Hawaii is gorgeous. Few places on earth can match up to its paradise-like charm. Its people, culture, food, and lifestyle are unique and captivating. The island’s lush volcanic mountains, rugged coastlines, eye-popping cliffs, and valleys are the epitome of scenic beauty.
Couple this picturesque environment with stunning beaches and rare flora and fauna, and you have the most magical place on earth. Hawaii has a lot to offer the traveler in terms of panoramic beauty, outdoor activities, and beach life. To start your Aloha State tour, visit these spots that are some of the most beautiful places in Hawaii.
What Are the Most Beautiful Places in Hawaii?
Almost every single destination in Hawaii is magical and stunning, so selecting the most beautiful will be quite a task. But here goes.
1. Haleakala National Park
How can you describe one of the most magnificent spots not just in Hawaii but the world, in words? Haleakala National Park.
This park is one of the most beautiful places in Hawaii and home to Maui’s highest peak. Lore has it that it is on this towering peak that Maui, the demigod, lassoed the sun to slow down its journey across the sky. The locals refer to the 33,265-acre park as the “house of the sun.”
Mount Haleakala’s highest peak has the most dramatic rises of all peaks in the world. It ascends to 10,023 feet in a short elevation distance of 38 miles (61km).
Within this large swath of land are five climatic zones that culminate in an eerie, otherworldly landscape at the peak’s top. Visitors rise early and head to Maui’s southeastern coast to witness the grand sunrises over the vast ocean and clouds.
Appreciating this swirl of light and color over Hawaii’s blue waters, Mark Twain remarked it was “the most sublime spectacle” he ever saw.
The mountain’s sunsets are as remarkable as the dawn. The night skies are extravagantly beautiful and captivating as well. You have not seen the best of Hawaii if you have not viewed the island’s starry bright skies at night on top of Haleakala.
Besides its superb sky-watching experience, Haleakala National Park has vast wilderness and rainforests awaiting your discovery. Hike through this sacred park and see its volcanic terrain, magnificent waterfalls, and pools.
There are also many bird-watching activities and miles of rare plants and dramatic scenes, perfect for photography. The Haleakala Crater’s cinder cones and the ‘Ohe’o Gulch pools along the Palikea Stream are the park’s most iconic landmarks.
2. Wailua Falls
Wailua Falls is on the eastern side of Kauai, along the Wailua River’s southern end.
Depending on the season, the beautiful waterfalls can range between 80ft to 200ft in height. You can easily view the falls from the side of the road or hike up a trail to drink in all their beauty.
You can access Wailua Falls by car. Get there early in the morning, and you might catch the occasional rainbow straddling the gorgeous dropping waters.
Hikers have to venture to the wild, go up a slippery path, then hike down the hill for a swim at the bottom of the falls. The trail to Wailua Falls is muddy but serene. You have to be fit to get there, so it is not a good track for the elderly and children.
You will need to grasp the trunks of trees, wade through water, and scramble up a few rocks to get to this gem’s magnificent pool. It is, however, a brief journey filled with awe-inspiring greenery and moss-covered trees. And the booming falls are an epic sight that’s well worth the effort.
You can jump off the top of the cliff to the pool if you are a daredevil, but it has caused some injuries to visitors. A safer way to enjoy the gorgeous falls is to take a swim near its edges as you enjoy the enchanting rainbows that pop up behind the robust water flow.
3. Mauna Kea
Hawaii is home to the world’s tallest mountain. Most people give this title to Mount Everest, but Mauna Kea is 3,661 ft (1,116 m) taller than Everest. The catch is, over half of Mauna Kea’s height is below the ocean that surrounds it.
Mauna Kea is a record-breaking 32,696 ft (9,966 m) high; its volcanic activity plays a key role in forming the Hawaiian Islands.
While Hawaii has diverse natural features, Mauna Kea is the most striking of them all. The great mountain is the highest spot on the islands, and its powerful presence is unmistakable.
Drive up to its summit and have a front-seat view of one of the most beautiful places in Hawaii. Most visitors come up here to gaze at the stars. The view is unrivaled thanks to Mauna Kea’s dry environment, high elevation, and steady winds.
Mauna Kea is so popular as a stargazing site that it has thirteen astronomical observation sites at its summit. The sunsets and sunrises from Mauna Kea are bright, clear, and unrivaled in beauty.
The mountain also has a sacred significance to the Hawaiians. Its higher altitude areas are the home of Akua, the creator, and other spiritual entities. Its summit is the sanctuary of the Polynesian Supreme Being.
There are tons of cultural properties and archeological sites up Mauna Kea and many natural diversities to see. They range from exotic tropical forests, shrublands, alpine woodlands, and stone deserts.
4. Waimea Canyon State Park
Waimea Canyon State Park is the Pacific’s own Grand Canyon. This geological gem in Kauai has stunning orange and red canyon walls contrasted by lush greenery, rivers, and waterfalls.
The canyon is over 14 miles long and a mile wide. Its depth of 3,600 feet was carved into the island by the Waimea River in millions of years, making it one of the most beautiful places in Hawaii.
This plunging gorge’s name translates to “Reddish Waters” because of the river’s hue as it erodes the valley’s volcanic floors. You can get to Waimea Canyon State Park by car and enjoy breathtaking views at the various lookout points along Koke’e Road. The most popular of these viewpoints are Puu Hinahina and Waimea Canyon.
Puu Hinahina has a gorgeous view of the canyon below and the river snaking through it. The Waimea Canyon lookouts have panoramic views of the gorge right from its edge. You will find most folks on cars enjoying the park’s natural beauty from this point.
Hiking up its winding trails is the best way to enjoy all the beauty that lies within Waimea Canyon State Park. The park trails lead to excellent viewpoints, such as the Kalalau, where hikers from Kee Beach can drink in wide views of the valley and the deep blue sea beyond it.
Other trailheads leading to different views of the area include the Cliff Trail and Waipo’o Falls lookout points. The park also has helicopter tours that give visitors a bird’s-eye view of the canyon. Next to the canyon is the Koke’e State Park, a massive rainforest environment.
5. Hanauma Bay, Oahu
Hanauma Bay is a magical wine glass-shaped spot on Oahu’s southeastern side, which looks too perfect to be true.
Nature has built Hanauma Bay right into the hidden side of Koko Head, veiling this jewel from the hustle and bustle of Honolulu, only a 30-minute drive away. The gorgeous bay of Hanauma feels like it is in a world of its own, hemmed in by lush vegetation and Koko head’s, gentle hills.
In the ancient past, Hanauma Bay was a fishing spot for Hawaiian royalty. This tranquil spot is popular with the locals and snorkelers, attracting visitors by their thousands. The bay has over 400 fish species and many green turtles. Diving into Hanauma Bay feels like taking a swim inside a large aquarium.
The water is crystal clear, revealing its cache of colorful coral reefs and the fish that lives in them. You will see the humuhumunukunukuapua’a, the State’s fish, here.
When there is an abundance of sunlight, you will enjoy the exceptional effects of the light as it reflects and refracts against the underwater world, shining in pink, brown, yellow, black, and purple hues.
The fish at Hanauma Bay are so at home with visitors that they will swim right up to your facemask with no fear. Hanauma Bay is a protected nature reserve, with various regulations in place to preserve its fragile ecosystem. Hanauma Bay is one of the most beautiful places in Hawaii for nighttime snorkelers.
On Saturday, experienced snorkelers go into its waters with a waterproof flashlight to view nighttime fish such as octopus. The pitch-dark diving experience is in a league of its own.
Other Hanauma Bay attractions include the Witch’s Brew rocky cliff with violent waves crashes and the Toilet Bowl, a natural lava rock pool.
6. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is on the Big Island. The Maunaloa and Kilauea volcanoes frame the 335,259 acres large park. Kilauea’s last eruption was in 2018.
The park is unlike any other place on earth. It has an otherworldly look, with lava flows gleaming all around its rocky wasteland.
Here, visitors can watch as the earth recreates itself in the planet’s only drive-in volcano. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has over 150 miles of trails that you can hike in. Interspersed between these paths are moon surface-like deserts and volcanic craters.
The park’s craggy coastline sends massive amounts of sea spray up in the air, while the earth sends up shaking tremors to further enhance the drama of this gorgeous landscape.
The two volcanoes have created over 875 acres of land for the island since 1983, adding more diversity to the island. The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage and World Biosphere Site.
Alongside lava flows to the Pacific Ocean, you will find much unique birdlife and outstanding natural fireworks. Occasionally, the hot lava and cold ocean meet up, throwing up plumes of steam and smoke.
The park’s lava lakes are some of the most beautiful places in Hawaii, creating exciting molten rock plumes that are rare and unforgettable. Away from the volcanoes’ heat is the flora and fauna of Hawaii, hidden in the park’s grassland and pockets of rainforest.
The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is popular with backpackers and photographers. The sublime spectacle and its unique biodiversity have tons of attractions, including a drive to the rim of the crater and vent and camping grounds.
7. Pololu Valley
Pololu Valley has the most majestic views of the island. The valley drops from the sides of the Kohala volcano on Big Island, revealing cliffs covered in lush green forest cover. The magnificent views of the Pololu Valley culminate in breathtaking views of the Pacific.
Pololu Valley is an excellent hiking spot. Walk your way down its black sands to the beach. The sandy beach is magnificent but has strong currents, so it is not safe for swimmers.
Make sure that you are back up again at the lookout for unforgettable sunset views. The valley formed because of a massive landslide that pushed a chunk of an existing volcano down to the ocean floor hundreds of thousands of years ago.
This violent event carved the popular Kohala shoreline, sea cliffs, and the Pololu Valley. Over time, the region has undergone massive changes from weathering and erosion, building huge gorges, deep gulches, and valleys below the volcano.
The area surrounding the Kohala Volcano has seven dramatic valleys, with Pololu Valley closing this extraordinary scene at the northern end. These valleys are the most beautiful places in Hawaii, and you can view some of them from the lookout at Pololu.
8. Pools of Ohe’o, Maui
The Pools of Ohe’o, in East Maui, are a popular attraction and easy to access. There seven pools are all linked by waterfalls, creating an enchanting scene.
Around the swimming holes are dense bamboo forests, making the surrounding valley an idyllic hideaway. You can cliff jump and swim at the Pools of Ohe’o, but the site is closed during stormy weather due to flash flooding.
More Beautiful Places in Hawaii? For sure!
Hawaii is picture-perfect, and these eight spots are amongst some of its most captivating regions. Visit them and enjoy this island paradise’s exotic charm and features.
And if you want to add to our list — from experience — do hit us in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you.