Natural Wonders of Hawaii

Where are some of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders in the world? We’re a little biased, but we have 14 reasons why you should take a trip to explore the Aloha State’s natural beauty.

Photo By: Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Tor Johnson

Photo By: Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Kirk Lee Aeder

Photo By: Big Island Visitors Bureau/ Ethan Tweedie

Photo By: Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Tor Johnson

Photo By: Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Tor Johnson

Photo By: Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Heather Titus

Photo By: Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Tor Johnson

Photo By: Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Tor Johnson

Photo By: Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Tor Johnson

Photo By: Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Tor Johnson

Photo By: Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Tor Johnson

Photo By: Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Tor Johnson

Photo By: Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Dana Edmunds

Photo By: Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Tor Johnson

Punaluu Black Sand Beach

Take a stroll along one of Hawaii’s most famous black-sand beaches. Located south of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Punaluu Black Sand Beach is home to large honu, or green sea turtles. Don’t get too close: Beachgoers are forbidden to touch these protected turtles or leave the beach with black sand as a souvenir.

Mauna Kea

At 33,100 feet from the ocean floor, the peak of Mauna Kea — Hawaiian for “white mountain” — is the highest point on Hawaii. Measuring base to peak, the dormant volcano is twice the size of Mount Everest, making it the tallest mountain in the world. The peak is sacred, according to Hawaiian mythology, and ancient law said that only high-ranking tribal chiefs were allowed to visit the top.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Be an eyewitness to nature at its hottest by exploring the 333,000-acre Volcanoes National Park. This popular park features more than 150 miles of trails through volcanic craters, petroglyphs and a walk-in lava tube, and it is home to 2 active volcanoes: Mauna Loa and Kilauea. Often referred to as a “drive-in” volcano, Kilauea spews 250,000 to 650,000 cubic yards of lava each day.

Puu Pehe

Staying at the Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay? Then don’t miss taking a short hike to see Puu Pehe, aka Sweetheart Rock. According to legend, Makakehau, a young warrior, brought his lover, Hawaiian maiden Pehe, from Lahaina to hide her in a sea cave near Manele Bay’s cliffs. Pehe drowned, and, stricken with grief, the warrior plunged to his death from the 80-foot summit. See the setting of the lovers’ tale, and you may even spot a spinner dolphin along the way.

Na Pali Coast

You can’t leave the Hawaiian Islands without seeing the majestic landscape of the 17-mile, mountainous coastline along Kauai’s North Shore. The Na Pali Coast is the location for hikers, beach campers and kayakers. Avoid hiking in the winter, when trails become muddy from heavy rainfall, making it treacherous, especially for amateurs.

Hanauma Bay

Located on the southeast coast of Oahu, Hanauma Bay is a popular destination for snorkeling. This pristine coastline has attracted as many as 3 million visitors in a year.

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow (or Waianuenue) Falls flows 80 feet down on a lava cave, which, according to Hawaiian mythology, is the home of the goddess Hina. Look closely near the bottom, and you may see rainbows form in the waterfall’s mist. What’s the best way to get there? Park officials advise tourists to make their way to this natural wonder by following clearly marked access roads to Wailuku River State Park.

Haleakala

More than 75% of Maui was formed by Haleakala, a shield volcano located on the southeast side of the island. Puu Ulaula, or Red Hill, is more than 10,000 feet tall, making it the volcano’s tallest peak. Go hiking in the 30,000-acre Haleakala National Park and experience various landscapes, from tropical forests to unique desert terrain.

Diamond Head

Head to Oahu to hike one of Hawaii’s most famous landmarks, Diamond Head State Monument. Used as a military lookout through the 20th century, this natural wonder is now a popular hiking destination. Diamond Head offers awe-inspiring views of Waikiki and Honolulu.

Waimea Canyon

Waimea is Hawaiian for “reddish water.” Located on the west side of Kauai, this canyon — which stretches 14 miles long, 1 mile wide and 3,600 feet deep — has reddish soil that is traversed by dozens of hiking trails.

Road to Hana

Take a road trip and hit the famous Hana Highway, a 52-mile stretch with 620 curves and 59 bridges. The road starts at Kahului and ends in Hana, but we recommend spending some extra time on the drive to take in the sights, including lush rain forests and dramatic waterfalls.

Wailua Falls

Mr. Roarke wasn’t the real star in the opening credits of the late-’70s TV show Fantasy Island. The real star was Kauai’s Wailua Falls, but don’t blink, because you might miss its cameo. This waterfall is located on the south end of the Wailua River and north of Lihue. The best views are from the road.

Papohaku Beach Park

Known as Three Mile Beach, Molokai’s Papohaku Beach Park is one of Hawaii’s largest white-sand beaches. This natural wonder isn’t just for sunbathing; campers also converge on the quiet beach.

Akaka Falls

Visit the Big Island’s Akaka Falls State Park, where you can see 2 amazing waterfalls: the 100-foot Kahuna Falls and the 442-foot Akaka Falls (pictured). The latter is Hawaii’s most famous waterfall. Take a hike, and you’ll arrive at this natural wonder in less than an hour.