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Things to do in Hawaii

Things to do in  Hawaii

Welcome to Hawaii

Anyone can see why the Pacific archipelago of Hawaii is a favorite pick for travelers: cobalt waters, powder-white beaches, volcanic peaks, indigenous wildlife, and rich traditional culture. Hawaii’s vibe is casual and laid-back, with life here mostly lived outside. Locals and visitors divide their time between chowing down on traditional island food, surfing or bodyboarding the waves, snorkeling or diving the coral reefs, or hiking over ancient lava flows.

Each main island offers both expected and unique experiences. Sail and snorkel off the coast of Maui; summit Mauna Kea, kayak with dolphins, and traverse volcanic crater rims on the Big Island; hike through rain forests and valleys on rugged Kauai; and check off Oahu's top things to do, from visiting Pearl Harbour to leaning to surf at Waikiki Beach. For seclusion, empty beaches, and authentic Hawaiin culture, Molokai and Lanai—the two least populated of the main islands—beckon.

Whatever your vision of a dream Hawaiian vacation, the recipe is simple: Choose your islands, choose your activities, choose your pace, book your trip, and enjoy.

Top 15 attractions in Hawaii

Road to Hana (Hana Highway)

Tropical foliage, black sand beaches, rushing waterfalls and incredible views are the calling cards of the legendary, winding Road to Hana. The famous roadway along Maui’s North Shore (also called the Hana Highway) includes 600 hairpin turns and more than 50 bridges and is known as one of the most beautiful roads in the world.More

Molokini Crater

When was the last time you had a snorkel adventure inside of a sunken Hawaiian volcano, or enjoyed a freshly cooked BBQ lunch on the deck of a sailing catamaran? Thanks to its calm, crystal clear waters, bright coral reef, and 250-plus species of tropical fish, Molokini Crater is the most popular spot for snorkeling tours on Maui. Spend a day on a snorkeling tour as you explore the protected marine preserve and come face to face with some of Hawaii's most colorful marine life.More

Na Pali Coast

With steep emerald cliffs, lush valleys, and remote cascading waterfalls, the Na Pali Coast is one of Hawaii’s most beautiful regions, and no visit to Kauai is complete without a visit to this magical coastline. There are only three ways to explore the Na Pali Coast—by air, by sea, and on foot—and each offers its own unique perspective.More

Pearl Harbor National Memorial

Made up of several historic sites and memorials, Pearl Harbor honors and educates the public about the Japanese attack on the United States on December 7, 1941 that propelled the country into World War II. It’s one of Hawaii’s most-visited attractions, and one of the country’s most significant WWII memorial sites.More

Oahu North Shore

Surfing is king on Oahu’s North Shore, where summer’s placid snorkeling spots are transformed into pounding 40-foot (12-meter) waves come winter. On land you’ll find a peaceful respite from hectic Honolulu, with scenic waterfall hikes, sleepy farms selling tropical fruit, and food trucks doling out garlic shrimp.More

Halona Blowhole

Once visitors are aware that hālona means “lookout” in Hawaiian, it becomes quite clear what the Halona Blowhole is about: views, Pacific Ocean and blowhole! The Halona Blowhole is one of the most spectacular natural wonders on O’ahu Island; the more than 1,000-year-old geyser-like rock formation is characterized by a hole which propels incoming surf in a narrow, molten lava tube, shooting sea spray high into the air as a result - sometimes up to 30 feet. This is mostly a summery phenomenon but wintertime also has a big ticket item drawing visitors: humpback whales. The lookout point offers unobstructed views of the O’ahu shoreline as well as glimpses of Lanai and Moloka'I Islands on clear days.The coast is home to a special type of coral that requires very little light to live, the Sinularia Leather Coral, where it is possible to find various species like echinoderms, slugs, corals, and eels. And although the marine life is quite plentiful and fascinating, divers should proceed with caution because of the strong and sometimes erratic currents, including the colloquially named Moloka'i Express, which can drag divers out to sea without warning. Visitors should know that below the hālona is one of the most dangerous ocean currents in the world, and should always proceed with care.More

Mauna Kea Summit & Observatory

Visiting the Mauna Kea Summit and Observatories gives you the feeling of being on top of the world for good reason: You’re actually pretty close. Standing at 13,796 feet (4,138 meters), the mountain is Hawaii's tallest and the highlight of many visitors' trips to the Big Island of Hawaii. The Mauna Kea Observatories (MKO) feature some of the world's largest telescopes, including equipment from Canada, France, and the University of Hawaii, due to its designation as an unparalleled destination for stargazing.More

Diamond Head

Arguably Hawaii's most well-known sight, Diamond Head Crater is more than just a famous Waikiki backdrop but also an entire attraction unto itself, featuring one of Oahu's best hikes for a panoramic view. From atop the 760-foot (231-meter) summit, visitors can gaze out from Koko Head Crater to the Honolulu skyline and down on Waikiki Beach, where surfers, paddlers, sailboats, and canoes all splash through the tropical waters.More


For most, traveling to Hana is about the journey, not the destination. A quiet town nestled on the Maui’s eastern shores, Hana would not be on the tourist map if not for the Road to Hana—known as one of the world’s most scenic drives. That said, the town of Hana is a tranquil escape and an excellent base for exploring the region.More

Dole Plantation

What started out as a Wahiawa fruit stand in the middle of the pineapple fields in 1950 is now an extremely popular Hawaiian attraction. The sprawling Dole Plantation in central Oahu is a rural throwback to a time when the pineapple helped rule Oahu’s economy. Visitors can sample the sweet yellow fruit, ride on the famous Pineapple Express train and motor out through the fields, take a walk through a huge garden maze, learn how to find fresh pineapple when grocery shopping, and hear how pineapples are grown on plants—and not underground or on trees.More

Makapuu Lighthouse

Within Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline on Oahu’s Windward Coast, the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail is a popular hike ending at the historical red-roofed Makapu’u Lighthouse, built in 1909. Though the lighthouse is not open to the public, the moderately challenging hike attracts travelers and locals alike for its stunning coastal views.More

Kona (Kailua-Kona)

Kailua-Kona, the largest town on the Big Island of Hawaii, is the epicenter of activities and tours on the Kona Coast—part of the island’s western (leeward) side. The antithesis to the lush, often rainy jungles of Hilo on the island’s eastern (windward) side, dry and sunny Kona’s activities put a huge emphasis on long days in the outdoors. Kailua-Kona is the jumping-off point for the Big Island’s best coffee-farm tours, superb reef snorkeling, all levels of hiking, and experiencing ancient Hawaiian culture, while downtown’s seaside shops and dining come with spectacular sunset views.More

Haleakala Crater

Dubbed “House of the Sun” by native Hawaiians, Haleakala Crater is the world’s largest dormant volcano and the highest peak in Maui. Set in Haleakala National Park, here you can see a lunar landscape, admire cinder cones and endangered silversword plants, and trek wild hiking trails.More

Mokolii Island

Located a short distance offshore of Kualoa Point, Mokolii Island is one of Oahu’s most famous landmarks. This small, cone-shaped island attracts adventurous visitors with its secluded coves, rugged hikes, and views of Oahu’s windward coast and the Koolau mountains; the same mountains featured in scenes of the movie Jurassic Park.More

Puaʻa Kaʻa State Wayside Park

A pleasant stop on the road to Hana, the Puaʻa Kaʻa State Wayside Park offers the chance to take a scenic break from the long drive. Stretch your legs on its dirt path to nearby waterfalls and natural pools. The farther you're willing to walk, the taller the waterfalls become and many people bring a picnic to enjoy as a part of this diversion.Totaling five acres the area here is lush with tropical plants which, with the sound of the waterfalls, create a distinct rain forest feel. Picnic tables are set against scenic backdrops, and fish and tadpoles are visible in the shallower pools. Watch for wild birds and mongoose. The walking paths here are not rigorous, but a refreshing dip in one of the pools is a highlight for many on a hot day.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Hawaii

Paradise Cove Luau
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Paradise Cove Luau

Pearl Harbor USS Arizona Memorial

Pearl Harbor USS Arizona Memorial

Molokini and Turtle Town Snorkeling Adventure Aboard the Malolo
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Chief's Luau Admission

Chief's Luau Admission

Star Casual Sunset and Show Cruise

Star Casual Sunset and Show Cruise

All Inclusive Ultimate Circle Island Day Tour with Lunch and Waimea Waterfall
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Maui Nui Luau at the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa
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Big Island in a Day: Volcanoes Waterfalls Sightseeing and History
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Night Manta Ray Adventure on the Big Island, Hawaii
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Manta Ray Night Snorkel
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Manta Ray Night Snorkel

Oahu Submarine Scooter Adventure

Oahu Submarine Scooter Adventure

From Ma'alaea Harbor, Maui: Molokini Snorkeling Adventure Aboard Calypso
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Oahu Circle Island - North Shore Snorkeling Tour (Dole & Temple)
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Turtle Town Snorkel with Photo and Video
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Oahu Shark Dive
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Oahu Shark Dive

Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

Recent reviews from experiences in Hawaii

Best experience of my life!
Bianca_M, Mar 2023
Shark Cage Diving In Oahu
It was soooo amazing, as I was not expecting to see such a thing in my lifetime!
Great Experience
Lavonia_M, Mar 2023
Paradise Cove Luau
The most exciting parts were the activities and the show.
The entertainment was...
Mindy_P, Mar 2023
Chief's Luau Admission
Also, with the transportation included, while it was convenient, we arrived as the pre-activities were finishing and did not get to participate.
Great day!
JoAnn_P, Mar 2023
Whale Watching
We were able to see whales breaching!
Paul and Geoffrey were...
Khai_P, Mar 2023
All Inclusive Ultimate Circle Island Day Tour with Lunch and Waimea Waterfall
charming island and we really love the Waimea Waterfall hike.
Viewing Hawaii from above...
Khai_P, Mar 2023
Complete Island 60-Minute Helicopter Tour
beautiful valleys, waterfalls, cliffs...
Great experience
Heidi_W, Mar 2023
2-Hour Whale Watching Experience! (Lahaina Harbor, Maui)
This was our first time here in Hawaii and first time seeing Whales so it was a great experience for us, definitely got to see them and we had a great time.
Birdseye Kuaui, tour of a lifetime!
Allen_S, Mar 2023
"PRIVATE" Kauai Helicopter Tours with "NO MIDDLE SEATS"
We got to see Hawaii "au naturel" with no crowds.
Aloha, Hawaii!!!
Karin_B, Mar 2023
Hidden Gems of Oahu - Circle Island Tour with Waimea Waterfall
Super good choice to see the island!!!
Tristan_C, Mar 2023
Lahaina ATV Adventure - Maui
Out of things to do in Hawaii this one is a bucket list.
Guide was great. Food was good. Weather was beautiful
Shelley_Z, Mar 2023
All Inclusive Ultimate Circle Island Day Tour with Lunch and Waimea Waterfall
I had never been to Hawaii so I wanted to see everything I could.
Had fun seeing the volcanic activity
Tammy_P, Mar 2023
Hilo Shore Excursion: Volcano Safari Lava Caves, Falls & Highlights Small Group
We got to see where the lava flowed in different times on the island and the new black sand beach.
Great tour, helpful tour guide.
Tammy_P, Mar 2023
Hidden Hawaii Tours
This was a bright spot in our travels, we were able to see many beautiful spots on Oahu.
Hawaii circle tour
MARJORIE_C, Mar 2023
Big Island Circle Tour and Volcano: Daytime Coffee, Wine, Turtles, and Waterfall
Enjoyed it all, but especially enjoyed Volcano National Park, the vegetation, wildlife and the falls.
Absolutely Stunning!
Amy_G, Mar 2023
Guided Secret Falls Tour with Snacks and Drinks
Bask in the cool waters beneath an incredible waterfall!
The cruise was wonderful...
Wendy_T, Mar 2023
Star Casual Sunset and Show Cruise
The cruise was wonderful you get to see the beautiful Hawaii sunset on the top deck.
Great time!!
Tamara_H, Mar 2023
Paradise Cove Luau
It’s a place that you need to visit if you are here in Hawaii the music was good, the food and the people that work there too.
A great experience, a lot of fun.
Vicky_A, Mar 2023
Kauai ATV Backroads Adventure Tour
We got to see places where movies were filmed, beautiful beaches and scenery, back country,sugar cane history, Hawaiian history.
Very professional...
Jeff_A, Mar 2023
Luau Kalamaku with Buffet Dinner & Show
Would definitely recommend if your wanting to see a true Hawaiian experience!
Awesome sunset cruise
Jason_F, Feb 2023
Polynesian Canoe Sunset Sail
The activities were hands on and lots of fun.
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All about Hawaii

When to visit

With tropical breezes and ideal beach weather beckoning year-round, there’s really no bad time to visit Hawaii. Look for off-season discounts and the mildest temps in late spring and early fall. Winter brings more rain and higher prices, but north shore swells make for epic surfing, and migrating humpback whales put on a wild display from December through May.

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People Also Ask

What is Hawaii known for?

Hawaii is known for its surfing scene, lush landscapes, active volcanoes, and beautiful beaches. Its also known for its vibrant culture—many are familiar with its luaus, leis, hula dancers, and ukelele music.

What should I do on my first trip to Hawaii?

That depends on which island you are planning to visit. If, like most people, you will be on Oahu, you’ll want to hike up Diamond Head for views of Waikiki; go snorkeling in Molokini Crater; head for the North Shore to watch the surfers (or take a lesson); and eat your way around Honolulu’s Chinatown.

Which Hawaiian island has the most activities?

Travelers typically find that Oahu has the biggest variety of activities. On Oahu, you can enjoy the outdoors by hiking, snorkeling, surfing, or lounging on the beach; soak up culture and history at Iolani Palace, Pearl Harbor, and the Bishop Museum; and sample some great food in Chinatown and from the North Shore’s food trucks.

What is the most common thing to do in Hawaii?

It depends on which island you are visiting, but hanging out at the beach is popular across the archipelago. Otherwise, exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii, visiting Pearl Harbor and Diamond Head on Oahu, and driving the Road to Hana on Maui are common activities.

How many days do you need to see Hawaii?

That depends on how many islands you want to visit. If you are staying on just one island, five full days is a good minimum length. If you want to see one or two more, add on at least five more days. Remember to take the long flight (and jet lag) into account when making plans.

How expensive is it to go to Hawaii?

Hawaii is expensive, no matter where you’re traveling from. The cost of airfare and accommodations alone are tough on the wallet, especially if you want to stay on the ocean. Since Hawaii is an archipelago in the middle of the Pacific, food is also very expensive. That said, you can soften the blow by visiting outside of peak seasons.


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