano goddess
We’ve left the hottest spot for last on our list. After you’ve hiked mountains and soaked in some sun and ooh-ed and ahh-ed at all the other beauty Hawaii has to offer, you’ll still be taken aback when you experience Mount Kilauea up close and personal.
Though it is the youngest of the shield volcanoes on Hawaii’s Big Island, it is also one of the world’s largest active volcanoes today. Kilauea has been erupting continuously since 1983 and doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon, which is great news for volcanologists and adventure-seeking tourists alike, making it one of the best places in Hawaii.
Considered to be somewhat dangerous, Kilauea continues to be one of Hawaii’s most popular attractions, attracting tourists with hopes of catching a close-up glimpse of red-hot lava spewing out (an occurrence that is not always guaranteed upon visitation). Kilauea is also referred to as Pele, the goddess of fire, to the indigenous peoples. May she continue to burn brightly!
Hawaii might be home to some of the best surfing spots, beautiful beaches, and sun-bathing hideaways in the U.S., but we hope we’ve shown you she’s got way more to offer than that! Prepare to become enamored with this chain of volcanic beauty – as if you’d have it any other way.
14. Uluwehi Falls/Secret Falls (Kauai) – a great area to hike and kayak
The falls cascade about 110 feet into a beautiful pool of water that you can take a dip in to get some relief from the heat. Also called Sacred Falls, the trail to the falls is roughly one mile long, and the water is a favorite spot for people who love to kayak.
In fact, you can rent a kayak there and enjoy a ride, or you can simply stay there and enjoy the nice cool water for a while. For several different reasons, Secret Falls is considered one of the most beautiful places in Hawaii, so you owe yourself a trip there.
15. Spot and encounter wild dolphins (Puna, Big Island) – a unique thing to do in Hawaii
If you’ve never encountered wild dolphins before, this is the place to visit in Hawaii. Forget the very cruel captive dolphin aquariums and appreciate those creatures in their natural environment instead.
You can either take a tour to get in the water or swim on your own, but if you choose the latter, you’ll have to be a strong swimmer because some of the waters are pretty rough.
The black sand is fascinating to look at, and it is also close to a mostly nude beach they call Kehena, meaning you have a lot to take part in when you’re in this part of Hawaii.
16. Waipio Valley (Big Island) – one of the most breathtaking and sacred destinations on the islands
This one-mile-long valley offers amazing views and is often described as a Shangri La because it feels like you are cut off from the world when you’re there.
There are steep twisting roads throughout the valley that you’ll have to walk on since most areas won’t let you bring a vehicle there, and some of the many orchards you’ll see include bananas, papayas, avocados, and grapefruits, to name a few. Easily one of the most beautiful places to explore in Hawaii.
17. Hilo Farmers Market (Big Island) – a wonderful must-see attraction
This open market boasts more than 200 different vendors, and therefore, you are almost certain to find everything you’re interested in. From clothing to produce and fresh flowers to nuts, jellies, and jams, this farmers market is a cornucopia of everything you love about the islands of Hawaii.
If you love to shop and would love to find unique gifts for friends and family members, this is the place to visit. It is a one-stop shopping mecca you’ll absolutely love.
18. Kona Coffee Living History Farm (Big Island) – an interesting tourist attraction in Hawaii
Exclusive to the north and south areas of Kona on Big Island, Kona coffee has a full taste that people love, and this farm teaches you how the coffee is grown, allows you to sample Hawaiian fruits such as passion fruit and guava, and even gives you access to a Japanese bathhouse and a 1913 farmhouse that is surrounded by coffee trees.
If you love coffee, this is a great attraction to check out while you are visiting the Hawaiian Islands as it is both fun and educational, not to mention one of the most interesting tourist attractions around the world.
19. Old Lahaina Luau (Maui) – is Maui’s traditional hula and feast in Lahaina Maui
Although luaus are commonplace in Hawaii, the Old Lahaina luau is one of the best because it is a traditional luau that consists of everything authentic, from the music to the dancing and even the foods you’ll be able to enjoy while you’re there.
Surrounded by a beautiful view of the ocean, you’ll be able to relax, eat delicious food unique to the island, and of course, watch hula dancers as they sway back and forth and mesmerize everyone in the audience. Even if you’ve been to other luaus, this authentic luau is one you won’t want to miss.
20. USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor (Honolulu, Oahu) – an important historic monument in Hawaii
This is something all Americans need to see. The Pearl Harbor National Memorial is a touching tribute to the people who died on the morning of December 7, 1941, and it consists of a stunning structure that sits over the gravesite where nearly 1,200 men perished that day.
The Pearl Harbor attack was one of the most significant events in U.S. history, and the site is definitely among the best places to visit in Hawaii.
It’s time to get in touch with the beauty of Hawaii. We know you might not be able to spend your whole vacation here, but why not make it a goal this year? There are so many different landscapes and things for every type of person; there’s no way that you won’t find something great. Visit these most beautiful places in Hawaii if they sound like what you need!
We also have posts on…
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Emma-Clair Ni Clearaigh – writer and photographer
With itchy feet, an inquisitive nature and an ardent wanderlust, Emma Clair has always been a traveller at heart. Hailing from the Emerald Isle she calls a small coastal town near Dublin home, but has lived in a few countries including Saigon, Vietnam where she resided for over a year, now she balances travel and travel writing with teaching and a passion for vintage interior design. She counts supping on Bloody Marys on a rooftop in Manhattan, downing Singapore slings at the Raffles Hotel, daring a paraglide on the Grand Cayman, spending an exotic Christmas in Malaysia and exploring the Angkor Wat, Cambodia as her all time favourite travel moments. Although, she’ll always have a special place in her heart for the city where she makes her annual pilgrimages – Paris, her true city of lights. Find Emma-Clair on Instagram or Facebook.