Best Place to Visit in Hawaii: Unveiling 12 Spectacular Gems

The Aloha State boasts a blend of local hidden gems and well-known tourist attractions. From untouched, pristine beaches to captivating lookout points, these enchanting destinations beckon you to explore the marvels scattered across the beautiful Hawaiian islands.

Follow along and say ‘Aloha!’ as we journey through some of the absolute best places to visit in Hawaii.

Hawaii is a dazzling string of emerald islands set like jewels in the blue Pacific. Known for stunning beaches, volcanic landscapes, lush rainforests, and the warm hospitality of its people, Hawaii has long enchanted visitors from around the globe.

Though mega-resorts dot the coasts, there are still secret spots and local treasures to uncover across the archipelago. From world-famous Waikiki to hidden waterfalls on the Road to Hana, incredible adventures await those willing to venture off the beaten path.

Marvel at fiery volcanic peaks, snorkel alongside graceful green sea turtles, and meander through traditional gardens bursting with tropical blooms. Hike to ancient valleys shrouded in mist or relax on black sand beaches with turquoise waves.

So, pack your bags, slather on some reef-safe sunscreen, and keep reading as we’ve got the inside scoop on the most fantastic spots that will make your trip unforgettable. Your epic Hawaiian journey awaits!

close up of coastline and blue waters at Puako Bay in Big Island Hawaii, USAOahu

Waikiki Beach

The famous Waikiki Beach on Oahu is a can’t-miss destination with its iconic view of Diamond Head, white sand, and turquoise waters. By day, the beach bustles with activities such as:

  • world-class surfing,
  • stand-up paddle boarding,
  • sunbathing,
  • and swimming.

At night, beachfront resorts and restaurants come alive with the sounds of Hawaiian music and hula dancing. Lining the beach are swaying palm trees, many of which are coconut palms and royal palms.

Fun Fact: Ever wondered, “Are palm trees native to Hawaii?” The Loulu palm, with its unique fan-shaped leaves, is the only native palm species on the islands. Once plentiful, these palms, in about 16 different varieties, can still be spotted in the wild, notably on Huelo islet off the northern cliffs of Molokai.

To explore Waikiki Beach in style, take the Turtle Snorkel Sail with Lunch from Hilton Pier. This unforgettable Honolulu turtle snorkeling and sailing trip lets you sail and play off the Waikiki coast while taking in incredible views of the famed Diamond Head crater.

You’ll get to drop anchor and snorkel in Hawaii’s pristine azure waters, which are teeming with colorful fish and green sea turtles. After working up an appetite, enjoy a delicious lunch onboard the stable sailing catamaran. You won’t want to miss it!

aerial of yellow boat on water with view of shore and buildings during day for Adventure Sail Waikiki in Hawaii, USA
photo credit: Adventure Hawaii via Facebook

Pearl Harbor National Memorial

Get ready for a day of living history at Pearl Harbor National Memorial! It commemorates the infamous December 7, 1941 attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor.

Hop on a ferry to the USS Arizona Memorial, where stories come alive through exhibits, artifacts, photos, films, and perhaps a ghost tale or two. The memorial also features the Battleship Missouri Memorial at Ford Island’s Battleship Row mooring quays.

The memorial vividly recounts the history of the surprise attack, offering a somber yet meaningful experience. It’s a journey back in time with a touch of fun!

Hanauma Bay

Tucked along the southeastern shore of Oahu, Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is one of Hawaii’s most spectacular snorkeling spots. This marine embayment has calm, protected waters with incredible visibility to explore the vibrant reef system and diverse marine life.

Just below the surface, snorkelers will discover a kaleidoscope of tropical fish, sea turtles, eels, and even the occasional octopus or reef shark! The bay’s pristine beach also makes an excellent spot to relax or swim closer to shore.

Related Post: Hanauma Bay Hawaii: Top Oahu Snorkel Spot

After working up an appetite, refuel at one of the nearby snack bars or food trucks. Then continue exploring Oahu’s natural and cultural treasures by joining the Oahu Grand Circle Island Tour.

This captivating full-day adventure circumnavigates the island with stops at iconic sights like Spouting Horn blowhole, Pali Lookout, Kualoa Ranch, and more with full narration by knowledgeable guides.

From sea cliffs and towering peaks to quiet bays, take in the island’s dramatic natural beauty in this exciting tour. It’s the ultimate Hawaii nature trip to experience Oahu’s stunning biodiversity and landscapes!

Hanauma Bay Oahu Hawaii


Road to Hana

Verdant rainforest, towering cascades, and the azure Pacific Ocean, oh my! The Road to Hana on Maui is renowned as the island’s most scenic drive, cementing its status as one of the best places in Hawaii to visit.

As you navigate over 600 curves on the winding highway, each turn unveils a picturesque scene. Flowing lava rock, vibrant roadside stands, inviting pools for a refreshing swim, and ancient temples shrouded in mist.

To experience the full majesty of the Road to Hana, join the guided Road to Hana Adventure. It hits all the iconic stops for one all-inclusive price like:

  • Kaumahina and Waianapanapa State Parks
  • Keanae Valley Lookout
  • Pua’a Ka’a
  • Wailua Falls
  • and many more!

Soak up the island’s jaw-dropping scenery without holding the driving wheel yourself. It’s like having your own personal navigator, ensuring you don’t miss a beat of Maui’s adventurous spirit!

Rainforest and Ocean View on The Road to Hana - Maui, Hawaii, USAHaleakala National Park

Rising 10,023 feet above the island of Maui, the towering volcanic peak of Haleakalā literally means “house of the sun.” Haleakala National Park protects the entire massive crater formed by this long-dormant volcano.

From cinder cones to lava flows, this park features otherworldly geological landscapes that will leave you breathless. It also has diverse ecosystems of the volcano’s slopes, home to countless endemic Hawaiian birds and plants found nowhere else.

Related Post: Kipahulu Haleakala National Park – 6 Must-See Sights

Brace for one of Maui’s biggest spectacles—the dazzling Haleakalā sunrise! Take the excitement up a notch by joining the Haleakala Sunrise Tour.

Knowledgeable guides will detail the mountain’s history, legends, and ecological impact as they shepherd you to the summit in advance of daybreak. As the first light appears, you’ll witness truly majestic 360-degree views extending all the way to neighboring islands.

The spectacular sunrise display of blazing reds and oranges offers an astonishing perspective over the massive crater itself. Afterwards, cap off the morning’s magic by enjoying a delicious island-style breakfast on your descent.

Haleakala sunrise on Maui Hawaii
sunrise from the summit of Haleakala volcano on the tropical island of Maui, Hawaii

Napili Bay

Napili Bay on Maui’s northwest coast is a slice of paradise offering a laidback, low key Hawaii vacation with its crescent-shaped beach, gentle waves, and soft white sand framed by swaying palms and lush cliffs. Ideal for snorkeling and swimming, the bay is home to sea turtles and vibrant marine life.

Grab a shave ice or fish taco from nearby food trucks, unwind on the beach, and enjoy the tranquility. While popular, Napili Bay is less crowded than other mega-resort beaches, especially during early mornings or late afternoons.

Pro Tip: If you’ve had enough beach time by mid-afternoon, how about some shopping fun? Hawaii islands are brimming with farmers’ markets and malls, stocked with all kinds of souvenirs. And guess what? Lots of beaches have these awesome shopping spots right around the corner!

ground ocean view of Napili Shores Maui by Outrigger in Maui, Hawaii, USABig Island


With its romantic sunsets and exciting ocean adventures, the oceanside town of Kailua-Kona on the Big Island tops the list of best places to visit in Hawaii for couples! Its sunny west coast location serves up epic sunsets across the ocean, perfect for romantic strolls hand-in-hand along Kailua Bay and Beach Walk.

The area also offers outstanding fine dining with ocean view tables to toast your special getaway. When you’re ready for adventure, charter a boat for snorkeling, scuba diving or sportfishing excursions to bond over exciting shared experiences.

From December through April, couples can also embark on a spectacular whale watching cruise. Humpback whales make the lengthy migration from Alaska to mate and birth calves in Hawaii’s warm protected waters.

On your cruise, you’ll get to glimpse these gentle giants demonstrating intricate courtship behaviors and mighty breaches across horizon-spanning views. For animal lovers, it’s an incredible chance to observe some of the world’s largest mammals in their natural habitat.

Punaluʻu Black Sand Beach

Tired of the same old white sand beaches? If you’re someone who loves doing things differently, check out the Punaluʻu Black Sand Beach near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island.

Formed by hot lava meeting cool ocean waters, the beach boasts jet-black sands and vibrant turquoise waters. What’s even more remarkable? Endangered green sea turtles chilling on the dark sands, the island’s most famous nesting area.

Related Post: Itinerary Big Island: The Ultimate 5-Day Guide

To truly immerse yourself in Hawaii’s breathtaking scenery, don’t miss the Big Island Circle Tour. This intimate yet extensive adventure includes stops at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where you can stroll through a lava tube and check out steam vents.

Cap it off with the breathtaking Rainbow Falls. And the best part? You’ll get to taste delicious Kona coffee, wine, and sweet treats along the way!

With transportation handled for you, it’s an amazing way to soak in the island’s natural wonders. From dramatic coastlines to Punaluʻu Black Sand Beach, all while savoring local food and culture.

Wide shot of Punalu’u Black Sand Beach with lots of palm trees and the ocean in the background on the Big Island, Hawaii, USALiliuokalani Park and Gardens

Nestled along Hilo Bay on the Big Island’s east coast sits a hidden gem often overlooked by tourists – Liliuokalani Park and Gardens. Did you know it’s considered the largest authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan?

One of the most underrated Hawaii destinations, this tranquil park is also free and open 24 hours a day to the public. As you wander along the winding paths, take in gorgeous views across the bay toward Mauna Kea volcano.

Cross quaint wooden bridges over koi ponds dotted with water lilies. Admire the perfect symmetry of bonsai trees, stone lanterns and pagodas reflected in the still waters. Stop for a moment of Zen in the authentic teahouse built with fine Asian woods.

Find your own hidden bench tucked away, listen to songbirds in the trees, and let the hours float away. It’s one of Hilo’s proudest cultural sites offering serenity and the chance to experience traditional Japanese gardens without having to cross an ocean.


Waimea Canyon

One of the most spectacular sights in Kauai is Waimea Canyon State Park. Driving the Grand Canyon of the Pacific Waimea Canyon up to Kokee State Park unveils awe-inspiring views of the Na Pali coast from the Puu O Kila lookout.

Over 10 miles long and 3,600 feet deep, this massive gorge was carved over eons by the Waimea River. Take in the panoramic views across blood-red and orange cliffs striped with waterfalls during the rainy seasons.

Or challenge yourself by hiking miles of trails that traverse diverse ecosystems from arid canyon floors to cool upland forests. Feeling the strain in those legs already? The most sensational way to experience Waimea Canyon is from the air!

Treat yourself to the Kauai Eco Adventure Helicopter Tour for stunning aerial views into the deep velvety valleys and plunging waterfalls of the rugged interior. Your bird’s eye perspective also reveals Kauai’s sawtooth Na Pali Coast in all its cinematic glory with emerald peaks towering over secluded beaches.

Choose from convenient takeoff points across Kauai’s resort regions. Prefer doors-off or doors-on comfort levels available too. Fly in eco-friendly comfort exploring one of earth’s most beautiful places!

aerial view of rainbow over Waimea Canyon State Park in Kauai, Hawaii, USAKalalau Valley

On the lush north shore of Kauai – arguably the most underrated Hawaiian island for adventurous travelers – lies the jewel of Kalalau Valley. This unspoiled paradise valley can only be reached by foot along the famous Kalalau Trail, widely considered one of the world’s most scenic hiking trails.

The challenging 11-mile trek first winds along towering sea cliffs where waterfalls plunge thousands of feet into the Pacific. Further in, enter the secluded valley itself cloaked in mist and bursting with tropical flowers and fruit trees.

Related Post: Best Snorkeling Kauai – Guide to the Most Beautiful Spots

Those making the demanding full-day trek or multi-day backpacking Kauai itinerary, are richly rewarded with rare views of an untouched Hawaiian valley that looks much as it did centuries ago. For a glimpse into Kauai’s wild beauty, before resorts dotted the coast, Kalalau beckons you to make the pilgrimage.

Venture beyond the beaten path to this remote Eden and discover why the early Hawaiians considered Kalalau Valley nothing short of paradise on earth. Just follow their ancient footpaths to an unspoiled tropical wonderland awaiting intrepid explorers.


Dubbed “Kauai’s Biggest Little Town”, Hanapepe makes for a charming and tasty detour while exploring the west side. This historic town echoes the laidback culture of the island through its artistic community and mom-and-pop eateries lining the main street.

Stroll across the scenic swinging bridge to visit art galleries in a repurposed industrial building. Or wander down to Salt Pond Beach Park to hunt for coveted pieces of sea glass polished smooth by the ocean.

Yet Hanapepe’s biggest draw is the mouthwatering local cuisine. Savory aromas waft from hole-in-the-wall restaurants dishing up fresh poke bowls, plate lunches, and Thai fusion specialties.

For the ultimate movable feast, join the exceptional Kauai Food Tour – Hanapepe Walking Tour. Indulge in over a dozen delectable tastings curated from longtime family establishments in town.

From insider foodie hotspots to desserts along Hanapepe’s roadside, discover the cultural flavors that seed this tightknit community’s roots. With knowledgeable guides revealing Hanapepe’s history between bites, it’s a delicious way to dive into Kauai’s biggest little town!

aerial view over trees looking at the ocean and Ke'e Beach in Kauai, Hawaii, USABest Place to Visit in Hawaii: Book Your Vacation Through Tripster Today!

As we bring our Hawaiian island-hopping adventure to a close, there are still so many wonders left to uncover in this Pacific paradise. For those seeking more off-the-beaten-path gems, consider visiting Keahiakawelo (Garden of the Gods) on Lanai island to explore its otherworldly volcanic rock formations.

Or catch a boat to the remote Kalaupapa National Historical Park, where you can learn about the tragic history of Hansen’s disease on Molokai while taking in gorgeous coastal scenery. With a wealth of biodiversity spanning over 1,500 miles, there is a plethora of hidden gems in Hawaii awaiting intrepid travelers.

From world-famous beaches to secret waterfalls, we’ve only scratched the surface of the best places in Hawaii to visit. As you start planning your own Hawaiian vacation, be sure to check out Tripster for the best deals on Hotels, Luau/Shows, and Vacation Packages.

Hawaii is calling, and it’s time to answer with a big, cheerful ‘Aloha!’

Tell Us, Where Else are the Best Place in Hawaii to Visit?

Let us know in the comments below!

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Written by Archie Villaflores

Over the years, he has won numerous national contests for news and editorial writing, but he has recently discovered that his true passion...

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