If Hawaii isn’t one of your dream destinations, it definitely needs to be on the list! With so many incredible places to visit in Hawaii, this list will make you want to book your plane tickets ASAP. We’re sharing some of the best things to do in Hawaii you don’t want to miss on your trip.
With amazing attractions, gorgeous beaches, historical sites, and unbelievable National Parks, Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Whether you are heading to Hawaii on your honeymoon, with your family, or traveling solo, there’s something on this list for everyone.
10 Amazing Things to See in Hawaii
1. Diamond Head
One of the most iconic backdrops on Oahu is Diamond Head. The best view of this mountain is from Waikiki Beach. Perhaps the better view is from the top of Diamond Head. The best way to do reach the summit is waking up early and hiking. The path isn’t too difficult but it includes a lot of stairs. Plan to go early because this hike can get really hot later in the day.
2. Turtle Beach
If you want to see Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles, head to Laniakea Beach (aka Turtle Beach) on the North Shore of Oahu. You’re almost guaranteed to see turtles hanging out on the sand or swimming in the ocean. Turtles like it here because the beach has a lot of coral and rocks, so it’s a great place to snorkel. Plus, there are usually volunteers available to tell you more about these gorgeous animals.
3. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
When people think of Hawaii, they often envision volcanoes and lava flowing into the ocean. The best spot for seeing lava in Hawaii is at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as a National Park. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is great for adventure travelers because of the many hiking trails, lava tubes to explore, and unique camping spots. There are also special ranger programs and a really cool museum and visitors center.
4. Pearl Harbor
One of the most well-known historical sites in Hawaii is Pearl Harbor. When the Japanese attacked the United States during World War II, it happened at Pearl Harbor. Today, Pearl Harbor attracts thousands of tourists each day who come to pay their respects to the lives lost on the USS Arizona and around Pearl Harbor that day.
There’s also the USS Missouri battleship, the USS Bowfin submarine, and one of the coolest aviation museums in the United States. Visitors can either join a Pearl Harbor tour or visit on their own. Free tickets to the USS Arizona are available each morning on a first come-first served basis.
5. Waimea Canyon
One of the most famous places to see on Kauai is Waimea Canyon. Nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”, it’s a stunning place to visit. Head to Waimea Canyon on a clear day and the view is breathtaking. There’s a viewing platform just steps away from the parking lot, making it easy for families and visitors with limited mobility. Those looking for adventure will find plenty of hiking trails. This is also a popular place to take a helicopter tour of Kauai.
6. Road to Hana
On Maui, it’s common to see visitors wearing shirts that say “I survived the Road to Hana”. It’s a super windy (and sometimes terrifying) road that goes from Paia on the North Shore to the little town of Hana. People don’t drive on the Road of Hana just to get to a destination. It’s more about enjoying this scenic drive on Maui and stopping to see epic waterfalls, beautiful gardens, and picking up local fruit and homemade banana bread. It’s a popular Maui day trip and it’s great for families, budget travelers, hikers, and anyone looking for Instagrammable spots in Maui.
7. Polynesian Cultural Center
One of the top attractions on Oahu is the Polynesian Cultural Center on the North Shore. There are six different Polynesian Villages staffed by Brigham Young University students from each of the Polynesian islands. They offer hands-on activities, cultural demonstrations, a canoe pageant, and so much more. It’s also a great place to see a North Shore luau. They also have a stunning theatrical show called Ha: Breath of Life that is mesmerizing.
8. Iolani Palace
The only royal palace in the United States is located on Oahu. Iolani Palace in Honolulu was built by the last king of Hawaii, King David Kalakaua. It was the first place to have electricity in Hawaii, and Iolani Palace recently was awarded the IEEE Milestone in Electrical Engineering. Visitors can take a self-guided tour or join a docent-led tour. The tours are great and visitors can see how the palace was set up in the late 1800s, and learn the origins of the Hawaii state song “Aloha Oe.”
9. Haleakala Crater
A visit to Haleakala National Park on Maui feels like exploring another planet. The rocky landscape is completely different than anywhere else in Hawaii. One of the most popular times to visit is before sunrise. People call watching the sunrise at Haleakala a religious experience. There are also many hiking trails for exploring the park. Another fun thing to do is rent a bike and ride down the mountain while enjoying sweeping views of Upcountry Maui.
10. Waikiki Beach
No list of things to do in Hawaii is complete without Waikiki Beach. It’s the most famous Hawaiian beach and has been featured in countless movies and TV shows for decades. The waves are nice and calm and the surf breaks far from the beach, making it perfect for families and visitors learning to surf. Waikiki is a vibrant area full of boutiques, restaurants, hotels, and interesting street performers. It’s also the ultimate place to sit and enjoy live music and hula dancing while drinking Mai Tais and watching the sunset. And if you want to stay up late, be sure to catch the Hilton Hawaiian Village fireworks, the show happens once a week at the beach.
About the author: Marcie Cheung writes the Hawaii destination site Hawaii Travel with Kids. She’s visited Hawaii more than 35 times with (and without) kids. Join her Facebook Group to get Hawaii travel tips and budget hacks.