10 Popular Destinations In Hawaii First-Timers Should Visit

Categorized as Hawaii Vacation Information

Hawaii, the 50th state of the United States, is a sun-kissed archipelago that’s located in the heart of the Pacific Ocean. With its eight major islands, this state offers an irresistible fusion of natural wonders and rich cultural experiences. While the appeal of sunny beach days and exciting water sports attracts numerous visitors, Hawaii’s six main tourist islands provide a plethora of additional attractions. Join us as we go on a journey through the 10 popular destinations in Hawaii, ensuring an unforgettable experience for first-time travelers

Here are some popular tourist destinations that first-timers should visit when in Hawaii.

Waikiki Beach, Oahu

Waikiki Beach, located on the picturesque island of Oahu, is a famous Hawaii destination that boasts a crescent-shaped shoreline spanning approximately 2 miles (3.2 kilometers). With its gentle waves and sandy bottom, it’s perfect for both beginner and experienced surfers or anyone that wants to chill on the beach. Another great thing about this place is it’s lined with affordable condos, restaurants, and shops, offering convenient access to amenities. Additionally, the iconic Diamond Head crater provides a stunning backdrop. 

Haleakala National Park, Maui

If you want to be amazed, visit the natural wonders of Haleakala National Park, situated on the enchanting island of Maui. Spanning over 33,000 acres, this park is home to the dormant Haleakala volcano, which rises approximately 10,023 feet (3,055 meters) above sea level. Visitors can explore a variety of ecosystems, from the barren volcanic summit with its otherworldly landscapes to the lush rainforests found in the park’s lower regions. Hiking trails, such as the popular Pipiwai Trail, offer opportunities to discover bamboo forests, cascading waterfalls, and the awe-inspiring Waimoku Falls. 

Tip: You can witness the magical sunrise or sunset from the summit. It is a truly unforgettable experience.

Na Pali Coast, Kauai

Get captivated by the Na Pali Coast on the island of Kauai. This rugged coastline stretches approximately 16 miles and is renowned for its towering cliffs, reaching heights of up to 4,000 feet (1,200 meters). The dramatic landscape is a result of millions of years of erosion, creating deep valleys, hidden sea caves, and cascading waterfalls. This place is accessible by boat tours and offers hiking trails. You can also take helicopter rides to experience Na Pali Coast’s breathtaking vistas of emerald-green valleys and crystal-clear turquoise waters. 

Pearl Harbor, Oahu

History matters and when you’re visiting Oahu, you can step back in time. The historical significance of Pearl Harbor, a pivotal location in World War II, is located on the island of Oahu. This historic naval base played a crucial role in shaping the course of history. Visitors can explore the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, where exhibits and displays provide a comprehensive overview of the events of December 7, 1941. The centerpiece of the memorial is the USS Arizona Memorial, which stands above the sunken battleship. While visiting Pearl Harbor, visitors can pay their respects, gain insights into the past, and reflect on the sacrifices made during this pivotal moment in history.

You can also check out the best things to do in Oahu when it rains.

Volcanoes National Park, Big Island

The Volcanoes National Park is home to two active volcanoes: Kilauea and Mauna Loa. You can witness the raw power of nature as you marvel at the glowing lava flows and volcanic craters. Visitors can also explore the park’s unique features, including lava tubes, steam vents, and the mesmerizing Thurston Lava Tube. The diverse landscapes range from lush rainforests to barren lava fields, showcasing the ever-changing face of volcanic activity. Hiking trails, such as the Kilauea Iki Trail, provide an up-close encounter with the volcanic wonders, immersing you in the fascinating geological processes at play.

Road to Hana, Maui

The legendary Road to Hana will wind you through the lush landscapes of Maui. This scenic drive spans over 50 miles and offers stunning views of cascading waterfalls, verdant rainforests, and panoramic coastal vistas. Along the way, you’ll encounter over 600 hairpin turns and more than 40 one-lane bridges, adding a thrilling element to the adventure. As you drive on this route, you can visit hidden gems such as the Twin Falls, Wailua Falls, and the black sand beach of Waianapanapa State Park. With its natural beauty and serene ambiance, The Road to Hana is an unforgettable exploration of Maui’s enchanting landscapes.

Waimea Canyon, Kauai

Behold the majestic beauty of Waimea Canyon, often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” located on the island of Kauai. This geological marvel stretches approximately 14 miles in length, with depths of up to 3,600 feet. The canyon’s vibrant colors, ranging from deep reds to lush greens, create a breathtaking panorama that leaves visitors in awe. Numerous lookout points, such as the Pu’u Hinahina Lookout and Waimea Canyon Lookout, offer mesmerizing vistas of the canyon’s expanse. Hiking trails, such as the Canyon Trail, provide opportunities to explore the canyon’s diverse flora and fauna up close, making this place a must to visit! 

Lanikai Beach, Oahu

Escape to the tranquil beauty of Lanikai Beach, situated on the eastern shore of Oahu. This hidden gem, which is considered as one of the best looking beaches, offers a serene retreat with its powdery white sands, gently swaying palm trees, and pristine turquoise waters. The beach’s name, which means “heavenly sea,” perfectly captures its idyllic ambiance. When at this beach, visitors can take a leisurely stroll along the shore, feel the soft sand between their toes, and cool off with a refreshing swim in crystal clear waters. Lanikai Beach also offers the opportunity for kayaking adventures to the nearby Mokulua Islands, where you can explore secluded coves and encounter marine life. 

Mauna Kea, Big Island

Looking for something extraordinary? Take a journey to the summit of Mauna Kea, the tallest volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. This majestic peak rises approximately 13,000 feet above sea level and is renowned for its exceptional stargazing conditions. Visitors can venture to the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station, located at an elevation of 9,200 feet, to learn about the mountain’s geological and cultural significance. On clear nights, guided stargazing programs provide the opportunity to witness the mesmerizing beauty of the night sky through powerful telescopes. 

Iao Valley State Park, Maui

The last one on our list allows you to find serenity. Located amidst the lush landscapes of Iao Valley State Park is found on the island of Maui. This verdant paradise offers a tranquil escape from the bustling coastal areas. Take a stroll along the park’s pathways, surrounded by towering emerald peaks and the soothing sounds of the Iao Stream. You can also marvel at the iconic Iao Needle, a natural rock formation that stands as a prominent landmark. And if you’re into history, you can learn about the park’s rich cultural history and have a better understanding of its significance in Hawaii.

Please do note that you would have to make advance reservations if you want to visit the Iao Valley State Park in Maui. For more information click here.  

Final Thoughts 

To make the most out of your trip to Hawaii, it’s crucial to determine the best time to visit its islands. This decision can significantly shape your entire experience. For example, opting for peak tourist seasons means dealing with high accommodation prices, costly airfare, and navigating through hordes of people. However, if you choose a less crowded month, you can not only save money but also revel in a more tranquil and enjoyable atmosphere. 

Remember, Hawaii’s mesmerizing popular destinations are eagerly waiting for first-time explorers like you. So what are you waiting for? Book your flight and immerse yourself in the magic of this Pacific island paradise!