Easily the most unique place in America, the Hawaiian Islands are home to countless stunning landscapes sure to take your breath away. From stark volcanic landscapes and incredible rock formations to lush mountains and cascading waterfalls, here are 17 crazy beautiful landscapes you’ll only find in Hawaii.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Na Pali Coast, Kauai
Kauai’s iconic Na Pali Coast is what dreams are made of – emerald green cliffs, cascading waterfalls into deep, narrow valleys, and the brilliant blue hue of the Pacific abound. Too bad the views are only accessible via a difficult hiking trail, and boat, kayak or helicopter tours
2. Waimoku Falls, Maui
One of two incredible waterfalls along Maui’s famous Pipiwai Trail, Waimoku Falls measures in at approximately 400 feet down a sheer lava rock wall, full of green vegetation, and into a boulder-strewn pool.
3. Koko Head, Oahu
Located on Oahu’s southern shore is this lush volcano. Please don’t let the short 1.5-mile round trip hike to reach the summit fool you – Koko Head is brutal – we’re talking more than 1,000 railway steps leading to the summit. It’s a great workout that yields stellar views of the entire south shore of Oahu, and if you get up early enough, it is one of the best spots on the island to view the sunrise.
4. Papakolea Green Sand Beach, Hawaii Island
A once-in-a-lifetime experience, the magnificent Papakolea Green Sand Beach is located on Hawaii Island’s southern shore, near Ka Lae, the southernmost point in the United States. It is one of only four green sand beaches in the world, and is created from tiny crystals called olivine, a mineral found in the rocks of the surrounding 49,000-year-old cinder cone, Pu’u Mahana.
5. Hanalei Valley Lookout, Kauai
A jaw-dropping vista awaits you at the Hanalei Valley Lookout – the Hanalei River and expansive taro fields are flanked on either side by majestic mountains and waterfalls. Just off Highway 56/560, this picturesque lookout point proves that it’s not always about the ocean views.
6. Haleakala Crater, Maui
Haleakala National Park covers an area of approximately 33,000 acres, and the Haleakala crater is a massive seven miles across, two miles wide, and more than 2,600 feet deep. That’s large enough for all of Manhattan to fit within the crater!
7. Ko’olau Mountains, Oahu
Serving as a backdrop to Oahu’s stunning windward coast, the Ko’olau Mountains are not a mountain range in the traditional meaning; the mountains are what remains of the Ko’olau Volcano, and are positively breathtaking. The mountain range was recognized as a National Natural Landmark in 1972.
8. Kealakekua Bay, Hawaii Island
Hawaii Island’s beautiful reef-filled Kealakekua Bay is one of the state’s most historic bays, and a known dolphin hangout. The bay is also home to the famous Captain Cook monument, and crystalline waters.
9. Garden of the Gods, Lanai
Also known as Keahiakawelo, this otherworldly rock garden at the end of Polihua Road is located 45 minutes from Lanai City on a dirt path only advised for vehicles with four-wheel drive. On a clear day, visitors can see the islands of Molokai and Oahu.
10. Waimea Canyon, Kauai
Often referred to as the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific," Waimea Canyon is certainly a thing of immense beauty. At ten miles long, a mile wide and approximately 3,600 feet deep, it's home to plants and trees of all shapes and sizes – giving it a more dynamic landscape than its more famous canyon cousin.
11. Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm, Maui
Upcountry Maui, near Mount Haleakala, gets a great deal of rain, resulting in lush, green scenery, and flourishing lavender at the Kula Lavender Farm. But the beautiful, fragrant lavender isn’t the only thing to see at this gorgeous farm – visitors will also be rewarded with panoramic views of the entire western half of the island.
12. Kaena Point, Oahu
The northwestern tip of Oahu is home to Kaena Point State Park, a magical place full of hidden gems, including heart shaped rocks, tide pools, stunning cliff faces, and a natural reserve area created to protect nesting albatrosses, Hawaiian monk seals, and the fragile native vegetation. According to ancient Hawaiian lore, Kaena Point is the "jumping off" point for souls leaving this world.
13. Akaka Falls, Hawaii Island
Cascading 442 feet into a lush, tropical jungle is perhaps Hawaii’s greatest waterfall. Located on the Big Island’s Hamakua Coast is Akaka Falls, a place of pure paradise flowing from the Kolekole Stream. To view the falls, visitors take a short stroll leading through a jungle of banana plants, towering bamboo groves and lush orchids.
14. Wailua River’s Fern Grotto, Kauai
This naturally-formed lava cave, located off Kauai’s Wailua River, was formed millions of years ago, and is home to various native Hawaiian plant species as well as colorful, exotic plants, that come together to make visitors feel as though they have entered a tropical rainforest.
15. 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.
16. Lanai Lookout, Oahu
Megan Shute/Only In Your State
From the parking lot of this scenic overlook, you will have uninterrupted views of the stunning Pacific Ocean, and, on a clear day, the island of Lanai. But what is really special about this lookout is the stunning lava formations you’ll find once you hop over the short wall surrounding the lot.
17. Waipio Valley, Hawaii Island
The sacred Waipio Valley was once the boyhood home of King Kamehameha I, and is an important site for Hawaiian history and culture. But history aside, "The Valley of the Kings" certainly appears as though it was made for royalty – the valley is surrounded by tropical vegetation and 2,000-foot high cliffs.