Despite the fact that the Hawaiian Islands have less than 11,000 square miles of land mass between eight main, populated islands and 124 uninhabited ones, there are countless hidden gems to uncover across the state – from sea caves hidden along Kauai’s Na Pali Coast to magical gems hiding within the Big Island’s Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Here at Only In Hawaii, we are obsessed with these hidden gems – and we hope you love reading about these 15 magical places hidden across the Aloha State as much as we enjoy writing about them.
This vast and mysterious land located within the southwesternmost district on the island of Hawaii is known as the Ka’u desert, and is home to dried lava remnants, volcanic ash, sand, and gravel – and little else. Inhospitable conditions paired with a lack of rainfall, extreme heat, and a severe scarcity of plant life cause most people to overlook the raw - and desolate - beauty that is the Ka’u Desert.
Malaekahana Beach Campground
This small beachside campground on Oahu’s northeastern shore might just be the prettiest campground in the Aloha State. A secluded and remote slice of paradise perfect for a weekend spent getting in touch with nature, Malaekahana is a 37-acre campground surrounded by ironwood trees and backing up to a pristine white sand beach.
Big Island Bees
Located on Hawaii Island’s Kona Coast in Captain Cook is this stunning bee farm known for making the best single-source artisanal honey around. Founded in 1971 with just a few bee hives, Big Island Bees is now home to more than 3,800 hives and 190 million bees.
Dubbed "Hawaii’s best little inn," the Hotel Lanai is unbelievably quaint with just 11 rooms, an innovative restaurant - the Lanai City Grille - and plenty of charm. Located in Lanai City and since renovated, the Hotel Lanai was built in 1923 by James Dole in order to accommodate visiting pineapple plantation executives and important guests.
Located off the Wailua River, this natural lava cave 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.
Kukaniloko Birthing Stones
Found on the outskirts of Wahiawa in the middle of a sugarcane field is an unsuspecting sacred site you could easily drive past if you weren’t aware of its existence. This group of rocks, known as the Kukaniloko Birthing Stones, represent a sacred Hawaiian site that has seen countless royal births over the last several centuries.
The unique Volcano Winery is located at 4,000 feet in elevation on the slopes of an active volcano and nestled between two volcanoes on lava-covered land that allows Symphony Grape Vines to flourish. It is the only winery on Hawaii Island, and the southernmost winery in the United States.
Located approximately 0.9 miles after Mile Marker 16 on the Hana Highway, you won’t see Ching’s Pond while driving, but if you pull off just before the bridge, you’ll find a series of deep sapphire blue pools beneath. With beautiful crystalline blue pools, and superb cliff jumping, there is no wonder as to why this place is a local favorite.
Found high in the canopy of a tropical Hawaiian forest and perched above a lava tube, the Hawaii Treehouse gives guests the opportunity to live out their childhood fantasy of staying in a treehouse.
Doris Duke’s Shangri La
Often considered to be one of Hawaii’s most architecturally significant homes, Shangri La is an utterly enchanting Islamic-style mansion built in the late 1930s by heiress Doris Duke near Diamond Head, and overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It is now an art museum operated by the Honolulu Museum of Art.
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.
Buho Cucina y Cantina
An eclectic Mexican joint known for their locally sourced ingredients, Taco Tuesday offerings, and incredible rooftop location, Buho Cucina Y Cantina is everything you could want in a happy hour hangout.
Three Ring Ranch Exotic Animal Sanctuary
Located on five acres above Kailua-Kona is Three Ring Ranch, home to various exotic animals – including Zoe, a Golden zebra who is distinguished by gold stripes and blue eyes, a trio of monkeys, and even a north American bison.
Found near Oahu’s Pali Highway in the Nu’uanu neighborhood is the Judd Memorial Trail, a magical slice of forest paradise that awaits your arrival. With surprises around every turn, the entire family is sure to fall in love with this one-mile hike that is home to one of the best swimming holes on the island.
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.
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