The Hawaiian Islands are one of the most popular vacation destinations for Americans and foreigners alike and we agree that there are certain
attractions on every island you absolutely cannot miss. But that itinerary gets a little harder to plan for your second, third or fourth trip to Hawaii. Even if you’ve lived in Hawaii for quite some time, there are certain activities and attractions you have yet to experience, from expansive ranches and incredible rock formations to abandoned sugar mills, breathtaking museums, and historical sites. Now, if you’ve lived in Hawaii your entire life, you’ve surely done a few of these activities, but I’m hoping there are at least a few activities you can transfer from this list to your Hawaiian bucket list.
1. Discover Hawaii’s hidden sea caves.
The Hawaiian Islands are home to countless sea caves - and we personally think there's nothing better than discovering these beautiful little caves.
2. Stargaze at the summit of Mount Haleakala.
Located on the Hawaiian island of Maui, Haleakala National Park is the island’s crown jewel, covering an area of approximately 33,200 acres. The dormant volcano is approximately 10,000 feet tall, and while Haleakala is famous for their sunrises, the stars as seen from the summit are second to the Mauna Kea Observatories.
3. Go horseback riding through the mountains.
Horseback riding on the beach can be fun, but going on a journey through the mountains is even cooler - and you will often see landscapes you would never have the opportunity to witness otherwise.
4. Hang out on Oahu’s leeward coast.
Oahu's leeward coast is often overlooked for other, more accessible parts of the island, and it’s a true shame, because this slice of coastline is home to some simply stunning beaches, incredible hiking opportunities, and countless hidden gems to uncover.
5. Check out the Hana Lava Tube.
While the Big Island’s Thurston Lava Tube gets all the glory, the Hana Lava Tube is just as magical - and far less crowded. Also known as Ka’eleku Cave, the lava tube is the most accessible formation of its kind on Maui, and visitors are able to explore approximately ⅓ mile of the large cave.
6. Climb a waterfall.
Sure, you've hung out in waterfall pools, but have you climbed one, or rappelled down the cliff face before?
7. Go on an outrigger canoe excursion.
There is little more Hawaiian than going for a ride in an outrigger canoe. This is an excellent follow-up t a kayak trip or boat tour.
8. Hike to Kauai’s lithified sand dunes.
These sand dunes along Kauai’s southern shore have slowly been turned to stone – or lithified – over time. You’ll have to hike to this location, but the beautifully strange photo opportunity is definitely worth the trek.
9. Harvest your own meal.
Is there really anything more healthy than harvesting your own food?
10. Witness one of Hawaii’s stunning blowholes.
Located across the islands, blowholes like Spouting Horn pictured, are truly stunning. Due to their geyser-like attributes and unpredictable conditions based on the tides, standing too close to the blowhole could be deadly.
11. Visit the National Cemetery of the Pacific.
Informally known as the Punchbowl Cemetery, the cemetery is on the National Register of Historic places, and serves as a memorial to honor those who have served in the United States Armed Forces, and those who have given their lives doing so. Head here if you've already visited many of the Pearl Harbor Historical Sites.
12. Go scuba diving to an underwater wreck.
Any wreck will do, but the Sea Tiger wreck is particularly cool. Known in 1992 as the Yun Fong Seong No. 303, the vessel was caught smuggling 93 illegal Chinese immigrants. The five crew members served various prison terms, and the ship was sunk intentionally in 1999.
13. Chill out at Ahalanui Hot Pond on Hawaii island.
There is little better after a long hike than jumping into the ocean for a quick swim – except maybe slipping into a steaming hot spring fed by the expansive Pacific Ocean and warmed geothermally by flowing lava deep beneath the surface. Ahalanui Hot Pond, found on Hawaii’s Big Island near Pahoa, and surrounded by green grass and palm trees, is the ultimate retreat.
14. Visit a historic Hawaiian sugar mill.
When sugar cane was king, sugar mills littered the Hawaiian landscape. While some have since been forgotten, others offer tours.
15. Journey to Molokai’s Kalaupapa Leper Colony.
Located on the tiny island of Molokai, with the ocean on one side and giant 1,600-foot cliffs on the other, are the Kalawao and Kalaupapa Leper Colonies – described by Robert Louis Stevenson as a “prison fortified by nature.” Kalaupapa is now a U.S. National Park, and home to a dwindling population, those of whom are outnumbered exponentially by those in the cemetery – where an estimated 2,000 graves lie unmarked, in addition to those with headstones.
16. Explore Doris Duke’s Shangri La.
Often considered to be one of Hawaii’s most architecturally significant homes, Shangri La is an utterly enchanting Islamic-style mansion built in the late 1930s by heiress Doris Duke near Diamond Head just outside Honolulu, and overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
17. Visit one of Hawaii’s incredible temples.
Historically significant, Hawaiian heiaus are plentiful across the islands. Located on a hillside overlooking Waimea Bay, this ancient Hawaiian temple – 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.
18. Head underwater and take a submarine tour.
To experience the beautiful Pacific from below the surface, head to Atlantis Submarines Waikiki for an absolutely unforgettable sub tour.
19. Visit the epic Parker Ranch.
Located on Hawaii Island, Parker Ranch encompasses 250,000 acres and is the largest contiguous ranch in the United States. The working cattle ranch was founded in 1847, pre-dating many mainland ranches in Texas and other southern states by more than 30 years.
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