Whether you simply live in Hawaii – or worse, work at an establishment inundated with tourists from across the world – sometimes you just need an escape. While Hawaii’s most popular tourist destinations are visited for a reason, sometimes you want to get away from it all. Luckily, there are a few hidden beaches, hikes and destinations found across the Hawaiian Islands that have yet to become popular among tourists. Without further ado, here are 14 of the least touristy destinations you’ll find in Hawaii.
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. Kahana Bay Beach, Oahu
Though Kahana Bay Beach Park is found off the highway, the remote location on Oahu's northern windward coast makes this a secluded spot perfect for a beach day. Surrounded by the stunning Ko'olau Mountains, this stretch of sand is backed by ironwood trees and you will find an ancient Hawaiian fishpond on the south side of the bay. On the overcast day I stopped by Kahana a few weeks ago, I was one of only a handful of people on the large sandy beach.
2. Makawao Forest, Maui
We’ve talked about Maui’s brilliant Redwood trail, and the enchanting Bamboo forest, but the gorgeous Makawao Forest offers some incredible hiking on the Kahakapao Trail where you will see wild Koa, young Redwood trees, Raspberry bushes, Eucalyptus varieties, and fragrant Ginger plants. Located in upcountry Maui at a high elevation, the forest is a little colder than most of the island, bringing a welcome refuge from Hawaii’s typical weather.
3. Kona Pacific Farmers’ Cooperative, Hawaii Island
Only grown in a small section of fertile volcanic soil on Hawaii Island’s Kona coast, Kona coffee is definitely a cut above any coffee you can find, well, pretty much anywhere. Instead of checking out one of the most popular farms, head down to Kona Pacific Farmers Cooperative, the oldest and largest Kona Coffee Cooperative in the country. Oh, and be sure to order a coffee float - you seriously will not be disappointed.
4. Kaiwi Shoreline Trail, Oahu
Instead of heading to the paved Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail, veer right at the trailhead and take the dirt path that leads down to Alan Davis Beach Park, Kaho‘ohaihai Inlet, Pele's Chair, and beyond. The trail is approximately 2.5 miles long round trip, and will surely leave you feeling at peace with the world.
5. Waimea Beach, Kauai
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. The pier was once an important location for whaling ships that came into port during the 19th century, and while the pier isn’t original, you will still find people using the pier for fishing and crabbing.
6. Ching’s Pond, Maui
Combine vibrant sapphire pools with some stellar spots for cliff jumping, and you’ve got one of Maui’s local hangouts. This picturesque spot can be found past mile marker 16 on the Hana Highway, below the bridge that crosses Palauhulu Stream.
7. Honolulu Museum of Art’s Spalding House, Oahu
Located in the Makiki Heights neighborhood of Oahu sits the Spalding House, a satellite museum of the Honolulu Museum of Art that sits on 3.2 picturesque acres and features a variety of modern art, including David Hockney's L'Enfant et les sortilèges, a permanent installation that showcases work done for the stage performance of the famous opera. Luckily for us, most tourists don't go to art museums on a beach vacation.
8. Kamehame Beach, Hawaii Island
Situated on Hawaii Island's southeastern coast, Kamehame Beach is one of the country's foremost nesting sites for the Hawksbill turtle and honu. The beach is an official turtle-breeding site, so the only guaranteed access is through volunteering with a turtle-monitoring program.
9. Kaneana Cave, Oahu
Nearly 100 feet high and 450 feet deep, Kaneana Cave is said to be the place where the shark man was said to leave his victims until he was ready to eat them. The cave is dark and wet, so bring sturdy shoes and a flashlight. Various small tunnels that lead from the main cavern have not been explored, mapped, or maintained, so it is imperative that you not enter.
10. McBryde Garden, Kauai
McBryde Garden, Kauai Located near Allerton Gardens on the southern shore of Kauai, the McBryde Garden is operated by National Tropical Botanical Gardens and encompasses 252 acres, including the largest ex situ collection of native Hawaiian flora in the world. It's often overshadowed by its famous neighbor, which is why you won't find too many tourists.
11. Papohaku Beach, Molokai
You will be surprised to find very few people on this stunning beach, which is the longest white sand beach throughout the Hawaiian Islands. It is one of two beach parks that allow camping on Molokai, and the swimming can be extremely dangerous unless the ocean is completely flat and calm.
12. Judd Trail, Oahu
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 — and a local hangout.
13. Kohala Mountain Road, Hawaii Island
Meandering across the northern tip of Hawaii Island from Waimea to Hawi, Kohala Mountain Road will transport you to another place. Known locally as "The High Road," this scenic road measures in at just under 20 miles - and is positively stunning the entire way, passing by rolling hillsides, ranchlands, and some pretty jaw-dropping vistas. Despite the stupendous views and wide open spaces, this mountain road is rarely crowded, and full of magnificent pull offs to stop for either a secluded picnic or a quick photograph.
14. Wahiawa Botanical Garden, Oahu
Found in the center of Oahu, you’ll feel as though you’ve entered the pages of a fairy tale at the picturesque Wahiawa Botanical Garden. The hidden destination is a magical slice of paradise home to a variety of stunning plants and several meandering walking paths perfect for an afternoon stroll. Found on a high plateau in central Oahu between the Waianae and Ko’olau mountain ranges, this enchanting 27-acre botanical garden features everything from taro to native Hawaiian ferns —
and everything in between.