Unique Places to Visit in Hawaii - Discover the Hidden Gems - Caravanzers

Unique places to visit in Hawaii mean a chance to experience unspoiled shorelines, abundant greenery, and lively traditions.

There’s a wealth of hidden gems waiting to be explored by those willing to venture off the beaten path far from the popular attractions.

These hidden gems offer an opportunity to immerse oneself in the authentic beauty and cultural richness that make Hawaii truly special.

From secluded islands to hidden beaches, and from lesser-known hiking trails to quirky cultural sites, this guide will unveil the best-kept secrets of Hawaii.

So, let’s go on a journey to discover the offbeat and extraordinary places that make Hawaii a unique paradise.

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VIDEO – Unique Hawaii Places

The video emphasizes the benefits of visiting unique places and off-the-beaten-path destinations.

It highlights that such visits provide cultural exploration, authentic experiences, personal growth, and an appreciation for natural beauty.

It emphasizes the awe-inspiring landscapes and the adventure that comes with uncovering hidden ruins and hiking.

The guide is said to focus on hidden gems and experiences that tourists typically do not get to enjoy.

Hidden Gems in Hawaii

Visiting unique places offers cultural exploration, authentic experiences, personal growth, and appreciation of natural beauty.

We all want to have something special, and discovering off-the-beaten-path gems provides genuine interactions away from crowds and commercialization.

It broadens horizons, fosters empathy, and challenges perspectives.

Breathtaking landscapes, from beaches to mountains, evoke awe and reverence for nature.

Unique exploration brings adventure, from hiking to uncovering hidden ruins. It offers an escape from routine, a chance to relax and rejuvenate in captivating environments.

These experiences create lasting memories, leaving an indelible mark.

Hawaii is a paradise with stunning beaches, turquoise waters, and lush landscapes, and it has a lovely blend of natural beauty and vibrant culture.

From exploring volcanoes and cascading waterfalls to snorkeling in colorful reefs, the islands truly have endless outdoor adventures.

And, of course, the warm hospitality of the Hawaiian people, rich traditions, and delicious food all add to the unique experience.

So, this guide is really focusing on the hidden gems or things that tourists normally don’t get to experience.

>> For the most beautiful trips in Hawaii, book your tours today.

Unexplored Islands

Hidden Gems in Hawaii - A Guide - Caravanzers

Hawaii’s archipelago has several lesser-known islands that are brimming with untouched beauty and charm, far from the ones most visitors flock to, such as the islands of Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii (the Big Island).

These unexplored islands provide an escape from the crowds. They also offer a glimpse into Hawaii’s untouched natural landscapes and cultural heritage.


Lanai is most definitely one of the unique places to visit in Hawaii. Situated between Maui and Molokai, has a serene sanctuary vibe far from the commotion of city life.

This island presents a unique opportunity for adventure and serenity and has a rugged coastline, pristine beaches, and enchanting forests.

Explore the otherworldly rock formations of the Garden of the Gods, go on a thrilling off-road expedition to Keahiakawelo.

Likewise, you could simply relax on the secluded Polihua Beach. Oh, and you might be lucky enough to spot a pod of spinner dolphins playing in the distance.


Known as the “Friendly Isle,” Molokai is a place of raw beauty and authentic Hawaiian culture.

With its untouched landscapes and close-knit local community, Molokai offers a glimpse into Hawaii’s past.

There is a ton to do here, including taking a scenic hike along the towering sea cliffs of Kalaupapa Peninsula.

Likewise, you could visit the historic Kalaupapa National Historical Park.

I also really like soaking in the beauty of Papohaku Beach, one of Hawaii’s largest white sand beaches, stretching for three miles.


Referred to as the “Forbidden Isle,” Niihau is one of the most secluded and private islands in Hawaii.

With limited access to outsiders, Niihau has retained its traditional Hawaiian way of life and pristine natural beauty.

A boat tour around the island’s perimeter gives you a glimpse of its untouched splendor, even though visiting Niihau is extremely restricted.

Having done this myself, I can tell you that you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of its rugged coastline and the crystal-clear waters that surround it.

Hidden Beaches and Coves

Hawaii is renowned for its stunning beaches, but beyond the popular stretches of sand, there are hidden beaches and coves that offer a secluded paradise away from the crowds.

These lesser-known coastal gems provide an opportunity to relax, unwind, and bask in the natural beauty of Hawaii’s shores.

Makalawena Beach (Big Island)

Tucked away on the Kona Coast of the Big Island, Makalawena Beach is a hidden gem accessible via a scenic hike or a 4×4 drive across rough lava fields.

This is another one of those unique places to visit in Hawaii. Its pristine turquoise waters, soft white sands, and fringing coconut palms create a picture-perfect setting.

With limited facilities, Makalawena Beach offers a serene escape for sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling.

Papakolea Beach (Big Island)

Located on the southernmost tip of the Big Island, Papakolea Beach stands out for its unique green sand, formed from a volcanic mineral called olivine.

So, the beach is a result of eroded cinder cone remnants, creating a breathtaking contrast against the deep blue waters of the Pacific.

Accessible via a moderate hike, Papakolea Beach offers a rare and memorable experience.

Kaihalulu Beach (Maui)

Known as the Red Sand Beach, Kaihalulu Beach is a hidden gem nestled within a volcanic cove in Hana, Maui.

The beach gets its distinctive red hue from the iron-rich cinder cone cliffs surrounding it.

To reach the beach, visitors need to navigate a short, steep trail, but the reward is a secluded haven with crashing waves, fiery-red sands, and stunning coastal views.

Polihale State Park (Kauai)

Situated on the western shore of Kauai, Polihale State Park boasts an expansive and remote beach stretching for miles.

This hidden gem is accessible via a rough dirt road, adding to its secluded appeal.

And, so, with its towering sand dunes, panoramic ocean views, and dramatic sunsets, Polihale offers a unique and untouched beach experience.

Off the Beaten Path Hikes and Trails

Beaten Path Hikes and Trails in Hawaii - A Guide - Caravanzers

Hawaii’s diverse landscapes offer a plethora of hidden trails and hiking opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts.

These off-the-beaten-path hikes will lead you to breathtaking viewpoints, hidden waterfalls, and serene natural wonders away from the tourist crowds.

Kaena Point Trail (Oahu)

The Kaena Point Trail, positioned at the farthest western tip of Oahu, offers a picturesque coastal hike that winds through rugged landscapes and showcases breathtaking vistas.

As you traverse the trail, you’ll witness dramatic sea cliffs and panoramic ocean views and even spot native seabirds and Hawaiian monk seals.

And, so, offering a tranquil retreat from the bustling city of Honolulu, this lesser-known trail provides a peaceful respite.

Pipiwai Trail (Maui)

Nestled within the enchanting bamboo forest of Haleakala National Park, the Pipiwai Trail is a hidden gem on Maui’s eastern coast.

This 4-mile (6.4 km) round-trip hike rewards you with captivating sights, including the towering Waimoku Falls, ancient banyan trees, and serene pools along the Pipiwai Stream.

Experience the serene ambiance of the lush rainforest as you journey toward this magnificent waterfall.

Koloiki Ridge Trail (Kauai)

For a challenging and rewarding hike on the Garden Isle of Kauai, the Koloiki Ridge Trail is an excellent choice.

Situated within Koke’e State Park, this 4-mile (6.4 km) loop trail guides you through a variety of landscapes, encompassing forested slopes and open ridgelines.

Experience sweeping views of Waimea Canyon, the Napali Coast, and the lush valleys of Kauai as you navigate this lesser-known trail.

Kilauea Iki Trail (Big Island)

Venture into the heart of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island and embark on the Kilauea Iki Trail.

This unique hike takes you across the floor of a dormant volcanic crater, providing a surreal experience.

As you hike the 4-mile (6.4 km) loop trail, you’ll encounter steam vents, lava formations, and the iconic Thurston Lava Tube.

Witness the raw power and beauty of the volcanic landscape on this hidden gem of a trail.

Culinary Delights

Hawaii’s culinary scene is as diverse and captivating as its natural beauty.

While the islands are famous for their abundance of fresh seafood and tropical fruits, there exist exceptional culinary treasures that extend beyond traditional Hawaiian cuisine.

Explore the hidden culinary gems and indulge in the flavors that make Hawaii a true paradise for food lovers.

Plate Lunch

A must-try local favorite, the plate lunch is a hearty and satisfying meal that embodies the multicultural influences of Hawaii.

Typically consisting of two scoops of rice, a protein (such as teriyaki chicken, kalua pork, or loco moco), and a side of macaroni salad, the plate lunch offers a delicious combination of flavors and textures.

Look out for local food trucks and casual eateries that serve up this iconic Hawaiian dish.


Hawaii’s famous poke has gained international acclaim for its fresh and vibrant flavors.

Poke is a yummy and nutritious choice for seafood lovers, and these bite-sized portions of raw fish are very popular. In most Hawaiian homes, poke is usually tuna or salmon.

It gets a distinct taste from being marinated in a flavorful blend of soy sauce, sesame oil, and various seasonings.

Poke eateries are, without a doubt, some of those unique places to visit in Hawaii, and I would encourage you to look for localness.

So, seek out local poke shops or markets where you can customize your poke bowl with an array of toppings and sauces.

Shave Ice

A beloved treat in Hawaii, shaved ice offers a refreshing respite from the tropical heat.

Unlike traditional snow cones, shaved ice has a fine, delicate texture that allows the flavors to blend seamlessly.

Indulge in a colorful concoction of flavors, such as tropical fruit syrups like lilikoi (passion fruit), guava, or pineapple.

To elevate the indulgence, enhance your experience by adding a dollop of vanilla ice cream. You could also go for the drizzle of sweetened condensed milk on the top, like Hawaiians do.


Satisfy your sweet tooth with malasadas, a Portuguese-inspired fried pastry that has become a local favorite.

These fluffy and indulgent treats are typically dusted with sugar and sometimes filled with various flavors, like haupia (coconut), chocolate, or fruit preserves.

So, visit local bakeries or food trucks that specialize in malasadas to experience this delectable island treat.

Unique Natural Wonders

Hawaii is blessed with extraordinary natural formations that showcase the awe-inspiring power of nature.

From volcanic landscapes to hidden waterfalls and rare wildlife habitats, these unique natural wonders offer not only breathtaking views but also insights into their geological or ecological significance.

Haleakala Crater (Maui)

Rising majestically above the clouds, Haleakala Crater is a remarkable natural wonder on the island of Maui.

This dormant volcano offers a surreal landscape with its vast crater, lunar-like terrain, and vibrant hues during sunrise or sunset.

Explore the trails that wind through this otherworldly environment and be captivated by the raw beauty and geological history of Haleakala.

>> For a beautiful sunrise tour, sign up and join.

Waimea Canyon (Kauai)

Waimea Canyon, affectionately known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” on the island of Kauai, is a breathtaking marvel of nature that beautifully displays the geological richness and diversity of the island.

Over countless years of erosion, the canyon has been sculpted to reveal its mesmerizing traits, including vibrant red and green cliffs, deep gorges, and cascading waterfalls.

And, so, hike along the rim trails to witness the breathtaking vistas and appreciate the immense scale of this natural marvel.

Waimoku Falls (Maui)

Hidden within the lush rainforests of East Maui’s Haleakala National Park, Waimoku Falls is a magnificent sight to behold.

This towering waterfall plunges approximately 400 feet (122 meters) down a sheer cliff, surrounded by verdant foliage.

Reach the falls by embarking on the Pipiwai Trail, a scenic hike that takes you through bamboo groves, past freshwater pools, and beneath towering banyan trees.

Alakai Swamp (Kauai)

Kauai’s Alakai Swamp is an extraordinary and delicate ecosystem that stands as one of the highest-elevation swamps in the world.

The swamp is home to rare and endemic plant species, including the vibrant red and green plants known as “sphagnum moss.”

Hike the boardwalk trails that wind through the swamp, offering glimpses of colorful birds and the ethereal beauty of this remarkable wetland.

Quirky Cultural Sites

Quirky Cultural Sites in Hawaii - A Guide - Caravanzers

The Hawaiian culture is deeply rooted in traditions and has a strong sense of community and respect for nature.

There’s a good chance you will hear about the Aloha spirit, which emphasizes hospitality, warmth, and kindness.

It permeates daily life.

Hawaiian music, hula dancing, and storytelling are cherished arts that showcase their rich heritage.

Native Hawaiian beliefs, such as the importance of land and ancestors, are preserved and celebrated.

The language, Hawaiian, is valued, and efforts are made to revitalize it.

What all of that comes down to is that the Hawaiian culture is a beautiful tapestry of customs, values, and a deep connection to the land and sea.

So, naturally, Hawaii is popular not only for its stunning natural beauty but also for its abundant cultural heritage.

In addition to the widely recognized cultural landmarks, there exist hidden gems that provide a fascinating insight into the distinctive traditions, history, and legends of the Hawaiian Islands.

Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park (Big Island)

Located on the Big Island’s Kona Coast, Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park is a place of refuge with a fascinating cultural and historical significance.

This sacred site was once a sanctuary for those seeking forgiveness or protection from punishment.

Explore the restored temples, royal fishponds, and intricate carvings that illustrate the ancient Hawaiian way of life and the importance of spiritual beliefs.

Byodo-In Temple (Oahu)

Nestled at the foot of the Ko’olau Mountains in the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park, the Byodo-In Temple is a hidden gem that offers a tranquil and unique experience.

Inviting visitors to delve into its intricate architecture, exquisite gardens, and peaceful surroundings, this replica of a 950-year-old Japanese Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan, offers an immersive experience.

So, take a moment to ring the temple bell and experience a sense of peace and tranquility.

>> This temple is about 25 minutes away from Honolulu, to get great hotels in and around this incredible city, check for availability now.

Lapakahi State Historical Park (Big Island)

Step back in time at Lapakahi State Historical Park, located on the rugged coastline of the Big Island.

This ancient Hawaiian fishing village showcases the remnants of a traditional Hawaiian settlement, including stone walls, house sites, and fishponds.

For instance, set out on a self-guided tour to discover the fascinating daily routines of the early Hawaiians and gain insights into the distinctive coastal ecosystem that sustained their livelihoods.

Makapuu Lighthouse Trail and Whale Lookout (Oahu)

Combine nature and culture on the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail, located on Oahu’s southeastern coast.

While hiking this picturesque trail, you’ll be treated to sweeping vistas of the coastline and the shimmering expanse of the Pacific Ocean.

At the summit, you’ll find the Makapuu Lighthouse, which has served as a beacon since 1909.

During the winter months, this location is renowned as a premier spot for whale-watching, providing you with the opportunity to witness the awe-inspiring humpback whales as they embark on their annual migration.

Unique Festivals and Events

Hawaii’s vibrant culture comes alive through its diverse festivals and events that celebrate the traditions and customs of the islands.

While well-known events like the Merrie Monarch Festival and the Aloha Festivals draw large crowds, there are lesser-known festivals that offer a unique and immersive experience of the local culture.

Mark your calendar and join in these distinctive celebrations that showcase the spirit of Hawaii.

Ka Molokai Makahiki Festival (Molokai)

The date is January, and the location is various on Molokai.

Experience the ancient Hawaiian tradition of Makahiki during the Ka Molokai Makahiki Festival.

Held annually on the island of Molokai, this festival pays homage to the harvest season and the Hawaiian god Lono.

Witness exciting competitions, such as traditional Hawaiian games, outrigger canoe races, and hula performances.

Immerse yourself in the cultural workshops, music, and delicious traditional food that make this festival a truly unique experience.

Kona Coffee Cultural Festival (Big Island)

The date for this festival is November, and the location is Kona.

Celebrate the rich history and flavors of Kona coffee at the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival.

This 10-day event showcases the world-renowned Kona coffee through farm tours, coffee tastings, and barista competitions.

Learn about the art of coffee cultivation and processing while enjoying live music, cultural performances, and a vibrant street festival.

The festival offers a unique opportunity to delve into the captivating world of Hawaii’s coffee culture.

Ukulele Festival (Oahu)

The date is July, and the location is Waikiki.

Participate in the harmonious festivities of the Ukulele Festival held in Waikiki, where the melodious sounds of the ukulele take center stage.

Gathered for this yearly occasion, skilled ukulele players from across the globe unite for a day brimming with live performances, educational workshops, and captivating ukulele exhibitions.

Experience the joyous sounds of this iconic Hawaiian instrument and witness the incredible skill and diversity of ukulele musicians.

Irrespective of whether you are an ardent ukulele aficionado or simply have an appreciation for captivating music, attending this festival is an event that should not be missed.

Maui County Fair (Maui)

The date is September, and the location is Wailuku.

The Maui County Fair is a beloved annual event that brings together the local community and visitors alike.

Experience the excitement of thrilling rides, indulge in delicious fair food, and explore the agricultural exhibits showcasing the island’s bounty.

For instance, from live entertainment to cultural displays and competitions, the Maui County Fair offers a fun-filled celebration of Maui’s unique heritage and vibrant spirit.

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Unconventional Activities and Adventurers

Hawaii offers more than just beautiful beaches and scenic hikes.

For those seeking unique and offbeat experiences, the islands provide a wealth of unconventional activities and adventures that will leave you with lasting memories.

Step outside the ordinary and embark on these extraordinary escapades that showcase the hidden wonders of Hawaii.

Night Snorkeling with Manta Rays (Big Island)

If you love the water, a mesmerizing underwater spectacle on a night snorkeling adventure with manta rays is exactly what is on the menu here.

The pristine waters off the Kona Coast provide the perfect setting to witness these gentle giants as they glide gracefully beneath the surface.

Join a reputable tour operator that specializes in manta ray encounters and provides knowledgeable guides for a safe and unforgettable experience.

Lava Tube Exploration (Big Island)

Dive into the mysterious world beneath the surface of the Big Island by exploring lava tubes, ancient passageways formed by flowing lava.

For instance, visit the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and join a guided tour to venture into these subterranean marvels.

Witness unique geological formations, encounter intriguing rock textures, and learn about the volcanic forces that shaped the island’s landscape.

Stargazing Experiences (Maui)

Maui’s clear night skies provide a prime opportunity for stargazing and celestial exploration.

Join a stargazing tour and venture to the summit of Haleakala, where you can witness the breathtaking sight of a star-filled sky above the clouds.

Knowledgeable astronomers and guides will provide insights into the constellations, planets, and astronomical phenomena.

Paddleboarding with Sea Turtles (Oahu)

Go on a unique adventure by paddleboarding with sea turtles along the stunning coast of Oahu.

Rent a paddleboard and head to popular spots such as Turtle Bay or Waikiki, where these gentle creatures are often spotted.

Glide through the crystal-clear waters, surrounded by the beauty of the ocean, as you observe these magnificent sea turtles in their natural habitat.

Final Thoughts

I know, right?

That was a wild ride!

But my hope is that you got yourself a few things that you will try for sure, and others that maybe you save for future trips.

Many of the unique places to visit in Hawaii are truly personal, and some you might discover will become your favorites.

All I can tell you is to take your time because Hawaii is an ancient world, and these islands truly need time to digest, so t speak.

I do believe I’ve given you a ton of information to think about as you plan your incredible upcoming trip to Hawaii.

I hope you have a safe trip!

AJ Paris is a travel photographer based in New York. He is the editor of Caravanzers.

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