1. Hanauma Bay
Over the years, this incredible snorkeling spot has transformed from a volcanic crater to the state’s first Marine Life Conservation District. An estimated 400 species of fish now live in the gentle waters. Oh, and it was voted the best beach in America for 2016 by Doctor Beach. The trek to the beach is downhill, and requires about ten minutes of walking, but you do have the option to pay for a tram.
2. Mount Haleakala
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.
3. Waimea Canyon
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, and is home to plants and trees of all shapes and sizes – giving it a more dynamic landscape than its more famous canyon cousin.
4. Kilauea Caldera
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.
5. Garden of the Gods
Also known as Keahiakawelo, this otherworldly rock garden at the end of Polihua Road is located 45 minutes from Lanai City. According to lore, this barren landscape is the result of a contest between two priests from Lanai and Molokai. Each was supposed to keep a fire burning on their island longer than the other, and the winner’s island would be rewarded with great abundance. Apparently Kawelo, the Lanai priest, used every bit of vegetation found in Keahiakawelo.
6. Diamond Head
Perhaps one of the most iconic images associated with Hawaii is the towering silhouette of Diamond Head on the southernmost tip of Oahu. Dubbed Diamond Head by sailors who were entranced by the volcano’s glittering peak, the mountain’s summit is littered with calcite crystals – but the name stuck. Once used for military training, the government-owned property has since been opened to the public. While the Diamond Head trail is the island’s most popular, you don’t have to hike to rejoice in the splendor that is this dormant volcano.
A small, uninhabited islet between the islands of Maui and Kaho’olawe, Molokini is a crescent-shaped, partially submerged volcanic crater. The islet has an approximate area of just 23 acres, and is a world-class snorkeling and scuba diving destination.
8. Na Pali Coast
This piece of rugged Kauai coastline is said to be one of the most unspoiled natural beauties in all of Hawaii: thousand foot cliffs are eroded to create vaulted valleys and hidden beaches. The erosion is the culprit behind one of the coastline’s other main features. While you can view the famous Na Pali coast from the nearby Ke’e beach, the best way to immerse yourself in this rugged coastline is by boat or helicopter tour.
9. Punalu'u Black Sand Beach
Thirty miles south of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the Big Island’s most famous black sand beach. Fringed with coconut palm trees, visitors may fight themselves basking in the sun alongside Hawaiian green sea turtles.
10. Papohaku Beach
This Molokai beach is almost certainly the closest you will ever get to the deserted tropical island you’ve been dreaming of. Whether you want to get away from the world and relax, or catch some world-class waves, Papohaku seems to go on for miles.
11. Oheo Gulch
Located within Haleakala National Park near the Pipiwai Trailhead, these beautiful stream-fed pools are also known as the seven sacred pools. There are more than seven pools, and they aren’t sacred – rumor has it that a local hotel owner coined the name in order to attract more visitors to his establishment.
12. Mauna Kea
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. The summit is also home to one of most-well known observatories in the world.
13. Pu'u Pehe
Puu Pehe, often referred to as Sweetheart Rock, is not only a magnificent natural landmark but a geological formation steeped in Hawaiian legend. The story goes that there were two lovers, a Hawaiian maiden named Pehe from Lahaina and a warrior from Lanai named Makakehua. He was extremely taken with her beauty, and he hid her in a sea cave at the base of Manele’s cliffs. One day, while gathering supplies, he noticed a storm coming and started back to Pehe, who had drowned by the massive waves. Makakehua was devastated and wailed out to his ancestors to help him climb the steep rock island where he eventually buried her and jumped into the pounding surf below.
14. Spouting Horn Blowhole
Spouting Horn is one of the most incredible – and weird – spots on Kauai. From the photographer: "With every wave, water shoots upward when it is forced through an opening and creates a hissing sound. The spray can shoot as high as 50 feet in the air."
15. Waianuenue Falls
A short trail from the parking lot offers views from the waterfall’s summit, and if you visit on a sunny morning, you might experience how the falls got its name – waianuenue means rainbow in Hawaiian.
16. Molokai's Sea Cliffs
Towering at more than 3,500 feet on Molokai's north shore are these impressive sea cliffs inaccessible via land. Viewable via boat or helicopter tour, these are among the tallest sea cliffs in the world.