Kilokilo is the Hawaiian word for magic. And we can guarantee that there is a lot of kilokilo in Hawaii. A tropical paradise, with stunning beaches and fiery volcanoes and enriching culture and history and so much more!
The islands of Hawaii exist nearly 2000 miles off the US mainland. It’s the only US state that is also an archipelago. So you can expect to witness many captivating places. But what are the places and experiences you cannot miss while here? We’ll answer that first!
Related: Hawaiian Islands Guide With Map
Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park
The Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park has the most insane landscapes. From a bird-eye view, it looks fantastical thanks to its long-running, sharply rising cliffs. While each sharp ripple is carpeted in green, they do look menacing yet hypnotizing.
The Kalalau trail is a popular 11-mile/18 km hike seasoned hikers join when visiting this wilderness park. If you are not into hiking there are helicopter/flight tours available, so you can catch the beauty of this place from a whole new view!
Fun fact: the legendary Jurassic Park movie was filmed here.
Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park
Volcanos can be scary but also exciting (don’t judge). The famous Volcanoes Park is nestled on the Big Island of Hawaii.
The landscape gives out a desert vibe – with nothing but cooled lava rock for miles with few trees here and there. In 2021 there was an eruption here that created a lava lake – so some parts were closed for safety reasons.
Always visit with a guide, to be safe. Here travellers have the chance to hear the loud booms of gas emissions, see ash sprouting into the air, or experience seismic activity. Definitely not one of your usual hiking experiences.
Lanikai Beach, Oahu
In Hawaiian, this means heavenly beach. This beach is all about the shades of blue you see throughout the coastal stretch. It’s absolutely mesmerising – even on a cloudy day. You can witness the two islets a.k.a. Mokulua Islands from the shore.
Apart from going for a dip, you can also go kayaking, paddle boarding and just have the most heavenly beach day ever! Because that’s exactly what you’re getting here.
Check out our full guide for this beach: Complete Guide to Lanikai Beach
Hana Road, Maui
The Hana Highway is an absolute must-do! If you think we’re exaggerating – no.
This approximately 52-mile route is something else entirely. The sceneries you witness as you take a drive down this route have convinced the world that it’s something every traveller should do.
There won’t be a moment you wouldn’t want to stop your vehicle, get down and take some truly insta-worthy shots! We are talking beaches, waterfalls cascading on the side of the road, and incredible forest trails creating an almost picture-perfect scenery on either side of the road. It’s insanely panoramic.
Kona Coffee Living History Farm, Big Island
Coffee is something everyone needs to ‘adult’ – much like Aspirin and Pepto-Bismol. The Kona Coffee Living History Farm is a must. This award-winning farm is almost an operating work of art.
You can witness traditional crafts, and native agricultural activities – like growing coffee. Enjoy some treats and watch history come to life while learning the stories of the natives and the Japanese immigrants who worked in the land. The farm is open Tuesdays and Fridays from 10. a.m. to 2. p.m. (general entrance fee is approx. 20 USD – for adults, 7 USD – for kids)
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, Oahu
Travel to Oahu to explore this uniquely protected Bay. This location is highly popular amongst snorkelers. There was much restoration done to this location after the pollution of overuse almost destroyed this place.
The waters are absolutely pristine, and the vibrant reefs and the colourful marine life is breathtaking! If you cannot bring your own snorkelling gear, there are several rental shops available. You can’t get into Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve without reserving or paying online – which could roughly cost 25 USD.
Fun fact: This bay was created within a volcano.
Maui Ocean Center, Maui
This famous aquarium homes over 40 pacific coral species and over thousands of marine life. Here you can walk through an underwater tunnel, where you can watch all sorts of sea-life swim beside you and above you beyond the glass wall, check out the 750,000-gallon Open Ocean exhibit, and you cannot miss out on the Turtle Lagoon.
You can also make a reservation to watch turtles being fed. It’s insane! The park is open from 9.00 a.m. – 5. p.m. Tickets can range from 45 USD (for adults) to 30 USD (for kids).
You might also be interested in Strange Laws in Hawaii
Mauna Kea, Hawaii
The Mauna Kea is no ordinary mountain. It’s the highest mountain in Hawaii. While there are plenty of hike tours available, the only way to reach the summit is to take 4WD. But remember to pack warm because it gets chilly – and even snowy during winter.
Looking down at the paradise island of Hawaii against the blue sky and the glistening blue waters of the ocean all in one view can be overwhelmingly stunning. You can even visit the Mauna Kea Observatory which is an active research factory you can tour during the daytime – there is a star gazing program here that you could enjoy as well.
Polynesian Cultural Center, Oahu
Here’s a bountiful treat for all the culture and history buffs! This Polynesian Culture Centre awaits less than an hour’s drive away from Honolulu. We are talking about games! Music and dancing! Arts and crafts! There’s a whole lot going on and it is all fantastic.
Learn and witness all the fascinating things about the daily life of a Polynesian – including all about the vibrant difference in cultures between the Marquesas Islands, Tahiti, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, and the Māori in New Zealand. Operation times: Monday -Saturday from 12.30 – 9.00 p.m.
Tickets must be purchased at the entrance.
Waimea Canyon State Park, Kaua‘i
This stunning state park (a.k.a. the Grand Canyon of the Pacific) extends to over 10 miles. Another intensely stunning natural gem of Hawaii, that should be explored. It goes to a depth of approx.3600 ft- and the main lookouts to visit are Puu Ka Pele and Pu`u Hinahina.
The hiking tours here are more for the season trekkers, but you can also do rafting tours at the river deep below – which is a whole other experience! A must-visit if you ask us.
*Above-mentioned ticket prices and opening times are subject to change.
Noteworthy Beaches To Visit In Hawaii
Waikiki Beach Oahu
Here you get front-row seats to the vibrant Hawaii beach scene. The golden shore is lined up with bustling beach cafes, bars, resorts, shops and more. The hype around this coastal area is very real.
Much like the waves, you surf here, when the sun goes down, the nightlife becomes very real too.
Papohaku Beach Park, Molokai
Looking for a secluded beach paradise in Hawaiian? As ambitious as that is – there is one. Papohaku Beach Park is a 3-mile beach stretch of stunningly blue yet clear waters, golden sand, and just a handful of beachgoers!
Note: Be cautious about the undercurrents and tidal conditions.
Waimea Bay, Oahu
This panoramic and world-famous beach is a historic global surf destination. Seasoned surfers ride 30-foot-high waves – during winter. If the excitement’s not sufficient then it also offers cliff jumping. This is apart from the other fun water activities like kayaking, snorkelling and diving. Absolutely beautiful!
Kā‘anapali Beach, Maui
White sandy shores and pristine turquoise waters make a beach a paradise. Kā‘anapali Beach offers that and more – like colourful reefs, which you can explore when snorkelling, these waters are also home to green turtles (honu’s in Hawaiian).
You can also watch humpback whales visit the waters. (Happens mostly from March to November)
Hanalei Bay, Kaua‘i
Here is a beach that offers something different. The sceneries here are not common. You cannot ignore the silent, gigantic mountains in the distance from the side. Here you can walk on the iconic Kaua’i pier and also engage in the many epic water activities!
Po‘ipū Beach, Kaua‘i
This crescent-shaped golden-shored beach is loved by travellers of all ages. It has some lovely, gentle tide pools and it’s really ideal for snorkelling next to sea turtles. A popular beach amongst both locals and travellers.
Top Parks To Explore In Hawaii
Hawaii homes a number of truly beautiful and unique parks – including many world heritage sites. There’s much to see and much to learn. Some parks look otherworldly while others look like a verdant universe of their own.
You can learn so much about the history of Hawaii and its ancestral natives, chase cascading waterfalls and trek sky-reaching mountains. It’s truly an experience all on its own.
- Haleakala National Park, Maui
- Hamakua Heritage Corridor, Hawaii
- Wailua Falls, Kauai
- Iao Valley State Monument, Maui
- Waipio Valley Lookout, Hawaii
Frequently Asked Questions
How many official languages does Hawaii have?
Hawaii has 2 official languages. Olelo Hawai’i (the native Hawaiian language) and English.
What is the most visited island in Hawaii?
Oahu is the most visited Hawaiian island. Statistics point towards an average of 4.7 million visitors annually.