There are various cities, beaches, hikes and landmarks across Hawaii that make their way into every Hawaiian Island guidebook ever written: places that are perhaps overrated, overrun with tourists, and, honestly, not all they are cracked up to be. While Waikiki Beach, Waimea Canyon, and Maui’s Hana Highway aren’t necessarily awful, there are other attractions across the islands that deserve a little more credit. From breathtaking beaches to fantastic farms, these 16 incredibly cool attractions are just waiting to be discovered.
1. Big Island Bees, Hawaii Island
For an unconventional stop during your stay on the Big Island, be sure to check out Big Island Bees for a tour of their hives and museum, where you can learn all about honey and beekeeping. Don’t forget to bring some all-natural, single-source, organic honey home with you.
2. Mokuleia Beach, Oahu
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.
3. Maluhia Road, Kauai
The Holo Holo Koloa Scenic Byway serves as the gateway to Kauai's southern shore and is full of magnificent views and gorgeous stops, including Maluhia Road, a stretch of highway covered in a canopy of eucalyptus trees.
4. O’o Farm, Maui
For an incredible farm-to-table experience in a setting reminiscent of a fairytale, head to O'o Farms for their wildly popular morning "Seed to Cup" tour where guests learn all about the coffee that is grown and roasted on site. If coffee isn't your thing, the lunch tour gives patrons an opportunity to harvest and create a beautiful salad to accompany their lunch.
5. Boiling Pots, Hawaii Island
Located just one mile past the famous Rainbow Falls on Wailuku River is Pe’epe’e Falls. Connected by a series of cascading waterfalls along columns that were formed from the slow cooling of basalt lava, these pools appear to be bubbling — almost as if they were boiling.
6. Pu’u O Hulu Kai, Oahu
The directions to this beautiful and underrated pillbox hike may be a little sketchy; "Turn onto Kaukama Street, and park near the eleventh light pole." But the views from the pillboxes on top of the mountain are totally worth the confusion. Experienced climbers love to scale the rockfaces, while novices can easily climb the steep —
yet short — switchbacks to the bunkers at the top.
7. Glass Beach, Kauai
Located in Hanapepe, near Port Allen Harbor, is this incredible beach covered with millions of sea glass pebbles in brilliant hues of aqua, blue and brown. The glass found at this beach was mainly from broken bottles and auto glass that was dumped years ago and then smoothed by time and ocean tides. The beach is pretty difficult to find, but it is heaven for lovers of sea glass.
8. MacKenzie State Recreation Area, Hawaii Island
This secluded park covering 13 acres on Hawaii Island’s rural southern coast featuring tall ironwood trees, volcanic sea cliffs, and quite a few paranormal encounters. Portions of the King's Trail wind through the park, and according to the National Park Service, improvements to this ancient coastal trail were made in the mid-1800s by prisoners and those unable to pay their taxes. Legend has it that the souls of prisoners who died while working on the trail still wander around the park.
9. Mu Ryang-Sa Buddhist Temple, Oahu
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.
10. Kahakuloa Bay, Maui
The beautiful Kahakuloa Bay is home to an isolated community and absolutely incredible scenery. Stop here for Lorraine's Shave Ice for a sweet treat and check out Kaukini Gallery while passing through.
11. Makauwahi Cave, Kauai
Makauwahi Cave is not only the largest limestone cave in Hawaii but also one of the state’s largest archaeological sites. This relatively unknown archaeological site 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.
12. Halawa Valley Scenic Drive, Molokai
This 56-mile round trip drive on the island of Molokai is often overlooked, but the rocky shoreline, lush jungle, deserted beaches and sweeping views are second to none.
13. Pu’u O Mahuka Heiau, Oahu
Historically significant, Hawaiian heiaus are plentiful across the islands. Located on a hillside overlooking Waimea Bay, this ancient Hawaiian temple — is the largest on the island, and might have been constructed as early as the 1600s. In the late 1700s, during a period of political upheaval, it is suspected that there was human sacrifice at the temple, perhaps to encourage war success.
14. New Kaimu Beach, Hawaii Island
This picturesque beach did not exist in its current state twenty years ago: the original Kaimu Beach was completely destroyed by lava flows in 1990. Because this mineral-rich beach is relatively new, and the larger Punalu’u is located just down the coast, this picturesque spot remains largely tourist-free.
15. Waioka Pond, Maui
Waioka Pond, a serene seaside pond located on Maui’s Hana Highway, was named Venus Pool in a guidebook for no documented reason. The pool carved into the rugged shoreline is undoubtedly gorgeous, though it is prone to flash flooding, and can be difficult to access unless you are an experienced off-trail hiker.
16. Lyon Arboretum, Oahu
While this beautiful arboretum has been open to the public for more than 40 years, many locals and tourists alike opt for the more popular Manoa Falls. The 194-acre research site is home to more than 5,000 tropical and subtropical plants, as well as 12 beautiful gardens and seven miles of hiking trails. The main trailhead leads to the stunning, and not too crowded Aihualama Falls.
How many of these incredible places have you been to? What are your favorite underrated Hawaii attractions? For more information about which of Hawaii’s many attractions you should visit, be sure to check out
these 11 overrated tourist traps you might want to avoid.
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