From enchanting beaches and beautiful farms to serene hiking trails and awe-inspiring temples, the Hawaiian Islands are home to a seemingly limitless supply of magical spots most people only dream of. These 15 places found throughout Hawaii are simply awe-inspiring, and will surely have you doing a double take to decide if that vision of beauty is real – or just a figment of your imagination.
1. Kula Lavender Farm
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.
2. Makauwahi Cave
This relatively unknown archaeological site is home to Kauai’s largest limestone cave that 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.
3. St. Benedict Roman Catholic Church
Known more commonly as the Painted Church, this magnificent piece of art is open to the public seven says a week, and holds mass five days per week. The masterpiece was built from 1899 to 1902 under the direction of Catholic missionary Father John Velghe, an untrained folk artist who painted frescoes along the interior ceiling and walls depicting various biblical scenes.
4. Haiku Mill
From 1858 to 1879, the Haiku Mill was bustling with sugar cane production, but is now used for a slightly different purpose: serving as the backdrop for a variety of events, especially weddings. The mill is now home to an awe-inspiring mix of vine-draped ruins, French-inspired décor, and a unique ambiance.
5. Manoa Falls Trail
With a vertical drop of approximately 150 feet, Manoa Falls is reached via a 1.5 mile – often quite muddy and slippery – hiking trail. While the reward for the trek is great, visitors are advised not to swim in the waterfall’s pool, as it is heavily polluted with leptospirosis bacteria. The trail leads you through a variety of ecosystems, including this picturesque spot.
6. Kauai Aadheenam Hindu Temple
Up in the hills, four miles above the coastal town of Kapaa and hidden amongst Kauai’s lush, tropical landscape is the Kauai Aadheenam Hindu Temple, a beautiful magnificent spiritual sanctuary that sits on 363 acres near the wettest spot on earth, Mt. Waialeale.
7. Three Tables
Located on Oahu’s north shore, this beach is a popular spot for both snorkeling and sunset viewing. The beach got its name from the three flat sections of reef that appear on the ocean’s surface during low tide, and it is quite the surreal vista.
8. Garden of Eden Arboretum
These lush botanical gardens are set on 26 acres full of trails, picnic spots, waterfalls and coastal views. Visitors should be sure not to miss these incredible grove of rainbow eucalyptus trees, which look as though they have materialized here from the pages of a storybook.
9. Kaniakapupu Ruins
Better known as King Kamehameha III’s summer home, these ruins are both a phenomenal treasure and piece of true Hawaiian history hidden away near Oahu’s Pali Highway. The structure dates back to 1847, and was only used for a few decades before being abandoned and reclaimed by nature. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to visit the ruins and must simply admire this stunning piece of Hawaiian history in photographs.
10. Kalalau Trail
Kauai’s Na Pali Coast is perhaps the most beautiful and remote areas in all of Hawaii. While you can view this magnificent coastline from the air via helicopter tour, one of the best ways to experience the area’s incredible natural beauty is to hike the Kalalau Trail. The hike is eleven miles, and takes hikers on a journey from Ke’e Beach along high rugged cliffs and through coastal valleys.
11. Kaihalulu Beach
Located south of Hana Bay on the eastern coast of Maui, Kaihalulu is one of the few red sand beaches in the world. You’ll have to access the stunning beach via an overgrown cliff-side trail, and the water is rough, but really, the views – and photo opp – is worth a trip.
12. Byodo-In Temple
Located on Oahu’s lush windward coast at the base of the Ko’olau Mountains is the Byodo-In Temple, a small-scale replica of a famous temple in Japan that is more than 950 years old. The non-denominational shrine was dedicated in 1968 to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants in Hawaii. The beautiful grounds include stunning statues, a large reflecting pond, meditation areas, and small waterfalls.
13. Camp Olowalu
Located just six miles southeast of Lanai are the campsites and cabins at Olowalu. This site, which features six A-frame cabins that sleep six people each, a kitchen, mess hall, and bathroom facility, is suited for group retreats and other large group gatherings. Where better to have a company retreat or family reunion than a oceanfront oasis?
14. Fern Grotto
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. Lake Waiau
Located at 13,000 feet above sea level on the Big Island’s Mauna Kea, Lake Waiau is arguably one of the highest lakes in all of the United States. However, it is also relatively small, measuring in at just about 100 meters across. It's also a pretty dreamy landscape.
How many of these simply breathtaking places have you visited? Which one is your favorite?