With lush green forests occupying the tops of volcanic mountains, the balmy tropical climate, and the meadows that breed gorgeous foliage, Hawaii is paradise on earth. The US state is home to a set of towns that are unique in character.
So, foray into a world of unrelenting adventure and tropical elegance with our pick of the small Hawaiian towns, listed under their respective islands.
The Big Island, so aptly named, is home to a number of towns with some of the most quintessential Hawaiian features.
1. Hilo Town: Verdant Greenery
Thanks to the abundance of rainfall, Hilo Town has given rise to a range of stunning waterfalls and rainforests. If you are a nature lover, you’ll love it here.
Points of Interest: Akaka Falls, Coconut Island, the Hamakua Coast, Imiloa Astronomy Centre, Kaumana Caves Park, Rainbow Falls, the Panaʻewa Rainforest Zoo, Hilo Farmers Market, and the Lyman Museum, Botanical gardens, and Beaches.
Location: North-eastern Side
2. Kailua-Kona: The Main Beach Resort
Plentiful accommodation, abundant sunlight, beaches, bays, cultural sites, excellent nightlife, and restaurants serving delicious Hawaiian cuisine are a few reasons to visit Kailua-Kona. Coffee lovers will find themselves spending most of their time at the cafes that dot the streets.
Points of Interest: Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation, Kamakahonu Beach, Mauna Kea Summit, Saddle Road drive, Kanaloa Octopus Farm, Magic Sands, Kona Cloud Forest, Kiholo Bay.
Location: West Side
3. Waikoloa: A Coastal Town for Families
With winds blazing down Mauna Key and plenty of sunlight all year round, Waikoloa extends a warm welcome to families that love water sports. As you spend your time here in and around modern accommodation establishments and other 21st-century buildings, you’ll also be treated to an eyeful of Hawaiian history.
Points of Interest: Mauna Key, Genesis Gallery, Waikoloa Petroglyph Preserve, Anaehoomalu, Lava Light Gallery, Beach 69, Waialea Bay, Mauna Lani Golf, Hapuna Bay, Kaunaoa Beach
Location: South Kohala Coast
4. Volcano: A Glimpse of Blazing Lava
Volcano Village, or Volcano Town as it’s famously known, Volcano is where you should go if you want to discover the main feature of Hawaii. Just outside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the main attraction, there are plenty of accommodation options.
Hot lava drizzling down the volcanic landscape, characterised by rifts, crevices, and craters, is the main feature of Volcano Village.
Points of Interest: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Volcano Winery, Thurston Lava Tube, Crater Rim Drive, Sulphur Banks,
Location: South Central Part of the Island
Best time to visit the Big Island
Visit between September and November for the best accommodation rates. December to March could be recommended for surfing but expect high accommodation rates.
Endearingly called The Valley Isle, Maui is known for its beaches, delicious cuisine, and mesmerising views that sweep across its rolling hills.
1. Paia: Art, Shopping and Food
With an all-pervasive quirky, artsy undertone, Paia is loved by locals as well as tourists for its laid-back, relaxing atmosphere. From streets dotted with pizza parlours, cafes, boutiques, and art galleries, Paia brings you an experience that’s unique and memorable.
Points of Interest: Baldwin Beach Park, Paia Bay, Mama’s Fish House, Kuau Cove, Hana Highway Drive, Paia Contemporary Gallery
Location: Northern Coast
2. Lahaina: Beaches, Art Galleries, Shopping, Food, and Historical Tokens
With humpback whales that frequent the Hawaiian waters during winter, delicious food, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, Lahaina offers its visitors an all-encompassing experience.
There’s a chockful of shops where you can shop till you drop, and the tours of the only coconut farm in Hawaii are bound to be a unique experience.
And catching the gorgeous sunset from Front Street will make for a memorable evening.
Points of Interest: Front Street, Lahaina Harbour, Baby Beach, Baldwin Home Museum, Old Lahaina Luau, Drums of Pacific Luau
Location: West Maui
3. Kula: Hawaiian farm life and botanical gardens
The climate here is much cooler than on the rest of the island, so bring some warm clothing as you’ll spend most of your time outdoors. Try the delicious French breakfasts and lunches at La Provence and visit the lavender farm to see more than 45 types of lavender.
Also, don’t forget to visit Kuala Country Farms to buy some fresh produce and quench your thirst with a glass of strawberry lemonade.
Points of Interest: Ali’li Kula Lavender, Kuala Country Farms, Sun Yat Sen Park, Hosmer’s Grove, Kula Botanic Gardens, Haleakala National Park, Surfing Goat Diary
Location: Upcountry District
4. Hana: Stunning scenery, food, and adventure
The Road to Hana is the highlight of visiting Maui; the scenic route is absolutely worth your time. The Town of Hana is remote, which only adds to its appeal.
The quiet and peaceful atmosphere coupled with fresh air, gorgeous coastal scenery, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, hiking, mouth-watering seafood dishes and memorabilia of Hawaiian culture is what awaits you in Hana.
Points of Interest: Hana Cultural Centre, Fagan’s Cross, Da Fish Shack, Red Sand Beach, Honokalani Black Sand Beach, Garden of Eden Arboretum & Botanical Garden, ONO Organic Farms, Hana Bay
Location: Eastern Shore of the Island
Best time to visit Maui
April to May and September to November are the best times to visit Maui.
With an unsophisticated and tranquil atmosphere, Kauai is home to a number of outfitter shops and plantation-style structures, giving it a timeless feel.
Kauai is smaller than the other three main islands, so you should be able to visit all these four towns.
1. Hanalei: Art, Heritage, Farmers Markets, and Water Sports
Wedged between a crescent beach and lush mountains, Hanalei is a small town that nurtures the local artistic streak. With art galleries housed in heritage buildings, outfitter shops, waterfalls, farmer’s markets, and water sports ranging from kayaking to stand-up paddling, this small Hawaiian town offers you a complete fix of aloha.
Points of Interest: Hanalei Beach, Limahuli Garden and Preserve, Hanalei Pier, Hanalei Valley Lookout, Hanakoa Falls, Waipa Farmers Market, 7 Artists Gallery
Location: North Shore
2. Hanapepe: Witness Hawaii’s Zest for Life
Called the Biggest Little Town in Kauai, Hanapepe is a quirky town with old buildings that you may have seen in “Flight of the Intruder”, “Jurassic Park”, and “The Thorn Birds”.
Get here on Friday to see the town in full swing, with shops staying open late, food trucks selling a variety of foods, and musicians in the streets playing their favourite tunes to entertain passers-by.
Points of Interest: Hanapepe Friday Night Festival & Art Walk, Salt Pond Beach Park, Swinging Bridge
Location: Southwest Side
3. Waimea: History and Cowboy Culture
With a history highlighted by Captain James Cook’s arrival in 1778 and ranches that keep cowboy culture alive, Waimea is home to oodles of historical ruins that belong to a Russian fort and the once-successful sugar plantation. West Kauai Visitor Centre offers a range of walking tours for travellers who want to see these interesting sites.
Points of interest: Canyon Trail, Waimea Canyon State Park, Polihale State Park, Ishihara Market
Location: West Side
Best time to visit Kauai
April, May, August, September, and October are the best months to visit Kauai.
There’s more to Oahu than Honolulu. The island is home to small towns and villages with vibrant characteristics.
1. Pearl City: History
Home to Pearl Harbour, Pearl City, has so much history – the Pearl Harbour attack is what got the United States drew into the Second World War. To visit this historic site, join a guided tour.
Points of Interest: Waimano Pool Trail, Waimano Ridge Trail, Middle Loch Pearl City, Urban Garden Centre at University of Hawaii
Location: 11 Miles from Honolulu
2. Waimanalo: Beaches
Visit Waimanalo to get away from the bustle of touristy Hawaiian cities. Known for its white sandy beach and little shops and restaurants serving delicious Hawaiian fare, this little town sparkles with an unrefined Hawaiian character.
Points of Interest: Waimanalo Beach, Sea Life Park, Olomana Golf, Small Kine Farm
Location: South-eastern Side
3. Kaneohe: Dazzling Scenery
Tourists visiting Kaneohe are rewarded with stunning panoramic views and a glimpse of beautiful tropical flowers in a setting that’s quaint and peaceful. This is a little shore-side town, yet to be taken over by mass tourism.
Points of Interest: Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens, Byodo-In Temple, Hamama Falls, Friendship Garden, Windward Mall, 21 Degrees Estate Cacao Farm Waipuhia Falls
Location: North-eastern shore
Best time to visit Oahu
April, May, September, and October are the best months to visit Oahu.