Known around the world for its tropical beauty, dramatic volcanoes, and chilled island life, Hawaii is a Pacific paradise that just can’t be ignored. There are so many fantastic things to do in Hawaii, from snorkelling and surfing along its beaches, to hiking volcanoes.
There are so many fantastic things to do in Hawaii, from snorkelling the bays, surfing the waves, to hiking inland to its dramatic natural sights. A Whole world of exploration awaits! A first time trip to Hawaii will be an exciting and action packed – so take a moment to check out the very best sights you won’t want to miss once you arrive!
As with any first time trip to Hawaii, you schedule will no doubt be action packed – so take a moment to check out the very best sights you won’t want to miss once you arrive!
1.) Spot the turtles at Punalu’u Black Sand Beach
Located on the Big Island, Punalu’u Beach’s black sand is the result of lava reaching the ocean waters and cooling instantly. This is certainly a change from your standard white sand beaches!
As an extra bonus for your travels, sea turtles prefer to build their nests in the warmer black sands, meaning that you’ll likely see sea turtles on your visit. Just remember to bring a pair of beach shoes… the sand can get fairly warm in the sun.
2.) Get up close with a Volcano (or two)!
Located on the ‘Big Island’, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is home to two active volcanoes: Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. Visit the summit of Kīlauea via Crater Rim Drive, or take the Chain of Craters Road to see the East Rift and more coastal areas of the park.
There are plenty of hiking trails throughout the park, as well as lava flows! For a true look at the power of a volcanic eruption, look for the rim of the Kīlauea Iki Crater, and from there you can see the trail of devastation that went through a forested area.
3.) Watch the Sunrise on Haleakala
This one is for the early birds who know how to appreciate a breathtaking sunrise! On the island of Maui, head to the summit of Haleakala, where, at an elevation of 10,000 feet (3,050 m), you can experience one of the best sunrises on the planet. For an easier experience, drive your car to the summit, and be sure to dress warmly!
4.) Dive into Hanauma Bay
Known as the premier place on Oahu for snorkelling, Hanauma Bay is a curved section of beach and bay that was originally formed when part of a crater sank into the ocean. Today, it is home to a multitude of ocean wildlife, giving snorkelers plenty of exciting things to see underwater.
Thanks to a shallow reef just offshore, bigger waves are kept away, leaving the waters amazingly calm. The beach itself tends to be packed with people eager to soak up the sun and beauty of the area.
5.) Discover Hawaii’s ‘Grand Canyon’
Known as the ‘Grand Canyon of the Pacific’, Waimea Canyon State Park is impressively large and as beautiful as everything else in Hawaii. The canyon itself is about 10 miles (16 km) long and 3,000 feet (914 m) deep, and is a rather popular area for hiking.
If you feel like taking a slightly less time-consuming hike in the canyon, take the Canyon Trail to the east rim for the best views, and then see Waipoo Falls before heading back. The entire hike will only take about 2-3 hours, but all of the best views will be there.
6.) Enjoy the lush beauty of Kauai
Nicknamed the Garden Isle, it’s easy to see why so many people fall in love with this incredible landscape! The dramatic cliffs, paired with the lush green landscape make it one of the prettiest islands in all of Hawaii. Don’t forget to take your hiking boots, which can be hiked at your leisure.
7.) Remember at Pearl Harbor
While most of Hawaii is a total dream, there are a few sobering places along the islands. One such place is Pearl Harbor. Known around the world for the devastating attacks by the Japanese on the United States in 1941, the area is now a memorial site that you can visit to pay your respects.
The site is the final resting place for more than 2,000 sailors and Marines that died in the attack. Tours are given daily for visitors to experience.
8.) Stroll the Waikiki Neighbourhood of Honolulu
The capital city of the state of Hawaii, Honolulu is a must as it is the entrance point to the rest of the islands. Beautiful beaches await you, as well as great shopping and dining options in the Waikiki neighbourhood.
The crater of Diamond Head volcano can also be seen in the distance from the city. For extra fun, trying taking a hike to the top of Diamond Head!
9.) Discover the ancient history in Ahu‘ena Heiau
Visitors to Hawaii should absolutely make time to visit some of the ancient sites on the islands. One of the most important of these sites is the ancient temple at Ahu‘ena Heiau. Originally built in the 1400’s, the temple first served as a spiritual centre and a sacrificial temple *gulp*.
By 1813, King Kamehameha I rebuilt the temple and dedicated it to the Hawaiian god of peace and prosperity, named Lono that’s well worth a visit.