Hawaii is perhaps the most exotically-scenic state in the US, with enough beautiful places to fill an encyclopedia. These places of striking natural beauty also rank among the top of the most stunning in the world.
Halawa Valley, Molokai
The lush, green Halawa Valley is home to one of the most ancient settlements throughout the lesser-visited Hawaiian islands of Molokai. One can find the sprawling valley on the island's eastern side along with the impressive 250-foot drop, two-tiered Mooula Falls. The beautiful waterfall is visible from miles away, at a great lookout point from the turnout mile marker 26 of Kamehameha V Highway. It is only accessible via foot for a majestic close-up and a refreshing reward after trekking the island's magic scape full-of sight and secrets.
The valley is a historically-sacred place where its high concentration of native residents come to worship. It is the former home of the ancient Polynesians and a jaw-dropping destination today for serene beauty mixed with pure rawness. There are cascades, rainforests, and trails ending in sprawling views, with an epic bonus to enjoy it all without another soul in sight. While in the area, one must check out Molokai's, the world's highest cliffs and the state's longest reef fringing the shore.
Haleakala National Park, Maui
The most beautiful place within a hundred miles radius is home to Maui's highest, Mount Haleakala. It is one of the world's most dramatic sights, rising to 10,023 feet over just 38 miles (61km). According to an ancient legend, the sun was lassoed to the peak by a demigod who wanted to slow its journey across the sky, and the park is known as the "house of the sun." For the most avid sight-seekers, there are the island's iconic Haleakala Crater's cinder cones, along with the 'Ohe'o Gulch pools along the Palikea Stream.
The immense park covers five climatic zones, including the southeastern coast with remarkable sunrises that Mark Twain referred to as "the most sublime spectacle" of his life. There is also vast wilderness and rainforests, along with volcanic terrain, cascading falls, and crystal-clear pools. A whole other landscape leads to the mountain, with ascending sights becoming other-worldly and culminating at the eerie peak. One must climb the top for sunset colors, followed by captivating darkness lit with stars that seem only a hand's-reach away.
The gorgeous little city is a must-stop while exploring Oahu's delightful northern reaches. Set along the north shore, right across from Koloa island, Hanalei is a galore of adventures and attractions, like two miles of stunning beaches, windsurfing, zip-lining, hiking, river-rafting, and snorkeling. The town boasts access to the bright-blue Hanalei Bay, flanked by lush green mountains. It is Kauai nature at best, with calm water for sailing and paddle-boarding during summer and surfing the waves in winter.
The North Shore gem at the center of the bay was named "Hippest Town in Kauai" by Vogue. Hanalei boasts modern comforts to feel at home in the land of exotic opportunities and hosts regular ukulele concerts and music festivals. Its unique history of the Russian imperial past is still evident at the forts it occupied in nearby Princeville. For a great afternoon lingering spot, there's the Hanalei's Waioli Mission House and Church's national historic landmark, established by early Christian missionaries.
Hanauma Bay, Oahu
The park on the southeast coast of Oahu opens into a wide bay bookended by vibrant foliage. The picture-perfect bay is a must to visit, explore, and linger for the second-to-none vistas. The Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve has been a protected marine life sanctuary since 1967 with the richest marine ecosystem in Hawaii, where even royalty come to hang out for sights and fishing.
It is home to colorful tropical fish and the best snorkeling adventures. There is also access to the beach protected by the bay's curve with teal waters and warm yellow sand. The dominating cliff remains of a dormant volcano complete the real-life postcard appeal of the setting.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Big Island
The park is set on the largest but youngest of the islands in the chain that was created through numerous composite volcanic eruptions. It also continues to grow with four active volcanoes that occasionally reveal their natural aggression. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park beguiles with views like nowhere else on Earth. Vouched by visitors as the coolest place on the planet, it looks more like a moon setting dominated by two active volcanoes. The Mauna Loa is the world's largest, while Kilauea's last eruption was in 2018.
The park spans 335,259 acres with 150 hiking miles, deserts, volcanic craters, and other landforms and ecosystems. The night's starry skies and fiery lava flows striking through the rocky wasteland comprise something out of a horror fantasy. The ocean's massive waves mist up the craggy coastline, and perpetual earth tremors are enough to stun-still in the dramatic place. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage and World Biosphere Site, while its two volcanoes added 875 acres to the land since 1983 and more diversity.
Lanikai Beach, Kailua
The coconut-laden paradise beach is right from a postcard with palm trees and powdery sand. Lanikai literally translates into "heavenly sea" in Hawaiian, and the locals know the beach as a top for swimming in Hawaii. Following a dip in the crystal-clear waters, one can siesta all day long with a drink in hand and feel tension escape the body for a relaxing high.
One can also actively enjoy kayaking, canoeing, and windsurfing, as well as plop down on sugary sands to sunbathe under the blue skies or choose a spot in the shade. All Earthly worries will seep away at the sight of little offshore islands, the Mokuluas, through the coconut trees. "Beguiling" doesn't even scratch the surface in describing this gorgeous place unlike any other for hundreds of miles around.
Molokai's Sea Cliffs
The dramatic Sea Cliffs are a breathtaking natural wonder and a sacredly-powerful spot on Molokai Island. Among them, the 3,900 feet bluffs are the world's tallest and most majestic, offering the conquerors unconquered views. The mind-boggling cliffs are beloved by photographers, while hikers will achieve breathtaking views from the top that will not only make one forget their fear of heights but everything else in the world.
The powerful cliffs pass energy to the macabre through contact, instilling calmness and a sense of being on top of the world. The cliffs within Kalaupapa National Historical Park are also historical sites, and where Saint Damien helped those with Hansen's disease or leprosy. While the eastern cliffs are the world's highest, the Phallic Rock, 200 yards from the Kalaupapa Lookout, must be the most erotic.
Mauna Kea, Hawaii
The world's tallest mountain captivates with striking natural features as a two million-year-old lava-filled dormant volcano covered in glaciers. It is a year-round sight to behold from any angle, with especially remarkable views from the top at night. Mount Kea's dominant presence is Hawaii's tallest point of record-breaking 32,696 feet (9,966 m), which is 3,661 feet (1,116 m) taller than Everest. Despite being dormant, and half of it consumed beneath the ocean, Kea's volcanic activity actively evolves the landscape of Hawaii.
The summit, accessible by car, offers the best panorama in the state, clear sunrises and bright sunsets, and starry skies like no other. The sharpest views and unrivaled stargazing are thanks to the high elevations, dry environment, and steady winds, along with thirteen astronomical observation sites atop. Mount Kea is a sacred ground of cultural, archeological, and spiritual sites, along with juxtaposing natural sights like tropical and alpine forests, bush wilderness, and stone deserts. Akua, the creator, and other spiritual entities allegedly occupy the higher reaches, while the summit is home to the Polynesian Supreme Being.
Wailua Falls, Kauai
The falls boast an undeniable ambiance that pulls one in for a refreshingly glorious day full of relaxation. The fantastic setting on the eastern side of Kaua'i island is easily accessible for anyone who can walk. While Hawaii is a tempered destination any time of the year, the falls range in fullness and height from 80 feet to 200 feet, depending on the season. The site is visible from the side of the road while the short hike is worth the scenery, but also reachable via car.
The rainbow in the droplets of the early morning mist adds more magic to the mysteriously magnetic delight. The hikers to the top have some wild ventures and slippery climbs before hiking back down the hill for a swim in the glorious pool. Daredevils can jump off the cliff into the pool, while anyone can achieve another epic sight just by swimming with enchanting rainbows behind the robust waters.
Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai
Kauai island is most-desired for its beachy vibes. Its ten-mile-long "Grand Canyon of the Pacific" is like a real mini-deal with an "only-in-Hawaii" scenic touch. It boasts an impressive 3,600 feet depth with iconic red soil, reflected through the name Waimea which stands for "reddish water" in Hawaiian. The state park is a canteen and hiking boots destination with many trails for all-level hiking with varying sights and lookouts over the beautiful canyon.
One can find this green paradise with a vertigo-inducing crack in the Earth on the western side of the island inside the namesake park. The nearby bigger Koke's State park has more scenic trails and shaded places to sit back and relax or sprawl under the sun's rays. After a day-worth of exploring, nothing hits the spot like a sunset picnic at the must-see Pu'u Hinahina lookout with out-of-this-world views.
Bird-watcher, naturalists, and photographers will enjoy the sacred lands and natural wonders in these most beautiful places in Hawaii. At times overly-dramatic and unsettling sights guarantee one to encounter the most-gorgeous scenes of a lifetime.