If most people were asked to name various cities throughout Hawaii, they would most likely give the same answer: Honolulu, Kailua-Kona, Lahaina, Lihue, or for anyone who is less familiar with the islands, Waikiki. While these cities are great, the Hawaiian Islands are home to some fantastic cities and towns that are off the beaten path, and often overlooked for their more popular neighbors. These nine cities, while quite different from one another, offer stellar amenities, phenomenal entertainment options, and breathtaking scenery.
1. Kapaa, Kauai
With a population of just more than 10,000, Kapaa is a charming small town located on Kauai’s eastern shore. The town is home to great golfing, shopping and hiking as well as restaurants that will make your mouth water, picturesque beaches, and killer resorts. For some reason, this area is often overlooked by tourists and I can’t really figure out a good explanation as to why.
2. Kaneohe, Oahu
When looking at Oahu’s windward coast, everyone always raves about Kailua, and while the town is adorable, its neighbor to the north, Kaneohe, boasts some stellar beaches of its own, as well as various amenities that make life a little more convenient.
3. Wailuku, Maui
While Wailuku is to popular local shops, restaurants and bakeries that have been around for generations, the town also features emerging boutiques and laid-back cafes and coffee shops. Conveniently located just 10 minutes from Kahului, Wailuku also serves as the gateway to the lush Iao Valley.
4. Hawi, Big Island
This small Big Island town is home to approximately 1,000 residents, but what it lacks in population it makes up for in charm. The historic town was once the hub of North Kohala’s now obsolete sugar industry, and is now home to charming art galleries, restaurants and boutiques. The Bamboo Restaurant + Gallery, pictured above, was once voted as the best eatery on Hawaii Island.
5. Lanai City
This idyllic Hawaiian Island is often overlooked in favor of the larger, more populated islands, but Lanai, and its main city, are often touted as being the most authentically Hawaiian. The town was founded amidst the island’s booming pineapple industry, and is now home to unique shopping, inexpensive dining and two hotels.
6. Laie, Oahu
Most people who visit Hawaii find themselves in Laie for one of three reasons: they are taking in a luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center, they are visiting Brigham Young University’s Hawaii campus, or they are driving through on their way around the island. But Laie is also home to an incredible lookout point of the windward coast, as well as some phenomenal beaches and a laid-back, country vibe.
7. Hanapepe, Kauai
Once one of Kauai’s largest communities, you may find that not much has changed over the last century in Hanapepe. Its historic, plantation style buildings, however, are now home to charming shops, eateries and a surprising amount of art galleries. Be sure to visit on a Friday night, where artists open the doors to their studios and galleries and celebrate the arts. Also, be sure to check out the “Hanapepe Swinging Bridge,” pictured above.
8. Kapolei, Oahu
Unless they are staying at Ko Olina’s J.W. Marriot Ihilani Resort and Spa or Disney’s Aulani, many visitors don’t make it to this side of the island. And that’s what makes Kapolei such a great place to live – the city is growing exponentially, and homebuyers can expect to see a serious return on investment in this budding community.
9. Hilo, Big Island
Hilo is one of Hawaii’s biggest cities, but due to above average annual rainfall, is often overlooked for the Big Island’s leeward coast. Hilo is located just 45 minutes north of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and is home to several museums, unique shops, art galleries and a lush, tropical scenery.