Hawaii is obviously known for its beautiful sandy beaches and resorts that make this tropical state the perfect vacation destination. While we cannot argue that you should visit Hawaii for the beaches and relaxation, the state certainly offers more beauty if you’re willing to do some exploration.
Here, in no particular order, is our list for the top 10 places to see in Hawaii.
USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor
The number one tourist destination in the state of Hawaii is the obvious choice for our first suggestion to visit. The USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor is not only important to Hawaii’s history but also the United States’ history as well.
An active military base, Pearl Harbor was the location of where World War II began for the United States. On December 7, 1941, the Japanese led an attack on the military base that saw massive destruction and loss of life. The base was attacked by 353 Japanese fighter planes in two separate waves, leaving 2,403 Americans killed and four U.S. Battleships sinking. In total, eight battleships were damaged in the attack.
The USS Arizona, one of the battleships that exploded and sunk, killed 1,177 crewmen and offices. The wreckage was not able to be salvaged by the Navy and still lies in the bottom of the Pacific to this day. The memorial was constructed above the wreckage to commemorate the lives lost when the mighty ship sunk.
Haleakala National Park
Located on the island of Maui, Haleakala National Park is home to Mt. Haleakala, a dormant volcano that sits well over 10,000 feet. The park covers over 33,000 acres, 19,000 of those acres as wilderness area, so there is plenty of area to discover.
Since the national park is located in a volcanic area, the plants and animals have been brought over by man or naturally. In fact, most of the plants were brought over through the air or sea. Haleakala National Park is home to more endangered species than any national park in the country.
Panaewa Rainforest Zoo
The Panaewa Rainforest Zoo is the only tropical zoo in the United States. During your trip to the zoo, you will see many species of tropical birds and endangered Hawaiian animals, such as the white bengal tiger, spider monkeys, lemurs and the nene geese, the Hawaii state bird.
The zoo is also considered a botanical garden and, best of all, admission is free!
Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park
This historical park is a unique place to visit on the Big Island. It is a 182-acre piece of land that has reconstructions of a Hawaiian “Place of Refuge.” The self-guided tour is recommended as you discover the wonders of this park.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the most-visited attraction in Hawaii with over three million visitors each year. The main attractions of this park is the world’s most active volcano, Kilauea, and one of the world’s largest volcano, Mauna Loa. Visiting the park gives unique experiences to view these very active volcanoes.
Diamond Head State Monument
Located on Oahu, Diamond Head is considered one of Hawaii’s most famous landmarks. Hike through old military bunkers and enjoy beautiful views of the Honolulu area, the trail is just under a mile and a half.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to find any diamonds here.
If snorkeling interests you, then Molokini Crater is the perfect place to visit during your next trip to Hawaii. Molokini is a partially submerged volcanic crater , the shape of the islet protects snorkelers from waves and currents. With its history of conservation, the fish and wildlife are very comfortable with the presence of divers.
Maui Ocean Center
The Maui Ocean Center is the nation’s largest tropical reef aquarium. As their website states, the aquarium “allows guests to conveniently explore Hawaii’s underwater world without getting wet.” The aquarium has sharks, turtles and plenty of tropical Pacific fish to observe.
As well as the underwater creatures, the aquarium also has the world’s largest collection of Pacific corals.
Maui Ocean Center’s 750,000-gallon Open Ocean Exhibit is a recommended stop during your visit.
If you wanted to find snow in a tropical place, you might be in luck. Mauna Kea, the highest mountain in Hawaii and also a dormant volcano, is a recommended place for beautiful scenery in Hawaii. Funnily enough, snow and skiing is not uncommon during the winter months.
The site is also one of the best locations for astronomical observations.