Once you’ve visited Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island, have attended a luau, and visited the USS Arizona Memorial on Oahu, there are still plenty of lesser known, or different attractions to visit in Hawaii that aren’t necessarily swarming with tourists. Here are eight incredible attractions in Hawaii that are a little off the beaten path.
1) Panaewa Rainforest Zoo
The only tropical zoo in the United States, this Big Island attraction is the perfect place for a day out of the water. Visitors can encounter various rainforest animals and endangered Hawaiian animals, including a White Bengal tiger, spider monkeys, lemurs, and more than 80 other animal species.
2) Pearl Harbor Historic Sites
Though the free USS Arizona Memorial is a wildly popular spot among visitors, there are several other historic sites within Pearl Harbor that are less crowded, and give you a different perspective. Check out the USS Battleship Missouri, which was rebuilt after the attacks on Pearl Harbor, and is now open to the public for tours and exploration.
3) Whalers Village Museum
The shallow warm water, which surrounds the main Hawaiian Islands makes up an important habitat for the endangered North Pacific Humpback Whales. The Whalers Village Museum takes visitors back to a time where Lahaiana, Maui was a bustling whaling town – and also features one of the world’s largest scale models of a whaling ship.
4) Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park
Located on the Big Island is this park, full of archaeological sites and reconstructions of an ancient Hawaiian “place of refuge.” The site, once home to Hawaiian royalty and those who broke a la or defeated military, features a self-guided tour.
5) Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge
Located on Kauai’s north shore is 203 acres of protected land, where the Pacific golden plover, Laysan albatross and the nene – the Hawaii state bird – live. The Kilauea lighthouse is just a short walk from the parking lot. First illuminated on May 1, 1913, it is the northernmost point of the inhabited Hawaiian Islands.
6) Pacific Tsunami Museum
Housed in a bank building that barely survived the last tsunami to hit the Big Island, is the Pacific Tsunami Museum. Though the museum is a tourist destination, staff members strive to educate Hilo’s inhabitants about tsunami preparedness.
7) Kalaupapa Leper Colony
Located on an isolated peninsula on the northern side of Molokai is Kalaupapa, the site of a leper colony. From 1866 to 1969, thousands of men, women and children diagnosed with leprosy were exiled to the colony by the Hawaiian government and legally declared dead. Today, visitors can travel to the colony via mule.
8) Kukaniloko Birthing Stones
The Kukaniloko Birthing Stones, found nearly 100 yards from the intersection of Whitmore Avenue and Highway 80 in Wahiawa, Oahu, have marked the site of royal births and powerful struggles for centuries. Recent research has discovered that the stones may have served an astrological purpose as well – perhaps as a sort of a Pacific Islands henge?
Which of these places have you been to? Which is the next unique Hawaiian attraction on your must-visit list?