The 50 Most Beautiful Places in Hawaii to Add to Your Bucket List

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If you’re looking for the most beautiful places in Hawaii, you’ve come to the right place!

Harrison and I have been to Hawaii three times, and every time, we’ve absolutely loved it!

We went to Oahu on our honeymoon in 2015 (before I was a travel blogger), Maui and the Big Island in 2019, and Maui again in 2020.

We even had another trip planned to the island of Kauai later in 2020, but unfortunately, we had to cancel it due to the pandemic.

All this to say, we love Hawaii, we’ve seen many of its beautiful sites, and we can’t wait to visit as soon as we can to see even more of them!

The Big Island

The island of Hawai’i, in the state of Hawai’i, is nicknamed “the Big Island” because- you guessed it- it’s the biggest! As such, you can expect to find plenty of the most beautiful places in Hawaii on The Big Island.

Akaka Falls, The Big Island

Good news! These falls are actually not that hard to get to. 

Only a half-mile hike through Akaka Falls State Park will bring you to the smaller Kahuna Falls, followed by the much larger Akaka Falls. 

The steps to the falls are carved into the park’s lush greenery. If you make it far enough, the 442-foot waterfall is a sight to behold.

Volcanoes National Park & the Thurston Lava Tube

Photo source

Yes, there are real active volcanoes at Volcanoes National Park! 

Although you won’t be able to enter any area of the park with active lava flow, this is still an interesting place to visit with some pretty sites. 

That said, much of the park is not beautiful, but rather looks like a rocky wasteland.  

The Kilauea volcano usually produces hundreds of cubic yards of lava a day, and you can see the entire caldera and lava lake from a safe distance. 

You’ll find the Kilauea Caldera Overlook on Crater Rim Drive. It provides an all-encompassing view of the volcano.

Sometimes, the volcano isn’t active, like when we visited, but you can still see the cool volcanic landscape.

But for the pretty (and kind of ominous) photo pictured above, head to the Thurston Lava Tube!

The photo above is at the entrance, and from there you walk through a 600-foot long cave created by- you guessed it- lava!

Kaunaoa Beach at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Waimea

big island Hawaii beach sunset

This public beach is relatively short at only a half-mile, but the white sand and turquoise water make it an excellent spot for snorkeling and sunbathing.

It’s often referred to as Mauna Kea Beach because it is right in front of the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel and Golf Course.

There are plenty of trees further back from the water if you need to cool off in the shade.

But if you ask me, the best time of day to visit is sunset. Chances are, a breathtaking view will take your breath away!

Papakolea Green Sand Beach, Hawaii Island

Thomas via Flickr

One of the most unique places on the Big Island, Papakolea is famous for its green sand.

Volcanic activity created the olivine crystals that make up the green sand. If you look at the sand closely, you’ll notice that it has lava and shells mixed in with the crystals.

The beach is remote, located on the southern tip of the Big Island, so you might just get the entire thing to yourself!

Mauna Kea, Hawaii Island

Matt Biddulph via Flickr

Dormant volcanoes don’t stay that way for long, historically speaking, and maybe Mauna Kea is overdue, having erupted approximately 4,000 years ago.

However, you are likely safe at this popular stargazing site.

If you get to trek up the mountainside to look up at the sky, you will be rewarded with quite possibly the most spectacular cosmic show in the world.

Is it any surprise Mauna Kea made it on this list of the most beautiful places in Hawaii?

Unfortunately, we have yet to make it to the top because when we visited it was closed off due to protests. But we can’t wait to see it for ourselves someday!


Heading to the Big Island? Check out my list of 40 things to do on the Big Island!


Pepeekeo Scenic Drive

Terry Ott via Flickr

This four-mile drive off Highway 19 is carved through the lush green rainforest.

You will be rewarded with views of Onomea Bay, and long swaths of the drive are basically through a tunnel of greenery.

It feels a little bit like a fairytale!

Puna, Big Island

Horst Kiehn via Flickr

If you can brave the waves, swim out at Puna’s Kehena beach, for the chance to enter a popular hangout spot for dolphins!

Wild pods of dolphins are known to visit this area on the Big Island’s far east side.

The waves can be rough at pretty much any beach in Hawaii at times, so use caution before entering the water.

Not a fan of dolphins? Not a problem. Take a dip in the Ahalanui Warm Springs in Puna.

The pond is popular with visitors and locals, and the water’s average temperature is a steady 93 degrees all year round.

Pololu Valley

Big sky, green valley, endless ocean? Must be the Pololu Valley lookout.

This spot is easily accessible but feels remote. From this vantage point, you can see the Big Island’s spectacular northern coastline.

Peer into the distance and watch the cliffside fade away into the sky.

Punalu’u Beach, Hawaii Island

Photo source

Hawaii’s volcanic activity means lovely black sand beaches for those excellent Instagram worthy photos.

Punalu’u Beach is one such black sand beach. Great for snorkeling and hiking, and turtle watching.

Be careful of the hot sand, since it absorbs more of the sunshine than the regular stuff.

Rainbow Falls

If you are hanging out at nearby Akaka Falls, pay a visit to the Hawaiian goddess Hina at Rainbow Falls.

At 80 feet, these falls aren’t the tallest, but they are still impressive.

Nestled between tall trees, Rainbow Falls will reward worthy travelers with beautiful rainbows over the water.

Waipi’o Valley

Martha T via Flickr

With incredible views of the Hamakua Coast, the lookout at Waipi’o Valley calls.

The former seat of power for Hawaiian royalty, this area boasts towering cliffs and the tallest waterfall in Hawaii – Hiilawe Falls.

As one of the most beautiful places in Hawaii, this valley is the perfect place for a hike, too!

If you choose to drive down to the valley instead of hike, be sure you have 4-wheel drive… it’s a very steep and bumpy road!

Kauai

“The Garden Isle” is rightfully named… Here are the beautiful places in Hawaii that reside in Kauai.

Secret Falls

Bryce Edwards via Flickr

Even though I guess the secret is out, you won’t want to miss these sacred waterfalls when you visit Kauai.

Tour guides will bring you to Secret falls by kayak with a mile-long trail that follows the trip’s paddling portion.

Once you make it there, take a swim in the freshwater pool below the falls.

Hanalei Bay

Kanaka Rastamon via Flickr

Hanalei Bay, located on the north shore, is an absolute dream.

Perfect for water sports like sailing and paddle boarding, the bay rests under low hanging clouds and between green hills and a sandy beach.

On a foggy day, you can walk to the end of Hanalei Pier and watch the mist rise above the hills in the distance.

Ke’e Beach

Adam via Flickr

The start of the Kalalau trail and home to some of the best swimming in Kauai (where isn’t?), hikers flock to Ke’ e Beach by early morning.

If you are not the hiking type, you can enjoy a dip in the clear water and dodge wild chickens on the sand.

Na Pali Coast

Photo source

On Kauai’s northwestern side, visitors will find the 6,000-acre wilderness park known as Na Pali. 

It’s by far one of the most beautiful places in Hawaii and I can’t wait to see it with my own eyes!

Na Pali Coast is popular with campers and permits sell out far in advance, especially in the summer.

The erosion of the coast’s shoreline is where you will find mountains that seem to fold onto each other, cascading into the distance.

Waikapalae Wet Cave & Open Ceiling Cave

Via Makena Charters

These caves on Kauai’s northern shore have water so blue that you would think it was dyed!

There are two wet caves in the area and, as with most caverns, they have some frigid water. 

The water is fed from underground springs, and the water is bluer when the water level is at its peak.

Polihale Beach

Gary D. Eyring via Flickr

At the end of a dirt road, past sugar cane fields, is the longest white sand beach in Hawaii that tourists seldom see.

Polihale Beach is remote for visitors, but it’s a trendy local haunt and a great place to watch Hawaii’s colorful sunsets.

Queen’s Bath

Photo source

The Queen’s Bath is a lagoon fit for royalty.

Black lava rock at the edge of the shore surrounds the turquoise water in this tide pool.

You can swim with tropical fish inside this large pool, but be warned that it is not safe when local waves are higher than 4 feet.

Wailua Falls

Timothy A. Wise via Flickr

One of Hawaii’s many beautiful waterfalls, Wailua Falls is famous for its cameo on TV’s “Fantasy Island.” 

Don’t remember that show? That’s ok. Just stay for the views.

The waterfall has two-streams dropping endless gallons of water 173 feet down below the Wailua River.

Waimea Canyon

Andy Baerst via Flickr

It’s been called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, but perhaps it’s time to start calling the Grand Canyon the Waimea Canyon of Arizona.

Waimea Canyon’s magnificent dips and divots are covered in beautiful strokes of color, from red to green.

Lanai

Lanai is nicknamed “The Pineapple Isle” because of the many plantations on the island. But it has more than just that- here are some of the most beautiful places you can find in Hawaii on Lanai.

Garden of the Gods

Vadim Kurland via Flickr

Adjacent to Lanai City, the Garden of the Gods looks like it was transported to Lanai from Mars.

The red earth, rock formations, and boulders covered in amber mosses are just some of the things you will see at the Garden of the Gods.

Puu Pehe

Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr

Bring your sweetheart to Puu Pehe, the Sweetheart Rock.

Years of erosion have separated a small rock island from the mainland. It now sits just far enough away from the red rock cliffs to make for a stark view against the deep blue sea.

Kaunolu

Via Indigo Guide

This former fishing village is the site of the most extensive prehistoric Hawaiian ruins.

The area was frequently visited by King Kamehameha I, who would fish here at his house on the edge of a cliff overlooking the bay.

Polihua Beach

Photo source

Polihua Beach is one of the longest and, somehow, emptiest beaches in Hawaii.

You can visit the Garden of the Gods and this beach on the same day for a beautiful comparison of the white sand and blue sea of Polihua with the red earth of the Garden.

Maui

Maui is known as “The Valley Isle,” and it’s easy to see why as you scroll through some of the photos on this list. Check out these beautiful places in Hawaii that live on Maui!

Haleakala National Park

Haleakala means House of the Sun, which might explain why it’s so popular with sunset seekers.

The national park is home to a massive dormant volcano, the rim of which reaches 10,000 feet into the sky.

This is by far one of the most beautiful places in Hawaii if you ask me! This spot is specifically overlooking Red Hill on Haleakala.

If you want to visit for sunrise, you need to make a reservation ahead of time, which you can do here. But check out my instructions on this post to make sure you get your highly-sought-after ticket!

Makena Beach State Park

Flanked by black rock lava on either end, Makena Beach is nearly a mile of pristine white sand and surf.

Popular with travelers who enjoy fishing and snorkeling, a visit to this beach is just what the R&R doctor ordered.

Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach

Paul Bica via Flicr

Can I add a heart-eyes emoji here, because this beach is unbelievable?

Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach is a hidden cove at the end of a trail leading to Ka’uiki Head.

The beach is covered in red sand and surrounded by even reader cliffs. Jagged rocks sit between the ocean and the cove, and are popular with daredevil climbers.

Iao Valley State Park

So this is what it would look like if the movie Avatar were real.

Iao Valley State Park is located in a lush valley, much like you would expect. The lava remnant known as Iao Needle is the focal point, standing 1,200 feet high and covered in greenery.

Waihee Ridge Trail

Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr

The Waihee Ridge Trail is for hikers with a bit of experience.

If you brave the steep 2.5-mile trail, you will be rewarded with views of the Waihee Valley and tropical bird calls.

Road to Hana

The Road to Hana isn’t one spot so you can expect to see plenty of beautiful places along your drive!

As you might have guessed, it’s a road that drives to Hana, a town on Hawaii’s east coast.

This coastal route contains over 50 miles of glorious Hawaiian scenery. Pick the places you will stop at ahead of time on this once-in-a-lifetime road trip.

There is no place like it, with countless waterfalls, beaches, and surprising twists and turns along the way.


Check out my complete list of 60 unforgettable things to do in Maui!


Kula Ali’i Lavender Farm

Hawaii must have been the inspiration for all of the colors of the rainbow. At Kula Ali’i Lavender Farm, you will get a dose of purple.

The delicious lavender smell and beautiful flowers growing over the hills are absolute perfections.

That and the panoramic view of the island make this a great place to visit.

Seven Sacred Pools

Scutter via Flickr

You will see the Seven Sacred Pools appear on itineraries and guidebooks, and for a good reason.

This area is one of the most visited in Maui and, indeed, Haleakala National Park. 

While the name was a bit of a marketing stunt, the natural waterfall and the cascading pools it creates are magnificent and worth visiting.

Wai’anapanapa State Park & Honokalani Black Sand Beach

If you are planning to follow the Road to Hana, Wai’anapanapa must be a destination on your itinerary.

The black sand beach and wild tidepools here are the jewels of Maui.

Remember to charge the batteries in your camera, because you will be snapping a lot of shots.

Waimoku Falls & Bamboo Forest on the Pipiwai Trail

Xavier Lafarge

At 400 feet, Waimoku Falls is the jaw-droppingest (can we say that?) waterfall in Maui.

Follow the Pipiwai Trail through the thick bamboo thicket to make your way to the clearing where you can see the falls in all of their glory.


Click here for my one-week Maui itinerary so you don’t miss a thing!


Molokai

Molokai has been nicknamed “The Friendly Isle”- and rightfully so! As the least touristy of the main six Hawaiian islands, you’ll mostly see locals here. You’ll also see some of the most beautiful places in Hawaii on Molokai!

Pāpalaua Falls

Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr

These waterfalls are so remote; most visitors will only see them by helicopter.

Papalaua Falls drops 1,200 feet, disappearing between two green cliff sides that nearly touch.

From a distance, the waterfall looks like a thin white line cutting through the lush green landscape.

Kalaupapa National Historical Park

Lisa Sasser via Flickr

This historical park aims to preserve the memory and experiences of those sent here and confined to the area due to their affliction with leprosy (Hansen’s disease).

A tour of the park will involve an education of Hansen’s disease and the history of the area.

Papohaku Beach

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner via Flickr

Papohaku Beach is known for its rough waves and white sand.

Though swimming here is probably not a great idea, you can enjoy the sandy beach and watch a beautiful Molokai sunset here.

Molokai’s Halawa Valley

Photo source

Halawa Valley is splendid and can be seen from the road, but it’s best seen on foot with the help of a guide.

This way, you can learn about the history and culture of this vital valley and trek 3 miles through the flora towards Mo’oula Falls.

Molokai Sea Cliffs

Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr

The tallest cliffs in the entire world, standing at nearly 4,000 feet, are the fabulous Molokai Sea Cliffs.

Is it any wonder they made this list of the most beautiful places in Hawaii?

There are almost no words to describe how incredible these remote cliffs genuinely are.

The best vantage point to see them from is definitely from a helicopter tour, but advanced kayakers can paddle to the base for a unique point of view.

Oahu

As the most populated island, Oahu deserves its name, “The Gathering Place.” But it’s more than that, it’s also home to some of the most beautiful places in Hawaii! Read on…

Kaena Point

Brook Peterson via Flicr

Home to a bird sanctuary and some outstanding hiking, Kaena Point is at the western tip of Oahu.

This spot holds cultural significance as the cliff from which spirits of the departed jump to enter the netherworld.

Advanced hikers will enjoy the trails here but be warned that water and sunscreen are an absolute must!

Kaneohe Bay Sandbar

Jai Mansson via Flickr

Grab your snorkel and underwater camera. This unique location in Oahu is a hidden gem that I’m excited to share with you all.

The sandbar is a natural formation in Kaneohe Bay, surrounded by a coral reef.

Perfect for snorkeling and picnic lunches, the area sees a bit of boat traffic, but not much people traffic.

Hanauma Bay

Daniel Ramirez via Flickr

This nature preserve is one of the most popular destinations in Oahu.

The breathtaking beach is the location of volcanic tuff just off the coast, in the water.

The rock creates a separation of turquoise clear water from the deep blue of the ocean and makes for a great place to snorkel as it is teeming with tropical fish.

Ha’iku Stairs (Stairway to Heaven) Hike

Kevin McCarthy via Flickr

Though the hike is now closed to the public (and trespassing signs are prevalently placed), it’s worth mentioning this fantastic hike in Oahu.

The mostly steel steps of this Stairway to Heaven, of which there are nearly 4,000, lead high into the sky and were initially constructed by the US Navy.

Previously, visitors were rewarded with magnificent views of the island and coast, though this is now forbidden.

Kualoa Ranch & Private Nature Reserve

Anthony Goto via Flickr

This ranch is kind of a big deal.

Popular with Hollywood productions, the area is now visited for ziplining and ATV riding.

If you plan on visiting, look out for cows. Kualoa is indeed an active cattle ranch, after all!

Lanai Lookout

Paul Bica via Flickr

On the southeastern shore, you will find the Lanai Lookout.

It is effortless to get to by car and has a parking lot directly adjacent. From here, you can see Lanai, Molokai, and Maui on a clear day.

You can also look the other direction to view the gorgeous ridge in the photo!

Diamond Head Hike

Ashlyn Gehrett via Flickr

Diamond Head is the most famous hiking trail in Hawaii.

If you make it here, you will be rewarded with panoramic views of the city and coast.

The hike is pretty easy, so what’s stopping you? 🙂

Ko’olau Mountain Range & Waterfalls

Dawn Easterday via Flickr

Brave the often muddy trail and make your way to the waterfalls in the Ko’olau Mountain Range.

This relatively short hike (1.5 hours) will take you past pools of water connected by streams that will eventually lead you to a short 35-foot waterfall.

The water is cold, but it’ll feel nice to dip your toes in!

North Shore

Alan Grinberg via Flickr

The surfing Mecca; Oahu’s North Shore is where the world’s best surfers come to pay homage and make a name for themselves.

The North Shore’s beaches combine for a total of 7-miles and host the world’s biggest surfing competitions.

The Mokes

Zoltan Juhasz via Flickr

The Mokes are a pet name for the Mokulua islands, often photographed, but rarely visited.

Though mostly Instagrammed from the beach, these tiny islands can be reached by kayak within 20 minutes.

Your arms will be tired, but it will all be worth it for jumping cliffs and small secluded beaches!

Lanikai Beach

Photo source

Lanikai Beach is not just the vantage point from where you will see the Mokes.

It has often been described as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The sand is white, the water is clear, and palms stand on the periphery offering cool shade to sunbathers.

In conclusion…

I hope you can see just how many beautiful places exist in Hawaii!

The thing is- this list doesn’t even begin to cover all of the stunning beauty Hawaii holds!

Go see it for yourself!

And if you are planning a trip to Hawaii, here are some helpful articles for you!

Safe travels,

Jasmine

PS. If you liked this post, please share it to Pinterest! Here are some images for easy pinning!

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Hi, I’m Jasmine! I’m a nature-obsessed, beauty-finding, Jesus-loving dreamer with a serious case of wanderlust. I’ve quit my 9-5 to become a travel blogger, and my goal is to show others how they can too! And if you love your full time job, stick around for travel tips and inspiration! Thanks for following along on my adventures!

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