Top 10 Places to Visit in Hawaii

Aloha and welcome to our Top Places to Visit in Hawaii list. We love to provide our readers with the latest insiders’ knowledge and tips about the best thigs to do in Hawaii from a local perspective. Whether you live in Hawaii or are planning your next island-style vacation, please enjoy this short list of must-see places in Hawaii.

Best Places Visit Hawaii Na Pali Coast Kauai

With so many incredible locations to see throughout the Hawaiian Islands, it is impossible to list everything in just one blog post! Please enjoy our carefully curated list of the most popular places to visit in Hawaii.


USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor


The USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu is the #1 Visitor Destination in the Hawaiian Islands. Over 2 million U.S. and international visitors choose to visit the Arizona Memorial every year to see where WWII began for America. There are 9 historic sites that contribute to the WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument located in Alaska, California, and Hawaii. Five are at Pearl Harbor: the USS Arizona Memorial, USS Utah Memorial, USS Oklahoma Memorial, and areas within Battleship Row and Ford Island.

FREE tours are available from 8 am to 3 pm daily, except for certain holidays. For more information about daily guided tours of the USS Arizona Memorial visit Pearl Harbor Tours.

Located on over 17 acres, the recently renovated Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is now operated by the National Park Service. While visiting Pearl Harbor, guests can tour the entire Visitor Center but should be prepared to spend a couple of hours if they want to take their time and see it all. Upon arrival, guests will be guided towards a ticket counter to receive both movie tickets, for a film summarizing the events of this historic site, and boat shuttle tickets, for a trip to the USS Arizona Memorial. The film and the boat tour together are approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes. Guests will also have the option to arrange a headphone-narrated tour at the ticket counter.

Pearl Harbor is the largest natural harbor within the State of Hawaii and was once referred to as Pu’uloa by the ancient Hawaiians. The Hawaiian name directly translates to “water of pearl,” perfectly christened for the immense amounts of pearls that were once found in its waters.

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North Shore of Oahu


The North Shore of Oahu refers to the geographic area between West Oahu’s Ka’ena Point and East Oahu’s Kahuku Point. The North Shore is well-renowned for its incredibly large waves during the Winter, breathtaking coastlines, and for attracting surfers from all around the globe. Famous North Shore surf spots include Waimea Bay, Sunset Beach, and Banzai Pipeline (Ehukai Beach).

The main hub in the North Shore is the historic Town of Hale’iwa, named after the first hotel opened on the North Shore by Benjamin Dillingham in 1898. Hale’iwa is definitely one of the coolest and most charming towns to visit in all of Hawaii with art galleries, local food spots, surf shops, a surf museum, gift shops, food trucks, yoga studios, and a great community of laid-back residents.

When on the North Shore of Oahu, definitely go to Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck in Kahuku and order the garlic shrimp plate, visit the historic M.Matsumoto’s Grocery Store in Hale’iwa Town for shave ice, spend some time at Waimea Bay, and check out Lani’s Beach (Laniakea Beach) to see the Green Hawaiian Sea Turtles in their natural habitat. Please do not touch the turtles!

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Waikiki Beach


The name Waikiki, in essence, means “spouting waters,” and refers to the freshwater rivers that once flowed towards the ocean. In ancient times, the coastal area of Waikiki in South Oahu once encompassed a larger area, including Manoa and Palolo Valleys. During the 1450s, Waikiki was designated as the first government center in all of Hawaii.

Indeed, there’s a host of reasons why Waikiki is one of the top places to visit in Hawaii!

First of all, Waikiki was the first vacation destination for Hawaiian royalty, and then, foreign visitors began to frequent Waikiki in the 1830’s. The first hotel was opened in 1901, and a global trend was created! It was then that Waikiki started to become one of the most sought after vacation destinations in the world.

Today, Waikiki is a gorgeous beach town spread across 1.5 square miles, lined by hotels, luxurious resorts, and decorated by a variety of restaurants, shopping centers, and nightlife. Waikiki Beach is a glory in its own right with fabulous stories of Hawaiian entertainers like Hilo Hattie and Andy Cummings.

Mainland celebrities that contributed to popularizing Waikiki were Clark Gable, Frank Sinatra, Shirley Temple, Bing Crosby, Amelia Earhart and Elvis Presley. Perhaps one of the most cherished Waikiki names is Duke Kahanamoku, a celebrated Hawaiian hero and a master waterman.

When in Waikiki, take surf or standup paddleboard lessons at Waikiki Beach, check out the Duke Kahanamoku statue, visit the Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Aquarium, and take a walk through the international marketplace for gifts, souvenirs, and a chance to taste some local fare. Do not miss out on happy hour and some ono pupus (appetizers) at Duke’s Waikiki on Sundays to listen to famed Hawaiian musician Henry Kapono.

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Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park


The Na Pali Coastline on Kauai is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places on earth. This coastal region isn’t just one of the best places to see in Hawaii, but it is also super rich in Hawaiian cultural history. This area was home to Hawaiian Ali’i (royalty) and is known for its exuberantly flowing waterfalls and freshwater rivers, an abundance of Hawaiian flora and fauna, and an excess supply of natural food sources from the valley to the sea: taro, sweet potatoes, breadfruit, fresh fish and more. Since the Na Pali Coastline can only be reached by foot or ocean vessel, it has remained somewhat isolated.

Today, visitors and Hawaii residents have a few choices available to them when exploring the Na Pali Coastline. The most “mainstream,” and popular way for guests to explore this coastline is by ocean vessel. A variety of sailing companies on Kauai provide snorkel tours to the Na Pali Coastline, sunset dinner cruises, and longer Kauai ocean tours to Nualolo Kai, a remote beach where guests can snorkel, explore, and visit an 800-year-old Hawaiian fishing village.

Another option for experiencing the Na Pali Coastline is by foot through the Kalalau Trail (22 miles roundtrip). Here, Kauai visitors can explore a rare eco-system, see natural waterfalls and streams, dramatically rugged coastlines and two gorgeous beaches, Hanakapi’ai and Kalalau Beach. The full hiking/camping trip through the Na Pali Coastline is at the very least a 3-day trip, although the first 2 miles of the Kalalau Trail from Ha’ena Point to Hanakapi’ai Beach makes for a wonderful day trip, approximately 4 miles roundtrip.

We suggest that guests hoping to explore the Na Pali Coast begin by carefully planning first. We strongly suggest that you do not attempt hiking the Kalalau Trail between mid-September and May to avoid unsafe weather and terrain conditions.

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Haleakala National Park


Visit the magical Island of Maui, and feel the power of the 10,023-ft dormant Mt. Haleakala all around you! While on the Valley Isle, visitors absolutely must plan an adventure to Haleakala for a sunrise or a sunset, guided activities, hiking, and camping. When visiting Haleakala for sunrise or sunset, plan for at least a 1-1/2 hour drive from Central Maui (Kahului) to the summit.

This is a must-do activity on Maui, and after witnessing the jaw-dropping scenery, you will instantly understand why Haleakala, “The House of the Sun,” is one of the top places to visit in Hawaii.

Due to the high elevation, the temperature drops, so bring something warm to wear for the unpredictable weather. Make sure you load up on gas, bring food and water, and check up on local sunrise and sunset times. Reservations must be made in advance.

If you’re planning on doing guided activities at the Haleakala Crater, plan for all the most recent event information.

Here, guests can gather in an outdoor classroom and learn more about Maui’s geography and Haleakala’s unique natural and cultural history. Park naturalists are extremely educated on all topics and easily engage all participants with science projects, demonstrations, and short guided hikes. If you’re planning a visit for sunrise, you’ll need to be sure to make a parking reservation.

For hiking and camping adventures to Haleakala National Park, do your research and plan your activities ahead of time. Various day-trip hiking options are available, but Haleakala is most famously traveled through multi-day hiking and camping trips. In this way, guests can journey through the Crater while learning about Maui’s unique eco-systems with approximately 30-miles of hiking trails.

Popular Haleakala Maui trails include The Kaupo Gap, Sliding Sands, Halemauu, Hosmer Grove & Supply Trails, and Kipahulu.

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Road to Hana


If you’re visiting Maui, do not miss out on a chance to witness one of Hawaii’s most beautiful landscapes by journeying to East Maui on the Hana Highway. This is unquestionably one of the most incredible and unique places to visit in all of Hawaii.

The Road to Hana is one of the most popular activities to do in Hawaii and one that Maui lovers should do at least once in their lifetimes. Most visitors choose to experience the road to Hana in one of two ways: by car or as part of a guided tour. The choice is yours, but a solo trip with just family and friends is probably the best scenario for those looking to explore more freely.

If you are driving, please be pono (respectful). Pull over at designated parking areas (look for the signage), and do not slow down traffic by abruptly stopping your car for a photo opportunity or a coconut. It’s not only dangerous but is also absent-minded and rude behavior toward the many East Maui residents who traverse the Road to Hana daily. Mahalo for understanding!

En route to Hana, guests should definitely stop in Paia Town to gas up and get some coffee and snacks for the drive ahead. We suggest that you plan to reach Paia Town by 7 am. This way you can avoid the traffic that will inevitably dominate the Road to Hana from late morning until the afternoon. We also suggest that you do your research and choose a few places that you definitely want to visit so that you do not get caught up in all the stops on the way—otherwise, your day will go by quickly and you will be sad that you missed some sites!

While traveling down the Road to Hana, we suggest the following stops: Twin Falls (Mile Marker 2) for a light hike to a beautiful waterfall and a refreshing smoothie or fresh coconut, Nahiku Marketplace (Mile Marker 29) for yummy treats and gifts, and Wai’anapanapa State Park (Mile Marker 32) to see a black sand beach, a gorgeous coastline, and a rare glimpse into Old Hawaii. Reservations are required to visit Wai’anapanapa.

Once you reach Hana Town, check out Hana Bay, the art galleries, and farmers markets. Just past Hana, guests can spend the day at Hamoa Beach, or travel further towards Kipahulu to view the 7 Sacred Pools of Ohe’o.

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Moloka’i’s Kalaupapa National Historical Park


Established in 1980, the Kalaupapa National Historical Park pays homage to the Kalaupapa and Kalawao Settlements, the late Saint Damien and all of his helpers, and the residents that have suffered from Hansen’s Disease (Leprosy). Kalaupapa in Moloka’i is a remote destination that embodies a spirituality full of natural Hawaiian beauty and serves as a symbol of commemoration for those who suffered from diseases brought to the Hawaiian people who did not have immunities to Western illnesses. Since 1866, Kalaupapa housed more than 8,000 people who died from Hansen’s Disease.

Today, the Kalaupapa Settlement can be visited by securing a visitors permit and a tour through Damien Tours, or Kalaupapa Rare Adventure Tours for those who wish to travel by a sure-footed mule. The 3 1/2 mile hiking trail is uneven, so it is suggested that visitors are well prepared and in good health before venturing to Kalaupapa. Tours stop at all places of interest including the Windward side of the peninsula, lunch in Kalawao, and the Kalaupapa Bookstore.

The mission of this historic Hawaii park is to “provide a well-maintained community that ensures that the present patient-residents of the Kalaupapa Settlement may live out their lives peacefully and comfortably.”

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Trip to Lana’i


The Island of Lana’i is a breathtakingly gorgeous, privately owned island in the Hawaiian archipelago. It is also known as the “Pineapple Isle,” a title earned by becoming one of the world’s foremost pineapple growing locations in history. Located within Maui County, Lana’i does not have direct service from outside of Hawaii but can be reached by an inter-island flight from the Honolulu or Kahului Airport, or by ferry from Maui’s Lahaina Harbor.

When on Lana’i, guests have only a handful of lodging options from which to choose, including two Four Seasons Resorts, the Hotel Lana’i, private vacation rentals or camping. Whether you are visiting Lana’i only for the day or longer, we strongly suggest that you rent a 4×4 vehicle so that you can explore the variety of sites that Lana’i has to offer.

On Lana’i, guests should definitely explore Keahiakawelo, also known as the Garden of the Gods. It is located 45 minutes from Lana’i City at the end of Polihua Road on the Northwest side of the island. Here, guests can visit an area full of Hawaiian history with an other-worldly landscape of rock towers, spires, boulders, and gorgeous Pacific Ocean views. Other noteworthy activities on Lana’i include visiting Sweetheart Rock and Puu Pehe Beach (a perfect place for a romantic outing with breathtaking views), snorkeling and scuba diving at Hulopoe Bay, traveling down the Monroe Trail by horseback, and lavishing in luxury at the world-class golf resorts.

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Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

Big Island

Experience “Old Hawai’i” while venturing to the landscape created by the Big Island’s powerful volcano and witness her ecological dominance firsthand. Since 1916, the Big Island’s Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park has been the place to go for those who’d like to learn more about how the Hawaiian Islands were formed through a fascinating and eruptive timeline of events. Without a doubt, this is one of the most sought after places to visit in Hawaii.

There are a variety of ways to explore the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, with main interests being visiting the Hawaii Volcano Observatory and observing billowing steam vents, volcanic lava fields, fiery infernos, a 500-year-old lava cave, the Halema’uma’u Crater, and Kilauea’s Caldera from a safe distance.

When visiting the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, plan ahead if you’d like to take a guided tour, a day hike or a longer backcountry hike. If you can only visit for a few hours, definitely try to explore the Kilauea Summit by journeying the 11-mile Crater Rim Drive. Here, guests can drive around the summit caldera, see desert and jungle landscapes, and have a chance to pull over and take short walks to scenic points of interest. Since there are ongoing volcanic eruptions on the Big Island, we highly suggest that guests check for visitor alerts and road closures, and always follow the guidance of the Hawai’i State Park Rangers.

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Kona Coffee Farms

Big Island

Whether you’re a coffee lover or not, definitely take the time to visit at least one coffee farm while you are on the Big Island. There are hundreds of coffee farms in Kona, so choose a few, and tour them throughout a day like you would on a wine tasting adventure! See coffee farms and mills and learn how the beans are processed. Taste all the unique flavors that are rich in Hawaii’s agricultural roots.

Besides experiencing the unique coffee pleasures of each destination you choose, you will have the incredible advantage of sightseeing and exploring on your way.

If you’re visiting Kona in November, make sure to attend the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival in the historic Kailua-Kona Village. Guests can participate in Hawai’i’s local culture while celebrating with food and coffee vendors, live music, and entertainment. This is a great way to explore all of the coffee farm delights at once.

We suggest that you visit Greenwell Farms, the Hilo Coffee Mill, Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation, and the Kona Coffee Living History Farm during any other time of the year.

These are all wonderful choices for exploring and tasting Kona Coffee history through guided tours. Enjoy tasting the coffee and learning the history of these incredible places to visit in Hawaii!

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Mahalo for reading Pride of Maui’s Top 10 Places to Visit in Hawaii! This article could easily have been “Hawaii’s Top 1,000 Places to Visit” with such an abundance of wonderful places to see throughout the Hawaiian Islands. For more information about things to do in Hawaii, snorkel trips on Maui, and other ocean activities, please continue to peruse the Pride of Maui Blog and our website!