9 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.

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.

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

1. Pipiwai Trail

Hawaii is best known for its surreal beaches but the island's vegetation and greenery is some of the best in the world. Maui’s Bamboo Forest is the perfect adventure to immerse yourself in the island’s beauty. The Bamboo Forest is located along the Pipiwai Trail in the Haleakala National Park. Large number of tourist from all over the world visit this place.

The hike to the forest is a little over a mile but it is a little steep, which deters many tourists from visiting. However, the Bamboo Forest is worth the climb as it truly feels like a fairytale oasis. The thick bamboo trees reflect the golden Hawaiian sun amongst some beautiful local birds. There is even a waterfall right in the middle of the greenery (however, it is advised not to go swimming in near it for safety reasons).

2. Kualoa Ranch

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.

This was observed by one of the Kualoa Ranch's visitors, Clayburn Griffin, 'We went to Hawaii on our honeymoon and visited Kualoa Ranch. 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.

3. Sunset Beach

The North Shore of Hawaii is seventeen miles of coastline between Ka-ena Point and Kahuku Point. This gorgeous area includes fifty one beaches, making it one of the best places in the world to soak up the sun. Because of the North Shore's incredible waves, it is well-renowned for its year-round surfing and is frequented by surfers from all over the world.

In fact, waves in this area can be as big as 30 feet high, even in the winter months. Crowds often gather around North Shore beaches such as Sunset Beach to watch surfers tackle the amazing waves. Moreover, the North Shore is one of the best places in the world to snorkel or scuba dive as the marine life includes everything from sea turtles to colorful fish.

The North Shore of Maui is the best place to visit for adventure vacations. The North Shore of Maui is known for its rugged shorelines, world-class surf breaks, and underdeveloped beaches. The famous fun activity at the North Shore of Maui is the kiteboarding. Lodging facilities are also available for tourists that provide plenty of amenities to visitors. Don’t forget to try the appetizing Hawaiian specialties at the Maui beach.

4. Honolulu Memorial Park

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.

5. Hana Highway

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.

6. Lana'i

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 area’s 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.

7. Glass Beach

To earn the title of a uniquely beautiful beach in Hawaii is quite a feat and Glass beach does just that. Located in Kauai, Glass beach is filled with sea glass (which is from broken bottles, windows, windshields, vases, etc). However, sea glass is unique in that the glass has been broken down by the pressure of the waves and ocean over time.

In fact, it can take anywhere between 10 and 30 years to form sea glass, the jellybean-like colorful pebbles that rest on the shores of Glass beach today. Part of the reason so much sea glass travels to this specific beach is that it is located near the industrial area of Port Allen Harbor and likely comes from auto and mechanic debris.

Although this might not sound elegant, mother nature has a way of making the ugly beautiful as the range of blue, red, brown, and green sea glass is an ethereal sight. Glass Beach is a hidden gem that offers a unique insight into the profound power and perseverance of the ocean and nature itself.

8. Pearl Harbor National Memorial

The USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu is ranked as the number one visitor destination in the Hawaiian Islands. 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.

9. Makauwahi Cave

The Makauwahi Cave is one of the biggest caves in Hawaii, meaning there is plenty to be explored. This cave is moments away from becoming a tourist hotspot as everyone who visits is thrilled with their experience. The Makauwahi Cave feels like traveling back in time as it combines archeology, nature, and history.

More specifically, the cave is filled with fossils and the layers of the cave spell out the cave’s past. For example, there is a fossilized sand dune that now appears like a sinkhole but can safely be explored due to its fossilization. There are also animal fossils that offer insight into the critters that used to roam the area long before the arrival of humans.

It is also important to note that although the first bit of entering the cave is narrow, it quickly opens up and is a large space for the rest of the journey. The Makauwahi Cave is a unique experience that too many miss out on. However, the director of Pirates of the Caribbean recognized the charm of the area as the cave’s beach was used as a filming site for the movie.

Kalyan Panja