There’s simply no denying that Hawaii is one of America’s most beautiful states. The proof is in our pristine beaches in a variety of colors, our cascading waterfalls, our majestic mountains, and, of course, the infinite views you’ll find throughout the islands. The vistas from these 17 beautiful spots stretch on for miles and should be added to everyone’s Hawaiian Island bucket list.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Lanai Lookout, Oahu
From the parking lot of this scenic overlook, you will have uninterrupted views of the stunning Pacific Ocean, and, on a clear day, the island of Lanai. But what is really special about this lookout is the stunning lava formations you’ll find once you hop over the short wall surrounding the lot.
2. Waimea Canyon Lookout, Kauai
Perhaps the most famous lookout in all of Hawaii, Waimea Canyon is truly a piece of heaven on earth. Sometimes referred to as the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific," no vacation to Kauai is complete without a stop at the Waimea Canyon Lookout, and preferably, a hike through the neighboring Koke’e State Park.
3. Pololu Valley, Hawaii Island
If you desire dramatic views of Hawaii Island’s northeastern coastline and impressive cliffs, head to Pololu Valley Lookout. With a stunning black sand beach, horses grazing on the hillside and small islands off shore, Pololu Valley is one of the best lookout points on the island.
4. Leleiwi Overlook, Maui
You won’t want to miss the massive crater viewed from the Leleiwi Lookout inside Haleakala National Park – at 7.5 miles long, 2.5 miles wide and 3,000 feet deep, you could fit the entire island of Manhattan inside this volcanic crater. Fun fact: Astronauts used to train for moon voyages here.
5. Nu’uanu Pali State Wayside, Oahu
For breathtaking vistas of windward Oahu, you’ve got to check out the Nu’uanu Pali State Wayside, an extremely windy 1,186-foot high lookout where, once upon a time, Kamehameha I drove more than 400 soldiers off the cliff in the Battle of Nu’uanu.
6. Hanalei Valley Lookout, Kauai
A jaw-dropping vista awaits you at the Hanalei Valley Lookout – the Hanalei River and expansive taro fields are flanked on either side by majestic mountains and waterfalls. Just off Highway 56/560, this picturesque lookout point proves that it’s not always about the ocean views.
7. Mauna Kea Observatories, Hawaii Island
Mauna Kea measures in at 13,796 feet above sea level, the highest point in the state of Hawaii. In fact, when measured from its oceanic base deep in the vast Pacific, the mountain measures in at more than 33,000 feet tall – that’s higher than Mount Everest. I recently watched the sunset from the summit, and it was easily the most magical thing I’ve ever experienced.
8. Ho’okipa Beach, Maui
Boasting some of the best windsurfing waves along the Maui Coast, Ho’okipa is a mecca for water sports. Luckily, if you’re not so adventurous, there is plenty of sand to simply lay out and enjoy the views.
9. Kalaupapa Lookout, Molokai
On Molokai, there is little more famous that the view from Kalaupapa Lookout – visitors can look upon a former leprosy settlement from above, nestled between the Pacific Ocean and dramatic cliffs.
10. Mount Tantalus Lookout, Oahu
The views of Honolulu from the Tantalus Lookout are well worth the slightly nerve-wracking drive full of hairpin turns, steep inclines and blind corners - 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.
11. Kalalau Lookout, Kauai
One of the most photographed and recognized lookout points in Hawaii is Kalalau Valley, perhaps due to the fact that the valley, and surrounding coastline, have been featured in various Hollywood films, including King Kong and Jurassic Park.
12. Chain of Craters Road, Hawaii Island
Megan Shute/Only In Your State
As the name indicates, this scenic road leads drivers to the coast, past several craters from historic eruptions. Since the road was opened in 1965, several parts of the road have been buried in lava due to volcanic eruptions. The Chain of Craters Road currently measures in at 18.8 miles, and is home to several incredible vistas and scenic spots overlooking Hawaii Island’s southern coast.
13. Mount Haleakala Summit, Maui
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. The views from 10,000 feet above sea level certainly won’t disappoint.
14. Garden of the Gods, Lanai
Also known as Keahiakawelo, this otherworldly rock garden at the end of Polihua Road is located 45 minutes from Lanai City on a dirt path only advised for vehicles with four-wheel drive. On a clear day, visitors can see the islands of Molokai and Oahu.
15. Pu’u o Mahuka Heiau State Historic Site, Oahu
Megan Shute/Only In Your State
Located on a hillside overlooking Waimea Bay, this heiau is the largest on the island, and might have been constructed as early as the 1600s. In the late 1700s, during a period of political upheaval, it is suspected that there was human sacrifice at the temple, perhaps to encourage war success. Nevermind the temple’s upsetting history, the views are absolutely stunning.
16. Polihale Beach, Kauai
At the end of a long dirt road off Kuamuali’I Highway is Polihale Beach, where you’ll find positively infinite views - and little else. This is the largest stretch of sand in Hawaii, and it is often overlooked for more accessible Kauai beaches.
17. Waipio Valley, Hawaii Island
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 surrounded by tropical vegetation and 2,000-foot high cliffs.