The Best Places to Visit in Hawaii
One of the most beautiful places in the United States is Hawaii. There’s just no question about it. It has the gorgeous rainforests dotted with waterfalls, bamboo groves, and pineapple orchards spill gradually into white sand beaches to meet the shining blue ocean. Watching a sunrise or sunset in Hawaii is an unparalleled experience — something that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime.
If you’ve been fortunate enough to visit, you’ll know that there are so many unforgettable experiences to be had there, such as your first taste of fresh, local papaya, snorkeling, surfing, or swimming in a lagoon. The food is incredible and fresh, and because the islands are small, getting from place to place is easy.
Here are some of the best places to visit on your next trip to Hawaii.
Oahu’s North Shore
If you’re interested in surfing, Oahu’s North Shore is the only place to go to see some of the best surfers in the world riding the waves since it’s considered the surfing capital of the world.
If you’re lucky enough to be traveling during November and December, you may be able to catch the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, a huge event showcasing the most elite surfers in the world. The best beaches to catch some amazing surfing are Waimea Bay, Ekuhai Beach, and Sunset Beach, especially between November and February, when the swells are highest. If you’re a beginner, you’ll want to learn during the summer months, when the waves are gentler. If you’re driving from Honolulu, make sure to stop in at Haleiwa Town for a delicious shave ice drizzled with fresh fruit syrup.
Napali Coast Hike
Kauai is often called the Garden Island of Hawaii, because it’s so densely covered with trees and vegetation. This means that if you want to explore this lush, scenic island, you’ll have to put in a bit of work first since 90 percent of the island is inaccessible by car.
Hiking and walking are the best ways to explore, and the best hiking trail on the island is widely considered to be the Napali Coast trail, which stretches for 11 miles from Kee Beach in Kalalau. Many people hike in and stay the night before hiking out the next day. If you want to do this, keep in mind you’ll need a permit for camping and day hiking past the first two miles.
If you’re interested in snorkeling, Hawaii is one of the best places to go to find incredible underwater diversity. One of the hidden gems of Hawaii is the tiny island of Molokini, which is located three miles off the coast of Maui. Molokini looks like a tiny crescent moon, but along the island’s coast you’ll find some of the greatest snorkeling and diving in the state.
You can take a catamaran out to Molokini from Maalaea Harbor or Lahaina, and spend a day exploring the incredible fish and sea mammals that make the reef along the island their home. Plus, if you’re there in the winter months, you may be able to spot some whales!
The Road to Hana
One of the most scenic journeys in the United States is the legendary Road to Hana, the 52-mile road from the nearest town of Kahului. Hana itself is a beautiful place. It’s home to the historic St. Sophia Church and Hana Beach Park, as well tons of adorable boutiques, delicious restaurants, and cultural experiences.
Even though the Road to Hana is only 52 miles long, it can take anywhere between two to four hours to traverse. There are 620 curves in the road, and 59 bridges, and the views from the side of the road are absolutely incredible. It’s worth leaving with plenty of time to spare, so you can stop and take photos along the way.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is one of the few places on Earth where you can drive right up to an active volcano. Located 45 minutes south of Hilo on the island of Hawaii, this national park stretches for an unbelievable 333,000 acres, and is home to two active volcanoes — Kilauea, and Maunaloa.
Kilauea alone produces between 250,000-650,000 yards of lava every single day. Since the eruption is constant yet stable, visitors are able to get extremely close to the volcano. There are plenty of hikes within the park, or you can do the Crater Rim Drive, a 10.6-mile loop around the park’s main attractions. Along the way, you’ll be able to look right out over Kilauea, and see several different craters full of lava, as well as lava-formed caves.
Kona Coffee Farms
Another incredible place on the Big Island of Hawaii is Kona, a region that’s known for their amazing coffee. If you’re passing through the region, you can’t leave without touring a coffee farm. It gives you a sense of how coffee is grown and harvested and allows you to sample the different varieties that have made the region famous. There are more than 600 coffee plantations and farms in the Kona region, but Mountain Thunder Coffee and Hula Daddy are two of the very best.
Once you’ve been to the farms and seen the coffee-making process, check out the tiny town of Holualoa, which is known for their cafes, local handicrafts, and art galleries.
Haleakala National Park
Taking in the sunrise from Haleakala National Park is considered one of the most incredible experiences you can have on any Hawaiian island. The national park is a gigantic crater — the remnants of the volcano Haleakala — and the rim stretches a remarkable 10,023 feet above sea level, giving a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside.
Many people wake up well before dawn and make the drive to the top to catch the sunrise. If you don’t wake up early enough to catch the sunrise, you can still visit the national park to hike or camp.
Polynesian Cultural Center
The history and culture of Hawaii may elude you if you limit your stay to resort towns like Waikiki, Honolulu, and Maui. A visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center in Oahu allows you to fully immerse yourself in the local culture and learn about the history and traditions of the local Hawaiian population.
While you’re there, you can take part in a traditional luau complete with delicious Polynesian delicacies, learn about each unique Polynesian culture by explore the six village exhibits on-site, and enjoy a live show that retells different Polynesian creation myths using song, dance, and martial arts. The cultural center is a short drive from both Waikiki and Honolulu.