Whether you simply live in Hawaii – or worse, work at an establishment inundated with tourists from across the world – sometimes you just need an escape. While Hawaii’s most popular tourist destinations are visited for a reason, sometimes you want to get away from it all. Luckily, there are a few towns across the Hawaiian Islands that have yet to become popular among tourists, and they definitely make for a weekend getaway you won’t soon forget.
With the greatest concentration of artists on the island, Hanapepe is known as “Kauai’s Biggest Little Town.” Its historic, plantation-style buildings are now home to charming shops, eateries and a surprising amount of art galleries - and it’s a beautiful place for a weekend retreat.
Often described as one of Hawaii Island’s best-kept secrets, Hawi is perched along the northern coastline of the Kohala coast, and is home to some incredible skydiving, ziplining, farm tours, and a pretty charming vibe.
3. Lanai City
Sitting at 1,600 feet above sea level, Lanai City is the island’s only town, with a population of just 3,200. The city is home to a tidy grid of pastel-colored, tin-roofed cottages that date to when the town was first settled in the 1920s.
One of the most isolated communities in all of Hawaii, it is accessible via the scenic Hana Highway. It hosts gorgeous gardens and a strong surfing culture.
The first European settlers to reach Hawaii landed in Waimea in 1778, and I’m sure they were absolutely blown away by the stunning coastline. The historic town is home to approximately 1,700 residents, and is full of charm.
This small town on Oahu’s northeastern shores might be far away from the big city, but that is what makes it so serene and stunning. Better yet, you aren’t likely to find any tourists at Hauula Beach Park, or on the Hauula Loop Trail.
Though Hanalei is located just north of the Princeville resort area, it feels like worlds away from the Hawaiian tourism scene. With a small one-lane bridge leading into town, and an unusual mix of shopping and dining options, the very small town – approximately 0.8 square miles – is full of old world charm.
With plenty of plantation-style architecture and historic storefronts, Hilo is much rainier than the Big Island’s Kona Coast, and as a result, you will see more residents than tourists while visiting. While in this charming town, be sure to check out Rainbow Falls, Wailuku River State Park, the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens, Banyan Drive, and if it’s raining, the Pacific Tsunami Museum.
The largest town on the small island of Molokai, Kaunakakai is full of history. When pineapple and sugar exports were huge in Hawaii, Kaunakakai was a bustling port town. King Kamehameha V’s royal summer residence was once in this ancient canoe landing, and now the Old Western-style storefronts paint the picture of a town stuck in time.
Home to Hawaii’s first ever commercially successful sugarcane plantation, Koloa is a relic of days gone by. Home to less than 2,200 residents and shops that now occupy the plantation-style buildings, Koloa is located along Kauai’s southern shores.