Hawaii brings to mind images of sun-dappled azure waters, swaying coconut palms, and footprint-free, powder-white sand beaches. Floating in the middle of the Pacific, this Polynesian paradise boasts an easy-going, outdoor lifestyle. From surfing, swimming and snorkeling to hiking, fishing, and wildlife watching, the jewel in the Pacific crown is perfect for outdoor lovers. Hawaii is home to many spectacular parks, reserves and recreation areas from the molten magma flowing from Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park to the green rainforests of the Hamakua Coast.
1.Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park
© Neal Pritchard Media/stock.adobe.com
The Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park a 6,175-acre state park located in the northwest of the Kaua?i Island which is famous for its soaring sea cliffs (pali), which rise to 4,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean, lush valleys, winding streams and cascading waterfalls. Located in the center of the oldest inhabited Hawaiian island, the Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park was established in 1983 to protect the Kalalau Valley.and features the steep Kalalau Trail, which runs between the sandy Kalalau Beach and Ke’e Beach and cuts through five beautiful valleys, including the Hanakoa Valley. The coast is inaccessible to vehicles but can be enjoyed over land by hiking or in a helicopter, and from the ocean by kayak and paddleboard. The park can also be accessed by charter tours on catamarans or rigid-hulled inflatable boats from Hanalei Bay and Port Allen.
Kapaa, HI 96746, Phone: 808-274-3444
2.Lapakahi State Historical Park
The Lapakahi State Historical Park is located 12.4 miles north of Kawaihae Harbor, and the Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site in the North Kohala District on the Big Island of Hawai?i and was established to preserve the historic ruins of an ancient Hawaiian fishing village in North Kohala. Visitors to this 262-acre rugged coastal park can learn about traditional Hawaiian culture by taking a one-mile self-guided tour and exploring the partially restored remains of this ancient settlement. Offshore from the park is the protected Lapakahi Marine Life Conservation District and to the north of the park is the Mahukona Beach Park.
HI-270, Waimea, HI 96743, Phone: 808-961-8311
3.Hapuna Beach State Park
Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area is a 61.8-acre park on the Big Island of Hawaii which features a beautiful white sandy beach with amenities such as paved parking, pavilions, picnic areas, restrooms, and showers. One of the most popular beaches on the island, Hapuna is situated just over two miles south of Kawaihae, and part of the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail winds its way through the park from Spencer Beach in the north to Puako in the south. Hapuna Beach offers excellent conditions for swimming, surfing, bodyboarding, snorkeling and sunbathing, and it’s possible to spot migrating whales in the distance during the early part of the year.
Old Puako Rd, Waimea, HI 96743, Phone: 808-961-9540
4.Kiholo State Park Reserve
Kiholo State Park Reserve is a lava-covered coastal park located in the North Kona District of Hawaii’s Big Island surrounding Kiholo Bay. Set in the in the ahupua`a (historic land division) of Pu`u Wa`awa`a, the park is famous for its fossilized lava flows which were created when Mount Hualalai erupted in 1801 and Mauna Loa in 1859. Kiholo State Park Reserve features a basic campground with tent sites and portable toilets, however, there is no running water. Activities that can be enjoyed in the park include beachcombing, camping, hiking, fishing, snorkeling, swimming, and wildlife viewing.
2000 96740, 71-2000 Queen Ka'ahumanu Hwy, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740, Phone: 808-695-4620
5.Kaena Point State Park
Ka?ena Point State Park can be found on the westernmost tip of land on the island of O?ahu and was established to protect a wealth of fauna and flora, including Hawaiian monk seals, nesting Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and Laysan Albatrosses, and the fragile endemic vegetation of the region. Accessible only on foot, Ka?ena Point State Park has a beautiful white sandy beach that offers excellent swimming, snorkeling, and surfing for those brave enough to take on the large, powerful waves that Oahu is renowned for. The park also offers excellent hiking on the Ka'ena point trail with spectacular natural scenery, plenty of wildlife, and the remains of what was once a railway from Honolulu through Kahuku that was destroyed by a tsunami in 1946.
Waialua, HI 96791
6.Ahupua'a 'O Kahana State Park
© Ozgur Coskun/stock.adobe.com
The Ahupua?a O Kahana State Park, formerly known as the Kahana Valley State Park, stretches from Kahana Bay rising more than 2,670 feet to the tip of Pu?u Pauao. Located between Ka?a?awa and Punalu?u on the windward side of O?ahu, the park is Hawaii's only public ahupua?a (historic land division) and was established to teach visitors about the rich culture and history of the country. The park boasts two hiking trails, namely the Kapa'ele'ele Ko'a and Keaniani Lookout Trail, which is a one-mile loop, and the 2.5-mile Nakoa Trail, which winds its way through lush tropical rainforests and freshwater streams. Ten campsites on the beach are available for use with a permit, and licensed hunting is permitted within designated boundaries on weekends and holidays.
52-222 Kamehameha Hwy, Kaaawa, HI 96730, Phone: 808-237-7766
7.Kalopa Native Forest State Park and Recreation Area
The Kalopa Native Forest State Park and Recreation Area is a state park located around 40 miles northwest of Hilo that features an arboretum of native ?ohi?a lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha) trees and other local flora. Resting at an elevation of 2,000 feet near the village of Honoka?a, a few miles inland from the Hawaii Belt Road, the 100-acre Kalopa Native Forest State Park and Recreation Area and arboretum are home to a variety of rare plants, including native hibiscus and endangered loulu palms. Amenities in the park include drinking water, restrooms, overnight cabins, and basic camping sites.
44-3480 Kalaniai Rd, Honokaa, HI 96727, Phone: 808-775-8852
8.Waianapanapa State Park
Wai?anapanapa State Park is a 122-acre state park located at the end of Wai?anapanapa Road off Hana Highway in Hana on the island of Maui. Home to one of Maui’s volcanic-sand beaches and vast seabird colonies, the park has interesting features such as blowholes, lava tubes, freshwater caves, and a natural stone arch. The tidal pools in the park turn red several times of a year due to the arrival of a certain species of shrimp, however, folklore claims it to be the blood of Popoaleae, a Hawaiian princess that was supposedly murdered by her husband, Chief Kaakea in a nearby cave. Park activities include swimming, snorkeling, fishing, hiking, and camping with a permit.
Waianapanapa, Hana, HI 96713, Phone: 808-984-8109
9.Wailoa River State Park and Recreation Area
Set between Hilo Bay and downtown Hilo on Hawai?i Island, the Wailoa River State Park and Recreation Area is a 131.9-acre state park that features a visitor center with cultural displays and a boat ramp. Meaning ‘long water’, the Wailoa River State Park and Recreation Area is bordered by the Hawaii Belt Road and the beautiful Lili?uokalani Gardens, and the Wailoa River flows from the park’s Waiakea Pond to the Pacific Ocean. The park has several features, including a Kamehameha Statue honoring the founder of the Kingdom of Hawaii, King Kamehameha I and the Wailoa Arts & Cultural Center, which was founded in 1967 and offers free admission to visitors.
Piilani St, Hilo, HI 96720, Phone: 808-984-8109
10.Pala'au State Park
© Rocky Grimes/stock.adobe.com
Once a site where people suffering from Hansen’s Disease (Leprosy) were sent to avoid transmission to others, the Pala?au State Park is a state park located on the Hawaiian island of Molokai. The 233-acre park is home to many ancient ruins, including Kaule O Nanahoa (the phallus of Nanahoa), a phallic stone thought to enhance fertility. The Kalaupapa Lookout can be reached by a path that winds through an ironwood forest and offers breathtaking views of Kalalupapa from 1000-feet up. Activities in the park range from picnicking and camping to hiking and wildlife watching and amenities include picnic tables, restrooms, a picnic pavilion, and campsites.
Highway 47, Ho'olehua, HI 96729, Phone: 808-984-8109
11.Polipoli Spring State Recreation Area
© John Nakata/stock.adobe.com
The Polipoli Spring State Recreation Area is a state park on the slopes of Haleakala on Maui. Set within the 21,000-acre Kula Forest Reserve at 6,200 feet above sea level, the Polipoli Spring State Recreation Area spans 10 acres and extends through the fog belt of the lush mountain forests. Boasting cold temperature and rough terrain that requires four-wheel drive access, the area features four hiking trails which wind through the natural vegetation on the mountain slopes. The Haleakala Ridge Trail boasts grassland, scrub, and forest habitat with cinder substrates, while the Plum Trail is aptly named after the plum trees en-route. The Polipoli Trail features various conifers and the Redwood Trail has huge redwoods, an old ranger's cabin, and is popular with mountain bikers.
Kula, HI 96790, Phone: 808-984-8109
12.Polihale State Park
Set on the western side of Kaua?i, Polihale State Park is a state park with a remote wild beach and fairly inaccessible without a four-wheel drive vehicle. The pristine beach is several miles long and has one safe swimming area known as Queen's Pond at the southern end of the park. The rest of the beach is wild and unsuitable for swimming, snorkeling, and surfing due to strong rip currents along the shore. Amenities at the park include a few picnic pavilions, restrooms with running cold water, simple semi-private showers, and flush toilets. There is no medical facility or lifeguard available.
Hwy 50, Waimea, HI 96766, Phone: 808-464-0840
13.Manuka State Wayside Park
The Manuka State Wayside Park is a 13.4-acre park with an arboretum that contains 48 species of native Hawaiian plants and more than 130 species of other exotic plants and flowers. Located 19 miles west of Na?alehu, on the Hawaii Belt Road, the park is named after the ancient land division up the slopes of the Mauna Loa volcano. The eight-acre arboretum was established in the mid-19th century and is surrounded by the 25,550-acre Manuka Forest Reserve, which is home to wet montane forests, mesic, montane kipuka forests, subalpine shrublands and forests, lowland dry forests, and lowland mesic forests. Services at the park include camping in an open shelter, restrooms, trash cans, but no drinking water is available.
Ocean View, HI 96737, Phone: 808-961-9540
14.Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area
Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area is a 384-acre park situated 12 miles from Waikiki that surrounds the hilltop ruins of a temple in ?Aiea Heights on O?ahu. Embraced by vast groves of eucalyptus trees and Norfolk pines growing on the slopes of the hills above the town of ‘Aiea and Pearl Harbor, the park and recreation area features the 4.8-mile ‘Aiea Loop Trail runs along the ridge on the west side of Halawa Valley and offers breathtaking views of the Diamond Head (Le’ahi), the Wai’anae Range to Honolulu, and Pearl Harbor (Pu’uloa) and the Wai’anae Range to Honolulu and Diamond Head (Le’ahi). There are also ten campsites available for tent camping from Friday through Wednesday, and several picnic areas with tables, covered pavilions with barbeque grills, and restrooms.
99-1849 Aiea Heights Dr, Aiea, HI 96701, Phone: 808-483-2511
15.Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park
Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park is a state park located 25 miles south of Kailua-Kona and an important site in Hawaii’s history. The park marks the spot where the first contact between Hawaiians and Westerners took place when Captain Cook arrived in 1779, marked by the Captain Cook monument across Kealakekua Bay. This beautiful and historically significant 4.6-acre park was established as a State Historical Park and Marine Conservation District in 1967 and is home to the traditional religious site of Hikiau Heiau. Activities in the park include swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, and kayaking and facilities range from picnic pavilions, restrooms, and drinking water.
End of Napoopoo Beach Road, Captain Cook HI 96704
16.Koke'e State Park
Located in northwestern Kaua?i, Koke?e State Park is boasts breathtaking views of the lush, amphitheater-headed Kalalau Valley from an elevation of 4,000 feet. Set on a high plateau and surrounded by verdant montane mesic forests with koa and ?ohi?a lehua trees, the park offers a variety of activities ranging from hiking, tent camping, wildlife watching, seasonal plum picking, trout fishing, and wild pig hunting in season. The park is also home to the Koke?e Museum, which has exhibits displaying the fauna, flora, and weather of the region, as well as a lodge that serves food and sells souvenirs and gifts.
Hanapepe, HI 96716, Phone: 808-335-8405
17.Akaka Falls State Park
?Akaka Falls State Park is a state park 11 miles north from Hilo Hawai?i’s Big Island and is home to the magnificent 442-foot tall ?Akaka Falls and the slightly smaller but no less magical, 300-foot tall Kahuna Falls. The four-mile ?Akaka Falls Loop Trail winds through a lush rainforest filled with wild orchids, bamboo groves and draping ferns and past these waterfalls, offering an excellent hike with several viewpoints along the way. The Kahuna Falls has a spectacular 400-foot drop which can be seen from a small overlook point about 800 foot beyond the ‘Akaka falls overlook. Both falls are best seen after a rainfall when the cascades are most impressive.
Akaka Falls Rd, Honomu, HI 96728, Phone: 808-961-9540
18.Wailuku River State Park
Wailuku River State Park is a state park that is accessed off Waianuenue Avenue in downtown Hilo and features two popular attractions - Boiling Pots and Rainbow Falls. Boiling Pots is an area with several big pools lined with exposed hexagonal columns that were formed by the slow cooling of basalt lava and which are connected by underground cascades whose waters bubbles and roll over the rocks as if boiling. The Rainbow Falls is a spectacular 80-foot cascade that famous for the rainbows formed on misty mornings and the legend that the cave beneath the waterfall was the home of Hina, an ancient Hawaiian goddess and mother of the demigod Maui.
2-198 Rainbow Drive, Hilo, HI 96720, Phone: 808-587-0400
19.He'eia State Park
Located between the He`eia Fish Pond and He`eia Kea small boat harbor near Kaneohe, He`eia State Park, also known as Kealohi Point, is an 18.5-acre state park set on a peninsula overlooking Oahu's east coast that features beautiful beaches and bays, lush rain forests, scenic viewpoints with breathtaking views, lovely picnic areas, and a weekend party hall rental which hosts community programs and can be hired out for special events. The park encompasses the waterfront of Kane'ohe Bay, which is known for calm waters, spectacular reefs, and awe-inspiring views of the Ko‘olau Mountains.
46-465 Kamehameha Hwy, Kaneohe, HI 96744, Phone: 808-235-6509
20.Hanauma Bay State Park
© Sunil Singh/stock.adobe.com
Hanauma Bay State Park is a state park established to protect the spectacular marine environment of Hanauma Bay, which offers some of the best snorkeling on O?ahu. Located along the southeast coast of the Island of O?ahu in East Honolulu and formed within a volcanic cone the marine embayment is set within a tuff ring and is home to colorful reefs and more than 300 different Hawaiian fish species. Once used a bay for fishing by Hawaiian Royalty, today the bay is used for recreational purposes only, and there is a volunteer booth located on the beach level to help visitors learn about conservation of the reef and the types of fish that live there.
7455 Kalaniana?ole Hwy, Honolulu, HI 96825, Phone: 808-396-4229
21.Ha'ena State Park
Located on the north shore of the Hawaiian island of Kauai, Ha'ena State Park is a state park that features beautiful beaches, hiking trails, several ancient Hawaiian sites, some of which are more than 4,000 years old. Often referred to as the ‘end of the road’ and marks the end point of the Kuhio Highway, the Ha'ena State Park is situated five miles away west of Hanalei and an hour's drive from Lihue and boast an array of amenities including free parking in two large lots, a relatively safe lagoon for snorkeling and swimming, picnic tables, restrooms, outdoor showers, and pay phones. The Makana mountain and the Limahuli Garden and Preserve lie to the south of the park, and the 11-mile Kalalau Trail trailhead begins just before the Ke?e beach.
Kapaa, HI 96746, Phone: 808-274-3444
21 Hawaii State & National Parks
- Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park, Photo: Neal Pritchard Media/stock.adobe.com
- Lapakahi State Historical Park, Photo: meisterphotos/stock.adobe.com
- Hapuna Beach State Park, Photo: pikappa51/stock.adobe.com
- Kiholo State Park Reserve, Photo: hanohiki/stock.adobe.com
- Kaena Point State Park, Photo: Mcdonojj/stock.adobe.com
- Ahupua'a 'O Kahana State Park, Photo: Ozgur Coskun/stock.adobe.com
- Kalopa Native Forest State Park and Recreation Area, Photo: Thongchai/stock.adobe.com
- Waianapanapa State Park, Photo: steheap/stock.adobe.com
- Wailoa River State Park and Recreation Area, Photo: jryanc10/stock.adobe.com
- Pala'au State Park, Photo: Rocky Grimes/stock.adobe.com
- Polipoli Spring State Recreation Area, Photo: John Nakata/stock.adobe.com
- Polihale State Park, Photo: fominayaphoto/stock.adobe.com
- Manuka State Wayside Park, Photo: SOGJP/stock.adobe.com
- Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area, Photo: prat/stock.adobe.com
- Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park, Photo: dhayes/stock.adobe.com
- Koke'e State Park, Photo: Robert/stock.adobe.com
- Akaka Falls State Park, Photo: leekris/stock.adobe.com
- Wailuku River State Park, Photo: Markus/stock.adobe.com
- He'eia State Park, Photo: jakkapan/stock.adobe.com
- Hanauma Bay State Park, Photo: Sunil Singh/stock.adobe.com
- Ha'ena State Park, Photo: spiritofamerica/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: sphraner/stock.adobe.com