Having in mind Hawaii’s geology and the fact that it is one of the world’s most remote archipelagos with a total of 13 climate zones, you can guess that the Islands are home to a variety of natural attractions. Also, there are many cultural and historic attractions you can visit, such as Pearl Harbor, the Bishop Museum, the Polynesian Cultural Center, etc.).
For a full list of Hawaii’s attractions on To-Hawaii.com, you can browse our island categories or for a shortcut go directly to Oahu attractions, Maui attractions, Kauai attractions, Big Island attractions, Lanai attractions and Molokai attractions.
Hawaii’s Best Natural Attractions
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Big Island of Hawaii
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii is the most popular attraction in Hawaii. Each year millions of travelers from around the world come here to see active lava flows. This is where you can observe one of the most active volcanoes in the world – Kilauea. The national park is huge and you need at least a day to explore it. Helicopter tours above the volcano are also offered from where you can get a unique perspective of the park.
Haleakala National Park, Maui
Haleakala National Park on Maui is the largest dormant volcano in the world. The major attraction here is Haleakala Crater, featuring moon-line surroundings. Visitors come to the park for sightseeing, hiking and biking. One of the most popular activities is the early morning sunrise watching. The park is also home to a unique plant – the silversword. It grows nowhere else in the world.
Diamond Head Crater, Oahu
This is Waikiki’s most popular landmark. It has been featured on numerous postcards, pictures and wall calendars. Located at the eastern end of Waikiki, Diamond Head is a hiking destination for many visitors. A trail leads to a lookout point from where you can see a large portion of Oahu’s south shore, including Waikiki and other Honolulu neighborhoods.
Na Pali Coast, Kauai
Also known as Kauai’s crown jewel, the Na Pali Coast is one of the most spectacular stretches of coastline in the world. Here, tall sea cliffs drop vertically into the ocean. A hiking trail leads from Ke’e Beach all the way to Kalalau Beach, an 11-mile (17.7 km) adventure that requires at least one overnight stop for most hikers. Offshore, tour boats take people to snorkeling locations and on sea cave explorations. Above, helicopters soar over the cliffs for a unique bird’s eye view.
Waimea Canyon, Kauai
Waimea Canyon, nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” is a majestic chasm in the center of Kauai. One wouldn’t think that a small island like Kauai could be home to such an amazing crater. It’s a photographer’s and hiker’s paradise. On a sunny day and especially during sunrise and sunset the cliffs shine in a variety of red and orange colors, changing with the light. There are several great lookout points along the road.
Oheo Gulch, Maui
Oheo Gulch, also known as the Seven Sacred Pools, is one of the main destinations along the popular Hana Highway. Located just south of the sleepy little town of Hana, the gulch is a collection of several pools (actually there are more than seven) that are fed by a few waterfalls and empty into the ocean several feet below. Some people like to swim in these freshwater pools because they are refreshing, but this is only recommended if the weather is dry because of the danger of flash floods.
Mauna Kea Summit, Big Island
At 13,796 feet (4,205 m), Mauna Kea is the tallest peak in the Pacific and by some even the tallest in the world when measured from its base, which is 18,000 feet (5,486 m) below the ocean’s surface. The summit is one of the best locations in the world for stargazing. A few world-class observatories are located here, and astronomers from around the world book months in advance to take a peak through these phenomenal telescopes. Tours to the summit are being offered, or you can drive yourself, but only four-wheel drive vehicles are allowed on the road. But if you don’t know how to navigate a steep, rough, narrow and unpaved road, it is better to join a tour group and let someone else do the driving.
Garden of the Gods, Lanai
These unique rock formations surrounded by red soil offer an almost otherworldly view. Also known as Keahikawelo, the Garden of the Gods features many large and small boulders that look especially amazing on a sunny day when they are shining in a spectrum of orange, red and earthen colors. One legend tells how these rocks fell down from the gods’ gardens in the sky, hence its name. Another legend says that the rocks are holding the spirits of ancient Hawaiian warriors.
Molokai Sea Cliffs
The sea cliffs on Molokai’s north shore are the tallest in the world, dropping about 3,000 feet (914 m) into the Pacific Ocean. If you’ve seen the movie Jurassic Park III, these cliffs may look familiar to you because they were featured in the movie. What makes this area special is its remoteness and grandeur views. Few people have ever seen this amazing stretch of coastline. No public boat cruises are being offered. The only way to see it is via helicopter or a visit to the Kalaupapa Peninsula, which is accessible via a steep trail (but one can only visit if one joins a tour group because the peninsula is a former Hansen’s disease settlement, where a few patients reside up until today).