Explore Hawaii’s Top 15 Must-See Destinations in 2023

Hawaii

Hawaii is undoubtedly one of the most popular vacation spots for US citizens. That means that you probably have heard about some of the places we will discuss in our list, but be sure to keep your eye out for some hidden gems!

1. Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park, Kauai

View from a walking trail on the Na Pali Coast in Kauai, one of the best places to visit in Hawaii

IndustryAndTravel/Shutterstock

Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park, Kauai, is a stunningly beautiful place to visit. Located on the northwest shore of Kauai, it’s one of Hawaii’s most remote and pristine areas. An absolute gem.

The park offers breathtaking views of towering sea cliffs, cascading waterfalls, lush valleys, and secluded beaches. It’s also home to an array of wildlife including dolphins, whales, and monk seals.

Whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, there are plenty of activities to choose from. Hiking is popular here with trails ranging from easy strolls along the beach to challenging treks up steep mountainsides.

2. Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii

Stunning view at the entrance of Volcanoes National Park, one of the best places to visit in Hawaii

Jo Crebbin/Shutterstock

Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii, is a must-see destination for any traveler. Located on the Big Island of Hawaii, this park offers an incredible array of activities and sights to explore.

Hiking trails range from easy walks through lush rainforest terrain to more challenging hikes up steep slopes or along ridges overlooking craters and steam vents. From beginners to advanced adventurers, there are options for all.

Visitors can also participate in ranger-led programs such as night hikes or star gazing sessions at Halemaumau Crater Observatory, unique experiences that cannot be replicated anywhere.

3. Haleakala National Park, Maui

Tourist view of the Halaekala Volcano in Maui, one of the best places to visit in Hawaii

Henner Damke/Shutterstock

Haleakala National Park, Maui, is a must-see destination for any traveler. Located on the island’s eastern side, this park offers breathtaking views and a variety of activities to enjoy.

One of the most popular attractions in the park is watching the sunrise from its summit. The view from 10,000 feet above sea level is one that you won’t soon forget!

For those who don’t want to make it up to the summit, there are plenty of great lookout points along your journey up or down from Haleakala’s peak.

4. Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head State Monument, Oahu

Observation point at Diamond Head in Honolulu, one of the best places to visit in Hawaii

Jordan Tan/Shutterstock

Waikiki Beach, and Diamond Head State Monument, Oahu, are two of the most popular attractions in Hawaii. Located on the south shore of Oahu, Waikiki Beach is a stunning stretch of white sand beach that has drawn visitors for decades.

At Waikiki Beach, you can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, surfing or just relaxing on the beach with a good book. Just east of Waikiki lies Diamond Head State Monument – one of Hawaii’s most iconic landmarks.

This extinct volcano crater is home to some incredible views and trails leading up to its summit where hikers can take in panoramic views stretching out to the Honolulu cityscape below.

5. Kona Coffee Living History Farm, Hawaii

Coffee plantation on Kona, one of the best places to visit in Hawaii

Dmitri Kotchetov/Shutterstock

Kona Coffee Living History Farm, Hawaii is an incredible place to visit for any tourist. Located on the Big Island of Hawaii, this farm offers a unique educational experience that will make your trip unforgettable.

The Kona Coffee Living History Farm was established in 1997 by local farmers who wanted to preserve their heritage and share it with visitors worldwide.

The farm is home to some of the oldest coffee trees in Hawaii and other historic buildings like a traditional Hawaiian hale (house). Visitors can explore these structures while learning about how coffee was grown and processed in olden times.

6. Hana Road, Maui

Winding road to Hana pictured alongside the coastline in Mau on a semi-cloudy but still sunny day

William Powell/Shutterstock

Hana Road, Maui is one of the most popular destinations for tourists visiting Hawaii. This winding road stretches over 50 miles and offers breathtaking views of lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and stunning beaches.

Along the way, you can find plenty of places to stop and explore including Haleakala National Park, Waianapanapa State Park, Oheo Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools), Hana Town, and more!

You can also stroll through Waianapanapa State Park where you’ll find black sand beaches or take a dip in the Seven Sacred Pools at Oheo Gulch.

7. Pearl Harbor

White bridge and memorial over the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor, one of the must-see attractions in Hawaii

Dawid Pawelec/Shutterstock

Pearl Harbor and USS Arizona Memorial, Oahu, is one of Hawaii’s most popular tourist destinations. Located on the island of Oahu, this historic site serves as a reminder of the tragic events during World War II.

The USS Arizona Memorial is located at Pearl Harbor and offers visitors a unique experience.

Visitors can explore the wreckage from the sunken battleship and view artifacts from its time in service, offering an opportunity to pay respects to those who lost their lives during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

8. Waipio Valley Lookout, Hawaii

Group of three tourists soaking in the natural beauty of the Waipio Valley lookout on the Big Island

Fominayaphoto/Shutterstock

Waipio Valley Lookout, Hawaii is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state. Located on the Big Island, this stunning valley overlooks a lush green landscape and offers spectacular views of Waipio Valley below.

One of the best things to do at Waipio Valley Lookout is take in its breathtaking views. From here, you can see down into Waipio Valley where numerous waterfalls cascade down from high cliffs.

There are also plenty of trails that lead through dense forests and along rivers for those looking to explore deeply nature’s beauty, it’s a hike that you won’t forget.

9. Polynesian Cultural Center, Oahu

As an idea for a roundup of the best places to visit in Hawaii, a shot of the palm trees at the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu

Gilbert Cantu/Shutterstock

One of the most visited tourist attractions in Hawaii is the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu. It is situated on Oahu’s North Shor and provides tourists with a distinctive and comprehensive understanding of Polynesian culture.

The complex has seven towns that depict various Polynesian civilizations, including Samoa, Tahiti, Fiji, and others. Activities including canoe excursions, cultural demonstrations, and traditional dance performances are available in each community.

Take part in the culture of the area! Visitors can participate in the center’s programs, including practical classes where they can learn how to make Hawaiian crafts like leis or weave lauhala mats.

10. Mauna Kea, Hawaii

Distant shot of a person at the summit of Mauna Kea on a clear day with clouds in the valley down below

Chris Finch Photography/Shutterstock

Hawaii’s Mauna Kea is a must-visit location for tourists who want to take in the natural splendor of the Hawaiian Islands. Mauna Kea is a majestic mountain on the Big Island that rises impressively 13,796 feet above sea level.

There is something for everyone here, from hiking routes that provide beautiful views of the island’s verdant scenery to stargazing chances in one of the top locations in the world for astronomy.

Lake Waiau is located on Mauna Kea’s summit at a height of 13,020 feet above sea level and serves as a holy location for native Hawaiians. Locals believe their goddess Poliahu created it, one of the mountain’s most well-known attractions.

11. Papohaku Beach Park, Molokai

Waves lap the shoreline of Papohaku Beach Park on Molokai, one of the best places to visit on a trip to Hawaii

Bob Pool/Shutterstock

Papohaku Beach Park, Molokai is a stunningly beautiful and serene beach park located on the western side of Molokai. This three-mile-long white sand beach is one of the longest in Hawaii and provides an ideal setting for swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, fishing or simply relaxing under the sun.

Swimming is popular here due to its crystal clear waters and gentle waves. Snorkelers can explore the coral reefs just offshore while kayakers can paddle along the shoreline looking for sea turtles or dolphins that frequent this area.

Fishing enthusiasts will find plenty of opportunities here as well with several species of fish available in these waters including Mahimahi and Ono (Wahoo). An adventure to remember.

On the western side of Molokai sits Papohaku Beach Park, a breathtakingly lovely and tranquil beach park. One of the longest beaches in Hawaii, this three-mile stretch of white sand is perfect for swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, or just lounging in the sun.

Because of this area’s clean waters and mild waves, swimming is very popular. While kayakers paddle along the shore seeking sea turtles or dolphins that frequent this area, snorkelers can explore the coral reefs offshore.

Numerous fish species exist in these waters, including Mahimahi and Ono (Wahoo), so anglers will also have many options here. Certainly, a memorable experience.

12. Kauai’s Botanical Gardens

Stunning and vibrant purple flowers in the botanical gardens in Kauai, one of the best places to visit in Hawaii

Bob Pool/Shutterstock

The Botanical Gardens on Kauai are one of Hawaii’s most visited tourist destinations. It’s no surprise that so many people visit this paradise every year given its luxuriant tropical vegetation, beautiful views, and rare species of plants and animals.

You can partake in several activities, such as guided tours examining the history and culture of Kauai’s native flora and wildlife, bird-watching excursions, or simply enjoying a stroll through the grounds.

Educational programs are also offered for people interested in learning more about Kauai’s natural environment, gardening methods, and plant care seminars.

13. Halawa Valley, Molokai

Stunning view of the Halawa Valley, one of the best places to visit in Hawaii, with a stream opening up from the mountains

Reimar/Shutterstock

Halawa Valley, Molokai, is a must-see destination for any traveler looking to experience the beauty of Hawaii. Located on the eastern side of Molokai, Halawa Valley offers breathtaking views and plenty of activities to keep visitors entertained.

From snorkeling in crystal clear waters to hiking up ancient trails, plenty of outdoor activities are available at Halawa Valley.

The valley is home to numerous points of interest including ancient Hawaiian petroglyphs, an old fishpond that dates back centuries, and two spectacular waterfalls – Moaula Falls and Hiilawe Falls – which offer stunning views from above or below, depending on your preference.

14. Maui Ocean Center, Maui

Green sea turtle at the Maui Ocean Center, as seen from the POV of a person on the side of the tank observing the creatures

Kailey Wistort/Shutterstock

Maui Ocean Center, Maui is a must-see destination for any traveler exploring Hawaii’s beauty. Located on Maalaea Bay, this center offers visitors an unforgettable experience with its incredible marine life exhibits and interactive activities.

From snorkeling in the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium to swimming with sharks and stingrays, there’s something for everyone at the Maui Ocean Center.

Visitors can take part in educational programs such as “Meet The Sharks” or “Snorkel With Stingrays” where they can learn about different species of sea creatures up close and personal.

Guided tours also provide an overview of the various habitats within the center and fun facts about each.

15. Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai

Stunning view of the waterfall in Waimea State Park, as seen from the red clay soil above

MNStudio/Shutterstock

Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai is one of Hawaii’s most beautiful and awe-inspiring places. Located on the western side of Kauai, it offers breathtaking views of deep valleys, lush forests, and cascading waterfalls.

For those looking for an adventure, there are plenty of activities to choose from at Waimea Canyon State Park. Hiking trails range from easy strolls along the rim to more challenging hikes down into the canyon’s depths.

The main attraction at Waimea Canyon State Park is its namesake – Waimea Canyon itself! It’s filled with unique geological features such as spires, cliffs, and crevices that make for incredible photo opportunities.