22 Must-See Attractions in Hawaii
Time is never on your side when you’re in Hawaii unless you decide to take up permanent residence as a surf bum. With some of the most stunning views in the world, taking in every attraction the Island had to offer would require a month of travel to savor every moment. We broke down some of the most popular Hawaiian Islands and their not-to-miss sights to make planning your itinerary easier. Here are some of the must-sees in Kauai, Maui, Oahu and Hawaii. Learn more at our Hawaii Travel Guide.
Must-Sees in Kauai
This reminder of Hawaii’s past features a truss bridge built in 1912. Taro patches mix with the natural vegetation and waters to create a scene to remember.
Sea turtles, eels and other friendly sea mammals greet you at Tunnels Beach, a two-mile snorkeling spot with a crescent-shaped reef.
Na Pali Coast
The name Na Pali refers to the series of cliffs rising up 4,000 feet from the ocean that span 17 miles along the coast. Whether by air or by boat, this scenic stretch is one of the most pristine in the world.
Na’aina Kai Botanical Gardens
More than 240 acres of gardens make up Na’aina Kai, meaning Lands by the Sea in Hawaiian. Formal gardens, wild gardens, desert gardens, children’s gardens and sculpture gardens offer the visual cornucopia of treats.
Kauai’s last king, Kaumualii, made his home here. A visit lets you experience life in an ancient Hawaiian settlement.
The largest canyon in the Pacific, Waimea Canyon is often referred to as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. A beautiful mix of cliffs, waterfalls and lush green fauna await your arrival.
Must-Sees in Maui
Haleakala National Park
Maui’s most popular landmark, the shield volcano Haleakala formed most of the island. The Haleakala National Park takes up 28,000 acres and includes the summit where lies the crater, the mountain, its wilderness and the coastal Kipahulu area. Visit the 10,023-foot peak, Maui’s tallest point at sunrise for stunning postcard views.
Iao Valley State Park
For some of the most breathtaking views of Maui, drive to Iao Valley State Park for mountains that plunge into the ocean. You may recognize the Iao Needle, a steep pinnacle overlooking the Iao stream where warriors would make sacrifices to the gods while looking up at the Pu’u Kukui Crater.
Road to Hana
Dozens of one-lane bridges, waterfalls, panoramic vistas of the open ocean and verdant valleys greet you on this road that can make for a slow drive. Those in the know suggest returning before nightfall or staying in Hana.
Kalepolepo Beach Park
The small beach at Kalepolepo Beach Park features some of the best swimming waters in Maui. The water sits between two seawalls, making it calm.
This winding highway hugs the curves of the southern coast of Maui to connect North Kihei to South Kihei, and Wailea and Makena.
West Maui’s most popular beach contains large resorts, golf courses, plenty of outdoor activities, water sports and a large shopping and dining complex. Look for windsurfing, snorkeling, and catamarans for a fun family outing.
Must-Sees in Oahu
Arizona Memorial - Pearl Harbor Monument
President Theodore Roosevelt described Dec. 7, 1941, as a date that will live in infamy. The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, sinking the battleship USS Arizona and taking 1,100 sailors with it. The solemn white monument erected over the midsection of the ship in 1961 pays tribute to the lives lost that day. The deck of the Arizona is still clearly visible below six feet of water.
Waimea Bay Beach Park
The place where 20-foot waves and surfers come together to tame the waves, Waimea Bay Beach Park is consistently ranked one of the best big-wave spots in the world. Winter is the best time to catch a ride on these monsters, but don’t try this as a first-timer surfer.
Southeastern Asian cultures come together in this historic neighborhood in downtown Honolulu. The 15-block district contains fresh produce and delicacies along with art galleries and exotic fare.
Hanauma Bay Marine Preserve
This horseshoe-shaped sandy beach brims with calm turquoise waters and thousands of colorful tropical fish. Even novice snorkelers can wade inside the reef to explore. Deeper waters are home to sea turtles and other marine life.
Diamond Head State Monument
The 760-foot crater at the end of Waikiki is perhaps the island’s most famous landmark. Diamond Head is about 200,000 years old and is said to have been extinct for 150,000 years. Here you can hike and take in the views from an observation deck.
You may agree that Manoa Falls is one of the most beautiful sights in Oahu. This waterfall in the Manoa Valley drops 100 feet to the pool below. Hike to the waterfall in about an an hour for a trip to remember.
Must-See Hawai’i (Big Island)
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
A uniquely changing landscape is the result of steaming volcanic craters, rainforest lava tubes and lava flows creating new sections of the park every day. Two active volcanoes, Kilauea Volcano and Mauna Loa (the largest volcano on Earth), can be explored. You’ll just have to return to see a new setting on your next visit.
Pepe’ekeo Scenic Drive
Just eight miles north of Hilo you can drive through four miles of the most gorgeous natural beauty on Hawaii. Lava pools, brooks, waterfalls and jungles give you all that you imagined when you thought of Hawaii. Several turnouts give you ample opportunity to savor the views.
Hapuna Beach Park
This half-mile beach has been voted the best in the United States many times. Powder fine white sand offers picturesque views replete with palm trees and the ocean blue. A reef at the south end of the beach even offers a chance for some pristine snorkeling.
Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden
This 40-acre garden sits in a sheltered valley, giving non-native tropical flowers a shot at flourishing alongside traditional Hawaiian flora.