Each Hawaiian island has its fair share of local hidden gems and over-crowded tourist attractions. But for the ultimate vacation experience, you’ll want to seek out the most underrated places in Hawaii.
From pristine, untouched beaches to lookout points, you won’t regret visiting these marvelous places around the Hawaiian islands!
1. Kahana Bay
Nestled on the windward side of Oahu, Kahana Bay is protected on three sides by the majestic Ko’olau Mountains. The park is known as a living park, meaning families live in the ahupuaʻa of Kahana and work together to foster the native Hawaiian cultural traditions of windward Oahu.
While swimming isn’t one of the topic activities due to the murky water from the stream run-off, there are still plenty of things to do here. As part of the Ahupuaʻa ʻO Kahana State Park, this destination boasts numerous hiking trails, campsites, fishing areas, and sightseeing opportunities.
2. Kualoa Ranch
For those searching for places in Hawaii filled with adventure, sights, and wonder, there’s nowhere better than Kualoa Ranch.
This tropical reserve is often used as the backdrop for Hollywood movies and TV shows such as Jurassic Park, Lost, Jumanji, King Kong, and so many more. In fact, take the Hawaii’s Best Movie Tour and discover all the sites used in the films!
Other activities at the ranch include ziplining, horseback riding, ATV tours, passage to a secret island beach, kayaking, and more.
3. The Harold Lyon Arboretum
Sometimes the best, yet most underrated, places in Hawaii are right under our noses. The Harold Lyon Arboretum boasts nearly 200 acres of rainforest exploration at the top of Manoa Valley.
Guests can embark on tours of the rainforest or gardens and learn more about Hawaii’s natural plants and wildlife from knowledgeable guides. The center also hosts a series of classes for adults and children ranging from yoga and hiking to nature camps.
4. Wai’anapanapa State Park
For an outdoor adventure unlike any other, add Wai’anapanapa State Park to your list of must-visit places in Hawaii. The state park is home to Pailoa, a black-sand beach, freshwater caves, a hala forest, lava tubes, hiking trails, and unbelievable viewpoints.
It’s easy to spend hours on end exploring all this state park has to offer.
5. Napili Bay
Popular with snorkelers and swimmers, Napili Bay offers beachgoers fewer crowds and more fun in the sun. Although smaller in comparison to Maui’s larger, more populated beaches, Napili Bay exudes charm in this low-key resort town.
While it still receives fewer tourist crowds than other beaches on the island, do your best to visit during off-peak hours for smaller crowd sizes.
6. Iao Valley State Park
Home to the Iao Needle and Iao Valley State Monument, this state park is a perfect place to visit if you love the outdoors. The state park is filled with Hawaiian flora and hiking trails for endless observation.
The trek to see Iao Needle is a short 0.6-mile hike. Along the way, you’ll learn about Hawaiian history, culture, and wildlife for an educational trip to the viewpoint.
7. Liliuokalani Park and Gardens
Did you know one of the most underrated places in Hawaii is also the largest authentic ornamental Japanese garden outside of Japan? Pretty cool, right?
Located on the Big Island of Hawaii, Liliuokalani Park and Gardens is open 24 hours and is free to the public. As you stroll through the meticulously crafted historic gardens, you’ll notice koi ponds, pagodas, rock gardens, a teahouse, and of course, numerous Hawaiian and Japanese plants and trees.
When you need a peaceful break from the tourist attractions, come here!
8. Kehena Black Sand Beach
If seeing a spinner dolphin is on your bucket list, you’ll want to make a trip to Kehena Black Sand Beach. This pristine oasis is a hot spot for dolphin sightings, hence the nickname, “Dolphin Beach.”
Located at mile marker 19 on highway 137 in Puna, this beach is narrow and small so use your discretion when entering. If it’s crowded, you may want to come back at an off-peak time for the best beach experience.
9. South Point
Visit South Point, the southernmost point on the Big Island, for breathtaking views and panoramic shots of the island. To access this spot, you’ll need to drive along South Point Road.
However, those renting cars on the island may want to double check your agreement and determine if you’re allowed to drive on this road. Although it’s not a 4 Wheel Drive road, certain rental companies put restrictions on their vehicles.
Thrill seekers also head to South Point for cliff jumping… but only if and when the weather conditions are 100% perfect!
10. Kalihiwai Bay
Kalihiwai Bay is among the best and most underrated places in Hawaii due to its calm waters during the summer. These conditions make it an ideal beach spot for families with little ones, especially during low tide. And, when the weather conditions shift in the winter, this spot is a favorite among surfers thanks to the towering waves.
This beach also has ample parking for visitors, with no hiking down to the sand required. With the calm water and natural amenities, Kalihiwai Bay is the perfect place for a beach day, picnic, or hang out with friends.
Known as Kauai’s Biggest Little Town, Hanapepe is a fantastic place to explore on Kauai. The unincorporated town’s name means “crushed bay” in Hawaiian, which refers to the historic landslides in the area.
In town, you’ll find a glass beach, plenty of artists and galleries, delicious locally owned restaurants, and the swinging bridge. If you have time in your Kauai itinerary, spend a few hours discovering all this little town has to offer.
12. Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge
Established in 1985 with the goal of preserving and fostering seabird nesting colonies, the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge has become a popular spot among visitors. The refuge also houses the historic Daniel K. Inouye Kīlauea Point Lighthouse.
While touring the refuge, you’ll come across massive amounts of wildlife including seabirds, spinner dolphins, Hawaiian monk seals, and Hawaii’s state bird, the nēnē or endangered Hawaiian goose.
Once you visit the refuge, it’s not hard to see why it made our list of underrated places in Hawaii!
Book Your Trip to the Most Underrated Places in Hawaii
Skip the tourist attractions and head to Hawaii’s most underrated destinations for epic views, sunny beaches, adventurous hiking trails, and so much more.