From pristine, white sand beaches and majestic volcanoes to muddy hiking trails and fascinating geological formations, Hawaii’s natural beauty is truly unmatched. With so many incredible places to explore throughout the islands, there’s no way we could stop at
just one list of places to bring out your inner adventurer. So, today, we’re back at it again with 13 picturesque places everyone in Hawaii needs to explore in their lifetime.
1. Kauai’s Glass Beach
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.
2. Maunawili Falls
Perhaps one of Oahu’s most stunning hidden waterfalls, this trek through the mud is never uphill for too long and offers the opportunity to jump in a beautiful waterfall at the end. If you’re looking for an added thrill, a difficult trail beyond the waterfall will across a rotted bridge will bring you to some incredible moss slides.
3. Maui’s Dragon Teeth
These volcanic formations are found on the edge of the Ritz’s golf course. The jagged, gray rocks were formed hundreds of years ago when wind gusts from the ocean forced lava to harden towards the sky. This intriguing scenery looks like something out of a science fiction or fantasy novel, does it not?
4. The Blue Room
An otherworldly cave that shines with a brilliant blue light, Waikapalae Cave, also known simply as the blue room, is the stuff of dreams. A grotto at the back of the wet cave was once home to a surreal blue pool of water, an illusion created by the sun reflecting off the calcite.
5. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
With more than 323,000 acres to explore, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the state’s largest national park – and it’s still growing! A trip to Hawaii Volcanoes isn’t complete without a visit to the Kilauea Caldera, a trip down the Thurston Lava Tube, a walk through the lava fields, a drive down the Chain of Craters Road, and, of course, as much hiking as you can handle.
6. Garden of the Gods
Keahiakawelo, also known as Garden of the Gods, is a magnificent rock garden located at the end of Polihua Road, 45 minutes from Lanai City. According to Hawaiian legend, the landscape is a result of a contest between two kahuna – priests – from Lanai and Molokai. They were challenged to keep a fire burning on their respective islands longer than the other. Kawelo, the kahuna from Lanai, used all vegetation in Keahiakawelo to keep the fire burning – which is why the area is so barren.
7. Carthaginian II Wreck
A replica of a whaling supply vessel, the Charthaginian II served as a floating museum in Lahaina Harbor before it was sunk half a mile from the harbor, at approximately 95 feet in depth.
8. Alakai Swamp Trail
Journey across the Alakai Swamp, and through rainforests and bogs, in Koke’e State Park on this moderate 7-mile round trip hike. The trail is part dirt trail, part boardwalk, and provides simply unparalleled views of Kauai.
9. Pounders Beach
Not far from the Polynesian Cultural Center, you will find Laie Beach Park, also known as Pounders. With beautiful turquoise water flowing around old pier pillings, this picturesque view isn’t the only thing Pounders has to offer – a beautiful limestone cliff on the south end of the beach is a popular spot for fishermen, and the offshore coral reef makes this a perfect, protected area for swimming.
10. Three Ring Ranch Exotic Animal Sanctuary
Located on five acres above Kailua-Kona is Tree Ring Ranch, home to various exotic animals – including Zoe, a Golden zebra who is distinguished by gold stripes and blue eyes. She was rescued from Molokai, and was the third reported zebra of her kind throughout history when she was born in 1998.
11. Hanalei Bay
Though Hanalei is located just north of the Princeville resort area, it feels like worlds away from the Hawaiian tourism scene. With a small one-lane bridge leading into town, and an unusual mix of shopping and dining options, the very small town – approximately 0.8 square miles – is full of old world charm. The beautiful town and neighboring Hanalei Bay have been featured in various films, including the 1958 musical classic, South Pacific.
12. Kaena Point State Park
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. Papohaku Beach
You will be surprised to find very few people on this stunning beach, which is the longest white sand beach throughout the Hawaiian Islands. During World War II, the military performed training exercises here, and buried entire vehicles at the waterline, which can be seen during high surf.
So, my fellow adventurers, what are some of your favorite spots to explore in Hawaii? Share your favorite places with us on our Only In Hawaii Facebook page.