Since you certainly want to fully enjoy your time in Hawaii, we thought, we just put together a few Hawaii attractions that you should definitely visit during your time in Hawaii.
Tastes are known to be different, but some places in Hawaii are just so unique that you should definitely visit them.
When putting together our Hawaiian attractions, we considered the four large islands Oahu, Kauai, Maui and Big Island.
In addition to our real Hawaiian attractions, we also described some spots that many might even consider to be Hawaiian attractions, but were not that impressive for us. However, we do not want to deprive you of our opinion on these sights.
Oahu attractions - Hawaii attractions
North Shore with Haleiwa
Haleiwa on the north coast is definitely one of our Hawaii attractions. Not because it's so spectacular, but because it just has a nice vibe.
Everywhere are food trucks offering delicious acai bowls, shaved ice, crepes, shrimp or grilled BBQ ribs. We tried almost all of them and weren't disappointed at all. Really delicious stuff everywhere.
The small town of Haleiwa impresses with its flair and its many colorful houses, small boutiques and great beaches. In winter months, beginning in October, many surfing competitions take place here. Big waves roll up on the beaches of the North Shore then and accordingly, a lot of surfers are out there waiting for them to come. We could watch for hours.
Pearl Harbor - Hawaii attractions
We really liked Pearl Harbor. The topic of the attack of the Japanese on the American Pacific fleet is very well worked up.
We have heard in advance that this place abounds with inappropriate patriotism. We did not feel that way at all. Rather the opposite was the case. We have experienced a fact-based work-up and an appropriate tribute to the fallen soldiers.
There is enough parking space available. At the entrances of the parking lots, signs warn of increased theft risk. You should not leave valuables in the car.
The problem is, that you cannot bring in bags - larger than wallets - into Pearl Harbor Area. There are no exceptions - even if you ask friendly. Cameras are allowed.
So, it's best to leave bags and backpacks in your accommodation. Alternatively, you can hand in your bags at the cloakroom for five Dollar per bag. We did it that way. Has worked without problems.
It's really exciting and frightening to be standing on the bay and the audio guide tells you where the first Japanese aircrafts came from over the mountains, dropping bombs and torpedos.
It's best to start your tour in Pearl Harbor in the morning, when visitor numbers are still low. Overall, Pearl Harbor is visited by about 4,000 visitors a day. The first 1,300 are said to have the opportunity to get a ticket for the USS Arizona.
So, start with the tour to the USS Arizona Memorial. Get a ticket for it. The tour is free and takes about 75 minutes.
We would recommend you to buy an audio guide for 7,50 Dollar.
Start with an introductory film about the story of the attack.
Afterwards go by boat to the memorial of the warship USS Arizona. When the USS Arizona was hit by a Japanese torpedo, it sank with more than a thousand crew and is still the wet grave of the mariners. Back on land, visit the various exhibitions on the course of the attacks.
After this detailed introduction, you can book other tours. Certainly, it is very interesting to visit the submarine USS Bowfin.
Historically very relevant is the Battleship USS Missouri, on which the end of World War II was sealed with the written surrender of Japan.
Otherwise, visit the USS Oklahoma Memorial or the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum.
We decided to take the free tour with an audio guide and a detailed visit of the exhibition and took us about three hours.
Lanikea Beach with turtles
Lanikea Beach on Oahu's North Shore is known for its turtles.
The reptiles visit this beach to feed the algae from the black lava rocks.
The best you ask about the tides and come at low tide to the beach. We were at high tide when heavy waves hit the shore, so the turtles did not come to the Lanikea Beach, but stayed about 10 meters off the beach swimming in the water. We spotted about five turtles. If you are lucky enough to spot turtles on the beach, stay a few feet away. The animals are endangered and protected. If you bother them, you have to expect severe fines.
Kane'ohe Botanical Garden overlooking the volcano mountains
A relatively unknown, but also free spot on Oahu is the Kane'ohe Botanical Garden in the east of the island.
The reason we loved this garden, was not the beautiful flora, but the scenery of black tarred roads, green jungle and the volcanic mountains in the background is so impressive. This place is awesome for shooting great pictures.
As the garden has gained popularity through Instagram, they put signs everywhere, that prohibit taking photographs, parking and anything else in the best places.
There are probably too many people in the main season blocking the streets for photos. But since we were almost the only guests in Kane'ohe, we have interpreted the prohibition signs a bit more generous.
The entire Kane'ohe Botanical Garden is accessible by car.
Pelagic snorkel with sharks
Snorkeling with sharks a few miles off the north coast of Oahu. Without a cage? Can't imagine? But should you do that? Of course. An incredible experience that you will never forget.
Swimming with ocean biologist Ocean Ramsey with Galapagos sharks, sandbar sharks and also with a tiger shark if you're lucky and without protection. The adrenaline kick cannot be bigger.
Book the tour at least a week in advance and try to go out as early as possible - preferably before eight o'clock.
Well, the famous Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. What should we say? It had a magical attraction on us and we enjoyed every minute, because we are already a little bit on the verge of being in places like this.
Waikiki Beach does not have much more to offer than its charisma. Sure, the water has an incredible color. The sand is gleaming white and since Waikiki was our first beach in Hawaii, we were thrilled. Now, after three weeks in Hawaii, we'd probably just run away thinking of Waikiki.
Many homeless people, pretty crime, drugs, extremely overpriced and more party mile than casual beach vibe.
There are some cool boutiques with surfer's clothes, every 200 yards an ABC store and every fast food on this planet.
Parking costs a fortune.
The beach itself is populated from early in the morning by surfers and other sports enthusiasts.
There is a swimming area protected by breakwaters.
Waimea Valley Park
Waimea Valley Park on Oahu did not really convince us. People really try to turn this valley into a botanical garden.
So watch all native and foreign plants that grow on this earth.
But other botanical gardens get that much better. Rubber hoses are everywhere for irrigation, the fallen leaves are everywhere and hide the wonderful flowers.
Do not get us wrong, that's the way it is in nature. But for 18 Dollars, I'm expecting something I do not see on every street corner in Hawaii.
The valley is beautiful and we would like to do an extensive hike, but not on paved roads, where visitors are driven around by golf carts. But in nature, as it is and not for 18 Dollar entry fee.
At the end of the botanical garden's trail is a very nice waterfall. Swim there with a life jacket and a lot of other people. Throw some bucks in the tip box for that.
As I said: A nice valley, but not for 18 US Dollars.
We have seen so much nicer valleys on this and the other Hawaiian Islands, all of which did not cost entry fee, and we did not have to share the waterfall with several school classes.
Kauai attractions - Hawaii attractions
Helicopter Flight Na Pali Coast and Waimea Canyon - Hawaii Attractions
The helicopter flight was one of the Hawaiian attractions that will forever stay in our memories.
We joined the tour provider Maverick Helicopters and were very satisfied. Book the sightseeing flight here. If you are interested, book now, because the good times are sold out quickly.
The flight starts on the south coast of Kauai in the small town of Port Allen.
Start your flight with a low altitude round above the ocean. We spotted a big sea turtle from above.
Now the flight really starts and you will fly over the coastal region direct towards Waimea Canyon. One of the largest and most impressive canyons in the world is waiting for you. Waimea Canyon is also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.
The pilot describes the opening scene from the first Jurassic Park movie when entering Waimea Canyon and, believe it or not, you really feel like the movie heroes as you fly through this jungle-like part of the island's interior. He also plays the Jurrasic Park theme music. We really got goose bumps. Just over green hills and trees and impressive falls plunging into the depths. What an experience.
Fly to really impressive waterfalls. You can hardly describe it.
In the northwest, the canyon suddenly opens and you have the most beautiful coast of the world in front of you. Na Pali Coast is really amazing.
Fly a few hundred meters out to sea, so you can see the Na Pali Coast in its full glory during your helicopter ride. Then come close to the characteristic waves of the Na Pali Coast.
After a short scenic flight over the north coast of Kauai and its coral reefs, you will return to one canyon of the Na Pali Coast.
Fly back over the Waimea Canyon to the south coast. One last and for us incredibly impressive stop is still to come. It is the Wall of Tears - a hundred-meter-high rock wall, at the foot of which water penetrates from the volcanic rock in many places.
After about an hour you will end up back in Port Allen.
For us, this helicopter ride in Waimea Canyon and on the Na Pali Coast is one of Hawaii's great attractions.
Even though the fun of $ 300 is not a bargain, do it. You certainly will not regret it, and you cannot experience anything like that anywhere in the world.
Do the booking early enough and best take the first flight in the morning, when the light is still golden and mild. Especially for photographers. Most of the time, the weather is the stable in the morning.
We made our flight with Maverick Helicopters. We booked it with GetYourGuide.
Polehale Beach/Polihale State Park
If you are looking for the best beaches in Kauai, do not miss Polehale Beach at Polehale State Park in western Kauai.
The way there is a bit bumpy and goes over a bad gravel road to the beach.
You should only drive this road with an SUV or Jeep. Some locals also travel to Polehale Beach with normal cars, but do a favour to your car and don't. After about twenty minutes you will reach the lonely, incredibly wide and beautiful beach. We were almost the only visitors this morning.
Soft-sand, imposing sand dunes separate the driveway from the beach. There are no facilities like toilets, showers or lifeguards. Here you are on your own.
The view of the small neighboring island is wonderful. Polehale Beach is adjacent to the slopes of Na Pali Coast. How beautiful Na Pali is already here.
There is also a small campsite for which you need a permit.
Please keep in mind that the vast majority of car rental companies exclude trips on unpaved roads in the insurance conditions, so you should not have a breakdown here.
Waimea Canyon- Hawaii attractions
Waimea Canyon is one of Hawaii's most beautiful sights. It is also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.
You drive from the south into the canyon. Near Waimea, a road branches off the coast, and after just a few kilometers, you have magnificent views of the flatter areas of the canyon.
A really nice spot is also a small waterfall in the middle of red earth before entering the park.
Every few hundred yards a new lookout with even better views of the Waimea Canyon. For the lookouts you have to pay parking fee. It costs five Dollars a car/day and you can park at all lookouts and parking lots. There are small ticket machines set up, where you can buy the parking ticket. Enter your plate number and pay by credit card only.
If you drive the road along the edge of the canyon, then you come to the Kōke'e State Park. From here, there are some beautiful viewpoints on Na Pali Coast - for example, the Kalalau Lookout. Do not miss that, but it's best to come before noon, otherwise it's so foggy there, you'll see nothing but a white wall. That's what we saw.
We took a hike to a waterfall in the canyon. The path is really beautiful and you will got great views of the canyon and get to the top of the waterfall where it plunges into the depths.
The trail is called Canyon Trail Hike.
It's a bit exhausting, but if you do sports every now and then, it should not be a problem. Mostly shadow and it doesn't take too long. With many photo stops and a longer break at the waterfall, it took us two hours to get there and back.
We would recommend walking shoes, but many tourists wore sneakers and have also returned.
There is also a parking lot on the way, that will save you the hardest part of the way, but you probably need a 4WD for that. We have marked the parking space here at google maps.
Hiking on Kauai - Hawaii attractions
If we came back to Kauai, we would probably just go hiking. If you like hiking, Kauai is a paradise. Hiking on Kauai is definitely one of our Hawaii attractions.
In addition to the just mentioned Waimea Canyon Trail, we would definitely hike to the end of the Kalalau Trail. Imagine walking along the most beautiful coast in the world without seeing many other tourists. Because most of the Kalalau Trail you can only hike with a permit. The first two miles are accessible without permit. We did that and it was terrific. The two miles took us about 90 minutes with many photo stops. You will be rewarded with beautiful Hanakāpī'ai Beach, where a crystal clear stream flows into the ocean.
From here, you can turn into the interior of the island and marvel at the breathtaking Hanakāpī'ai Falls. The path goes along the stream and crosses it twice. Be careful, because it gets slippery during rain. The path is almost flat, what means no climbs or steep ascents from the beach to the waterfall. At the end of the path, you end up at the foot of the most majestic waterfall, we have ever seen so close. You can even take a dip in the pool of Hanakāpī'ai Waterfall. It was really awesome and this was just the first part of the Kalalau Trail.
The total length of the Kalalau Trail is eleven miles and just as long back. The trail starts at Ha'ena State Park on Ke'e Beach, where parking is also available. But parking space is scarce and must be reserved well in advance (at least two weeks in advance). If you do not get a parking space, you can take the shuttle from Princeville or Waipa Park & Ride to the trail head. Also, you need a reservation for the shuttle that costs $ 15.
So for the whole Kalalau trail, you need an overnight stay at the campsite and have to bring your equipment there. So, make sure to obtain a permit and hike along the Na Pali Coast. Here you will find official and current information about the Kalalau Trail on Kauai.
Another very nice hike is the Awaawapuhi Trail. You start from the west side of the Waimea Canyon and descend a few hundred meters towards the Na Pali Coast. This huge altitude difference makes the hike very strenuous. Always keep an eye on the weather. Here you can find more information.
From the helicopter, we saw the Wall of Tears. This vertical rock wall, from which water penetrates in many places, was for me (Dominik) the most impressive site on Kauai. There is also a hiking trail here, but it should not be taken lightly. I've read a lot about it now and a professional guide is highly recommendable.
On this page you will find detailed information about the trail.
There are some other attractions on Kauai, that were not as impressive as Na Pali Coast, helicopter flight and Waimea Canyon but worth to mention.
The Wailua Falls, which you reach from the east side of the island, are very nice. The view from the lookout is rather modest and there is no official way down to the waterfall. Some other visitors have simply climbed over the barrier or through the hole in the fence and descented on a muddy path down to the pool at the foot of the waterfall. We stood on the lookout on the concrete wall and had sufficient view of the cases. The parking lot is right on the lookout.
The Opaeka'a Falls - also accessible from the east side of Kauai - can be seen from the lookout about 100 meters away. Again, park your car directly on the lookout.
Other Kauai attractions
The Poipu Beach is a pretty nice beach, but also busy. Adjacent is the small Brennecke's Beach. We liked it better. There are many parking spaces and a small shop available.
There's a place called Spouting Horn. Some small fountains blow out of the coastal rocks when a larger wave claps on the rocks. You can only look at it from a gated area. You cannot get close. A large parking lot and many souvenir stands are available. The Spouting Horn is quite unspectacular.
As a conclusion to Kauai, we would like to give you focus on Na Pali Coast and Waimea Canyon. Explore both of these world class Hawaii attractions by helicopter and by hiking.
If we went back to Kauai, we will definitely go for the hikes, mentioned above, and probably fly by helicopter again.
Maui - Hawaii attractions
Haleakala Sunset with crater hike
The sunrise on Haleakala is really cool and therefore one of our Hawaii attractions.
It's freezing cold and there are a lot of people up there, but it's totally worth it.
Before the first rays of sunshine illuminate the horizon, you have an unbelievably good view of the stars when the sky is clear. Only a few places let us experience such a starry sky. For this reason, some huge telescopes are set up here.
But when the first rays of the sun illuminate the horizon in all reds and yellows, the magic of the moment is not to describe.
Since the National Park Administration wanted to restrict the number of visitors to Haleakala, a reservation for the time of the sunrise on Haleakala (03:00 am to 07:00 am) is necessary. Be sure to sign up two months in advance especially in the main season. The reservation costs one dollar per vehicle. You can have a date reserved on this page. You have to set yourself on a specific date and then hope for good weather. Some people then log in for all days of their stay because of the low cost, in order to increase the chances of good weather and a cloudless sky. Understandable - but not quite fair to other potential visitors and the park management, which is planning on the income.
Income from the entrance fees, because the one dollar is just the fee for the reservation. In addition, you pay a fee of $ 25 per car upon entering the park.
The road to the summit is in very good condition and paved throughout. You will see deer and other animals on the roadside at night. Increased caution is required.
We left at 3 am in Kihei at Maui Beachside and it took us about 90 minutes to get to the Visitor Center. Make sure you have enough water and food, because there is nothing to buy up there. In addition, the tank of your car should be well filled, as you climb about 10,000 feet or more than 3,000 vertical meters until you reach the top of Haleakala. That really eats your gasoline.
So, try reach the top - depending on the time of sunrise - before 5:00 o'clock in the morning, otherwise the parking lot is full and you cannot choose your preferred spot to watch the sunrise on Haleakala, but must take what is left. We got a parking lot at the summit and watched the sunrise from there.
Next time we would not park at the summit, but at the Visitor Center and watch the sunrise on Haleakala from the small mountain next to the Visitor Center car park. From up there, you have a great view into the spectacular crater landscape.
It is really cold at night and you have to stay up there for a while. So wear long pants, closed shoes and a cap, that covers your ears. Gloves, a scarf, a blanket, a pot of tea or coffee and possibly even a folding chair will make your life easier.
With the ticket purchased, entry is granted for three days, as there is also plenty to see on Haleakala during the day. Many walks - long or short - are up there. You can also descend into the crater landscape.
But always remember that the height of over 3,000 meters will bother you.
Haleakala is one of Hawaii's great attractions for us.
Catamaran cruise with snorkeling
Maui also has much to offer under water. If you are not a scuba diver, perhaps a catamaran cruise with snorkeling is the right choice for you. The whole thing is really relaxing and with a little luck you will see turtles, dolphins or even whales. Most of the time, these trips start in the morning and you get breakfast and lunch. Depending on the provider, they set up a BBQ buffet or burgers. Soft drinks are included. Alcohol only with some tour operators - others make you pay extra for alcohol.
We went with Teralani and recommend the catamaran cruise on Maui. Book the trip at this link and you won't regret it.
This trip is definitely one of our Hawaii attractions.
If you are a certified diver, you will find the suitable base in your area with PADI Diveshop Locator.
Road to Hana - Hawaii attractions
The famous Road to Hana is one of Hawaii's landmarks and one of Hawaii's and Maui's attractions to us.
It leads from Maui's capitol Kahului to Hana. It leads over a little more than a hundred kilometers along the north and east coast of Maui over 54 bridges and countless hairpin bends. The reason for the fame of the Road to Hana is not the road itself, but the enchanting surroundings. Hundreds of small and large waterfalls with crystal-clear pools for swimming, fantastic views of the Pacific and wonderful black, white and red sand beaches have just thrilled us.
The road itself is not difficult to navigate. You will not want to drive fast anyway, because there is far too much to see. When a local driver is behind you, just pull over to the right and let him pass. The small bridges are mostly single lane, but that's no problem either. Nobody insists on his right of way.
The second stretch is a bit more spectacular than the first.
Remember to refuel before departure, as there are no gas stations on the way and the journey takes several hours. We needed about 8 to 10 hours with many stops and meal breaks.
Buy food and drinks on the track at food trucks or fruit stalls. Avocados, oranges and bananas at very reasonable prices.
In Haiku, there are some great food trucks with delicious food and drinks.
You won't miss most of the spots as signs always announce them or parked cars will tell you, there is something to see. A lot of them are to be seen from the street. Our favorite spot was the Black Sand Beach at Waianapanapa State Park. That's why we've dedicated our own Hawaii attraction to that beach.
From Hana, the road becomes increasingly worse and, when it goes south, the road surface changes from paved to gravel. Officially, you are not allowed to drive unpaved roads with most rental cars because they are excluded in the insurance conditions. Be aware of the risk. An SUV is certainly not a bad choice. Longer distances here are sometimes one-lane, but even here it is really easy to drive. The landscape changes quite fast from jungle to volcanic lava desert. In the south, the lava slopes look like green hills and are reminiscent of Scotland or the English coast.
It is really impressive to cross so many vegetation zones in such a short time.
The Kanapali Beach near Lahaina is really nice, but not exactly idyllic. Because here are the large and expensive hotel complexes settled. The affluent customers of Westin, Hyatt, Marriot and Sheraton populate the beach. Accordingly, the beach is well equipped with tour operators and restaurants. The Whalers Wharf is also home to a small shopping mall. There you can park for three dollars per 30 minutes. If you buy something at the mall, part of the park ticket will be refunded to you. We bought for $ 40 and were given three hours ($ 18). This can be worthwhile if you need something anyway.
But all hotels must also offer some free parking for visitors to the beach according to Hawaii State Law. We were lucky and managed to get a parking space here. First come, first serve. We link you to the location of the free parking, if you want to visit the beach or take part in one of the catamaran cruises. Many of these tours start at Kanapali Beach.
The Twin Falls are rather unspectacular. Especially, if you've seen the waterfalls on Kauai before. Nevertheless, the landscape in which the Twin Falls are, is very idyllic. During our visit, only one of the two waterfalls had water. The other one was dry.
Black Sand Beach at Waianapanapa State Park
This beach was one of the most beautiful in Hawaii for us. Something you really do not see in many places in the world.
The beach is completely black due to the volcanic origin of the rock. Really impressive Hawaii attraction due to the huge contrast of black sand and black rocks to the lush green vegetation and the deep blue waters of the ocean.
Makena State Park – Big Beach
We wanted to spend our departure day on Maui on a beautiful beach again and chose the Makena Beach. We visited Big Beach. Small Beach is separated by some cliffs from the main beach. Both beach sections are beautiful. Great clean water and fine white sand. The surf on Makena Beach can be really heavy, right Kathrin?
There are two parking lots with lots of space. Especially in the morning, you should get a parking space easily.
For hungry sunbathers, food trucks offer snacks. A lifeguard is on site.
Big Island attractions - Hawaii attractions
Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park
Seeing an active volcano spewing lava once in a lifetime. That was our idea of Hawaii attraction Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. That's how it has been for the last decades. Glowing red lava, bubbling craters and lava hissing into the sea. But since the devastating eruption in 2018, Kilauea is inactive.
Nevertheless, the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is still an incredibly impressive experience and therefore one of our Hawaii and Big Island attractions.
There is really a lot to see. We spent one and a half days in the Volcanoes National Park. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is $ 25 per vehicle entrance fee. Admission is valid for seven days.
The following route or order of things really makes sense in our opinion.
It's best to start at the Visitor Center. Talk to the Rangers. The rangers at Volcanoes National Park are really keen to give their visitors tips and share their knowledge. Be sure to check out the movie "Born of Fire, Born in the Sea" at the Visitor Center Cinema. It is about the emergence of the Hawaiian Islands and about Hawaiian volcanism in general. The movie is really interesting and makes you want to see what is going on here. But above all, the film helps to understand the whole thing better. The Visitor Center exhibition features a film about the outbreak of 2018 including original footage. It's really unbelievable what forces are working there. The Visitor Center is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. The film runs at half-hourly intervals.
You can also listen to ranger lectures or join one of the ranger walks for free.
Now, walk to the hotel Volcano House and just walk through the lobby onto the terrace. From here, you have a spectacular view of the caldera of Kilauea.
After visiting the Visitor Center and this first view, you should drive the Chain of Craters Road. Do that in the morning, because this road goes down to the sea, where it is really hot. Drive down the road without stopping and make your stops from the bottom up. As a result, you are almost alone at the views at least until about half way.
It starts with the arch on the cliffs, where spectacular surf breaks against the hollow arch of lava rock and sprays water high. Here, you can park well and then examine the latest lava fields. Just walk along the gravel road as far as you want. The pitch-black lava formations are really spectacular and a very nice photo spot.
Now, make your way back and stop at the lookouts. From some, you look down into smaller craters, from others you have a good view of the cooled lava fields or the sea.
At first, we stopped at almost all lookouts - later only at the really spectacular ones.
Plan about three hours for the Chain of Craters Road.
Now you have got a good first impression. For us, we were keen to hike the lava fields now.
We made the trail to Puu'Huluhulu. The hike is easy regarding ascent. The heat can be a problem. The trails lead partly in the forest, but also on the open lava fields. So, take enough water with you.
Puu'Huluhulu takes about a good hour and is relatively unspectacular. Continue until you reach Napau crater.
The next morning, we did the hike in the caldera of Kilauea Iki. That was really cool. Park your car with the Kilauea Iki lookout or even better with the Thurston Lava Tube. The parking lot and the tube were closed during our visit.
It's best to descent into the crater in the east and back up in the west. It is much less exhausting. After a short but steep descent through the jungle, you reach the bottom of the caldera. The sight is really breathtaking. You cross the huge area from east to west and ascend to the crater rim in the west. On the northern crater rim you follow the way back to the starting point. Again, there are some spectacular views.
Altogether it is about six kilometers to go. So, take enough water and something to eat with you. It took us about two hours.
If you have time left, check out Steam Vents. There, water vapor evaporates from columns on the edge of Kilauea caldera. Also visit the Sulfur Banks.
Although no lava flowed, the Volcanoes National Park was certainly one of our Hawaii attractions.
Punalu’u Black Sand Beach- Hawaii attractions
You'll pass our next Hawaii attraction as you drive from the Vulcanoes National Park towards Kona.
After about twenty miles you will reach Punalu'u Black Beach. The sand of this beach is really completely black and turtles are almost guaranteed. There is a closed zone on the beach reserved for turtles. That must be their favorite place.
But if you enter the water at the left (if you look at the sea) outer edge of the Punalu'u Black Beach with snorkel and mask, you'll see some big turtles. We saw three or four each time. As always when snorkeling, please do not touch anything.
Swim close to the rocks. Yet in waist-deep water, the turtles of Punalu'u Black Beach eat algae from the rocks.
During our visit, the beach was relatively well visited by locals. But that was because it was a holiday. On a normal weekday, there is probably not that much going on there.
The infrastructure of the beach is quite good. There is a picnic area, toilets, a lifeguard, vending machines and souvenir stalls.
Waipio Valley - Hawaii attractions
Waipio Valley is located in the north of Big Island. From Kona, it is about one and a half hour by car. The scenery is really great up here in the north.
Once you arrive at the lookout, you have two options after having enjoyed the view. Either drive down to the valley or park at the top and walk down the Waipio Valley Access Road.
The catch on both options is that the Waipio Valley Access Road has a slope of about 25 percent. If you want to go down, you need a 4WD, otherwise the gatekeeper will not let you through. If you have a 4WD, it is not a problem. Although the road is steep and sometimes only one lane passable, but before the single-track parts is always an alternative and there is not much going on there.
The catch when hiking is of course the reboot. Over 300 meters of altitude on 1.4 kilometers made us to sweat a lot. But since we had already built up a bit of fitness through various other hikes on the Hawaiian Islands, it was really not as bad as we had feared when going down.
There is also Waipio Valley Shuttle, which brings people up the steep path. Although we saw it driving, but found no information on costs and departure times.
The valley is really very idyllic. Towards the sea there is a nice dark sand beach and a small river that flows into the sea. Otherwise, the valley is very green, wild horses graze on the river and to the mountains there is a waterfall.
Bring drinks and food with you. You cannot buy anything down in the valley.
Makalawena Beach - Hawaii attractions
Makalawena Beach is the most beautiful beach we visited on Big Island, maybe even on whole Hawaii. That's why it made it to our Hawaii attractions.
Park your car at Kekaha Kai Beach State Park. For this way, a 4WD does not hurt. Even though we saw locals riding a normal car, I would not do that because of the lack of ground clearance.
From the parking lot, plan about 30 minutes of walking. The path leads you over a black lava field and past other beach sections. Do not be seduced by the beauty of other beaches - Malakawena Beach is more beautiful. So, walk to the end. After the lava field, the white dunes begin and you almost made it.
There is hardly any shadow on this beach, so get ready and provide enough water and snacks.
Manta Night Dive - Hawaii attractions
The Manta Night Dive off the coast of Kona is one of the most impressive of our attractions during our entire Hawaii trip. We have been on the hunt for mantas for so long and have never been lucky.
But now to the Manta night dive: The dive at the dive site "Mantas Heaven" is relatively easy. About ten meters deep, no current, very close to the coast. The water is pleasantly warm at 27 degrees.
The special thing is the darkness. The trip starts shortly before sunset. So, you can enjoy a beautiful sunset on the dive boat and when the sun is gone, you jump into the water.
Equipped with strong flashlights and lights on the tank, small groups (max 6 people) swim to the "campfire" dive spot. The campfire is a circle of stones, in the middle of which powerful lamps are placed that attract plankton. Outside, a lot of divers are sitting in the sand. If you want, you can cling to one of the rocks lying around to sit comfortably.
And then the magic begins.
First, one huge manta ray came floating in from the darkness and began to circle and suck the plankton out of the light cones of the lamps. And then, there were more and more. Finally, we had six or seven mantas circling around the campfire. The mantas really floated a few inches above our heads. Again, of course: Do not touch.
After about 45 minutes, our time was over and we returned to the boat with the greatest joy in our hearts.
Even as a snorkeler, you can participate in the tour. Snorkelers stay at the surface on a small raft with strong lights attached. Again, the mantas come very close. I think the view of the animals as divers is a bit more spectacular, but it's also a great experience for snorkelers.
On the website of some dive operators, there is a calendar that keeps track of the number of mantas present the last days. Take a good look and plan your Manta Dive based on this information. Just search for the term "Manta Report Kona".
We prefer to dive with PADI, as we have always felt well and safe in PADI certified dive shops.
Mauna Kea Stargazing
Now there is one last Hawaii attraction on Big Island, which we do not want to leave unmentioned. Star Gazing on Mauna Kea must be an amazing Hawaii attraction. During our visit to Big Island, Mauna Kea was closed. A group of local activists have blocked all access roads to prevent the installation of another large space telescope. Maybe you are luckier.
But that's it about our Hawaii attractions and we hope our recommendations will help you make your Hawaii trip really great. We've been searching a list of Hawaii attractions with descriptions and recommendations prior to our visit, but could not find anything of worth.