10 Best Places to Visit in Hawaii

The United States ranks high based on scenic diversity alone, with so many different types of oceanfront landscapes, from tropical to polar, massive waves to gentle bays, rocky outcrops to pristine sand! Hawaii is America's ace in the hole!

The compelling history, untouched beauty, and cultural diversity of Hawaii are just some of the reasons that it is one of the top-rated travel destinations in the world. The islands in Hawaii are incredibly unique and have so much to offer for anyone lucky enough to visit. There is no better place to relax and explore.

Landing in Kona, the airport isn't what you'd expect - it's on a barren black rocky lava field. There are a few resorts to the north of Kona and you realize it's all Disney Hawaii - all the lush foliage, all the green grass and all of the swaying palm trees have been planted there by the developers. Right next door and across the highway is empty fields of rock as far as the eye can see.

The best places in Hawaii to practice windsurfing or kite surfing are Oahu and Maui. Go on a Mat Ta'i catamaran cruise at sunset and enjoy a Hawaiian mai tai. Divers are always amazed by the visibility of the Lana'i caverns. Cathedrals I and II are popular places to see new species of fish and rare invertebrates. The islands have 1,400 plant species not found elsewhere, many of which occur only in certain valleys and inaccessible mountains.

With year-round temperatures hovering around 75 degrees, non-stop coastal breezes, and beaches just as appealing in December as they are in July, there's truly no bad time to visit Hawaii. But some times are better than others, especially if you want to take advantage of the state's unique festivals or lower your odds of hiking through deep mud.

Enjoy a diving vacation during the winter and maybe you can show off when you return home from seeing humpback whales. Measured from its deep-sea base, Mauna Kea rises over 10000 meters, nearly doubling both Everest and Kilimanjaro, though only a tiny portion of the mountain is above sea level. Giant waves crash against the shores of Hawaii, and the entire Pacific Coast of California.


Below are the must-see sites in Hawaii that allow you to explore, unwind, and fully enjoy your vacation.

1. Kaneohe

The Kualoa Ranch is a large estate that offers stunning backdrop views of deserted coastlines and holds a sense of tranquility that is hard to come by. The views and scenery are so spectacular that the ranch has been capitalized on by Hollywood.

It's a great place for people who love movies and TV because so many iconic scenes were shot there. Despite being a working cattle ranch, many films such as Finding Ohana, Godzilla, Jurassic Park, and many more were able to use Kualoa's incredible beauty as the backdrop to their films to create a sense of adventure.

The ranch offers guided tours where nature lovers and movie fans alike can learn interesting facts about the ranch and its compelling history.

2. Honolulu

The USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu is ranked as the number one visitor destination in the Hawaiian Islands, which is why a Pearl Harbor tour is in high demand. In fact, over 2 million American and international visitors visit the Arizona Memorial annually to see where WWII began for America and learn from its history. Here, you can see the destruction of the war as well as the resilience of the people who were able to survive and rebuild.

Additionally, there are several humbling memorials to the American soldiers killed during the attack. This memorial offers free tours daily and gives a rich and thorough history of the site and the role it played in World War II as well as in shaping current diplomatic relations.

However, it is advisable to enter this experience with some baseline understanding of Pearl Harbor, so make sure to brush up on the history of the event before visiting to get the full experience. To visit the USS Arizona Memorial is a powerful feeling and anyone visiting should take the chance to learn from this piece of history.

The Honolulu Memorial Park is full of beauty and history and offers a whole new level of understanding of Hawaiian culture. The Kyoto Gardens specifically are absolutely breathtaking as they feature two large and stoic structures and a Japanese garden pay respect and show acceptance to the Japanese-American community after all the hardships they faced during World War II.

The structures are called columbarium and they are vaults lined with recesses for cinerary urns. The power and meaning these gardens hold is palpable to those who visit. Additionally, further meaning was bestowed on the park in 1964 when the Honolulu membership of the Buddhist Federation commended and endorsed the park.

This led to a monument being erected in honor of Hawaiian buddhists that visitors can still see today. Although the history behind this park comes from darker times, the park itself shows the beauty and resilience of Hawaiian people and it should be visited by anyone who has the opportunity.

3. Hana

The Road to Hana is one of the most popular destinations/activities in Hawaii and for good reason. If you're visiting Maui, definitely don't miss out on the chance to witness the views of the beautiful landscape by journeying to East Maui on the Hana Highway. Most visitors choose to experience the road to Hana either by car or with a guided tour.

Driving allows for a peaceful solo trip, admiring the views with loved ones while a guided tour allows you to understand the cultural and ecological history of the area. Both are incredible experiences.

4. Lanai

Hawaii is often thought of as a place with just beaches and palm trees, but the land is far more diversified than many people realize. Keahiakawelo or the Gardens of the Gods is a perfect example of that as it is a place where orange, yellow, and red rock formations are all the eye can see for miles.

Located on the island of Lanai, this areas almost desert terrain is famous for its bizarre rock formations and it is a common occurrence and tradition for people to stack some of the smaller rocks into interesting designs for visitors that follow.

Local folklore explains the vibrant red and orange of the area with the myth that two men had to compete to see who could keep a fire going the longest and the scorched earth was the result of this duel. No matter the cause, the incredible colors and shapes of this area make it the perfect find for those who love to explore and for those who love a great photo-op.

Polihua Beach in Lanai isn't recommended for swimming primarily because of its powerful currents and winds. However, its fine brown sands can be great for long walks, camping, or witnessing some pretty humpback whales or sea turtles. The beach itself stretches for about 1.5 miles long. You can also find several kiawe trees along the area, giving off plenty of shade.

However, tourists should refrain from going to the waters, especially when the currents here are strong. There are also no lifeguards available in this area.

5. Island of Hawai'i

A diving paradise with more than 50 dive sites await you on the Big Island of Hawaii. Calm, serene and diverse, many endemic species swim on this island along with a wide variety of eels. If you're looking for the best things to do in Big Island, visit some of the best sites here like Two Step, Honokohau Harbor, Mile Marker 4 and Kamakahonu Beach.

Hamakua Coast is located among the unmissable beaches, located in the middle of a jungle garden. Onekahakaha is full of small natural pools.

6. Haleiwa

Hawaii is one of the best places in the world for water sports and is considered the mecca of surfing. There are ideal beaches for beginners, with waves of 1 meter high and others, like Waimea Bay or Haleiwa, with waves of more than 6 meters for the more experienced.

Visiting Hawaii also means entering a fascinating culture full of customs and traditions. One of the best known is the flower lei, some wreaths of flowers that are given, as a symbol of affection, when arriving or leaving. Another Hawaiian icon is the hula, which in its beginnings had a religious purpose and today is a popular dance.

7. Hanalei

Nestled on Kauai's northern shores, the crescent-shaped Hanalei Bay is one of the most popular beach destinations in the area. Stretching for about two miles, this is popular for families who enjoy thrilling activities and long walks on the beach. On Kauai, the largest resort area is near Hanalei at Princeville (a former Club Med). But there are also some nice ones at Poipu Beach.

8. Wailea

Known to be Maui's most impressive beaches, Wailea Beach features a long stretch of white sand that's ideal for swimming. The beach is named Wailea, which means water of Lea, the canoe maker goddess. Many tourists love this beach mostly because it features calm waters, with impressive views. Several fun activities can be enjoyed here, such as swimming, snorkeling, body surfing, and boogie boarding.

Many tourists also go to the Kihei-to-Wailea area of Maui, in which many small resorts are located, mostly on the mauka (mountainous) side of the highway, so the tourists mostly have to cross the highway to get to the beaches.

9. Maui

Maui is a beautiful place located in Hawaii Islands. It is the second largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago, covering an area of 694 square miles, with 120 miles of coastline. Maui is famous for its beautiful beaches and dramatic scenery. Following Oahu, Maui is the most visited island in Hawaii. Maui Ocean Center is another tourist attraction to visit which is famous for its aquatic life and coral reef.

Follow the route through Lahaina on Front Street until you reach the largest shopping center in Maui - Hawaii Whalers Village shopping center, a very exquisite place. It includes stores of high purchasing power but the site is very beautiful to see. In this area are the most luxurious hotels on the island.

Maui has more exotic features than Oahu. For example: Haleakala crater (more than double the height of anything on Oahu and the paved road goes all the way to the summit): the majestic Hana Highway has no comparison on Oahu, and one may circumnavigate via car: the most beautiful beaches in the world according to Conde Nast Traveler and Travel & Leisure magazines (also too numerous to mention and several over a mile in length); the most 5 star restaurants including America’s number one - Mamas Fishhouse: several breweries, wineries, and distilleries: the most 5 star hotels in Hawaii are on the Island of Maui! AND the Aloha Spirit is still alive and well here.

10. Waikiki

Waikiki is one of the best places to visit in the USA. It is one of the top beach destinations in USA on a fascinating tropical island of Pacific Ocean. Waikiki is known for its beautiful golden sand beaches stretching along the oceanfront.

Your visit to Hawaii won't be complete if you don't head to the famous Waikiki Beach. Known to be the bustling tourist district of Oahu, you can find several international resorts, hotels, and restaurants. With the famous Diamond Head Mountain towering from a distance, it's a favorite spot for both beachgoers and surfers alike.

Right across the beach on Kalakaua Avenue, you'd find a plethora of shops. Here, you can find almost everything under the sun, like jewelry, delicious sushi, and expensive handbags. Come evenings, and the crowds usually gather around the food trucks in Kuhio Avenue. This is where you can catch exciting performances from street musicians.

The visitors can rent a surfboard to test their skills in the waves and enjoy different types of dining and food options in the restaurants. A few hundred big hotels and adjacent businesses try to give you a Hawaii experience all within a few square miles of Oahu’s south shore. If you just want to sit on the beach and drink Mai Tais you can do that, while you watch your family try to surf, ride canoes, hike up Diamond Head, take a boat tour, take the submarine down to the reef, or visit the zoo and aquarium.

Kalyan Panja