Looking for the best places to visit in Hawaii? Hawaii is on nearly everyone’s travel bucket list, but every island has different, unique attractions. We’ve compiled our insider’s tips with the top places to see — and where to stay on each island!
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Best Places to Visit in Hawaii
Black Rock on Ka’anapali Beach (Maui)
If you’re a fan of anything fun, you need to go to Black Rock. Cliff diving, scuba, and snorkeling with tropical fish are just the beginning – sea turtles are usually spotted here and the stunning scenery is a photographers paradise.
Every night the Sheraton Hotel has a symbolic torch lighting/diving ceremony that symbolizes the site’s ancient legend that spirits jump off these rocks as a final passing. The torches at sunset are gorgeous, so make this a full day excursion.
Where to Stay on Ka’anapali Beach
The Ka’anapali Beach Hotel is an awesome mid-range resort just steps from the beach.
The Sheraton Hotel is a luxury property that sits right on the foot of Black Rock.
Waipiʻo Valley (Hawaii, The Big Island)
Home of Hawaii’s tallest waterfall, the secluded Waipiʻo Valley is full of hidden gems not accessible to the public. Because it is a private property you must book a tour to gain access to it all; although we recommend KapohoKine Adventures, there are tour companies who offer horseback riding or ATV tours as well.
Where to Stay near Waipi’o Valley
If you’re looking to stay right near the Waipi’o Valley, then the mid-range, yet highly-rated, Waipi’o Lodge is the way to go.
Just an hour’s drive from the valley, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is a four-star property right on the Kohala Coast.
Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel has one of the few swimming beaches on this side of the island and it even has a few resident turtles to keep you company while snorkeling. I stayed here for three nights and did not want to leave!
Shipwreck Beach (Kauai)
Although the real shipwreck for which it’s named for has long disappeared, Shipwreck Beach has awesome views and is a favorite for local surfers. Swimming is only recommended for strong swimmers due to rough waters, but experienced surfers and boogie boarders may be up for the challenge!
Hiking the Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail is well worth it, and the golden sand beaches are perfect for sunbathing.
Where to Stay on Shipwreck Beach
The Grand Hyatt Resort & Spa is a gorgeous property that sits right on Shipwreck Beach and comes highly recommended by other travelers looking for a luxurious getaway on Kauai.
The Koa Kea Hotel & Resort, just 2.5 miles from Shipwreck Beach, is another luxury property that features an on-site restaurant and spa.
A little ways off the beach, The Kauai Inn is perfect for budget travelers looking to stay in a beautiful, highly-rated property with all the amenities.
Read more: How to Travel Kauai on a Budget
Road to Hana (Maui)
One of the top places to see in Hawaii is, without a doubt, the Road to Hana. Time to rent a Jeep, pack a bag, and hit the road! The drive to Hana takes about 2 to 3 hours (depending on where you’re departing from), but that’s with no stops – and trust us, you will want to stop.
Plan for a few days to really take in all of the sights of Hana has to offer and book a hotel reservation in Hana Town!
Dining, waterfalls, beaches, and trails are scattered along Hana Highway, so take your time and pick some places that seem to interest you most.
Where to Stay on the Road to Hana
The Travaasa Hana is a beautiful resort surrounded by 70 acres of natural gardens. The property often hosts wellness classes, cultural activities, and adventure excursions.
The Paia Inn is a great mid-range hotel that is a great launching pad for adventure activities.
Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Maui on a Budget
Na Pali Coast (Kauai)
One of the top places to visit in Hawaii is the Na Pali Coast. The magical 17-mile shoreline of the Na Pali Coast is so unique, in part due to its remote location. The only way to access this area is by water, helicopter, or your own two feet.
Take a swim in the Open Ceiling Sea Cave and check out the Waiahuakua stream, which ends tumbling off the mountain through the roof of a sea cave. Talk about an amazing photo op!
Where to Stay on the Na Pali Coast
If you are looking to spend some time on the north shore, (which I highly recommend!) the St. Regis Princeville is very close to the main trails on the Na Pali Coast and this resort is beyond stunning!
If you’re looking for something a little more all-encompassing, check out the Wyndham Bali Hai. This gorgeous mid-range hotel features full-feature apartments with kitchens.
Read more: The Best Way to See Kauai’s Na Pali Coast
Papohaku Beach (Molokai)
One of the largest white sand beaches in Hawaii is also one of the quietest, so if you’re looking to get away from the crowds for a while this is the place to go. You can soak in views of Oahu from the shore but getting in the waters is fairly dangerous and highly discouraged.
Where to Stay near Papohaku Beach
Papohaku Beach is a little off the beaten trail as far as close-by hotels go, so I recommend staying in a town nearby. The Hotel Molokai is a great mid-range hotel that is a quick 40-minute drive from Papohaku Beach!
Manele Bay (Lana’i)
Another quiet getaway! Swim at Hulopoe Beach, golf at the gorgeous Four Seasons Resort, or explore marine life at the tide pools.
This family-friendly spot has picnic areas and gentle waters perfect for swimming; hula lessons and lei-making classes are offered by the Four Seasons for those looking for an authentic Hawaiian cultural experience.
Where to Stay in Manele Bay
The Four Seasons Resort in Lana’i is a luxury property that boasts both garden and ocean views.
Hotel Lana’i is a great place for budget travelers and solo travelers alike.
Lahaina Shores is an awesome mid-range hotel that is located in the heart of Lahaina.
Although the famous Molokai mule rides are currently unavailable, this sacred Molokai village has a distinctly unique settlement history that will likely be fascinating to curious visitors.
The beautiful St. Philomena Church founded by a beloved Father Damien can be visited by booking a Damien tour, which also visits the final resting place of Father Damien himself. Research Kalaupapa’s history beforehand and prepare yourself for a spiritual, breathtaking journey.
Where to Stay near Kalaupapa
Once again, the Hotel Molokai will be your best bet for an excursion to Kalaupapa. That, or there are many vacation homes and guesthouses in the area for rent.
Read more: Molokai: It’s All About The Love
Pololu Valley (Hawaii, The Big Island)
The black sand beaches and black lava rock make for a gorgeous landscape, and the short (but steep) hike is very rewarding – bring lots of water and shoes with good traction, as the trail can be slippery. Stop by the small town of Hawi on your way for lunch and homemade fudge!
Where to Stay near Pololu Valley
Staying on the Kohala Coast is a must during your trip to the Big Island of Hawaii. Once again, the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel is a property I absolutely adored!
And if the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel is all booked up, the aforementioned Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is super close by.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (Hawaii, The Big Island)
For those outdoorsy types, this national park will be a must-see. Deserts and lush rainforests make for an awesome hiking and biking experience, and that’s just during the day!
Go at night to see the glow from molten lava, and take in the view from above by helicopter with Paradise Helicopters tours in Hilo. They even offer extreme no-door tours for you adrenaline junkies!
Where to Stay near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Kilauea Lodge is a mid-range property located just one mile from the National Park. This cute Inn features a hot tub and on-site breakfast.
Volcano Village Lodge is a highly-rated property just ten minutes from the park. Not to mention, it features garden waterfalls, koi ponds, and a hot tub.
Packing Essentials for Hawaii
Rash Guard: I always pack my long-sleeve rash guard on island trips. It protects you from the sun when snorkeling and provides a little warmth if the water is chilly.
Reusable Water Bottle: Refilling your water bottle not only saves money, but it’s so much better for the environment! We use this CamelBak water bottle at home, but if you want something more compact, this collapsible water bottle is perfect for travel days and hiking.
Carry-on Bag Essentials: Visit our Carry-on Packing Guide.