The Hawaiian Islands are one of America’s most popular tourist destinations, with more than eight million visitors in 2015 – more than five times the total population of Hawaii. With so many people visiting such small islands, one can easily grow tired of the constant crowds. If you have grown weary of the massive crowds at your favorite beach, park, or place of employment, there are still places where you can escape from the hustle and bustle that is the Hawaiian tourism industry. Here are 15 quintessential places to avoid those crowds and experience some much needed serenity.
1. Mokuleia Beach
On Oahu’s northwest shore, just past Haleiwa is this often-secluded beach. The nearest store or restroom is more than ten miles away, and the television show Lost filmed its first season on Mokuleia. The water is almost always choppy, but the water is rich with marine life, and sea turtles love to hang out on the shore during the summer months.
2. Maukawahi Cave
This little-known archaeological site is home to Kauai’s largest limestone cave that was formed when the once fossilized sand dune collapsed. After you squeeze through the mouth of the cave, you will be rewarded with stunning views of a spacious open-air amphitheater.
3. Kaiwi Shoreline Trail
Instead of heading to the paved Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail, veer right at the trailhead and take the dirt path that leads down to the ocean, Kaho‘ohaihai Inlet, Pele's Chair, and beyond. The trail is approximately 2.5 miles long round trip, and will surely leave you feeling at peace with the world.
4. Pe'epe'e Falls
Located just a mile upstream of Rainbow Falls on the Wailua River, Pe’epe’e Falls feeds a series of several pools known as the boiling pots. Cooling lava flows created columns, which connect a series of cascading waterfalls and pools that appear to be bubbling. Flash flooding in this area is common, so please proceed with caution.
5. Mu Ryang Sa Korean Buddhist Temple
There’s no doubt about it that Kaneohe’s Byodo-In Temple is gorgeous, but this Korean Buddhist temple hidden in Manoa Valley is absolutely breathtaking. Visit on a Saturday afternoon for a guided meditation session, or simply explore the grounds.
6. Polulu Valley Lookout
Far less crowded than nearby Waipio Valley, the Polulu Valley Lookout offers dramatic views of Hawaii Island’s northeastern coastline and impressive cliffs, a black sand beach, and small offshore islands.
7. Old Pali Road
Once a bustling highway on the island of Oahu connecting Honolulu to the island’s windward coast, Pali Road is not only said to be haunted, but has since been replaced. Portions of the old highway still exist, and it has become a popular hiking destination. The trail begins at the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout, and walk down what was the former Pali Highway, climb down a ladder, and then duck walk underneath the new Pali Highway. Now you have two choices: you can walk down the path for miles, or head into the jungle to find the hidden waterfall.
8. Kamehame Beach
Situated on Hawaii Island's southeastern coast, Kamehame Beach is one of the country's foremost nesting sites for the Hawksbill turtle and honu. The beach is an official turtle-breeding site, so the only guaranteed access is through volunteering with a turtle-monitoring program.
9. Hawaii Plantation Village
Hawaii Plantation Village is an outdoor history museum that tells the story of the island’s sugar cane workers and life on the plantation circa 1850 to 1950, as well as the history of immigration to Hawaii.
10. Ching's Pond
Combine vibrant sapphire pools with some stellar spots for cliff jumping, and you’ve got one of Maui’s local hangouts. This picturesque spot can be found past mile marker 16 on the Hana Highway, below the bridge that crosses Palauhulu Stream.
11. Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden
This beautiful 400-acre botanical garden is tucked away in Oahu's Kaneohe, and is a tranquil spot for a leisurely stroll, a scenic drive, or even a fishing and camping destination. Part of the Honolulu Botanical Gardens, this natural oasis is open daily and free to the public.
12. Lava Tree State Monument
A 17-acre park that features a forest of lava trees, the result of a lava flow in 1790 that swept through the forest, leaving behind lava molds of the tree trunks. The park is free to visit, and features a 0.7-mile loop path and picnic tables.
13. Honolulu Museum of Art’s Spalding House
Located in the Makiki Heights neighborhood of Oahu sits the Spalding House, a satellite museum of the Honolulu Museum of Art that sits on 3.2 picturesque acres and features a variety of modern art, including David Hockney's L'Enfant et les sortilèges, a permanent installation that showcases work done for the stage performance of the famous opera.
14. Polihale Beach
At the end of a long dirt road off Kuamuali’i Highway, Polihale is the largest stretch of sand in Hawaii, and is often overlooked for more accessible Kauai beaches.
15. Laie Point State Wayside
Off the beaten path, on Oahu’s northeastern tip, is Laie Point State Wayside, a small point that juts into the Pacific Ocean and offers up an incredible vista of the Ko’olau mountain range.