The Hawaiian Islands are positively magical, especially when you venture away from the luxury resorts and large cities to discover the island’s best landscapes, views, and hidden gems. From stunning caves and gorgeous swimming holes to beautiful temples and churches, you won’t find anything quite like these 21 magical places anywhere else in the United States – and maybe even the world.
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. Maluhia Road, Kauai
The Holo Holo Koloa Scenic Byway serves as the gateway to Kauai's southern shore, and is full of magnificent views and gorgeous stops, including Maluhia Road, a stretch of highway covered in a canopy of eucalyptus trees.
2. Ching's Pond, Maui
Located approximately 0.9 miles after Mile Marker 16 on the Hana Highway, you won’t see Ching’s Pond while driving, but if you pull off just before the bridge, you’ll find a series of deep sapphire blue pools beneath. With beautiful crystalline blue pools, and superb cliff jumping, there is no wonder as to why this place is a local favorite.
3. Lanai Lookout, Oahu
Megan Shute/Only In Your State
Located on Oahu’s southeastern shore, just past Hanauma Bay, on Kalanaianaole Highway, is the Lanai Lookout, a seemingly average lookout point – that is, until you step over the man-made wall surrounding the parking lot and into the incredible lava formations below. Oh, and did we mention that on a clear day you can see Lanai, Molokai and Maui from the lookout?
4. Waimea Canyon, Kauai
Often referred to as the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific," Waimea Canyon is certainly a thing of immense beauty. At ten miles long, a mile wide and approximately 3,600 feet deep, it's home to plants and trees of all shapes and sizes – giving it a more dynamic landscape than its more famous canyon cousin.
5. Kilauea Caldera, Hawaii Island
Within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is Kilauea Caldera, the fiery home of one of Hawaii’s most revered gods: Pele. Kilauea is both Hawaii’s youngest shield volcano on land, as well as the most active. The volcano is also experiencing one of the most long-lived eruptions known to man – the eruption began in 1983 on the eastern rift zone, and continues to this day. It doesn't get much more wild or beautiful than that.
6. Haiku Mill, Maui
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.
7. Mermaid Cave, Oahu
While many people have heard of the Mermaid Cave, not many have actually been there, or even know where it is. Rumor has it that this luminous cave is located on Oahu’s leeward coast near Nanakuli Beach, and if you’re able to find it, or have someone take you there, you are sure to create a memory that will last a lifetime.
8. Fern Grotto, Kauai
Located off the Wailua River, this natural lava cave 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.
9. Garden of Eden, Maui
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 this incredible grove of rainbow eucalyptus trees, which look as though they have materialized here from the pages of a storybook.
10. Kukaniloko Birthing Stones, Oahu
Found on the outskirts of Wahiawa in the middle of a sugarcane field is an unsuspecting sacred site you could easily drive past if you weren’t aware of its existence. This group of rocks, known as the Kukaniloko Birthing Stones, represent a sacred Hawaiian site that has seen countless royal births over the last several centuries.
11. Lake Waiau, Hawaii Island
Located more than 13,000 feet above sea level, near the summit of Hawaii Island’s Mauna Kea, is one of only a few lakes found throughout an island state known for its incredible beaches. It is also one of the smallest lakes in the country - measuring in at just 328 meters in diameter.
12. Glass Beach, Kauai
Located in Hanapepe, near Port Allen Harbor, is this incredible beach covered with millions of sea glass pebbles in brilliant hues of aqua, blue and brown. The glass found at this beach was mainly from broken bottles and auto glass that was dumped years ago, and then smoothed by time and ocean tides. The beach is pretty difficult to find, but it is heaven for lovers of sea glass.
13. Byodo-In Temple, Oahu
Located at the base of the Ko’olau Mountains, the Byodo-In Temple is 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. It is a wonderful spot to reflect, relax, and take in Hawaii’s natural beauty.
14. Makaluapuna Point, Maui
These volcanic formations are found on the edge of the Ritz’s golf course. The jagged, gray rocks were formed hundreds of years ago when wind gusts from the ocean forced lava to harden towards the sky. This intriguing scenery looks like something out of a science fiction or fantasy novel, does it not?
15. Halona Cove, Oahu
Megan Shute/Only In Your State
Situated between Halona Point and the Halona Blowhole, this small rocky cove is perfectly picturesque, and has been featured in films like Pirates of the Caribbean and 50 First Dates. Despite its Hollywood fame, the only way to reach the stunning cove is via a rocky 10-minute descent from the highway overlook.
16. Blue Room, Kauai
Waikapalae Cave, also known as the blue room, is quite simply the stuff of dreams. Legend states that the Maniniholo Dry Cave and the Waikapalae and Wakanaloa Wet Caves were created by Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire for her lover, but abandoned them when they filled with water.
17. Pipiwai Trail, Maui
Located in southeast Maui, off Hana Highway and near the Pools of Oheo, is the unforgettable Pipiwai Trail, a four-mile round trip trek that will take you on quite the enchanting journey through a lush Hawaiian tropical rainforest to a towering banyan tree, through a vast bamboo forest, and to two impressive, cascading waterfalls.
18. St. Benedict Roman Catholic Church, Hawaii Island
Megan Shute/Only In Your State
Known more commonly as the Painted Church, this magnificent piece of art on Hawaii Island is open to the public seven days a week, and holds mass five days each 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.
19. Stairway to Heaven, Oahu
Constructed in order to reach the Haiku Radio Station, a top-secret facility used to transmit radio signals to U.S. Navy ships in the Pacific, the Haiku Stairs became one of Hawaii’s most iconic hikes – even though the grueling 3,922 step climb is both dangerous and quite illegal. While we would never condone any of our readers making this trek, it’s hard to deny that the famous stairs are one of the most enchanting spots in all of Hawaii.
20. Kula Ali’i Lavender Farm, Maui
Upcountry Maui, near Mount Haleakala, gets a great deal of rain, resulting in lush, green scenery, and flourishing lavender at the Kula Lavender Farm. In addition to the beautiful lavender, you will experience views of the whole western half of the island.
21. Sharks Cove Tide Pools, Oahu
With crystal blue water and impressive sea life, Sharks Cove is one of the best snorkeling spots on Oahu during the summer months, but perhaps more amazing are the neighboring tide pools. There is just something so ethereal about the clouds reflecting in the pools below.