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8 Secret Places To Explore in Hawaii

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Hawaii is best known as a destination for relaxation; visitors come from around the world to soak up the sun on the white sand beaches, snorkel with sea turtles, and feast at Luaus. But if you’re looking for a little more adventure, these hidden gems of Hawaii offer amazing hiking, cycling, spelunking, and more. So put down that Pina Colada, and get out of the resort to discover these amazing natural sights.  

Keahiakawelo, Lanai

Known as the “Fire of Kawelo”, Keahiakawelo is an impressive and unusual rock garden just 45 minutes outside Lanai city. This otherworldly scene of rock towers, spires, and formations is completely different from the usually lush Hawaiin countryside. On a clear day, you can see the islands of Molokai and Oahu from here. Rent a 4-wheel drive vehicle or mountain bike to get there, and head up at sunset for a breath-taking view. 

Kaumana Lava Tubes, Big Island

West of Hilo, you can find the Kaumana Caves State Park with its caverns and tunnels. As you walk along the eerily dark lava tubes, you can gain a new appreciation for the volcanic activity that created the Hawaiian islands and the lava rock beneath your feet. Climb down through the collapsed cavern roof which has become a skylight for the cave. The lava tunnels are free to explore, though they pass onto private property after a little while. It’s dark down there, so be sure to wear sturdy shoes and bring a flashlight!

Niihau Island

Known as “The Forbidden Isle”, Niihau island is one of the best-kept secrets in Hawaii. Aside from the tiny village of Pu‘uwai – home to the island’s 200 isolated inhabitants – this privately owned island is otherwise untouched by society. There are no paved roads or commercial buildings here, just beautiful Hawaii nature as far as the eye can see. The best way to see Niihau is from a private helicopter tour where you can tour the island from above, as discovering the island on foot is not permitted by non-residents.

Kalalau Trail, Kauai

For nature lovers and daredevils, Kalalau Trail has a lot to offer. The 11-mile trail leads from Ke’e Beach to Kalalau Beach along the coast of the Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park.  Reserve a Day-use permit to hike the 4-mile round-trip trail to Hanakāpīʻai Beach for a full day of scenic views and secluded beach. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, apply for a camping permit to hike the full 11-mile trail (22-mile round-trip) and camp out at Kalalau Beach. Just past Hanakoa, you will find “Crawler’s Ledge”, a narrow section of the trail which has been known to scare hikers into crawling along it on their hands and knees. There are a limited number of people allowed on the trail at one time so book in advance. 

Olowalu Petroglyphs, Maui

To see authentic rock carvings of the ancient Hawaiians, you don’t have to look far. On the island of Maui, down a dirt road near Wailuku, you can see the small Olowalu sign to the right of a small shack. A quick drive or short walk along the trail will bring you to the historical petroglyphs, ancient images that have been chiseled into the rock here. Marvel at the human and animal forms preserved in history and take some great photos.

Papohaku Beach, Molokai

Known as “Three Mile Beach”, Papohaku Beach is one of Hawaii’s largest white-sand beaches and a favorite spot among the local people. If you want to escape from the crowded tourist areas and find a little peace and quiet, this is the perfect place. The azure blue sea offers a welcome reprieve from the summer heat, and the giant stretch of powdery white sand leaves you with plenty of room to stretch out and soak up the sun.

Nakalele Blowhole, Maui

Just North of Kapalua,  Nakalele Blowhole is a unique sight to see on the island of Maui. The natural geyser is caused by seawater trapped in an underwater lava tube, and regularly shoots bursts of water up to 100ft in the air. Be sure to stand on dry rocks to make sure you are a safe distance from the blowhole; it can get pretty slippery!

The Blue Room, Kauai

On Kauai’s North Shore, you will find a lot on the seaside of the highway just before the end of the road at Ke’e. Across the road, you will find a short trail leading up to the wet cave. The hidden gem in the back of the cave is “The Blue Room”, where sunlight shining down into the cave gives the waters here an ethereal blue glow. The magical light is best when the tide is highest, and the sun is just north of Ha’ena State Park. Although swimming here is unbelievably tempting, avoid it if you have any open wounds and try not to drink the water as it can carry bacteria. 

Read More:

Our Top Tips For Saving Money On Your Hawaiin Holiday

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Robin

Sunday 1st of August 2021

Please leave Ni'ihau alone. Hovering over this isolated spot in a helicopter in order to satisfy your personal curiosity would be...in poor taste.

Roger

Saturday 17th of July 2021

Thanks for the tips. We're heading to Molokai and Kauai in Feb/Mar 2022, with a stopover in Honolulu both on the way there and on the way back. Thanks to this post, I have added Papohaku Beach on Molokai, and the Blue Room on the north shore of Kauai to our itinerary. Mahalo.

Kashlee Kucheran

Sunday 18th of July 2021

That sounds like a wonderful trip!

Rich

Saturday 17th of July 2021

This looks a bit like information gathered from tourist brochures. I have been to Niʻihau on the medivac helicopter. Yes it has one small village and contact us discouraged but is it a paradise. Ni’ihau has alwayd suffered from drought which is why is was sold to the Robinson’s.it can look very parched. The most shocking thong to me is all the trash on the beaches. The junk from Oahu is varried over by currents along with empty scotch bottles from Japanese Trawlers and Vodka from Russians. There is no money in picking it up so no one does as all effort is to meet needs such as food, shelter and perhaps luxuries like a cellphone when children come to Kaua’i for schooling. Yes it feels nicely isolated but it truly shows how unpleasant mankind is.