16 Lesser-Known State Parks In Hawaii That Will Absolutely Amaze You
From cascading waterfalls and the inviting turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean to lush rain forests and mountain peaks, breathtaking natural beauty abounds on the Hawaiian Islands. And nowhere will you find more breathtaking scenery than within Hawaii’s incredible state parks. There are countless Hawaiian parks to choose from, with more than 50 state parks, waysides, recreation areas, monuments, and historic sites scattered across the islands from Kauai to Hawaii Island. These 16 lesser known state parks to visit in Hawaii might not be the most popular in the Aloha State, but they are all beautiful and worthy of checking out!
1. MacKenzie State Recreation Area, Hawaii Island
MacKenzie State Recreation Area, HI-137, P?hoa, HI 96778, USA
MacKenzie State Recreation Area is a secluded park covering 13 acres on Hawaii Island’s rural southern coast featuring tall ironwood trees, volcanic sea cliffs, and quite a few paranormal encounters. You see, although the coast is gorgeous here, the park is said to be haunted. Pair that with its remote access and you have the ultimate underrated
. This great combination makes for one of the best things to do outside in Hawaii!
2. Wa’ahila Ridge State Recreation Area, Oahu
Wa?ahila Ridge State Recreation Area, 1600 Ruth Pl, Honolulu, HI 96816, USA
full of Norfolk island pine trees overlooking Manoa and Palolo valleys — as well as Honolulu — is heaven for hikers. With plenty of picnicking opportunities and panoramic views, you could spend all day exploring this picturesque forest. With stunning views and plenty to do, this gets our top vote for one of the best state parks in Hawaii.
3. Russian Fort Elizabeth State Historical Park, Kauai
Russian Fort Elizabeth State Historical Park / P??ula?ula, Kaumualii Hwy, Waimea, HI 96796, USA
Just south of Waimea, on Kauai, is the
last remaining Russian fort
in Hawaii. Built in the early 19th century as a result of an alliance between the High Chief Kaumuali’i and the Russian-American Company. The "treaty" granted Russian Tsar Alexander I a protectorate over Kauai, with the implication that Russia could capture the entire island chain from Kamehameha if desired. It is said that Kaumuali’i never intended to give up his power, but that the Russians would help him reclaim his own kingdom. Make plans to visit this National Historic Landmark and explore it when you’re on Kauai!
4. Halekiʻi-Pihana Heiau State Monument, Maui
Haleki?i-Pihana Heiau State Monument, Wailuku, HI 96793, USA
Near the mouth of the Iao Stream in Wailuku is this small
10-acre state monument
that is home to two important luakini heiaus. Containing important Hawaiian history and culture within its borders, the park was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995. One of the best parks IN maui, we love the sweeping views from the ridge and history.
5. Kalopa State Recreation Area, Hawaii Island
Kalopa State Recreation Area, 44-3480 Kalaniai Rd, Honokaa, HI 96727, USA
Known for lodging and camping, this park features only short hiking trails, with longer excursions in the neighboring forest reserve. Nestled on the slopes of Mauna Kea near Honoka’a, the Kalopa Forest receives substantial rainfall, resulting in the enchanting and lush native forest you’ll find here. We love these
easy hiking trails in Hawaii
, and think you will too!
6. He’eia State Park, Oahu
He?eia State Park, 46-465 Kamehameha Hwy, Kaneohe, HI 96744, USA
At only 18.5 acres, this
Hawaii State Park
may be tiny and seemingly unremarkable, but features panoramic views of Heʻeia Fishpond, Kaneohe Bay, and the Ko’olau mountain range. The name He’eia translates from Hawaiian to mean "washed out to sea." Open seven days a week, this park offers community events and plenty of gorgeous ocean views.
7. Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside, Maui
Pua'a Ka'a State Wayside, Hana Highway, Haiku, HI, USA
Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside
is home to five acres of jaw-dropping rainforest and cascading waterfalls. A short hike will reward you with a relatively secluded and quite picturesque waterfall, cascading into the delightful pool below. Another stop on Maui’s Road to Hana, Pua’a Ka’a translates to "rolling pig" in Hawaiian. If you’ve packed your bag, take a quick dip in the falls on a hot day.
8. Kehaka Kai State Park, Hawaii Island
Kekaha Kai State Beach, HI-19, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740, USA
Formerly known as the Kona Coast State Park, this coastal park is home to stunning beaches and bays, including Maniniʻowali Bay, Makalawena Beach at Puʻu Aliʻi Bay, and Mahaiʻula Bay. If you’re not interested in sunbathing, swimming or snorkeling, the park is also home to the stunning 4.5-mile
Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail.
With great swimming and gorgeous hiking, we might say this spot is one of the best state parks in Hawaii!
9. Ulupo Heiau State Historic Site, Oahu
Ulup? Heiau State Historic Site, Kailua, HI 96734, USA
This ancient historical site, located in Kailua, is associated with the legend of the Menehune, as well as various high chiefs of Oahu — including Kakuhihewa in the 15th century and Kualiʻi in the late 17th century. The temple was likely where locals would visit for bountiful harvests, and later success in war. For hours of operation, check out
Ulupō Heiau State Historic Site’s website.
10. Wailua Valley State Wayside, Maui
Wailua Valley State Wayside, Kula, HI 96790, USA
Located just past mile marker 18 on Maui’s famous Hana Highway is the
Wailua Valley State Wayside
, a picturesque lookout point with views of Ke'anae Valley, Wailua Peninsula, the Ko'olau Gap, various waterfalls, and even the rim of Haleakala Crater. This slice of paradise is often overlooked for more famous stops along the Road to Hana, but should not be discredited. This is a great stop to stretch your legs and grab a couple of gorgeous photos of the scenery beyond.
11. Lava Tree State Monument, Hawaii Island
Lava Tree State Monument, HI-132, P?hoa, HI 96778, USA
A 17-acre park that features a forest of lava trees, the result of a lava flow that swept through the forest, leaving behind lava molds of the tree trunks. Take the
Lava Tree Trail
through the park, which offers fantastic views of the lava trees up close. This picturesque trail makes Lava Tree State Monument one of the most interesting state parks in Hawaii.
12. Ahupua’a Kahana State Park, Oahu
Ahupua?a ?O Kahana State Park, 52-222 Kamehameha Hwy, Kaaawa, HI 96730, USA
Ahupua’a O Kahana State Park, formerly known as Kahana Valley State Park, is often overlooked for more accessible spots on Oahu but is an absolute natural oasis for anyone who wants to get away from it all and have a little adventure. This 5,300 acre Hawaiian park encompasses mountain tops, beaches, and everything in between. There are
great hiking trails
in this state park, with plenty of skill ranges available for the whole family to do.
13. Wailoa River State Recreation Area, Hawaii Island
Wailoa River State Recreation Area, 799 Piilani St, Hilo, HI 96720, USA
Located in Hilo, the Wailoa River State Recreation Area is often overlooked for the nearby Liliuokalani Park and Gardens. However, this state park is often much less crowded, equally as picturesque, and the perfect spot for a leisurely stroll, picnic, or boat fishing. While you’re visiting, don’t forget to visit the
, where you can find free art gallery exhibits all year long.
14. Ahukini State Recreational Pier, Kauai
Ahukini Recreational Pier State Park, 3651 Ahukini Rd, Lihue, HI 96766, USA
Located on the southeast shore of Kauai near the Lihue Airport is this unique Hawaii State Park situated on Hanama’ulu Bay. You will not only find breathtaking natural scenery but an excellent spot for
pole fishing and crab netting
. This is a peaceful state park in Hawaii that’s a wonderful place to relax and enjoy the day.
15. Kaumahina State Wayside, Maui
Kaumahina State Wayside Park, Haiku, HI 96708, USA
Home to 7.8 acres of exotic plants and tropical forest, Kaumahina State Wayside is located along Maui’s famous Hana Highway but is often overlooked for more popular stops. This
scenic rest area
is an idyllic spot to enjoy a picnic and bask in the beauty of Maui’s coastline.
16. Kiholo State Park Reserve, Hawaii Island
K?holo State Park Reserve, 2000 96740, 71-2000 Queen Ka'ahumanu Hwy, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740, USA
This stark, coastal, lava-covered park is home to stunning trails, a breathtaking bay, and some wild camping, accessible via an unimproved gravel access road, with no amenities, and no water — recommended only for those serious campers who prefer isolation over large, close together campsites. But the isolation offers plenty of gorgeous peace and silence, and the views are absolutely spectacular. We think this
is one of the best state parks in Hawaii to visit if you want to get away from it all.
Which of these underrated state parks to visit in Hawaii is your favorite? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, and then join our
Hawaii Nature Lovers group on Facebook to share your photographs and discover all the natural wonders Hawaii has to offer. Looking for more awe-inspiring views in the Aloha State? Check out our favorite lookout points.
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More to Explore
State Parks To Visit In Hawaii
How many state parks are in Hawaii?
The Hawaiian Islands have 50 gorgeous state parks for you to visit and explore. These state parks make great day trip destinations, and there are located all across the islands.
How many national parks does the Hawaiian islands have?
Hawaii has five national parks, including four official parks and one National Historic Trail. There is so much natural beauty in Hawaii to discover and explore.