Discover the Best Places to Travel in Hawaii and Uncover Paradise

2023-08-18 00:12:54 - Drany Macley Drany Macley, the senior editor of, brings extensive journalism background and over eight years of experience in travel writing and editing to the site, offering practical insights and first-hand knowledge through articles on innovative hotels, backed by a BA in Journalism from Ithaca College.

Hawaii: a tropical paradise that beckons travelers from all corners of the globe. With its stunning beaches, lush landscapes, and vibrant culture, it's no wonder why this archipelago is on everyone's travel bucket list. But with so many incredible destinations to choose from, how do you narrow down the best places to visit in Hawaii? From the awe-inspiring volcanoes of the Big Island to the breathtaking Na Pali Coast in Kaua'i, we've compiled a comprehensive list of must-see spots that will have you longing for the aloha spirit. Join us as we explore the top attractions and hidden gems that make Hawaii the ultimate holiday destination. Get ready for a virtual journey full of wanderlust-inducing photos and insider tips. Let's dive into the beauty that awaits in the best places to travel in Hawaii.

Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, Big Island

Located on the sloping flanks of the world's most active volcano, which experienced its most recent eruption in 2021, this remarkable park serves as a striking reminder that nature is constantly alive and in motion. Immerse yourself in the incredible hiking trails that traverse lava flows, tubes, steam vents, and pristine beaches. As you embark on a scenic drive down a winding road, you'll encounter several noteworthy sights along the way.

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An aerial view of green, sculpted mountainsThe Na Pali Coast, shaped by countless years of wind and erosion, is an absolute must-visit for anyone exploring Kaua'i. © chasefogus / 500px

Na Pali Coast, Kaua‘i

The Na Pali Coast is an essential highlight for visitors to Kaua‘i. Whether you admire its beauty from a cruising catamaran or challenge yourself with a paddle and kayak adventure, this majestic coastline will leave you in awe. Embark on the demanding 11-mile Kalalau Trail for an up-close exploration of this unique destination. Whether you're on a day hike or a backpacking expedition, prepare to witness a place unlike any other, where lush cliffs soar above cascading waterfalls in remote valleys.

Discover the 10 best hikes in Hawaii

A red car on a coastal highwayHawaii is the perfect destination for memorable and exhilarating road trips, and the Road to Hana on Maui is an exceptional choice. © Matt Munro / Lonely Planet

Road to Hana, Maui

Embark on a thrilling and adrenaline-pumping adventure along the Hana Highway in Maui. This white-knuckle roller-coaster ride takes you through lush jungles, hidden valleys, and mighty cliffs, navigating approximately 600 twists and turns along the way. Admire the beauty of 54 one-lane bridges that cross numerous waterfalls, each with its unique charm. But the excitement doesn't end with driving. Take the opportunity to swim in serene pools, hike trails scented with ginger, and savor the taste of fresh guava and coconuts.

Surfers carry boards below palm treesImmerse yourself in the iconic experience of Waikiki Beach on O'ahu, a must-do for all visitors. ©Matt Munro/Lonely Planet

Waikiki, O‘ahu

Waikiki, the most renowned resort in Hawaii, is located adjacent to Honolulu. While it was once associated with tacky plastic leis, coconut-shell bikini tops, and motorized hula dolls, it has now undergone a transformation that reflects the true spirit of aloha and chic-modern style. During the day, witness skilled beach boys and girls conquering legendary waves, while at sunset, tiki torches illuminate the sandy shores, creating a magical ambiance. Every evening, immersed in the breathtaking oceanfront setting of hotels, open-air bars, and shopping malls, hula dancers sway gracefully to ancient and contemporary rhythms accompanied by melodious slack key guitars and ukuleles.

Explore the 14 best beaches in Hawaii

A dry mountain landscapeThe caldera of Haleakala Volcano offers a unique and captivating experience for visitors to Maui. © ivvv1975 / Shutterstock

Haleakalā National Park, Maui

As you embark on a hike through Haleakalā, you'll immediately encounter its crumbly lunar landscape, followed by a tranquil and eerie silence that surrounds you, with only the sound of volcanic cinders crunching beneath your feet. The trail takes you through dramatic landscapes of stark lava, colorful cinder cones, and ever-evolving clouds. In the coastal section of the park, be enchanted by picturesque waterfalls that cascade into sparkling pools, accompanied by scenic trails, viewpoints, and even a serene bamboo forest.

Introducing the national parks of Hawaii

Flower lei for sale at Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo HawaiiBe captivated by the intricate lei adorned with orchids and other exotic flora at the Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo. ©Alvis Upitis/Getty Images

Merrie Monarch Festival, Big Island

Have you ever witnessed an authentic hula performance that invokes gods and legends through chant and dance? Attend the prestigious Merrie Monarch Festival held annually in Hilo during Easter week. Tickets for this event must be booked a year in advance, drawing fans from all corners of the globe. Even without tickets, you can still enjoy the festivities by participating in a lively parade, exploring a craft fair, and indulging in free performances.

An exterior of the USS Arizona MemorialExperience the profound significance of Pearl Harbor on Oʻahu, a site forever intertwined with history.

Pearl Harbor, Oʻahu

Pearl Harbor is famously known for the devastating 1941 attack on the USS Arizona, which now stands as a poignant memorial attracting countless veterans, tourists, and military history enthusiasts to Oʻahu. However, its historical significance extends far beyond that event. The history of this place, along with many of Hawaii's active US military bases, stretches back even before the islands' colonization and annexation in the 20th century. The name "Pearl Harbor" itself is a translation of the Native Hawaiian name Wai Momi. Visitors can explore the USS Bowfin submarine, wander through the aircraft hangars of the Pacific Aviation Museum, and stand on the decks of the "Mighty Mo" battleship, where Imperial Japan formally surrendered in 1945.

Essential information for traveling to Hawaii this summer

500px Photo ID: 128715621 - Early morning at the famous Hanalei Bay, on the island of Kauai.Hanalei Bay on Kaua'i is widely acclaimed as one of Hawaii's and the USA's finest beaches, attracting both surfers and beach enthusiasts. © Glowing Earth Photography / 500px

Hanalei Bay, Kaua‘i

Consistently recognized as one of the finest beaches in the USA, Hanalei Bay, nestled on Kaua‘i's North Shore, offers a picturesque crescent-shaped shoreline that caters to both leisurely sunbathers and active beachgoers. Surfers can tackle the impressive waves, while others can stroll along the golden sands and relish the breathtaking scenery. Surf lessons are available near the pier, and as the sun sets, locals and visitors gather to enjoy barbecues, cold beverages, and the mesmerizing colors of dusk.

A crescent-shaped crater from above, with blue skies and water aroundAccording to legend, Molokini was once a beautiful woman transformed into stone. Its beauty now lies in its abundance of marine life, captivating scuba divers and snorkelers. © M Swiet Productions / Getty Images


According to Hawaiian legend, Molokini was once a stunning woman who was turned into stone out of jealousy by the goddess of fire and volcanoes, Pele. Today, Molokini is renowned among scuba divers and snorkelers as an extraordinary aquatic wonderland. This crescent-shaped rock, located just a few miles off the coast of South Maui, is the remnant of an ancient volcanic crater that has eroded over time and sunk beneath the ocean's surface. Its shallow waters provide a hospitable habitat for vibrant coral and over 250 species of tropical fish.

ʻIolani Palace, Oʻahu

No other place evokes a more poignant sense of Hawaii's history than ʻIolani Palace. Constructed in 1882 under the reign of King David Kalakaua, this palace adhered to the diplomatic protocols of the Victorian era that governed the Hawaiian monarchy. King Kalakaua himself embarked on international voyages to meet with global leaders and hosted foreign emissaries within these walls. Despite its opulence and modern amenities, the palace failed to safeguard Hawaii's sovereignty against powerful US-influenced business interests, which eventually led to the overthrow of the kingdom in 1893. Two years later, Queen Liliʻuokalani, who succeeded her brother on the throne, was convicted of treason and spent nine months imprisoned in her own former home.

Man surfing a large waveOʻahu's North Shore is a mecca for surfers, serving as a rite of passage for wave enthusiasts. © mattpaul / Getty Images

Surfing Oʻahu's North Shore

When enormous waves come crashing in, head to Oʻahu's North Shore for an unforgettable glimpse of Hawaii's legendary surfing rock stars. You can also spot them in action at Maui's Hoʻokipa Beach and Kauaʻi's North Shore. No need for an oversized camera lens – you'll practically be within arm's reach of these surfers as they paddle into monumental waves. If you're feeling adventurous, satisfy your own adrenaline rush by learning to ride da kine (the best kind of) waves. Hang loose, brah!

Discover the optimal time to visit Hawaii

Staff-AH_0565.jpgExperience the breathtaking beauty of Kaua'i's Waimea Canyon, often referred to as the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific." © Alexander Howard / Lonely Planet

Waimea Canyon, Kauaʻi

Carved through countless years of erosion and the collapse of Kauaʻi's volcanic formation, Waimea Canyon stretches 10 miles in length, spans over a mile in width, and plummets to depths exceeding 3600 feet. Scenic lookouts along the winding drive offer views of stunning russet-colored cliffs, majestic waterfalls, and endless ravines. For adventurous souls, steep trails lead to the canyon floor, coastal headlands, and mountaintop swamps, allowing you to immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of the region.

A view of a remote beach surrounded by cliffsWaipiʻo Valley on the Big Island is a mysterious and captivating place that embodies history, spirituality, and tranquility. ©Png Studio Photography/Shutterstock

Waipiʻo Valley, Big Island

Waipiʻo Valley is a place shrouded in mystery, rich with legends and imbued with a sense of spirituality. It serves as a sacred site and a sanctuary, offering a tranquil getaway from the outside world. The panoramic overlook of this enchanting location is one of the Big Island's most iconic vistas. For a deeper exploration, consider trekking down to the valley floor with a knowledgeable local guide. As you stroll along the black sand beach and gaze at distant waterfalls, you'll be captivated by stories and legends that surround the region.

Discover why Hawaii is the world's best place to see rainbows

An underwater photo of a manta ray at nightSnorkelers and divers will be enthralled by the captivating experience of night diving and snorkeling with mantas on the Big Island. ©Russell C Gilbert RCG Maru Photography/Getty Images

Night Diving & Snorkeling with Mantas, Big Island

Embark on an otherworldly adventure beneath the ocean's surface on the Big Island. Participate in a night snorkeling or scuba diving excursion near Kailua-Kona and come face to face with magnificent Pacific manta rays. These graceful giants glide like dark angels beneath you, enchanting you with their shadowy ballet that is both visually stunning and intellectually captivating. The best part? You don't need to be an expert swimmer to enjoy this unforgettable experience.

Three people sit taking photos of the sunset on a mountain above the cloudsMauna Kea on the Big Island offers a culturally and scientifically significant visit that shouldn't be missed. © Tec Petaja / Lonely Planet

Mauna Kea, Big Island

According to Hawaiian tradition, the summit of Mauna Kea, the tallest mountain in the islands, is the meeting point of the earth and heavens. Contemporary astronomers share a similar sentiment and have taken advantage of the remarkably clear air on the mountain to establish powerful observatories. However, this endeavor has not been without controversy, as Native Hawaiians consider the mountain sacred. Visitors can witness this clash of science and spirituality by joining mountaintop stargazing sessions.

A coastal skyline under a pink sunsetImmerse yourself in the vibrant energy of Honolulu, the cosmopolitan capital of Hawaii situated on Oʻahu's southern shoreline. © John Seaton Callahan / Getty Images

Honolulu, O‘ahu

Honolulu, the cosmopolitan capital of Hawaii, located on O‘ahu's southern shoreline, offers a diverse range of experiences. Indulge in the delectable flavors of the pan-Asian alleys in historic Chinatown, revel in the panoramic views of the sea from the iconic Aloha Tower, and explore the USA's only royal palace, where the last monarch of Hawaii experienced her period of house arrest. Shop til you drop at the world's largest open-air shopping center, and pay your respects at the historically significant Pearl Harbor.

Kalaupapa Peninsula on Moloka'i tells a poignant story of a community that cared for individuals affected by Hansen's disease and stands as a testament to their endurance. © Alexander Howard / Lonely Planet


  • Nickname: The Pineapple Island
  • Best for: A more rugged, remote-feeling trip on a small, uncrowded island with a cat sanctuary, hiking trails, and snorkeling
Before Lāna‘i was colonized by Westerners, the land—where Hawaiian settlers lived off taro and seafood—was rich with native vegetation and purple flowers. However, when goats, sheep, and other grazing animals were introduced to the island in the 1800s, the land was stripped bare. The pineapple industry later took root, and the United States recognized the Republic of Hawai‘i in 1894, with influential pineapple entrepreneur Sanford Dole serving as its president. After Hawai‘i's annexation in 1900 and pineapple magnate James Drummond Dole's purchase of the island in 1922, Lāna‘i became an integral part of the pineapple farming empire. Today, 97% of the island, including two Four Seasons resorts, is owned by tech billionaire Larry Ellison, who has prioritized sustainability and conservation efforts through Pulama Lāna‘i. Lāna‘i remains an off-the-beaten-path destination, with only 30 miles of paved roads contrasted with over 400 miles of rugged trails for exploration by four-wheel drive, horseback, or hiking. Experience the island's cultural heritage at the Lāna‘i Culture and Heritage Center, led by island native Kepa Maly.

Where to stay

Four Seasons Resort Lāna‘i

After acquiring the island, Larry Ellison revitalized this resort, reducing the number of rooms while enhancing the design with slate and teak walls. Additionally, he introduced esteemed culinary establishments such as Nobu and Malibu Farm.

Sensei Lāna‘i, a Four Seasons Resort

Wellness is the focal point of this 24-acre resort, offering spa immersions and multi-day programs that include fitness assessments, wearable fitness tracking devices, and various fitness and bodywork sessions.

Hotel Lāna‘i

Constructed in 1923 by James Dole, this historic 10-room hotel was the sole lodging option on the island until 1990. Currently owned by Larry Ellison, it is also home to the popular Lāna‘i Bar & Grille.

How to give back

One of the best ways to give back is by visiting and donating to the Lanai Cat Sanctuary. This organization, established in 2004 by founder Kathy Carroll, initially focused on sterilizing street cats and relocating them to protect ground-dwelling birds. Today, it has become a popular destination for travelers who love cats (and birds).


  • Nickname: The Valley Isle
  • Best for: Offering a diverse range of experiences including adventure, black- and red-sand beaches, food, culture, and relaxation

Maui epitomizes the perfect combination of the best attractions that Hawai‘i has to offer. This island is mainly defined by the dormant Haleakalā volcano, which forms three-quarters of its land. For an exhilarating experience, you can take a bike to the top and meander down 21 switchbacks, traversing various ecological zones that mimic the biodiversity of a road trip from Canada to Mexico. Another option is to reserve a visit to Waīa‘ānapanapa State Park, renowned for its striking black-sand beach. (It is worth noting that the implementation of a reservation system is part of the state’s initiative to preserve and care for the environment, known as the Mālama Hawai‘i initiative.)

For those seeking cultural immersion, it is possible to hire a knowledgeable hula instructor nearly anywhere on Maui. Additionally, art enthusiasts can explore the vibrant galleries of Paia before embarking on the world-famous Road to Hana. This scenic drive offers breathtaking views of the rugged black-lava coastline. (Do make sure to familiarize yourself with the newly established guidelines for driving on this renowned road.) If you find yourself hungry, wake up early to join the queue at Donut Dynamite, a local establishment that is often celebrated as the best doughnut spot on the island. Alternatively, you can book a captivating 90-minute chocolate-and-cacao tour at the Maui Ku‘ia Estate or visit the new Sunset Market in Wailea Village for local delicacies, including Pau Maui vodka, tasty tacos and shave ice, and delectable cookies from Maui Cookie Lab.

Maui serves as the gateway to the Molokini atoll, a captivating snorkeling spot just off the coast. While the caldera is undoubtedly a popular choice, there are other gorgeous waters waiting to be explored. Grab your mask and fins and head towards the beach town of Olowalu on the west coast, where you'll discover a "cleaning station" frequented by green sea turtles. If you plan on engaging in ocean activities, be sure to select outfitters certified by the Surfrider Foundation to ensure the preservation of our ocean ecosystem.

Where to stay

When it comes to accommodations in Maui, there is no shortage of options. Here are a few noteworthy establishments to consider:

Maui Eco Retreat

During the COVID pandemic, this long-standing lodge transformed itself into a sanctuary for responsible travelers. Established in 1988 on land blessed by a Hawaiian priest, the retreat offers a limited number of rooms, yoga classes, and an unbeatable oceanfront location.

Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa

This Lahaina hotel has received numerous accolades for its sustainability initiatives, including being one of only two Gold LEED-certified resorts in Hawai‘i. Their commitment to minimizing plastic use and food waste, as well as their investment in one of the largest solar panel systems in the state, sets them apart. Additionally, the oceanfront property features six pools, 10 restaurants, and even resident penguins.

The Plantation Inn

Located on the west side of the island, The Plantation Inn is an adults-only bed-and-breakfast that exudes charm with its plantation-style architecture and delightful French breakfasts. It is only a 10-minute drive away from the beach and conveniently situated in the heart of Lahaina.

Hotel Wailea

As the only Relais & Châteaux property in Hawai‘i, Hotel Wailea covers a vast 15-acre expanse, offering an exclusive experience with just 72 suites. This adults-only retreat provides a range of unique offerings, including tree-house dining, sustainable travel experiences such as outrigger canoeing, and curated activities like a surf safari to explore Maui's best breaks. They have also introduced a new line of reef-safe sunscreens.

Camp Olowalu

For those seeking a closer encounter with nature, Camp Olowalu offers a chance to book a campsite, tentalow, or cabin. Situated along the beachfront and once a sugar plantation, the campsite has a rich history dating back to its establishment by the Protestant Episcopal Church in 1955. The property has since embarked on a mission to restore its 700 acres, which now include tent lodgings and renovated cabins and dining areas.

How to give back

If you are interested in contributing to the preservation of Hawaiian cultural sites, you can support the nonprofit organization Maui Cultural Lands, which was founded in 2002 by Puanani and Edwin “Ed” Robert Naleilehua Lindsey Jr. Today, their son, Edwin “Ekolu” Lindsey III, leads the organization, offering travelers an opportunity to reforest Honokowai Valley and the Ka‘anapali areas while learning about the cultural significance of these archaeological sites. The initiative begins with a chant that seeks permission to enter the sites.

Another meaningful way to give back is by engaging with the Pacific Whale Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 1980. This organization is dedicated to protecting the ocean and fostering environmental stewardship. Travelers can support their cause by booking ecotours, including snorkeling trips, stargazing experiences, and, of course, whale-watching adventures. All proceeds from these tours contribute to the foundation's research, education, and conservation programs.

Lastly, you can make a difference by participating in the efforts of the Lahaina Restoration Foundation. This organization aims to preserve the rich history of Lahaina, which was once the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom. As a volunteer, you can help measure, describe, photograph, and/or transcribe historic artifacts and documents, ensuring that this valuable history is documented and protected for future generations.

The uninterrupted three-mile stretch of Papohaku makes it one of the longest beaches in the state.The uninterrupted three-mile stretch of Papohaku makes it one of the longest beaches in the state.

Best Places to Visit in Hawaii: The List & Photos

1. Na Pali Coast (Kauai)

A photo with low clouds over the rugged cliffs of the Na Pali coast. The Na Pali coast is considered one of the essential best Hawaii places to visit.The Na Pali coast of Kauai is known for its breathtaking landscapes and is widely regarded as one of the top destinations in Hawaii. Towering cliffs, covered in lush tropical greenery, encircle pristine white sand beaches that can only be reached by boat. If you're planning a trip to Kauai, don't miss the opportunity to take a Na Pali coast boat tour or a scenic flight. The region is mostly inaccessible on foot, except for the challenging Kalalau Trail, which requires a permit in advance.


2. Lanikai Beach (Oahu)

A postcard perfect palm tree over white sand and aqua water at Lanikai Beach on Oahu is one of the best places to visit in HawaiiAmong the many beautiful beaches in Hawaii, Lanikai Beach on the east shore of Oahu stands out as one of the most picturesque. Its white sand beach is met by crystal-clear waters, creating a scene straight out of a Hawaiian postcard. If you're a beach lover, make sure to include Lanikai Beach in your Oahu itinerary as one of the best places to visit in Hawaii.


3. Red Sand Beach (Maui)

Looking into the red rock cove at Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach Maui along the Road to Hana.Kaihalulu, also known as "Red Sand Beach," is a hidden gem and one of the most unique beaches in Hawaii. While access to the beach has been a subject of debate, it is currently open to visitors, making it a must-visit destination on Maui. Please refer to the complete guide to Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach for more information on safety risks and directions.

4. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (Big Island)

Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island is one of the best places to visit in Hawaii to witness a bubbling lava lake at night.Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island offers a unique opportunity to witness the awe-inspiring power of an active volcano. One of the top things to do on the Big Island, this park is a must-visit destination in Hawaii. We recommend timing your visit for twilight or after dark to experience the full impact of the bubbling lava lake illuminating the night sky. If driving back after dark is not your preference, consider booking a night in Volcano Village or a guided tour.


5. Waimea Canyon State Park (Kauai)

A helicopter is seen amongst the colorful walls of Waimea Canyon in Kauai, one of the most impressive places to visit in HawaiiKnown as "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific," Waimea Canyon on Kauai showcases breathtakingly colorful walls resembling the hues of Hawaii's rainbows. It is not only the largest canyon in the Pacific but also ranks among the top 10 canyons in the US. While overlooks offer stunning panoramic views, exploring its depths through hiking is highly recommended to fully appreciate the beauty of this destination.

6. Road to Hana (Maui)

Honokalani Black Sand Beach is one of the best places to visit in Hawaii but requires permits and reservations.The Road to Hana is renowned as one of the most scenic drives in the USA. This picturesque journey takes you through lush rainforests, past numerous waterfalls and stunning beaches, ultimately leading to the charming and historic eastern part of Maui.

While every part of the drive is beautiful, some notable stops along the Road to Hana include rainbow eucalyptus trees, black and red sand beaches, Haleakala National Park, and the Seven Sacred Pools of Oheo. All of these destinations deserve a spot on the list of best places to visit in Hawaii.

Want to drive the Road to Hana? Learn everything you need to know in THE ULTIMATE ROAD TO HANA ITINERARY

7. Hanalei Bay (Kauai)

A view of the green mountains of the Kauai north shore from Hanalei Bay overlook, one of the best Hawaii places to visit.Hanalei Bay, located on Kauai's north shore, holds a mythical reputation and continues to captivate visitors with its unparalleled beauty. Despite the high rainfall in the region, which is known to cause inconveniences for some tourists, it is this very precipitation that contributes to the remarkable splendor of the Garden Isle. Hanalei Valley, with its lush green mountains surrounding the white sandy Hanalei Beach and the turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean, exemplifies this natural magnificence.

8. Oahu North Shore (Oahu)

A honu sleeps on the shore of Laniakea Beach, one of the best places to visit in Hawaii on the Oahu north shore.Turtle Dreams Due to its popularity and tourist appeal, Oahu can get crowded. When planning your Oahu itinerary, make sure to include a day trip to the North Shore. Once considered a sanctuary for surfers and those seeking an escape from the hustle and bustle of crowded tourist areas, the North Shore still offers a distinct experience compared to the rest of Oahu. With its spectacular beaches, especially for surfing, and relaxed atmosphere, the North Shore deserves a place on your Hawaii bucket list.

9. The Forbidden Island (Ni’ihau)

An aerial view of the entire island of Ni'ihau, known as the Ni'ihau, often referred to as "The Forbidden Island," is a privately owned island in Hawaii that is only accessible to members of the Robinson family or those specifically invited. Until recently, the only way to catch a glimpse of this seventh inhabited Hawaiian island was by taking a snorkel tour from Kauai that allowed participants to swim near its shores without setting foot on land. However, a half-day helicopter tour now offers visitors the opportunity to spend three hours on one of Ni'ihau's untouched beaches. As one of the best places to visit in Hawaii, Ni'ihau provides a chance to experience an island that few people have ever had the privilege of exploring.

10. Molokini Crater (Maui)

An aerial view of snorkeling boats at Molokini Crater, MauiRounding out the top 10 list of best places to visit in Hawaii is Molokini Crater, a crescent-shaped islet famous for its incredible snorkeling opportunities. Considered one of the best snorkeling spots on Maui and accessible only by boat, Molokini Crater offers an abundance of marine life and the chance to observe migrating whales (seasonal), dolphins, and other aquatic creatures. For a truly breathtaking view, consider taking a scenic flight over Molokini to witness its beauty from a bird's-eye perspective.


11. Halawa Valley (Molokai)

Halawa Bay Beach in MolokaiThe sister islands of Hawaii offer secluded tropical beaches without the crowds and noise found in more touristy areas. Among them, Molokai stands out as the most populated and most beautiful. In terms of natural beauty, the Halawa Valley is the highlight of "The Friendly Isle." Whether you're looking to hike, explore, or simply relax on a quiet Hawaiian beach away from tourists, Halawa Valley will not disappoint. For those short on time or not planning a visit to Molokai, a scenic flight over the island is an excellent alternative to experience its breathtaking scenery from above.


12. Papakolea Green Sand Beach (Big Island)

Sophie Clapton strolls the green sand beach of Big Island, Hawaii.Did you know that Hawaii is home to not only red and black but also a green sand beach? Papakolea Beach, also known as Hawaii Green Sand Beach, is located in a remote area of the Big Island. The sand's unique olive color comes from the olivine mineral formed by the island's volcanic activity. Apart from being visually stunning, this extraordinary beach boasts the softest sand on the entire Big Island of Hawaii.

13. Haleakala National Park (Maui)

🍍 Best Places to Visit in Hawaii: Honorable Mentions

A kitesurfer enjoying a day in paradise at VOR Beach on the Maui North Shore, one of the best places to visit in Hawaii.One of the best places to visit in Hawaii is the Maui North Shore. The golden sand beach at Polihale State Park (Kauai)Polihale State Park in Kauai offers a breathtaking golden sand beach. Red Mars-like landscapes at Garden of the Gods on LanaiGarden of the Gods in Lanai showcases stunning red Mars-like landscapes. The beautiful, tropical Hulopoʻe Beach Park in Sharks Bay is the best beach on the Hawaiian Island of Lanai.Hulopoʻe Beach in Lanai is known for its beautiful tropical scenery. Tunnels Beach on Kauai with the Na Pali Cliffs in the backgroundTunnels Beach in Kauai offers stunning views of the Na Pali Cliffs. Aerial view of a shipwreck off the shore of Shipwreck Beach in LanaiShipwreck Beach in Lanai is known for its aerial view of a shipwreck offshore. A drone photo of the road through south Oahu with Koko head in golden light.Koko Head in Oahu offers a scenic view of the road through south Oahu illuminated by golden light.

  • Maui North Shore (Maui)
  • Olivine Pools (Maui)
  • Punalu’u Black Sand Beach (Big Island)
  • Polihale State Park (Kauai)
  • Tunnel Beach (Kauai)
  • Garden of the Gods (Lanai)
  • Shipwreck Beach (Lanai)
  • Hulopoʻe Beach Park (Lanai)

📖 More Hawaii Travel Guides

Cover image for the blog post 'Hawaii Island Hopping'. The image shows a beach in Oahu and a waterfall in Kauai.If you need assistance planning your upcoming trip to Hawaii, the following guides can help you with the essential aspects of your vacation. Find information on what to pack, how to find cheap flights, where to stay, the best itineraries, and everything else you need to consider.

Whether you're seeking breathtaking natural beauty, engaging cultural experiences, or thrilling adventures, Hawaii offers an incredible range of destinations to satisfy every traveler's desires. From the dramatic volcanic landscapes of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park to the secluded paradise of Na Pali Coast, and from the historic significance of Pearl Harbor to the vibrant energy of Waikiki, the Aloha State truly has something for everyone. Explore the lush Road to Hana, witness the splendor of Haleakalā National Park, or immerse yourself in the enchanting traditions of the Merrie Monarch Festival. With so many remarkable places to choose from, planning your Hawaiian getaway will be the first step towards a memorable and unforgettable experience. Don't miss out on discovering the best that Hawaii has to offer - start exploring now!

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