When it comes to international travel, one of the most coveted destinations for tourists around the world is Hawaii. Known for its breathtaking natural beauty, the North American state offers attractions for all tastes.
Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii is made up of more than one hundred islands that are divided into eight major archipelagos: Niihau, Oahu, Kauai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, Molokai, Maui, and the Island of Hawaii. It is known because of its beautiful beaches, but actually, this place offers a more diverse tourist location. Starting from its trails through nature, various tropical forests, ravines, waterfalls, volcanoes (some even active), and much more. In short, this state offers attractions for all tastes.
To inspire you to discover one of the most amazing destinations in the world, we give you a list of 15 top-rated tourist attractions in Hawaii. Read on!
Waikiki Beach is one of Hawaii’s best-known spots and one of the archipelago’s biggest tourist attractions. It is located about 5 kilometers from the center of Honolulu, being the main hotel area on the island (about 90% of Honolulu hotels are located in the Waikiki district) and the main hub of nightlife in the capital.
Its beach is among the most famous in the world: a splendid crescent of white sand that stretches for 3 kilometers, surrounded by towering skyscrapers and with the backdrop of the now-extinct Diamond Head crater. Given its location, it is also perhaps the only truly crowded beach in Hawaii.
The beach is very popular with surfers, but also perfect for the whole family. And in addition to the diverse options for shopping, restaurants, and surfing lessons, Waikiki Beach promotes hot local music and dance events such as Hula-Hula. Other unmissable tourist attractions in the place are the aquarium and the zoo, which house the most varied species of animals in the region.
2. USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor
Honolulu is one of the top destinations for tourists when visiting Hawaii. And one of the places that get a lot of visits is the USS Arizona Memorial which became the starting point for America’s joining in World War II.
Pearl Harbor is sadly remembered for the violent Japanese bombing of December 7, 1941, against the US naval base in Hawaii. To commemorate this tragic event, a national monument was set up to commemorate the numerous victims of the bombing, exactly above the wreck of one of the ships affected, the USS Arizona. The exhibition material includes exhibition galleries, historical photographs, and a complete reconstruction of the battle.
3. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Do you dream of hiking on ancient lava flows? Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a timeless place. The eruptions of the various craters followed one another to give way to a lunar landscape.
Established in 1916, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the largest volcano national park in the world and was listed as a natural heritage site in 1987. Kilauea and Mauna Loa are the two most frequently active volcanoes in the area.
Among the most beautiful things to see, you can admire a lava flow that flows directly into the ocean or another that descends from the still active crater. For this, a park was created where tourists can take boat trips through the sea and see up close (but not so close) the lava meeting the sea.
In addition, you can also visit the Hawaii Volcanic Observation Area, the Jaggar Museum, and the Halema’uma’u crater, which is a 500-year-old lava crater. Many people come here to learn how Hawaii came to be or simply to capture fantastic pictures on the camera.
4. Diamond Head State Monument
The unmistakable silhouette of the Diamond Head is one of the symbols of the Hawaiian Islands. This impressive crater, with a perfectly circular shape, stands behind the beach of Waikiki. It was formed about 300,000 years ago following a spectacular eruption. It has been extinct for centuries, but the lava, which is cemented with the tuff, creates truly suggestive effects.
To reach the edge of the crater, you need to follow a path through dark and underground tunnels that need the aid of a flashlight to complete the crossing. The path was built by the military in 1910, and the journey takes around 30 minutes. And from the edge of the crater, you can admire the beautiful views of the coast, the mountains, and the ocean.
5. Kona Coffee Plantation
Coffee enthusiasts or simply enjoying visiting new places, Kona coffee plantations are a must-visit when you visit Hawaii. There are many coffee plantations in Kona that offer complete tours with coffee tasting events that can satisfy your taste buds. You will also be invited to visit a coffee mill, the coffee selection process, and of course, learn how coffee is made until it reaches you as a delicious drink.
Please note that Kona coffee is one of the most expensive and most valuable coffees in the world. If you happen to be visiting in November, don’t forget to attend the Kona Coffee Culture Festival in Kailua-Kona village to enjoy coffee and immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture. If you come in another month, you can still visit coffee plantations such as Kona Coffee, Greenwell, or The Hilo Coffee Mill.
6. Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden
The Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden is a unique garden that occupies a vast area in an idyllic natural setting, surrounded by majestic Jurassic-looking volcanic peaks. Not surprisingly, the site was chosen to shoot some scenes from Jurassic Park film.
The enchanting position is in itself a reason to visit. With its long paths lined with greenery and a canvas backdrop, you can hike, picnic, and discover many endemic and exotic plant species. In addition, given the vastness of the park, it is possible to drive your car through breathtaking streets that rise with hairpin bends on the slopes of the mountains.
7. Trip to Lana'i Island
Lana’i Island is also known as Pineapple Island because it has the most pineapple plantations and is also the largest pineapple producer in the world. The island is privately owned and not by the government. To reach this island, you can use air or sea routes.
Visitors to this island are advised to rent their own vehicle to freely explore various interesting locations on the island, such as Puu Pehe beach, Gardens of the Gods, or Sweetheart Rocks. Activities that you can do here include swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, horse riding, and playing golf.
8. Iolani Palace
The Iolani Palace is the former residence of the Hawaiian monarchs, the only official royal residence that has ever existed in the United States. It is one of the most important historical places on the island.
Located in downtown Honolulu, the palace is a historic national landmark that was inhabited by the last two monarchs of the Kingdom of Hawaii from 1882 to 1889. The monarchs were King Kalakaua with his sister and his successor Queen Liliuokalani. A visit to this palace goes a long way towards understanding Hawaiian culture and history.
This palace was the first house in Hawaii to be equipped with electric lights, in-house telephones, and flush toilets. The interior was opulent, worthy of a king. Today you can still admire the throne room, the dining room, and the reception room. In earlier times, lavish festivals took place here.
Many a tragic story broke out in the private rooms of the royal family, which can also be visited. The insignia of the Hawaiian kings can still be admired in the basement. Swords, jewels, and the two crowns of the king and queen are also on display.
9. Haleakala National Park
The Island of Maui is home to one of Hawaii’s most incredible attractions: the Haleakala Volcano. Haleakala is a shield-shaped volcano that accounts for more than half of Maui. The attraction has been dormant for years, but the spectacle attracts many tourists from all over the world. The area around the volcano is Haleakala National Park, which allows tourists to have a panoramic view of this volcano.
The park promotes several excursions where you can discover its mountains, deserts with waterfalls, and incredible tourist peaks, in addition to the diverse local flora. Tourists can take the tours on horseback, on foot, and accompanied by a guide, according to their preference and desired experience.
Anyone on the island between December and March can watch the spectacle of whales through the mesmerizing waters of the place. Despite its name meaning “the house of the sun,” Haleakala is famous for its amazing and colorful moonscape.
10. Polynesian Cultural Center
The next place is the Polynesian Cultural Center. Tourists and visitors will definitely come here to see and enjoy the high Polynesian culture. This place is suitable if you want to tour history. Traveling in an area or city will be incomplete if it is not balanced with history or knowledge. That’s because it will be inefficient if all you get while on vacation is just pleasure.
While here, you will be shown the culture of Polynesia. This Polynesian cultural presentation is presented with music, performances, and other entertainment with cultural elements. Even at night, the evening shows served here are quite entertaining.
11. Akaka Falls Park
The Akaka Falls Park is one of those places that delight visitors. After all, the entire reserve is made up of exuberant nature. In addition to the imposing trees, rocks, and bushes, the place has a well-structured ecological trail at a light level. That is, it is a path that can be followed by people of all ages. And after a beautiful walk surrounded by amazing vegetation, the reward is very gratifying: a 129-meter waterfall that impresses even the most demanding tourists.
12. Trip to Hana Highway
The Maui Hana Highway, once selected as one of the “most beautiful highways in America” by National Geographic, is an excellent self-driving route to enjoy the beautiful natural scenery of the “Magic Island.” Along the tortuous coastline, turning and driving on more than 600 bends from time to time may seem daunting to tourists, but every traveler who has visited the Hana Highway will never regret it. See and enjoy the beautiful highway scenery.
13. Hanauma Bay
Located in the southeastern part of Oahu, Hanauma Bay is said to be the island’s premier snorkeling spot, where you can get close to the colorful fish. The beach was formed by an ancient volcanic crater and became home to an incredible variety of marine life.
Designated as a nature reserve, its water clarity and landscape beauty ranked first in the 2016 US Best Beach Survey. The waves are calm, and colorful tropical fish are swimming even in shallow water, so even small children can enjoy snorkeling with confidence. Although it is a beach that requires an admission fee, it is also recommended for families with children as there is an education center where you can learn a lot.
14. Mauna Kea Observatories
The summit of Mauna Kea, the highest peak in the Hawaiian Islands, with an altitude of more than 4,200 meters, is one of the world’s leading astronomical observation sites. Observatory observatories around the world have been set up, and it is known as a place with a beautiful starry sky. It is very moving to see the stars here.
To reach the summit of Mauna Kea, you will need a 4WD vehicle. However, the peak is often very cold, with snow in the winter months.
15. Waimea Canyon State Park
Situated on the west side of Kauai, Waimea Canyon is known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. This wonder of nature offers breathtaking views of its valley. It extends for 10 miles long, reaches a depth of over 900 meters deep, and is a mile wide at some points. You can view this amazing spectacle from the two main lookouts: Puu Hina Hina and Puu ka Pele. In addition, there is a small natural history museum that displays an incredible collection of fauna and flora.
Hawaii is an island full of charm that you can’t enjoy once or twice. All of these attractions are beautiful and have their own uniqueness. Therefore, if you have a long vacation time, you can visit all these tourist attractions. But if you have little vacation time, you can choose some of the tourist attractions mentioned above.