Are There Any Hidden Gems I Should Visit in Hawaii?
The Best Hidden Gems in Hawaii
1. Bamboo Forest, Maui
The Bamboo Forest in Maui is a hidden gem that offers a magical experience for those who make the effort to visit it. To get there, visitors must hike along the scenic Pipiwai Trail in Haleakala National Park for about a mile. Along the way, they will encounter a stunning waterfall and several rock pools that are perfect for picnics. When they finally reach the forest, visitors will be rewarded with a half-mile stretch of towering bamboo stalks that sway gently in the breeze, providing plenty of shade and atmosphere. The forest is filled with the sounds of birds twittering and insects clacking and whirring. The unique features of the Bamboo Forest, coupled with its secluded location, make it one of the best hidden gems in Hawaii.
2. Lydgate Farms Kauai Chocolate
Lydgate Farms Kauai Chocolate is a hidden gem in Hawaii that offers a unique and immersive chocolate-making experience. Visitors can take a tour of the farm and learn about the different fruits grown there, including the cacao fruit, which is used to make their delicious chocolate. The tour is led by enthusiastic and knowledgeable guides who share interesting facts about the chocolate-making process. Guests can sample the various fruits and chocolates along the way, making for a truly immersive experience. The farm’s commitment to sustainability and using organic and locally-sourced ingredients adds to the appeal of this hidden gem. Overall, Lydgate Farms Kauai Chocolate is a must-visit for chocolate lovers and anyone looking for an authentic Hawaiian farming experience.
3. Manoa Falls
Manoa Falls is a must-visit spot in Hawaii. To get there, take a short and easy 1.6-mile round trip hike through a lush jungle landscape. The best time to visit is during the dry season, from May to September, when the trail is less muddy and slippery. To get there, take the Manoa Road from Honolulu and follow the signs to the Manoa Falls Trailhead. Keep in mind that parking can be limited, so arrive early or consider taking a shuttle. Along the way, be sure to stay on the trail and avoid venturing off onto side trails. Remember to wear sturdy shoes, bring plenty of water, and pack out all trash. Finally, swim in the pool at the base of the waterfall at your own risk, as the rocks can be slippery and dangerous. Enjoy your visit to Manoa Falls!
4. Kalalau Trail
The Kalalau Trail is an 11-mile-long hike that leads along the stunning Na Pali Coast on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. It is considered a hidden gem due to its rugged, challenging, and remote nature. The trail is a paradise for nature lovers and daredevils, with breathtaking views of five pristine valleys, magnificent waterfalls, and superb beaches along the way. Camping is permitted only in two places, and camp sites are basic with composting toilets, no potable water, and no seating areas. The trail is physically and emotionally challenging, with steep inclines and narrow sections that require crawling on hands and knees. However, there are plenty of places to sit and rest, catch your breath, and marvel at the beauty of nature. Exploring with a local guide is recommended, and a permit is required for some parts of the trail. The trail leads from Ke’e Beach to Kalalau Beach, and the destination is well worth the effort. Kalalau Beach is a secluded paradise with unspoiled white sand and dazzling sunset and sunrise views along the dramatic view of the coast. The Kalalau Trail is a must-visit for anyone seeking an unforgettable outdoor adventure in Hawaii.
5. Keahiakawelo, Lanai
Keahiakawelo, also known as the Garden of the Gods, is a hidden gem located on the island of Lanai in Hawaii. This otherworldly landscape is a series of natural rock formations that create an impressive and unusual rock garden. The dry reddish earth is scattered with boulders in all shapes and sizes, and you may find that previous visitors have arranged the stones into small towers or to create designs. Legends say that the rock formations were created as a result of a competition between two wise men from the islands of Molokai and Lanai to see who could keep a fire blazing for the longest. The otherwise desolate terrain is made weirdly attractive by the presence of the formations. On a clear day, visitors 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 breathtaking view.
6. Nā Pali Coast State Park
Nā Pali Coast State Park is a must-visit destination in Hawaii, located on the island of Kauai. This stunning park is known for its sheer, jagged cliffs covered in lush tropical greenery that surround unspoiled white sand beaches only accessible by boat. The park offers a range of activities, including scenic flights, boat tours, and an 11-mile hike on the Kalalau Trail, which leads to pristine beaches and breathtaking views of the ocean. Visitors can also camp overnight at the beach with a permit to truly immerse themselves in the park’s beauty. With its dramatic views, secluded beaches, and incredible natural attractions, Nā Pali Coast State Park is a hidden gem that should not be missed on any Hawaii itinerary.
7. Glass Beach, Kauai
Glass Beach is a unique and visually appealing beach located in Eleele, Kauai, Hawaii. It is not your typical sunbathing beach, but rather a beach covered in smooth and rounded pieces of multi-colored glass strewn across basalt rocks. The glass buildup is a result of years of discarded bottles and other glass that have broken and shattered, smoothed out by the powerful forces of nature. Despite its industrial location, Glass Beach is a hidden gem worth making a detour for, offering visitors a one-of-a-kind experience unlike any other beach in Hawaii.
8. Wailua Falls
Wailua Falls is a hidden gem located on the island of Maui, Hawaii. This waterfall is a two-tiered cascade with a height of approximately 80 feet, surrounded by lush greenery and a tranquil pool at the base. The falls are easily accessible via a short hike, making it an ideal destination for families and visitors seeking a peaceful retreat from the bustling city. Visitors can take a dip in the refreshing pool or enjoy a picnic surrounded by the beautiful scenery. Another unique feature of Wailua Falls is the presence of a bamboo forest nearby, which creates a magical atmosphere with the sound of clinking bamboo. Overall, Wailua Falls is a must-visit destination for those seeking a beautiful and serene natural wonder on Maui.
9. Coco Palms Resort, Kauai
Coco Palms Resort is a hidden gem in Kauai that was the first resort to open on the island in the 1950s. It attracted notable names like Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra with its luxurious and pricey amenities. However, the devastating Hurricane Iniki in 1992 caused the resort to close down, and it has since fallen into disrepair. (Click here to find out how to prepare for a hurricane in Hawaii.) Despite plans to demolish the shell, disputes over land ownership have kept the resort standing forlornly. Despite its current state, Coco Palms Resort remains a significant landmark in Hawaii’s history and is worth a visit to see the remnants of its past glory.
10. Byodo-In Temple
The Byodo-In Temple in Hawaii is a small-scale replica of the original 950-year-old Byodo-In Temple in Japan. Built in 1968 to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to arrive in Hawaii, this Buddhist temple is located in the Valley of the Temples Memorial park. The temple is not an active temple for Buddhist worship and is open to the public. Visitors can tour the interior and walk around the perfectly manicured gardens, surrounded by the stunning Koolau Mountain Range. The temple is also known for its wildlife, including wild peacocks and colorful koi carp. The serenity of the Byodo-In Temple earned it a spot on National Geographic’s list, 20 of the World’s Most Beautiful Buddhist Temples in 2019.
11. Ocean Vodka Organic Farm and Distillery
Ocean Vodka Organic Farm and Distillery is a must-visit hidden gem in Hawaii. Not only they produce high-quality vodka, but they also do it in an eco-friendly way. The farm is powered by solar energy, and they use only organic sugar cane and deep ocean mineral water to make their vodka. The tour is informative and interactive, and you can learn about the whole process from harvesting to bottling. Plus, the panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the lush greenery are breathtaking. Trust me; you won’t regret stopping by this unique and sustainable distillery.
12. Waimea Valley
Waimea Valley is a natural wonder that boasts lush greenery, cascading waterfalls, and ancient temples that are steeped in cultural significance. Known as “The Valley of the Priests,” it was once a sacred site where Hawaiian high priests would come to conduct rituals and ceremonies. Visitors can explore the valley’s stunning botanical gardens, swim in the crystal-clear waters of the Waihi Waterfall, and learn about the valley’s rich history at the Waimea Valley Center. Admission fees are $20 for adults and $15 for children, and the valley is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. The beauty and cultural significance of Waimea Valley make it a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Hawaii.
13. Pololu Valley Lookout
The Pololū Valley Lookout in Hawaii is a hidden gem located near the Kohala coast. It offers stunning scenic views of the valley, black sand beach, and dramatic cliffside. Visitors can choose their own adventure with everything from a scenic lookout visit to a gorgeous hike down into the valley itself. The valley is famous for spotting humpback whales from December through March. The short but steep hike on the Pololū Trail is definitely worth it, and there are also additional beachside trails for more adventurous hikers that lead to many nearby valleys. To get there, visitors can drive to the lookout point and park in the designated area.
14. Nakalele Blowhole
The Nakalele Blowhole is a magnificent natural wonder located on the northern tip of West Maui in Hawaii. This hidden gem is a 50-foot geyser-like water spout that shoots bursts of water up to 100 feet in the air every few minutes. The blowhole is caused by seawater trapped in an underwater lava tube that is connected to a partially submerged ocean cave. Visitors can witness the power of the waves crashing into the opening and pushing out a jet of water and air. It is an incredible sight to see and a unique experience to visit. However, visitors should be cautious and stand on dry rocks to ensure a safe distance from the blowhole.
15. Wai’anapanapa State Park
Wai’anapanapa State Park in Hawaii is a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts. The park boasts a black-sand beach, freshwater caves, a hala forest, lava tubes, hiking trails, and breathtaking viewpoints. Visitors can easily spend hours exploring all the unique features of the park. Additionally, there are hidden gems like the Ka’ana Point State Park, which offers a stunning shore-side hike, and the Waioka Pond, a dazzling freshwater swimming hole perfect for cliff jumping. Despite the recent requirement for permits to visit the famous Honokalani Black Sand Beach, Wai’anapanapa State Park remains a must-see destination for any traveler to Hawaii.
16. Ching’s Pond, Maui
Ching’s Pond, also known as the Blue Sapphire Pools, is a hidden gem located on Maui that is worth visiting. It cannot be seen from the road, but it is a popular spot with locals. The Palauhulu Stream crosses the rocks and is crossed by a bridge. Below the bridge, visitors can see some of the most captivating pools of deep sapphire blue. There are two trails that lead down to the pools, but it is recommended to follow the trail near a large tree some 50 feet beyond the bridge. The site can get crowded on weekends, but it should be fairly quiet during the week. Visitors should take care when entering the waters as the water flows deceptively fast and it is easy to lose footing and be carried away for some distance.
17. Shangri La
Shangri La is a hidden gem in Hawaii that features a stunning collection of Islamic art. Originally built as a hideaway home by wealthy philanthropist Doris Duke, the building boasts architecture influenced by her travels around the world, particularly the Middle East. Visitors can explore the vast collection of artwork Duke accumulated over the years, including wooden carvings from Morocco, tile work from Iran, and textiles from Central Asia. Notable features include a huge saltwater pool and an Iranian-style pavilion. Shangri La is a must-visit destination for those seeking a unique cultural experience in Hawaii.
18. The Vintage Cave Club, Oahu
The Vintage Cave Club on Oahu is an exclusive, up-market restaurant that promises a dining experience like no other. The restaurant boasts an ambiance of luxury and sophistication with dimly lit bare brick walls adorned with world-class artwork by famous painters, exquisite glasswork and ceramics, and a wine cellar packed with many fine wines, vintage whiskies, cognacs, brandies, and more. The menu offers Japanese-French fusion gastronomy that is sure to create an explosive taste sensation in your mouth. The creative chef uses fresh and local produce to produce innovative dishes. Despite its high price tag, The Vintage Cave Club is a popular destination for those seeking a unique and unforgettable dining experience that is sure to transport them to a world of elegance and opulence.
19. Lanai Cat Sanctuary, Lanai
The Lanai Cat Sanctuary in Lanai, Hawaii is a 3.5 acre refuge for over 500 rescue cats. Founded by Kathy Carroll, the sanctuary aims to protect and rescue unwanted cats, providing them with a safe and comfortable place to live and play. Visitors can play with the cats, learn about the sanctuary’s work, and make donations. The sanctuary also helps to protect the endangered ua’u bird by controlling the population of feral cats. Considered a hidden gem, the sanctuary is a must-visit for cat lovers looking for a unique and heartwarming experience in Hawaii.
20. Tunnels Beach
Tunnels Beach in Hawaii is a true paradise for beach lovers. With its crystal-clear turquoise waters and fine white sand, it’s easy to see why this beach is so popular. But what really sets Tunnels Beach apart is its unique underwater landscape. The beach is located near a coral reef, which creates a natural barrier and a sheltered lagoon. This makes it an ideal spot for snorkeling and scuba diving, as visitors can explore the colorful marine life that thrives in the area. The beach is also surrounded by lush greenery and towering cliffs, adding to its stunning natural beauty. Whether you’re looking to relax on the sand or explore the underwater world, Tunnels Beach is a must-visit destination in Hawaii.
21. The Himalayan Academy, Kauai
The Himalayan Academy on the island of Kauai in Hawaii is a tranquil monastery and temple founded by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. It serves as a worldwide outreach and educational centre for Hinduism, following the ancient teachings of gurus from Sri Lanka and southern parts of India. The academy is a unique blend of eastern religions, Polynesian customs, and western ways of life, offering visitors a sanctuary where old and new blend in almost perfect harmony. Surrounded by towering cliffs, plummeting cascades, lush rainforests, and deep blue sea, the temple building is impressive. Monks wear traditional handmade robes, dine on fresh homegrown food, and devote themselves entirely to a greater purpose. Visitors can worship sacred deities and seek inner peace and balance in this serene location, which is a perfect blend of spirituality and natural beauty.
22. The Blue Room, Kauai
The Blue Room in Kauai is a natural wonder that visitors should not miss. Located on the North Shore of Kauai, this spectacular cave leads into a breathtaking subterranean world. The Blue Room, also known as Waikapalae wet cave, contains a hidden back cave that shimmers and shines a radiant shade of deep blue when the water level is high. 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, visitors are discouraged from entering the water due to the risks of germs. Instead, a short walk farther will take you to Ke’e Beach, a great swimming beach. If you have your own gear and are experienced in cave diving, this could be a great place to scuba. The Blue Room is a hidden gem that will overwhelm you with its majesty and leave you enchanted.