Hawaii is known to be well-populated with must-visit gorgeous historic landmarks.
We usually think about Hawaii being full of luxe beaches and the iconic tropical weather but the truth is, throughout the island, there are scattered historic relics and sites, nature-revealing spots, and memorials in all shapes and sizes.
There are so many storied locations spread around and why shouldn’t be? This infamous site has been through a lot, right from the arrival of Captain James Cook in 1778 to the unification of the islands under King Kamehameha the Great in 1810.
It was rather a challenge for us to summarize all of them in a single article. However, we have tried our best to highlight the best landmarks in Hawaii that one must surely visit on his Hawaii getaway.
From Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park to Hanuma Bay to Pearl Harbor Memorial to Iolani Palace, enclosed is every Hawaiian landmark that will introduce you to the true Hawaiian essence and give you a taste of its deep history.
Be ready to get on the Hawaiian rollercoaster ride with us! We want you to create the best of the best Hawaii Itinerary.
Let’s get started.
1. HAWAII VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK
First up in our collection of landmarks in Hawaii are Hawai’i Volcanoes, National Park-Born of Sea, and Born of fire.
The world’s most diverse and incredible landscapes are in Hawaii which makes it a one-of-a-kind landmark.
Kīlauea and Mauna Loa, the summits of two of the world’s most active volcanoes are also in Hawaii attracting travelers from around the world.
Present on the big Hawaii Island, there is an incredible Volcanoes National park. The Hawaiian park is 13,677 feet above sea level with beautiful views around it.
There’s plenty to do there including wilderness adventures short walks and scenic drives.
Good thing for the visitors that the park remains open 24×7 so when the volcano is erupting, there is a good chance to see the lava glow. Do watch the red glow when it’s dark.
2. DIAMOND HEAD
Known to Hawaiians as Lēʻahi, a volcanic tuff cone sits on the Hawaiian island of Oahu near the eastern edge of Waikiki’s coastline- commonly known as the Diamond Head.
This top landmark in Hawaii is best known to tourists for its military history, historic hiking trail, and stunning coastal views. Diamond Head crater sits across 3,520 feet and 760 feet in height.
You can reach a lookout point from the crater through a hiking trail. But be prepared to climb two stairs-one made up of 99 steps and the other of 76 steps.
However, the hiking will be all worth it- amazing views of Waikiki and the southern coastline of Oahu, Hawaii in the backdrop are heart stealers.
3. NA PALI COAST STATE WILDERNESS PARK
Hawaii is home to some stellar landmarks- Nā Pali Coast State Wilderness Park is one of them.
Standing in the northwest of Kauai Island, Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park is a point to witness towering pali or sea cliffs surrounded by streams, cascading waterfalls, and narrow valleys.
But there is one attraction that stands at top of all in this amazing place- The Kalalau Trail. With a steep footpath cutting through beautiful and natural valleys including the Hanakoa, you will experience the sight of Hawaii native plants.
Two days are enough to admire the beauty of Kalalau Trail’s surroundings.
4. HANAUMA BAY
Present in the Hawaiian Islands along the southeast coast of the Island of Oahu, Hanauma is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the Island which is a rather marine embayment formed within a tuff ring.
Tourists love being here due to its ridiculously beautiful blue waters, wide and long sandy stretch, and not to forget, snorkeling as well which makes it the best landmark in Hawaii.
Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay is top-notch as the clear and cool water teems with sea life, from colorful tropical fish to green sea turtles.
Getting to Hanauma Bay is quite simple. All you need is to catch the “Beach Bus” (number 22) from Waikiki in Honolulu and you will be there in an hour.
5. WAIMEA CANYON STATE PARK
Next on our list of worth-exploring landmarks in Hawaii is Waimea Canyon State Park which is present on the western side of Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands.
Also famous as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, it is ten miles long and up to 3,000 feet deep canyon.
The beauty here is speechless which will make you fall in love with this view. No matter if you are a beginner or a seasoned hiker, there lie numerous trails to traverse.
6. PEARL HARBOR NATIONAL MEMORIAL
Pearl Harbor National Memorial marks the most pivotal moment in US history – the subsequent entry of the United States into World War II followed by the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Located on the island of Oahu, it is the place where 1,102 of the 1,177 sailors and Marines killed on the USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, are resting.
7. MAUNA KEA
When we talk about the worth-exploring landmarks in Hawaii, we highlight the volcanos more.
Now we are going to highlight Mauna Kea which is a dormant volcano on the island of Hawaii.
Peaking 4,207.3 m above sea level, it makes the second-highest peak of an island on Earth and the highest point in the state of Hawaii.
Hawaiian natives hold this place as sacred as the legends have called Mauna Kea as the meeting place of Papa (Earth Mother) and Wakea (Sky Father) who are progenitors of the Hawaiian people.
It is an enchanting astronomical observing site occupied with extremely dry weather.
8. IOLANI PALACE
Iolani Palace is yet another interesting Hawaiian landmark to explore.
Built in 1882, this American Florentine-style palace served as a home to Hawaii’s last reigning monarchs, official royal residence, the residence of the Kingdom’s political and social life till 1893 when the monarchy was overthrown.
The palace tour is around 60-90 minutes long. This only royal palace in the United States is an enduring symbol of Hawaiian independence.
9. WAIKIKI BEACH
The neighbor of Honolulu on the south shore of the island of Oahu, Waikiki Beach is best known for the mesmerizing sandy stretches, vivid tourist culture, and luxurious stays.
The calm waters of Waikiki are picture-perfect for a surfing lesson, with Mount Leahi (Diamond Head) in the backdrop. Ala Moana Center, Honolulu Zoo, and the Waikiki Aquarium also keep the tourists hooked.
You can enjoy swimming in this top landmark of Hawaii in a dedicated calm area with a protected seawall.
The best time to make the most on Waikiki Beach is during shoulder seasons – from mid-April to early June or between September and mid-December- as it is when airfare and room rates are at their lowest (Bingo!), the attractions are less crowded, and plenty of festivals are arranged.
10. WAIPI’O VALLEY
Hawaiian landmarks are all about exploring nature up close and in person. Let’s set out to explore the Waipi’o Valley, present in the Hamakua District of the Big Island of Hawaii. Natives refer to the curved water as Waipi’o.
The black sand beach of Waipi’o valley is eye-catching and seems like a decent place for a time-out after getting to the valley but swimming in its water will not be a good idea as the beach is reputedly dangerous for rip currents and high surf.
11. AKAKA FALLS STATE PARK
Located on Hawaii Island, Akaka Falls State Park stretches 11 miles north of Hilo at the end of Hawaii route 220.
It is named after a 442-foot-tall lush waterfall that you can reach after a short and pleasant 0.4 miles hike from the parking lot through the Akaka Falls Loop trail.
The hike is quite easy to accomplish even with families and takes about half an hour to finish. However, to the dismay of tourists, swimming is not allowed in the waterfalls.
12. RAINBOW FALLS
Here comes another waterfall in our list of must-see landmarks of Hawaii- Rainbow Falls. This park equips 129 acres on the Chehalis River one mile east of Dryad Town and houses 3,900 feet of shoreline.
The main attraction here is an enchanting waterfall and some of the last-standing old-growth trees present in the Chehalis River.
It is a great place to have a group picnic or some valuable family time with 53 campsites on board out of which three are reserved for hikers and bikers, three for horses, and eight for RV parking. Here you can indulge in several miles of hiking and plenty of fishing.
This landmark in Hawaii which is a partially submerged volcanic crater forms an interesting crescent shape in the ʻAlalākeiki Channel between the islands of Maui and Kahoʻolawe, within Maui County.
Molokini is rather a small and uninhabited islet that you can visit through a certified tour company only. It is a prime snorkeling area as the water is calm and safe for all kinds of water activities, protecting marine life and the waters from outside waves and currents.
14. KAANAPALI BEACH
Hawaii is a prime beach spot and Kaanapali beach is the best of all. Equipped with scenic beaches, swimming, snorkeling, resorts, eateries, and lush shopping spots, Kaanapali Beach is one of the must-visit landmarks of Hawaii.
It is a lush wide stretch full of most fluffy and marvelous sand which is touted as the best beach on Maui. It is said that Kaanapali Beach is the beach where the world comes to play.
At this three-mile stretch of Heaven, there are around 13 luxury resorts, 45 dining options, and 18 beach activities to make the most of your tour. In Kaanapali, no tourist can be at a loss for something fun to do.
15. WAILUA FALLS
On the island of Kauai, there are present Insta-perfect 173-foot falls on the South Fork Wailua River near Lihue called Wailua Falls.
The fans of the ever-famous television series Fantasy Island’ will be thrilled to know that it is the same fall that has been prominently featured on the opening credits.
If we talk about the Wailua Falls trail then do know that it is not only heavily trafficked out but is rated as difficult as well. However, once you get to the falls, do enjoy swimming in the refreshing waters in the famous landmark of Hawaii.
16. MANOA FALLS
Here comes another fall in our bucket list of must-explore landmarks present in Hawaii. Located in Honolulu along the Manoa Falls trail, Manoa falls is a 150-foot waterfall ready to awe you with its charm.
It takes around one to two hours to hike to the celebrated Manoa Falls set amid tropical vegetation and an arboretum.
However, the completion of the hike depends on multiple factors such as how muddy the trail happens to be, how long you take to linger around the falls, and what is your health condition. However, the tourists are forbidden from swimming in the waters or even drinking from them.
17. ALA MOANA REGIONAL PARK
Here comes a celebrated free public park located on the island of Oahu- the Ala Moana Regional Park.
Spread over 100 acres, the main attraction here is a half-mile-long gold-sand beach. Ala Moana swim is around 1000 meters long and is protected from the open ocean through a shallow reef.
However, to explore the Hawaiian infamous scenic views, it is recommended to explore 2.5 miles long heavily-trafficked trail which is accessible year-round. If you stay at any of the hotels located near the Ala Moana Regional Park, do take advantage of the free all-day parking.
18. WAIKIKI AQUARIUM
Waikiki Aquarium is the most raved-about landmark of Hawaii which takes us back to 1904.
It is the second-oldest still-operating public aquarium in the United States. The Waikiki aquarium holds more than 2500 species featuring chambered corals, giant clams, jellyfish, endangered Hawaiian monk seals, sharks, and reef fish.
Visitors are also allowed to touch the sea inhabitants through an outdoor pool in the facility. Enjoy the unforgettable views of seahorses, pipefish, and sea dragons, and marvel at the displays of coral reefs. However, each visitor is allowed to spend about one hour and thirty minutes at maximum.
19. SEA LIFE HAWAII PARK
Here comes a treat for animal lovers – The infamous Sea Life Hawaii park provides a value-oriented experience to travelers with what it holds inside.
Sitting in the north of Hanauma Bay on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, there lie so many attractions for fun and educational animal experiences.
The interactive programs, shows, and exhibits will grant you one-in-a-lifetime experiences such as swimming with sharks, dolphins, and more. It is the ultimate stop where the heart meets the sea.
20. KOKO HEAD
Koko Head refers to the headland that lies along the Southeastern side of the Island of Oahu in Hawaii and defines the eastern side of Maunalua Bay.
The community of Portlock which is a part of Hawai’i Kai also resides on its western slope. If you choose to climb this Oahu hiking trail, do wear proper hiking shoes. It can take you around thirty minutes to one hour to reach the top.
However, we will recommend you to take at least one hour of relaxation time before starting the descent of this major landmark in Hawaii.
Please take the hike seriously as this old railway track featuring 1,048 steps up the steep isn’t easy.
21. KAPI OLANI REGIONAL PARK
Now we are talking about the largest and second-oldest public park in Hawaii- the Queen Kapiolani Regional Park.
It sits right beyond Kuhio Beach Park and the Waikiki residential neighborhood in Honolulu.
This truly expansive and beautiful park is a nice place for jogging, walking, dog walking, and playing soccer as it is filled with open grassy areas, picnic sites, soccer fields, tennis courts, 100-year-old trees, aerobic exercise stations, and 1 3-mile joggers’ course.
It also serves as a site for many outdoor concerts and shows, the Sunday Art Shows, and the Waikiki Shell making it part of traveler’s Hawaii landmarks list.
22. MAUI OCEAN CENTER, THE AQUARIUM OF HAWAII
Present in Maalaea on the island of Maui, there is another awe-inspiring aquarium and oceanography center, the Maui Ocean Center.
Established in 1998, this largest tropical reef aquarium in the Western Hemisphere spreads over 3 acres and is known as a famous landmark in Hawaii.
Since its inception, it has provided tourists with an understanding and appreciation of Hawai’i’s marine environment.
If you are planning to explore the park, do dedicate at least two hours to experience a tour or animal encounter to the fullest.
Every animal that you will get to see inside the aquarium will be either from Hawaii’s very waters or the hatch or release program there at the aquarium.
23. PEARL HARBOR AVIATION MUSEUM
Founded in 1999 in an authentic World War II-era hangar, Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum is a non-profit venture, a part of Senator Daniel Inouye’s vision for a rebirth of Ford Island.
There at the museum, you will get to witness a variety of aviation exhibits, one iconic control tower, and dozens of aircraft, commemorating the attack on Pearl Harbor and World War II.
Tourists can visit the museum from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm seven days a week. The good news is that the visitor center, two museums, and the USS Arizona Memorial program are free for all visitors who want to visit the best landmark in Hawaii.
24. PACIFIC FLEET SUBMARINE MUSEUM
Next to the USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center stands the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum or also called USS Bowfin, a Balao-class submarine of the United States Navy named after Bowfin Fish.
This submarine that survived its fate during WWII and did not end up as target practice or metal scrap, is a reality that tells stories of American submarining during WWII.
Here you will experience the tenacity of the U.S naval force, the diversity, importance, and contributions of elite submariners throughout the last century.
This historic landmark in Hawaii should be on your bucket list.
25. KILAUEA IKI CRATER
Standing next to the main summit caldera of Kilauea on the island of Hawaii in the Hawaiian Islands, Kilauea Iki is a pit crater.
It is the best landmark in Hawaii which offers its tourists to descend through a lush rainforest leading to the solidified lava lake on its floor.
It features a 3,3-mile loop trail to hike sandwiched between tall green trees and enchanting surroundings.
Do spend 2 to 3 hours to finish the hike. You can also sign up for a radio tour when you hike. How amazing would it be to explore the place that erupted in the 1950s?
26. POLOLU VALLEY
Let us introduce you to the Big Island Hikes, Pololū Valley which features the northernmost of a series of erosional impressive valleys forming the east coast of lush green pastures of Kohala Mountain on the Island of Hawaii.
This amazing landmark in Hawaii is an enchanting place that enriches its visitors with the spectacular views of the valley featuring the cliffs ending the ocean that are surely worth the trip.
What you can enjoy here the most is hiking to the black sand beach present on the floor of the valley. You can also plan a small road trip to a dozen attractions spread around the Pololū Valley.
27. WET ‘N’ WILD HAWAII
Last in our list of awe-inspiring Hawaiian landmarks comes Oahu’s top 10 most visited family attractions and the best landmark as voted by Honolulu Magazine.
Occupying 25 acres of land, it houses around 25 thrilling rides and attractions, enough to fill every visitor up with an adrenaline rush.
For the convenience of visitors, there are electronic lockers, coin-operated barbeques, hot showers, towel and tube hires, and Eftpos/ATM facilities onboard as well.
Due to safety regulations, only commercially prepared food and non-alcoholic drinks are allowed inside the boundary.
So, how did you find our best picks for the best Hawaiian landmarks? Now we know what makes this state so special- the typical Hawaiian tropical weather, massive volcanic mountaintops, the infamous laid-back Pacific Island atmosphere, a widespread enchanting landscape, lush green forests, and exhilarating forests surrounded by panoramic trails, historical monuments, and Pearl Harbor Memorial.
Oh, how can we forget that Hawaiian natives are who make Hawaii more special as they, through their welcoming and warm attitude, make the tourists feel as if they truly stand on the Heaven built on Earth.
What were your favorite attractions? Do tell us!
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