Whether you call Hawaii home or are planning a vacation to the Aloha State, you are painfully aware of one fact: the Hawaiian Islands are expensive. From food and gas to accommodations, the cost of living – or vacationing – in Hawaii is astronomical, but luckily, you have plenty of opportunities to explore the islands’ incredible natural beauty without spending a dime. So, whether you prefer to hit the trails or lounge on the beach, you certainly can’t afford to miss these 13 epic outdoor adventures in Hawaii. After all, what’s holding you back? They’re
1. Swim under any number of Hawaii’s epic waterfalls.
In a state with arguably the highest density of waterfalls in the United States, it only makes sense that hanging out under cascading waterfalls is No. 1 on this list. Some of Hawaii’s epic waterfalls can be found in plain sight, while others will require some hiking, but trust us, they are all absolutely magical.
2. Take Round Top Drive to the Mount Tantalus Lookout and have a picnic.
This two-lane, ten-mile loop features a series of steep inclines, hairpin turns and blind corners that challenge even the most skilled drivers in the smallest cars you can find. The views of Honolulu from the Tantalus Lookout are well worth the slightly nerve-wracking drive - on a clear day, you can see everything from Diamond Head and Waikiki to the east and Honolulu International Airport and Pearl Harbor to the west.
3. Explore many of Hawaii’s incredible state parks.
With more than 55 incredible state parks, waysides, recreation areas, and monuments, there is always a new Hawaii state park just ready to be explored.
4. Hit the trails.
Here in Hawaii, you don’t even need a gym membership to work out when you have an entire state full of epic hiking trails. From short and easy loop trails to strenuous backpacking excursions, the Hawaiian Islands are home to countless incredible hiking trails.
5. Bask in the wonder that is Waipio Valley.
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 full of tropical vegetation and surrounded by 2,000-foot tall cliffs.
6. Take a tour.
Whether you are a caffeine addict like me, or not, you will love to take a tour of a Hawaiian island coffee farm. The most famous are obviously near Kona, but there are great coffee farms on other islands as well. If coffee isn’t your thing, check out a tour of a macadamia nut farm. This might not be totally free, since you’ll probably want to buy some coffee after that free sample.
7. Check out the beautiful Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden.
Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens is a little-known 400-acre natural oasis tucked away in Kaneohe perfect for an afternoon stroll. Ho’omaluhia is also home to countless walking and bike trails, a day use area, campgrounds, and a visitor center with an exhibition hall, workshop and botanical library. The garden is open daily, and is free to the public.
8. Splash around in Hawaii’s many tide pools and swimming holes.
While Hawaii certainly does not have a shortage of pristine, white sand beaches or man-made, oceanfront pools for us to choose from, occasionally we crave something a little more adventurous – like swimming holes and tide pools. And what’s more fun than hanging out in a natural swimming pool on a hot summer day? Absolutely nothing.
9. Explore Hawaii Island’s Kaumana Caves.
Unlike Thurston Lava Tube - which requires a $10 entry into Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to visit - Kaumana Caves is completely free - and completely awe-inspiring. Found just miles from downtown Hilo, in a relatively small park without any formal supervision, open 24 hours a day, Kaumana Caves is relatively unknown. The skylight entrance drops into two miles of pitch-black cave, complete with stalactites and stalagmites, as well as vines and roots falling from the cave’s roof.
10. Spend your day lounging on any of Hawaii’s world-class beaches.
With approximately 750 miles of coastline, Hawaii is home to countless incredible beaches. There’s Oahu’s Waimanalo, Kailua and Lanikai Beaches, Maui’s Ka’anapali beach and Waianapanapa beaches, Kauai’s Polihale and Ke’e beaches, and Hawaii Island’s Papakolea and Punalu’u beaches, just to name a few.
11. Drive the famous Hana Highway.
Maui’s Road to Hana is perhaps the most popular scenic drive on the island – and possibly all of Hawaii. This infamous 64.4-mile highway stretches from Kahului to Hana is popular not for the destination – Hana Town – but for the incredible journey it takes to get there. The highway passes over 59 bridges and features a whopping 620 turns.
12. Enjoy the magnificence that is Waimea Canyon.
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.
13. Catch a killer Hawaiian sunset.
Is there really anything more iconic that a signature Hawaiian sunset? Head to your favorite westside beach or lookout point to witness a vibrant Hawaiian sunset for yourself - and don’t you dare forget that camera.