One of America’s most beloved places, Hawaii, is a world-renowned tourist destination, not just for its dazzling landscapes and sandy beaches, but for its geographic, cultural, and historical points of interest as well. The Hawaiian Islands are entirely volcanic creating beautiful rugged cliffs, deep lush valley floors, and volcanic craters and active lava fields.
The island of Hawaii, commonly called “The Big Island,” is a popular destination and the location of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Many tourists’ favorite and only Hawaiian Island destination is Oahu which is the most populous and most popular island with many of the favorite attractions, beaches, and entertainment options. Maui is the second largest island and home to many resort areas.
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
On Oahu, one of the favorite destinations is the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, a sheltered bay that is perfect for water activities like snorkeling, diving, swimming, or just kicking back and enjoying the views. The bay is preserved as a marine ecosystem to protect wildlife and to serve as an education program. Visitors to Hanauma Bay can visit the education center or spend time in the water or on the beach.
Kualoa, the world’s most famous private nature reserve a 4,000-acre nature reserve as well as a working cattle ranch stretching from the mountains to the sea. The terrain varies from dense rainforest to open valleys and from beautiful white sand beaches to verdant cliff faces. It is truly a paradise for outdoor recreation with many places accessible only by horseback, on an all-terrain vehicle, or by hiking.
The Polynesian Cultural Center
The Polynesian Cultural Center, on Oahu, is dedicated to sharing the culture of several Polynesian islands with visitors. At the cultural center visitors can explore eight “simulated tropical villages,” that use craftsmen, dancers, and other staff to demonstrate unique aspects of each of the cultures they represent.
Some of the favorite attractions at the include the “Rainbows of Paradise,” canoe and dance performance, canoe rides, and the nighttime performance which features dances and performances that represent Polynesian culture.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
This popular attraction is often the most visited destination in Hawaii and one look at this park filled with explosive natural beauty and you’ll understand why it’s so popular. The park covers the summit of Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano and the world’s largest volcano, Mauna Loa. Touring the volcanoes is an absolute must. Visitors can drive around the summit caldera and maybe even view active lava flow.
Na Pali Coast State Park
On the island of Kaua’I hikers and other adventurists can explore the 6,175 acres Na Pali Coast State Park. The park is famous for stunning vistas and treacherous cliffs. The park is completely inaccessible to vehicles, but visitors love to head to the park on foot, by kayak, or in a helicopter. To get to this unique and secluded area by foot, hikers must walk 11 miles, through 5 valleys before reaching the Kalalau Beach.
Top Things to Do in Hawaii
Waimea Canyon State Park
If you’ve always wanted to go to the Grand Canyon, but couldn’t or if you’ve been there and want to see another one, then Waimea Canyon is it. This massive, breathtaking canyon, often called “the Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” spans 10 miles through the Waimea Canyon State Park and one mile wide, and 3,000 feet deep.
At the state park visitors can enjoy hiking on numerous trails, and of course, spend time taking in the spectacular views of the canyon.
Kalaupapa National Historic Park
The Kalaupapa National Historical Park on the island of Moloka’i provides visitors with insight into a remarkable and misunderstood disease. This national historic park was created to preserve the site of the Kalaupapa Leper Settlement, in order to preserve the cultural and physical elements of two leper colonies on the island. The park educates visitors about the mistreatment of people with Hansen’s disease (leprosy) on Moloka’i, by forcibly relocating them to this isolated region of the island.
In addition to the historical significance of the Kalaupapa, the area is also noted for its remarkable landscapes and well-preserved native ecosystems due to its somewhat isolated location.
Diamond Head State Monument
One of the most visited attractions in Hawaii is the Diamond Head State Monument on Oahu. The monument is actually a small hill, which according to local legend, resembles the forehead of a yellow fin tuna fish, earning it the Hawaiian name Le’ahi.
The monument is famous for its breathtaking views of Honolulu and the coastline. Visitors can get to the summit of Diamond Head via a short hike that leads up the hillside and through many long dark tunnels.
Haleakala National Park
This 33,265 acre park is a wilderness area feature the dormant Haleakala Volcano. The volcano is thought to have erupted between 1480 and 1600 AD, and today remains as the Haleakala Crater. Visitors can reach the summit by car, and the interior crater from two main trails. The park is well known for its scenic vistas and remarkably clear night sky. Visitors are also able to camp in the crater.
USS Arizona Memorial
This world famous memorial honors the 1,177 men and women who died during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Visitors to the memorial can take a short boat ride out to see the sunken hull of the battleship USS Arizona. At the visitor center, you can learn about the attack on Pearl Harbor, enjoy a short documentary film, and view other exhibits.
Things to Do in Hawaii
Whether you’re vacation of choice involves long relaxing days on the beach, mile after mile of steep hills beneath your feet, or a day spent exploring and absorbing culture and history, Hawaii has something to keep every tourist busy. Each of Hawaii’s main islands is filled with gorgeous scenery which lends itself to sightseeing, hiking, and outdoor recreation. Whatever your travel style is, the beautiful Hawaiian Islands should be on any traveler’s list of must-sees.