From remote colored sand beaches and volcanic landscapes to bamboo forests and enchanting caves, the Hawaiian Islands are home to more unspoiled natural beauty than you’ll find anywhere in America, or even the world. These 17 landscapes are among the most wild and beautiful places across all of Hawaii’s main islands and are pure magic for anyone who visits them.
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1. Alakai Swamp Trail
Journey across the Alakai Swamp, and through rainforests and bogs, in Koke’e State Park on this moderate seven-mile round trip hike. The trail is part dirt trail, part boardwalk, and provides simply unparalleled views of Kauai.
2. Maui's Redwood Forest
The trail, found in Polipoli State Park, is populated by redwood trees that were brought to Hawaii in the 1920s to re-establish the watershed. Albeit unusual for the Hawaiian landscape, it is a stunning sight.
3. Kaumana Caves
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park’s Thurston Lava Tube gets all the credit, but Kaumana Cave, located near Hilo, is certainly worth the visit. The skylight entrance drops into two miles of pitch-black caves, complete with stalactites and stalagmites, as well as vines and roots falling from the cave’s roof.
4. Lulumahu Falls
Just steps away from the Nu’uana Pali Lookout is Lulumahu Falls, a popular waterfall hike that leads you through a bamboo forest, a splendid field reminiscent of the Sound of Music, and a dense jungle. Even better – somewhere in the vicinity are the ruins of King Kamehameha’s summer home, though I have not yet found them.
5. Munro Trail
Located just north of Lanai City, past the Four Seasons Resort Lanai, The Lodge at Koele, this 12.8-mile, one lane dirt road offers panoramic views of the island. At the trail's scenic lookout, and on a clear day, you can see the neighboring islands of Maui, Mookai, Kaho’olawe, Oahu, and the Big Island. The road will also take you to the top of Lanaihale, the island’s highest peak, measuring in at 3,370 feet.
6. 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, it's home to plants and trees of all shapes and sizes – giving it a more dynamic landscape than its more famous canyon cousin.
7. Kauai's Fern Grotto
This naturally-formed lava cave, located off Kauai’s Wailua River, 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.
8. 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. Kauai's Blue Room
An otherworldly cave that shines with a brilliant blue light, Waikapalae Cave, also known simply as the blue room, is the stuff of dreams. A grotto at the back of the wet cave was once home to a surreal blue pool of water, an illusion created by the sun reflecting off the calcite.
10. Papohaku Beach
You will be surprised to find very few people on this stunning beach, which is the longest white sand beach throughout the Hawaiian Islands. During World War II, the military performed training exercises here, and buried entire vehicles at the waterline, which can be seen during high surf.
11. Haleakala Crater
Haleakala National Park covers an area of approximately 33,000 acres, and the Haleakala crater is a massive seven miles across, two miles wide, and more than 2,600 feet deep. That’s large enough for all of Manhattan to fit within the crater!
12. 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. It doesn't get much more wild or beautiful than that.
13. Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach
This stunning red sand beach on Maui’s eastern coast is one of only a few red sand beaches in the world. It doesn’t get more wild than this - you’ll have to access the stunning beach via an overgrown cliff-side trail, and the water is rough.
14. Halona Cove
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 and slightly treacherous hike.
15. Pipiwai Trail
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 four absolutely incredible natural wonders: two towering waterfalls, a bamboo forest, and a massive banyan tree.
16. Hanakapiai Falls
Situated on Kauai’s fabled Na Pali Coast is Hanakapi’ai Falls, accessible only by a strenuous day hike. The trail is, in fact, the beginning of the 11-mile Kalalau Trail, but only takes you four miles in, past Hanakapi’ai Beach and up to the valley and approximately 300-foot cascading waterfall.
17. Waianapanapa State Park
Located on Maui’s Road to Hana is this amazing state park, with an absolutely stunning black sand beach, hikes, a blowhole, ocean caves, sea arches, fresh water pools and cliff diving. What more could a true explorer want in a park? Camping, perhaps? Oh yeah, they have that too.