From stunning beaches in an array of colors, swaying palm trees and plenty of sunshine to mountains draped in a blanket of clouds, the Hawaiian Islands are easily one of the most diverse places on earth. We love each of these diverse places as much as the last and argue that you haven’t truly experienced all Hawaii has to offer until you’ve taken these 17 trips. Whether you’re headed to Hawaii for the first time, or simply want to explore more of the Aloha State, these trips are guaranteed to change your life. Click the captions for more info.
Head to Molokai, the wildest + beautiful of the main Hawaiian Islands.
The fifth largest Hawaiian Island at just 260 square miles located east of Oahu and north of Lanai, Molokai is as remote as it gets. Measuring in at just ten miles wide, Molokai is home to more than 100 miles of shoreline, breathtaking waterfalls, beaches that stretch on for miles, culturally-significant historic sites, and the world’s tallest sea cliffs.
Experience Mount Haleakala, the house of the sun.
Just 27 square miles short of equaling the entire size of Oahu, Mount Haleakala is a gentle giant – a dormant volcano that has inspired those who make the journey to its summit for centuries. Translating to “House of the Sun,” Haleakala rises more than 10,000 feet above sea level, comprises 75 percent of Maui Island, and is home to desert-like conditions, rainforests, and everything in between.
Located along Hawaii Island’s scenic Kona coast is Kailua-Kona, a historic seaside village full of natural beauty, royal history, and plenty of charm. Established by King Kamehameha I to be the seat of his government when he was the chief of Mona before he consolidated rule of the island chain. The historic town later became the capital of a newly unified kingdom, before it moved to Lahaina, and later, Honolulu.
Head to Kauai’s gorgeous + hidden Waimea Beach.
Kauai’s secluded Waimea Beach is, quite simply, the stuff dreams are made of. The rare black sand beach is located on Kauai’s relatively undeveloped western shore and will absolutely enchant you. Though most focus on the beach’s incredibly rich black sand, I am absolutely head over heels for the picturesque Waimea Pier, the embodiment of Old Hawaii.
Take a road trip along Maui’s northwestern coast.
From stunning hikes and a gorgeous ranch to coastal rock formations and beautiful bays, this stretch of the Kahekili Highway found on Maui’s northwestern shore is absolutely stunning, perhaps even rivaling the famous Hana Highway to the south?
Visit an untamed paradise on Oahu at Kaena Point.
The untamed Kaena Point State Park encompasses the rugged and wild coastline of the northwestern tip of Oahu, and is full of natural beauty and 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.
Get rustic + visit the remote Waimanu Valley.
Waimanu Valley, the largest of several remote valleys on the Hamakua Coastline, is quite difficult to visit, but offers incredible views for anyone adventurous enough to tackle the nine-mile Muliwai Trail.
Witness the jaw-dropping natural beauty that is Waimea Canyon.
Located in western Kauai, Waimea Canyon is often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” and though the expansive canyon is not as big – or as old – as its Arizona cousin, you will surely never experience anything quite like this geological wonder in Hawaii.
Vacation in Kaneohe, one of America’s coolest towns.
Located on Oahu’s breathtaking windward coast, Kaneohe was named one of the world’s coolest neighborhoods to visit, according to Conde Nast Traveler and Airbnb. Not only has the picturesque seaside neighborhood experienced an increase in popularity of 324 percent on Airbnb, but the lush oasis is home to some breathtaking beaches, truly incredible hiking, and several hidden gems – both natural and man-made.
Go stargazing at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa.
By day, the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa is a magical and luxurious vacation destination. By night, it is one of the best places to watch the stars glisten overhead in Hawaii – and maybe even the world. Located on Ka’anapali Beach, this Maui resort was named the best hotel in the world for stargazing by CNN Travel.
Get away from it all on Lanai.
The fifth largest of the Hawaiian Islands - Lanai - is home to only one school that serves the entire island, and you won’t find a single traffic light here. Also known as the Pineapple Island, for its past as an island-wide pineapple plantation, the island measures in at only 141 square miles. The island is home to 3,100 residents, and approximately 98 percent of the land is owned by Larry Ellison, founder and chairman of Oracle.
Hang out in Hawi, a charming town on Hawaii Island’s northern tip.
On the Big Island’s Kohala Coast, far away from the resorts in Kailua-Kona and the lava flows in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, is a small town that’s big on charm. With a population of less than 2,000, Hawi is a funky little town that offers a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of life in a bigger city.
Spend the day at the historic Dole Plantation.
There is little more synonymous with the Hawaiian Islands than breathtaking beaches, crystalline water, stunning scenery, and pineapples. And nowhere is more famous for the fresh, Hawaiian fruit than the historic Dole Plantation. James Dole, who purchased the 61-acre land parcel in 1900, was the first person to truly understand the pineapple’s potential and became known across the United States as the Pineapple King, and Hawaii was famous for being the pineapple capital of the world. The plantation sits just north of the small town of Wahiawa, in central Oahu, and now serves as a major tourist destination.
Journey to the wettest spot in all of Hawaii.
For an almost-guaranteed rainy experience, head inland on Kauai, where the lush, emerald Mount Waialeale, one of the wettest places on the planet, rises more than 5,000 feet into the sky and is covered by an ever-present blanket of clouds.
Experience one of Maui’s best towns.
With a fascinating whaling history and thriving tourism industry, there is truly no city in America quite like Lahaina. Lahaina has a resident population of 11,000, though, during tourist season, the population can grow to upwards of 40,000. What makes this town so special? Is it the town’s fascinating history, or perhaps the incredible destinations and attractions within its border?
Kayak to the Mokulua Islands.
Located less than a mile offshore on the Windward coast of Oahu lie two tiny little islets. The Mokulua Islands, affectionately referred to as simply “the mokes,” are one of the Oahu’s most popular day trip destinations, and rightfully so. These dreamy little islands – and the turquoise water you must paddle through to reach them – are absolutely incredible, and easy to reach regardless of skill.
Go snorkeling at Molokini Crater.
Located just 2.5 miles off the shores of Maui's Makena State Park is Molokini, all that remains of an ancient cinder cone that last erupted more than 230,000 years ago. Divers and snorkelers from around the world flock to this beautiful islet to experience its crystal clear waters and plethora of vibrant sea life. Because Molokini is rock, and not soil, there is nothing to wash into the water and inhibit visibility. In fact, you can often see more than 150 feet into the ocean.
How many of these 17 incredible places have you experienced? Which of these places is next up on your Hawaii bucket list?