Top Scenic Spots in Hawaii
Nuuanu Pali Lookout. With sweeping views of the verdant Koolau Mountains and Kaneohe Bay, the point where Kamehameha I forced enemy warriors over the cliff is a must-stop on any tour around the island.
Waikiki Beach at sunset. This is quintessential Oahu: sailboats and catamarans cruise offshore, Diamond Head glows magenta in the last rays of sunlight while the turquoise Pacific washes gently up to pristine beaches.
Bellows Beach Park. With sugary coral sand and jade green waters this giant arc of a beach is why people come to Hawaii. While the colors of the sea and sand and few crowds are its best features, the jagged Koolau Mountains provide a backdrop for this idyllic tropical spot.
The Road to Hana. Calling the Road to Hana a "scenic spot" may be playing it down. With innumerable waterfalls, black-sand beaches, views over taro patches, and the sheer engineering involved in the narrow bridges and switchback curves, this stretch of highway in a tropical paradise provides scenic views around every corner.
Haleakala. Most known for its views at sunrise, the summit of Haleakala volcano is equally spectacular at sunset. On clear days the Big Island, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, and Molokini Crater are visible.
Makena Beach. Rolling waves, views of Kahoolawe, and golden sand make this wide beach a weekend favorite for locals.
The Big Island
Top of Mauna Kea at sunset. At almost 14,000 feet, a view from this cinder-covered summit at sunset provides an opportunity not only to see the sun slip into the Pacific through the pristine alpine atmosphere but also fabulous views of Maui's Haleakala.
Waipio Valley Overlook. The road along the Hamakua Coast ends with a view into one of the Big Island's most remote areas. From this point, view sheer black cliffs and the wide green valley that was once home to between 4,000 to 20,000 Hawaiians.
Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. Drive past waterfalls, ponds, orchids, and lush green vegetation on one of the Big Island's most scenic roads.
Waimea Canyon. The oft-used term breathtaking does not do justice to your first view of Waimea Canyon (otherwise known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific). Narrow waterfalls tumble thousands of feet to streams that cut through the rust-colored volcanic soil. Continue on to the end of the road for a view through the clouds of otherworldly Kalalau Valley.
Hanalei Valley Lookout. On the way to Hanalei (just past the Princeville shops), this pull-out provides views of Hanalei River winding its way through wet loi (taro patches) framed by jagged green mountains.
Kee Beach. At the end of the road on the North Shore, Kee Beach is as far as you can drive and as close as you can get to the fabled cliffs of Bali Hai. Surrounded by palm and almond trees, this stretch of white-sand beach is a great spot for viewing sunsets or even the occasional sea lion.
Fodor's Trip Planning Ideas
- Fodor's Go List 2014: Where we are going in 2014
- World Cup Fever: Start planning your trip to Brazil!
- Fodor's 100 Hotel Awards: Check out the winners of 2013
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Best of Europe: Fodor's Picks the Best Places to Visit in Europe