Hawaii is a very well-known holiday destination, a popular choice for honeymoons, family vacations, and so much more. This island state found in the Pacific Ocean is teeming with picturesque natural scenery, white-sand beaches, and a plethora of tourist attractions just waiting to be explored. From phenomenal national parks and pristine beaches to historical attractions and more, there’s just so much to see and do.
But, just like anywhere else in the world, it’s hard to know which tourist attractions are actually worth visiting, and which ones are just moneymaking time wasters. Sometimes, the only way to know for sure is to hear about the experiences of someone who’s been there and seen it all themselves.
So, I’m going to do just that. I spent two weeks in Hawaii and visited as many wonderful things the state had to offer as possible, so I have firsthand experience that I can share with you. That way, you’ll be able to see and do all the best things in Hawaii and miss out on attractions that just aren’t worth your time.
Here are my recommendations for 10 of the best attractions in Hawaii that are totally worth visiting.
1. Waikiki Beach, Oahu
Most people have heard of Waikiki Beach, and for good reason. Located on the southern shore of Honolulu, Waikiki Beach boasts pristine, white sandy beaches and crystal-clear blue water. Even if you’ve been to some of the most beautiful beaches around the world, Waikiki Beach in Oahu is still worth your time. Enjoy the bustling atmosphere, and take your pick of some of the best things to do at the seaside – whether you enjoy chilling in the sun, surfing, or swimming.
2. Pearl Harbor, Oahu
The course of world history was forever changed on December 7th 1941 when Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese Navy Air Service in a surprise attack against the United States.
Pearl Harbor is situated on the Island of Oahu, just west of Honolulu, and if you visit today, you’ll be able to check out various museums, monuments, and memorials. It is, undoubtedly, a somber experience, but it’s well worth your time while you’re visiting Hawaii.
3. Na Pali, Kauai
Stretching fifteen miles along the coast of Kauai, the Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park offers awe-inspiring views of jagged cliffs and pristine waters below. Some of the best ways to see the coastline are by boat tours, but if you’d like to explore more of the lush greenery, you can embark on challenging hikes to enjoy the natural environment and perhaps even stumble upon a waterfall or two.
4. Hana Road, Maui
Connecting Kahului to the little town of Hana in eastern Maui, Hana Road is a big highway that stretches for 64-odd miles. The drive is known for its incredible scenery, and it will take you about three hours if you don’t stop, but we highly suggest that you do check out some of the attractions en route. A few of the best ones are the Garden of Eden Arboretum, the hike to Twin Falls, and Ho’Okipa Lookout.
5. Haleakala National Park, Maui
Home to a dormant volcano, Haleakala National Park covers almost 25,000 acres and it offers beautiful scenery. It’s home to unusual and rare plants and birds, and it’s one of the best places to watch the sunrise.
6. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Big Island
This national park is home to two famous volcanoes, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. The former is one of the world’s most active volcanoes, and the latter is the world’s largest shield volcano. Visiting these volcanoes is a bucket-list item, as the natural surroundings are absolutely incredible and unique.
7. Polynesian Cultural Center, Oahu
Situated on the rural north shore of Oahu, the Polynesian Cultural Center offers you the all-important opportunity to learn about the different and unique island cultures of Hawaii. It’s a tourist attraction located in Laie, suitable for the whole family, with loads to do and see – you can see cultural shows, check out attractions, and eat local food.
8. Iolani Palace, Oahu
Iolani Palace was built in 1882 and was home to the last reigning Hawaiian monarchs. The construction was led by King Kalakaua, and today, people enjoy visiting it because of its architectural opulence. The monarchy was overthrown not much later, in the early 1890s, making this attraction fascinating from a cultural and historical perspective.
9. Molokini Crater, Maui
Molokini Crater is an unusual natural phenomenon found in the Alalākeiki Channel, between Maui and Kahoʻolawe. It’s a crescent-shaped, partially submerged volcano crater, and these days, it’s a popular – and incredible – place to enjoy natural scenery and do things like swimming and snorkeling.
10. Akaka Falls State Park, Big Island
About 11 miles north of Hilo, Akaka Falls State Park is a beautiful natural attraction. The best way to enjoy it is to hike to the falls and enjoy the view as gaze out at the water cascading down the cliffs, lined with luscious greenery. It’s a really beautiful view, and is totally worth the effort!
One Attraction in Hawaii That Isn’t Worth Visiting – Dole Plantation Maze, Oahu
Unfortunately, not all of the popular tourist attractions we hear about end up being as cool as you hope. In my opinion, Dole Plantation Maze was one of them.
The maze covers about three acres and is made from 14,000 pineapple plants. In 2008, it was named the biggest maze in the world (not anymore), which attracted visitors from all over the world.
However, in my opinion, it just wasn’t as cool as I’d expected. Sure, it’s pretty big and may be more fun for families, but I was disappointed that the labyrinth itself wasn’t particularly challenging or engaging. On top of that, it gets so busy during peak season that it’s actually quite unpleasant.
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