Formed over the course of millions of years from countless volcanic eruptions, the Hawaiian Islands are not only truly remarkable but home to some simply jaw-dropping — and strange — rock formations. From striking lava tubes and lithified sand dunes to geological formations resembling your favorite animal, you’ll only find these 13 odd rock formations in Hawaii.
1. Pele’s Chair, Oahu
Overlooking Alan Davis Beach, Pele's Chair can be reached after parking at the Makapu'u Lighthouse Trailhead, and veering right at the fork and taking the unpaved path down to a protected beach and this incredible rock formation. The goddess of fire and volcanoes, Pele is easily Hawaii’s most feared - and revered - deity. It is said that before Pele made her home on Hawaii Island, this chair is the last place she sat before leaving Oahu.
2. Makaluapuna Point, Maui
These volcanic formations are found on the edge of the Ritz’s golf course. Also known as Maui’s Dragon Teeth, the jagged, gray rocks were formed hundreds of years ago when wind gusts from the ocean forced lava to harden towards the sky - and now resemble jagged teeth jutting out from the jaw of a dragon. They are often described as bizarre, awe-inspiring, and just plain awesome. This intriguing scenery looks like something out of a science fiction or fantasy novel, does it not?
3. Sweetheart Rock, Lanai
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.
4. Lithified Sand Dunes, Kauai
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: the way the yellow hue of this amazing rock formation contrasts against the crystalline blue water is simply awe-inspiring.
5. Kaumana Cave, Hawaii Island
Found just miles from downtown Hilo, in a relatively small park without any formal supervision, open 24 hours a day, Kaumana Caves may be relatively unknown, but that doesn't mean it's not worth the trip. The incredible formation was created during a 1881 lava flow from Mauna Loa, and is, in fact, a 25-mile long lava tube. The skylight entrance drops into two miles of pitch-black cave, complete with stalactites and stalagmites, as well as vines and roots falling from the cave’s roof.
6. Crouching Lion, Oahu
Located on Oahu’s stunning windward coast is this popular rock formation standing guard over Kahana Bay and the Pacific Ocean. According to Hawaiian mythology, the rock formation was created after Pele turned a demigod into stone after they defied her. Native Hawaiians believed this to be the head of a massive dog, but once Westerners made contact with Oahu, the name became Crouching Lion (you see, there are no lions in Hawaii, so natives wouldn’t have known to compare the shape to that of a lion.
7. Nakalele Point, Maui
Nakalele Point Blowhole is a stunning display of water shooting nearly 100 feet in the air. Due to its geyser-like attributes and unpredictable conditions based on the tides, standing too close to the blowhole could be deadly.
8. Sleeping Giant, Kauai
When witnessed from afar, this mountain range on Kauai’s eastern side is often thought to resemble the shape of a giant resting on its back. It is said that once, long ago, a giant who was living on Kauai laid down to rest after hard labor and overeating - and hasn’t woken sense.
9. Elephant Rock, Molokai
Best viewed from above from a helicopter, it’s easy to see how this incredible rock formation got its name After all, this rock located off Molokai’s northern coast certainly resembles an elephant - trunk, ear, body, tail, and everything.
10. Holei Sea Arch, Hawaii Island
This impressive sea arch - which was formed within the last 100 years - is currently 90 feet high. Cut into the cliff of an ancient lava flow, the Holei Sea Arch has a limited lifespan, and will eventually crumble into the ocean.
11. Spouting Horn Blowhole, Kauai
Spouting Horn is one of the most incredible – and weird – spots on Kauai. With every wave crashing against the shore, water shoots upward as it is forced through an opening in the rock, creating an incredible hissing sound. Did you know the spray can shoot more than 50 feet into the air?
12. Garden of the Gods, Lanai
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.
13. Spitting Caves, Oahu
Located on Oahu’s southeastern shore are these picturesque Spitting Caves, found below a high cliff where waves crash underneath and shoot into the cave, ejecting the water like a reverse blowhole.
How many of these strange rock formations have you seen in person? While you’re at it, you should make sure that
these 13 incredible Hawaiian Islands are on your Aloha State bucket list.