Planning a trip and looking for the best things to do in Hawaii? We’re here to help!
With majestic mountains, picturesque beaches, and beautiful culture, Hawaii is one of the most amazing places in the world. It’s a popular vacation spot for a darn good reason.
For help with budgeting your dream Hawaiian vacation check out our Hawaii price guide.
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Best Things to Do in Hawaii
There are eight major islands and many smaller islets. Six of the eight islands are open for visitors. Between those six islands alone, there are a ton of things to see and experience in Hawaii.
It’s easy to just stay on the Big Island because there is so much to see and do there, but the other islands are worth visiting as well. We’ll take a look at the Big Island first and then move on to the others.
If you’re looking for things to do in Hawaii then check out this guide for the best Hawaii activities in each of the six main islands.
The Island of Hawaii
Also known as the “Big Island,” the Island of Hawaii is aptly named since it’s packed with natural wonders with a vast range of different climates and scenery. There’s even a vibrant city which every modern convenience that you may want or need.
If you want to relax, have an adventure, or party, you can find all that and more on the Island of Hawaii!
Here are some fun things to do in Hawaii.
1. Kealakekua Bay
If you’re looking for a magical place to snorkel and see amazing sea animals, then look no further than Kealakekua Bay!
This is the place to go whale watching too. You can also see dolphins, sea turtles, and manta rays as well as all kinds of beautiful fish and other sea life.
Captain Zodiac Raft Expeditions offers different snorkeling packages, as well as seasonal whale-watching tours. They are dedicated to sustainability, responsible tourism, and respecting wildlife and nature.
2. Rainbow Falls
Rainbow Falls is a stunning waterfall that you should see early in the morning for the best experience. If you time it just right, you will see a rainbow!
You can also check out Akaka Falls which is a 30-minute drive from Rainbow Falls.
3. Volcanoes National Park
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Volcanoes National Park cannot be missed. It’s a very unique experience.
Because this is an active volcano, it’s important to check out the official website for safety alerts and even watch a live volcano cam! Remember to not take home any lava rocks. We must preserve this beautiful, natural wonder.
You can drive to the park or book a tour. Mauka Makai Adventures is a small, family-owned business that offers tours to both the Volcanoes National Park, Rainbow Falls, and other cool places on the island. They are dedicated to sustainability and respecting wildlife and nature.
For other tours to this glorious national park check out these options.
4. Punaluu Black Sand Beach
Have you ever dug your toes into black sand?
Hawaii not only has white sand beaches but black and even green sand beaches as well!
Punaluu Black Sand Beach’s unique sand comes from volcanic eruptions that occurred on that beach thousands of years ago! Punaluu Black Sand Beach has different species of wild sea turtles, reef sharks, and epic views!
It’s a short drive from Volcanoes National Park.
Oahu is most known for Pearl Harbor but it is also a gorgeous and laid-back island.
There’s a good balance of city life with nature, so whatever you’re looking for, whether it’s stunning beaches or a fun night out, you can find it in Oahu.
Here are some cool things to do in Oahu.
5. The Bishop Museum
When looking for things to do in Hawaii, it’s really important to learn more about the indigenous cultures of Hawaii.
The Bishop Museum has the world’s largest collection of Hawaiian and Pacific cultural artifacts and natural history specimens. There is even a beautiful planetarium and loads of fun activities and events for children and adults.
Check out their official page for upcoming events and their latest exhibitions. You can get to the museum by bar, bus, or taxi. Their official page also has detailed directions.
6. Laniakea Beach
For the best sunset in Oahu, check out Laniakea Beach. You can relax and have dinner with a spectacular view of the ocean and sunset.
There are also lots of sea turtles scattered around. This stunning beach is nicknamed “Turtle Beach” for a good reason! It’s one of the best spots for snorkeling in Oahu, as well. You can get to the beach by bus, taxi, or car.
7. Kokon Head Stairs
Hiking up the Kokon Head Stairs is a great way to experience the natural wonders of Hawaii while getting your cardio in.
Once you get to the top, you’ll see an epic view of Hanauma Bay, Diamond Bay, and Koko Crater. Be sure to bring a camera because the view is incredible!
You will need to either drive there or book a private vehicle.
8. Sunset Cruise at Waikiki
Taking a sunset cruise is one of the best and more memorable things to do in Waikiki.
There are loads of different cruise packages, including a party cruise with a live DJ. For a more culturally immersive experience, you can enjoy the sunset in a Polynesian canoe.
If you are traveling to Oahu with kids have a look at some kid-friendly hikes you can take.
Maui tends to be at the top of everyone’s list of favorite Hawaiian Islands. It has the nicest beaches with black, white, and red sands, delicious food, “aloha” vibes, and gorgeous nature.
Some of the best things to do in Hawaii are located on the island of Maui.
Here are some memorable things to do in Maui.
9. Molokini Crater
The Molokini Crater is an underwater volcano islet that is just as cool as it sounds. The clear blue water and adorable marine life, make this a popular spot for snorkeling.
To get there, you need to take a boat from the south coast of Maui. Pride of Maui offers snorkeling tours as well as whale-watching tours. They can also provide vegan meals upon request.
10. Haleakala National Park
Exploring Haleakala National Park is one of the most incredible things to do in Hawaii. This national park is so unique, that it has endangered species and animals that only exist in Haleakala.
Within the park, there are so many activities to try, including taking a sunrise downhill bike tour and hiking into the Haleakala crater.
Going there for the sunrise is so popular that you’ll be greeted by a big crowd of people. You will also need to make a reservation well in advance.
To avoid the crowd and not have to wake up so early, you go during sunset. The view is just as amazing.
To get there, you will need to drive or book a tour.
11. Road to Hana
The Road to Hana is a scenic drive with many photo ops along the way. With rainforests, waterfalls, caves, and crystal-clear streams, it is one of the most amazing things to do in Hawaii.
You can drive there or book a tour. Valley Isle Excursions offers eco-friendly tours.
Every island in Hawaii has its own unique energy. If you thought the other islands had spectacular landscapes, wait until you see Kauai! It’s like stepping out of the modern world and into a fantasy world.
Here are some amazing things to do in Kauai.
12. Helicopter Tour
Everyone’s bucket list of things to do in Hawaii should include a helicopter tour. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Kauai is the best island for a helicopter tour because of how incredible the views are.
Air Kauai Helicopter Tours has a “doors off” tour if you’re feeling adventurous.
The more popular Hawaii activities tend to have large crowds of people wanting to see the same thing you do. To get away from the crowd and enjoy a small Hawaiian town, visit Lawai.
This is also a great place to buy local handicrafts. The Hawaiian Trading Post has a great selection of local art, clothing, and souvenirs.
Since it is out of the way from more popular spots, you will need to drive to get there.
14. Hideaway Beach
For a quiet beach experience, visit Hideaway Beach. This is also a nice spot for snorkeling when the weather is good. It’s a short but challenging hike to get there. Once there, you can enjoy the beautiful scenery and the lovely water. You might even spot some sea turtles!
To get to the beach, you can drive there or book a tour. Kauai Sea Tours is a family-owned business that respects native culture, marine life, and nature.
Lanai is a hidden gem of an island that is small but filled with cool things to see and experience. You can get there by boat or take a small, private plane.
If you are able to book the plane, you will feel like you’re heading to Jurassic Park. The view is fantastic!
15. Shipwreck Beach
Shipwreck Beach has dozens of shipwrecked vessels which look great for photos and are cool to see in person. These ships were either accidentally or purposely put there.
The two biggest ships are World War II-era navy vessels. You can walk along the shore to see shipwrecks, and there is even an area to hike.
To get there, you can hike from Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail or drive.
16. Sweetheart Rock
Sweetheart Rock is named after a Hawaiian legend about a beautiful maiden named Pehe and a warrior named Makakehau.
Makakehau was so obsessed with Pehe, that he hid her away in a sea cave by the rock so no one else could see her. Pehe drowned during a storm. Makakehau was so grief-stricken that he buried her on top of the rock and leaped off the rock to his death.
The rock is too dangerous to climb, but you can enjoy it from the beautiful beach with a stunning view of Hulopoe Bay. You might even see some spinner dolphins! It’s also a great place to see the sunset.
You can easily hike there from the Four Seasons Resort.
17. Garden of the Gods
Exploring the Garden of the Gods is one of the more unique things to do in Hawaii since it is so different from other famous Hawaii sites.
Despite its name, there isn’t very much vegetation, but there are incredible, red rock formations and stacks of rocks which are said to be put there by the gods. If you visit, please do not touch the rock formations, and leave them as is.
For the best experience, visit early in the morning. You will need a four-wheel drive or mountain bike to get there.
If you’re feeling adventurous and looking for more off-the-beaten-path things to do in Hawaii, Molokai is the perfect island to explore. Not many people have heard of this island which makes it a perfect, non-touristy destination.
You can fly there from the Big Island of Hawaii. The locals are friendly and helpful, and the natural beauty of Molokai is a site to behold!
18. Halawa Valley Falls Cultural Hike
The Halawa Valley Falls Cultural Hike is an amazing way to learn more about traditional Hawaiian cultures while also exploring the incredible natural scenery.
You will meet local families, experience sacred ceremonies, hike to an incredible waterfall, and learn a lot about the people, animals, and plants of Halwa Valley.
19. Papohaku Beach Park
This beautiful, golden sand beach is pristine and the perfect spot to relax and enjoy nature. Also known as “Three Mile Beach” you can enjoy a long, leisurely stroll along the shore and even have a picnic.
There is overnight camping as long as you get a permit. Since there aren’t any lifeguards on duty, only swim in the ocean if the waves are calm and you’re a strong swimmer.
To get there, you will need to drive.
20. Kalaupapa Lookout
If you’re into epic views (and who isn’t?) then definitely check out the Kalalupapa Lookout.
Located in Palaau State Park, this view overlooks a Kalaupapa, which was a former leper colony and is now a small community for the survivors of this colony. The colony is currently closed to the public, so this is the closest that visitors can get.
To get to the park, you will need to drive there.
After checking out the view, you can hike to the Phallic Rock which is considered a sacred site that helps with fertility. If you don’t want children right now, keep your distance!
Things to Do in Hawaii Wrap-up
There are so many things to do in Hawaii. But as you travel the islands please remember to learn as much about native culture as you can and respect nature, wildlife, and sacred sites. Aloha, happy travels, and we’ll see you on the road!