The islands of Hawaii hold a special allure for travelers seeking all things tropical, sunny, and lush — from Waikiki Beach and Haleakala National Park to Kilauea Volcano and the rugged Na Pali Coast, there are countless places to soak in Hawaii’s natural beauty.
Whether you’re up for a wild hiking adventure ascending volcanic mountains, spending lazy days on the beach, diving on coral reefs, or trekking through lush rainforests in search of enchanted waterfalls, Hawaii’s got you covered with some truly incredible places to go and sights to see.
The 15 Best Places to Visit in Hawaii
Take a look at our hand-picked recommendations for the best places to visit in Hawaii below, covering adventure, relaxation, and sightseeing ideas for every type of traveler.
1. Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park, Kauai
The Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park is a stunningly beautiful place to visit and one of the best spots for a scenic hike through Hawaii’s unspoiled wilderness. Located on the northwest shore of Kauai, it’s one of Hawaii’s most secluded areas — there are no resorts, crowds, or bars to be found here.
Just a pristine and enchanting experience with nature as you hike along the pali, or cliffs, and take in the incredible views. The Na Pali Coast is best described as dramatic.
Everywhere you look, there’s a rugged cliff jutting out over the blue ocean; a massive valley exploding in shades of green; a rushing waterfall roaring as you get closer. Hiking along the Na Pali Coast is an unforgettable Hawaiian experience if you’re up for the 1-2 day hike.
2. Volcanoes National Park, Hawai’i
The Big Island’s Volcanoes National Park is another adventure destination that thrill-seeking travelers searching for fun options off the beach will appreciate.
The park is home to two active volcanoes, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa, that add a heart-pumping sense of danger and suspense to your visit. While you’re here, you’ll sense the power warming just beneath the surface as you marvel at sights like the Halema’uma’u Crater and Thurston Lava Tube.
Take Chain of Craters Road across the hardened black lava formations throughout the park and be sure to check out steam vents on Crater Rim Drive.
Then, stop by the Jaggar Museum and see interesting exhibits before setting out on any of the park’s incredible trails for all difficulty levels! Star gazing sessions at Halemaumau Crater Observatory are worth tacking onto your visit.
3. Haleakala National Park, Maui
Haleakala National Park dominates the eastern side of Maui with a massive, dormant volcano (Haleakala, the park’s namesake) and otherworldly red sandy stretches, jagged valleys, and gushing waterfalls near the coast that offer jaw-dropping views.
Sunrises and sunsets are particularly spectacular here (it’s Hawaii, after all), as is stargazing on clear nights and hiking down into the Haleakalā Crater to see what it’s like to be at the bottom of a towering volcano.
Hiking into the crater is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will ensure you never forget your trip to Hawaii, and you can stop at the lookout points along your journey up or down from Haleakala’s peak.
Wandering through the park will bring you through different landscapes, from the reddish deserts and volcanic features to the rainforests and tropical lushness in the Kīpahulu area near the coast.
4. Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head State Monument, Oahu
Hawaii offers some incredible adventure trips, but it’s also famous for its gorgeous beaches where relaxing in the sand with a drink in hand is the main idea! Waikiki Beach is one of those places and it’s always a great place to visit if you’ll be on Oahu during your trip.
Waikiki offers a pristine 2-mile stretch of soft, white sand and some calm-water areas that are great if you’re bringing kids along. And you’ll be close to everything Honolulu has to offer! Diamond Head State Monument is a park spanning 475+ acres named for the huge volcanic crater that sits just east of Waikiki Beach.
It’s in full view when you’re splashing around on the shore. If you head that way, you’ll be able to hike amazing trails around the park (even through lit tunnels to see the historic Fire Control Station) and to the summit for stunning views of the coast and lighthouse.
Read Next: When You Should Visit Honolulu
5. Kona Coffee Living History Farm, Hawai’i
Coffee drinkers and nature lovers alike can get a caffeinated kick out of visiting Kona Coffee Living History Farm on the Big Island.
Take a full tour of the farm led by costumed actors to learn all about the origins of coffee farming in Kona, sample local coffee and treats made with it, and see the wilder side of Kona with tropical plants, trees, and green-blanketed valleys all over.
The farm was established in 1997 by local coffee farmers who wanted to preserve their heritage and share it with visitors worldwide. The coffee shrubs on this 5.5-acre farm are some of the oldest in Hawaii and link you to the important agricultural and economic past this crop has on the island.
6. Road to Hana, Maui
The scenic Road to Hana meanders for 50 miles through eastern Maui and is one of the most spectacular drives you’ll ever take. It connects Kahului (where Maui’s airport is) to Hana, but while you’re driving, you’ll know you’re headed to paradise.
It’s that gorgeous — every angle shows you dense greenery and rainforests, flowing waterfalls, hidden beaches, and rocky cliffs that make it easy to forget you’re on a paved road. If you’re heading to Maui, getting on the Road to Hana should be the first thing you do after touching down at Kahului Airport.
7. Pearl Harbor National Memorial, Oahu
History buffs and knowledge seekers can’t miss the chance to visit Pearl Harbor National Memorial and the USS Arizona, Utah, and Oklahoma Memorials on Oahu.
This historic site serves as a reminder of the tragic events during World War II with museums, battleship wreckage, and important military artifacts available for viewing. It’s a somber experience, but very educational and a must if you’re in Oahu.
There are two museums to browse along with the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center where you can check out informative exhibits that stir the soul. See six Chief Petty Officer Bungalows on the grounds as you stroll Battleship Row and gain a clearer understanding of the role Pearl Harbor played in U.S. history and the Second World War.
8. Waipi’o Valley Lookout, Hawai’i
Waipi’o Valley Lookout on the Big Island is one of the best vantage points you can get for stunning views of the lush coastal landscape looking out over the valley as it cuts through the rugged and green-blanketed Kohala Mountain.
At the lookout point, you’ll be able to see for miles and make out the cool black sand beach below, waterfalls in the distance, and endless seas of green and blue where the valley meets the ocean.
It’s a popular spot for engagement photos and obligatory Hawaii pics, so make sure to have your phone or camera ready to capture the moment when you stop at the lookout. There are trails nearby, but some pass into private property, so be mindful of any signs and don’t trespass on your quest for Hawaii’s natural beauty!
9. Polynesian Cultural Center, Oahu
Hawaii’s native culture stemming from Polynesia is one of the most fascinating things about the archipelago. If you’re into learning about the traditions and customs that make Hawaii so unique, you’ve got to spend some time at the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu!
Located on the North Shore (famous for surfing), this tranquil space will teach you about Polynesian traditions and how they’ve molded the islands into what they are today. Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, and Tahiti all share Polynesian influences in their cultures, and all are represented well at the center.
From quick canoe trips and crafting demonstrations to traditional dance performances and classes where you can learn the traditional ways, there’s a lot to get into here!
10. Mauna Kea, Hawai’i
The Mauna Kea volcano is Mauna Loa’s little sister in terms of size and prominence. If you’re a lava lover who can’t get enough of checking out what makes Hawaii such a hotspot, this is a deserving place to add to your itinerary.
Located in the north-central region of the Big Island, Mauna Kea rises to an impressive 13,796 feet above sea level in all its rough and splendid glory. The volcano hasn’t been active for over 4,500 years, but scientists believe it will erupt again.
You can hike around the base or all the way up to the summit to see Lake Waiau and dramatic coastal views. This sacred spot for natives is an awesome place to stargaze on clear nights and offers a stunning contrast to the dense greenery and vast ocean all around it.
11. Papohaku Beach Park, Molokai
Papohaku Beach Park on Molokai is a massive beach park spanning over 10 acres on the western side of Molokai.
Some of Hawaii’s beaches are small and feel crowded quickly, but this 3-mile white sand beach is one of the longest and provides an ideal setting for swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, fishing or simply relaxing under the sun.
Molokai is always less busy than other more-visited islands like Oahu, Maui, Hawai’i, or Kauai, so the wide-open nature of this nice beach is magnified ten-fold.
12. National Tropical Botanical Gardens, Kauai
Two National Tropical Botanical Gardens are located on the island of Kauai: Allerton Garden (southern shore) and McBryde Garden (Lawa’i Valley). These tropical gardens explode in color, aroma, texture, and biodiversity to give you a close-up look at the flora that makes Hawaii so stunning.
You’ll see native and endangered plants in all their multi-colored beauty, taking shapes and forms that have adapted incredibly to the warm temperatures of the tropics.
Take a guided tour to wander through either garden slowly, learning about the species you see and understanding the importance of preserving and conserving their habitats for continuation. You can add special events like a traditional luau dinner to your tour for an even more immersive experience!
13. Halawa Valley, Molokai
Halawa Valley is one of eastern Molokai’s most scenic and breathtaking destinations that’s worth driving out to just for the views. But setting out on the Halawa Valley Falls Cultural Hike is the best way to experience the wildness, history, and views of this long-sacred valley.
Green-covered cliff sides loom before you on a moderate 250-foot ascent to tumbling waterfalls and the pristine little swimming holes you’ll find there. Ancient Polynesians first settled this valley around 650 AD, treating it as sacred with several places of worship, or heiau, scattered through the valley.
You can see some of those worship areas on the cultural hike (about 3 miles) along with ancient Hawaiian petroglyphs, an old fishpond that dates back centuries, and two spectacular waterfalls – Moaula Falls and Hiilawe Falls.
14. Maui Ocean Center, Maui
Maui Ocean Center is one of Maui’s best treasures and you’ll find it on Maalaea Bay. Come to see the incredible marine life exhibits and take part in interactive activities that thrill both kids and adults.
From snorkeling in the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium to swimming with sharks and stingrays, there’s something for everyone at the Maui Ocean Center!
Take part in educational interactive programs at the Ocean Center, like “Meet The Sharks” or “Snorkel With Stingrays,” where you can learn about different species of sea creatures up-close (and safely, of course). Guided tours also provide an overview of the various marine habitats in the center and fun facts about each.
15. Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai
Waimea Canyon State Park sits on the western side of Kauai, offering truly breathtaking views of deep valleys and canyons, lush forests, and cascading waterfalls.
Color contrasts are amazing here — reds, greens, blues, and earthy browns are everywhere you look in this wild and natural haven for adventure and hiking. The main attraction at Waimea Canyon State Park is its namesake – Waimea Canyon!
It’s filled with unique geological features such as spires, cliffs, and crevices that make for incredible photo opportunities. The park’s hiking trails range from easy strolls along the rim to more challenging hikes down into the canyon’s depths.
That makes it easy to choose your own adventure, as they say, and perfectly plan a visit here with kids, adults, and elders of all fitness and ability levels.
Read Next: Where to Stay on Kauai in 2024
Frequently Asked Questions
Visiting Hawaii comes with a lot of questions. Find answers and learn more about picking the best places to visit in Hawaii below!
What is the nicest part of Hawaii to visit?
The Big Island of Hawai'i is one of the nicest places to visit in Hawaii. Its diverse landscape offers something for everyone, from lush rainforests and stunning beaches to active volcanoes and unique cultural experiences.
The Kona Coast on the island’s west side is a great place to start your Hawaiian adventure. Explore black sand beaches, try water sports like snorkeling or kayaking, and relax at resorts with luxurious amenities.
If you’re looking for an even more remote experience, head up north to Kohala where you can find unspoiled landscapes with incredible views of Mauna Kea volcano and its surrounding valleys.
Where should I go for my first time in Hawaii?
If you’re looking for a great first-time experience in Hawaii, head to the island of Oahu. You can explore Honolulu and Waikiki Beach with plenty of attractions and activities. Take a day trip to Pearl Harbor or hike up Diamond Head for stunning city views.
Spend some time relaxing on one of the many beautiful beaches or participate in water sports like snorkeling and surfing. With its diverse culture, delicious food scene, and endless outdoor adventures, Oahu is an ideal destination for your first Hawaiian getaway.
What is the number 1 attraction in Hawaii?
The number one attraction in Hawaii is the beautiful beaches. From Waikiki Beach on Oahu to Kaanapali Beach on Maui, there are plenty of stunning shorelines to explore. The Big Island also has some of the world’s most breathtaking black sand beaches.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day lounging in the sun or an adventurous surf session, Hawaii’s beaches have something for everyone. Plus, with year-round warm weather and crystal clear waters, it’s no wonder why so many people flock to these tropical paradises each year.
Which of the Hawaiian islands is the most beautiful?
The Hawaiian islands are all beautiful in their own way, but Kauai is the most stunning of them. With its lush green valleys, towering waterfalls, and pristine beaches, it’s easy to see why Kauai is known as the Garden Isle.
From snorkeling in the crystal clear waters of Poipu Beach to hiking through Waimea Canyon or exploring the Kalalau Trail along Na Pali Coast, there’s something for everyone on this magical island.
What kind of clothing should I bring?
The clothing you should bring to Hawaii includes swimwear, comfortable shoes for hiking and strolling down the beach, and lightweight, breathable fabrics are recommended to avoid sunburns and heat exhaustion while still staying cool and comfortable.
So, What Are the Best Places to Visit in Hawaii?
The islands are an amazing place to explore when you know the best places to visit in Hawaii. With its stunning beaches, majestic mountains, lush rainforests, and incredible volcanoes, there are plenty of opportunities for adventure.
From the rugged Na Pali Coast on Kauai to the world-famous Waikiki Beach, there’s a place to visit in Hawaii for every type of traveler and budget. With so much to see and do, you can’t go wrong when you’re heading to Hawaii’s best-known spots and hidden gems that many travelers miss!