Wonders of Hawaii

Lower part of Hiilawe Falls in Waipio Valley, one of the wonders of Hawaii
Lower part of Hiilawe Falls in Waipio Valley / Paul Hirst, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.5

WorldBlue  Highlights

The Hawaiian Islands belong to the most remote islands in the world. Hawaii is characterized by a tropical climate, mountainous relief, volcanism, and isolation. If compared to most islands in the Pacific, several Hawaiian Islands have comparatively large landmass. All these factors have led to the development of numerous impressive and unique natural attractions and some impressive monuments of culture.

Islands of Hawaii

Hawaiian Islands are a state of the United States. This state here is divided in 8 main islands and Northwestern Hawaiian Islands:

  • Hawai’i
  • Kaho’olawe
  • Kaua’i
  • Lāna’i
  • Maui
  • Molokai
  • Ni’ihau
  • Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
  • O’ahu

Among the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands is located Midway Atoll which is not a part of Hawaii state and in this site is reviewed separately.

Map with the described wonders

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WorldViolet Top 25 wonders of Hawaii

Geological wonders

Mauna Loa


Volcano with the largest area in the world among the volcanoes that are above sea level. It rises 4 169 m above sea level and 9 170 m above its base.

Mauna Loa from the path to the summit of Mauna Kea
Mauna Loa from the path to the summit of Mauna Kea. / niksnut, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
Halemaumau Crater with lava lake, Kilauea


The most active volcano in the world could be Kilauea in Hawaii. The caldera of this volcano contains Halemaumau Crater, which until 2018 had a lava lake.

Halemaumau Crater from Jaggar Museum, 2018.
Halemaumau Crater from Jaggar Museum, 2018. / NPS Photo/Janice Wei, National Park Service / public domain
Makauwahi Cave


The largest limestone cave in Hawaii, and the richest fossil finds in the Pacific. Graveyard of ancient Hawaiians. The cave contains a sinkhole with a lake. This lake contains a 10,000 years-long history of sedimentation thus providing a very detailed and precise timeline of the natural evolution in Hawai’i. Here have been found remnants of numerous species of extinct birds.

Makauwahi sinkhole - enatrance in the cave
Makauwahi sinkhole – enatrance in the cave. / Mary and Andrew, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Wall of Tears, Maui


Group of some 17 very tall (up to 480 m) waterfalls in a gorgeous, very impressive landscape. Waterfalls are falling down from one of the wettest places on Earth.

Wall of Tears, Maui
Wall of Tears, Maui / Steve Jurvetson, / CC BY 2.0
Mount Waialeale


One of the wettest places on Earth with an average rainfall of 9,500 mm. Here has formed a swampy biotope with numerous unique species. Numerous waterfalls – Wai’ale’ale Falls – are falling along the 600 m high wall of the crater. There is a wetter place in Hawaii – Big Bog in Maui.

Wai'ale'ale Falls, Hawaii
Wai’ale’ale Falls / Miguel Vieira, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Kazumura Cave


The longest lava tube in the world, 65.5 km long and up to 1,102 m deep.

Kazumura Cave, the collapsed floor of the lava bed
Kazumura Cave, the collapsed floor of the lava bed. / Dave Bunnell / Under Earth Images, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0
Mauna Kea


One of the highest mountains in the world if measured from its underwater base – 10,203 m high. It rises to 4,207 m above sea level. Due to the dry and stable air above the volcano, it is one of the best places in the world for astronomical observation.

Mauna Kea volcano, Hawaii
Mauna Kea volcano / Prayitno Hadinata, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Pelekunu – Wailau Cliffs


Some of the highest sea cliffs, up to 1,010 m high. The drop is not vertical. Contain some waterfalls that thus belong to the highest ones in the world, including approximately 900 m high Olo’upena Falls and 840 m high Pu’uka’oku Falls.

Pelekunu Bay
Pelekunu Bay. / Forest and Kim Starr, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Honopu Valley


Deep valley in a very dramatic, impressive natural setting. Impressive waterfalls. 27 m high natural arch, which makes a powerful sound when hit by northern winds. Possible living site of pre-Hawaiian people – menehune – until the middle of the 19th century.

Honopu beach and valley
Honopu beach and valley. / Falco Ermert, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Pirate Cave


Enormous sea cave, 290 m long. It can be accessed only from the sea. Over the entrance falls a waterfall – thus every visitor gets a shower from it. During the winter, as the power of the waves increases, the entrance into the cave turns into a blowhole – the pressure of the air from the cave pushed back the waves, creating a fountain of mist and water.

Entrance in Waiwaipuhi Sea Cave
Entrance in Waiwaipuhi Sea Cave./ Tim Wise, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Molokini crater


Partially submerged volcanic crater. Some 600 m long crescent-shaped summit rises above the water. Exceptional scuba diving site due to calm water, good visibility, and exceptional biological diversity.

Molokini. / Farid Askerov, Wikimedia Commons / public domain
Pu’u ‘Ō’ō


One of the cinder cones of Kīlauea, erupting continuously since January 1983. The longest-lived known rift-zone eruption. Continuous lava flows from this cone constantly change the geography of the island, here from time to time is observed also lava lake.

Pu'u 'Ō'ō crater in 1990
Pu’u ‘Ō’ō crater in 1990. / J.D. Griggs, Wikimedia Commons / public domain
Waimea Canyon


This impressive canyon has been formed by the Waimea River. It is some 16 m long and up to 900 m deep.

Waimea Canyon
Waimea Canyon. / Heath Cajandig, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Waipoo Falls


Some 244 m tall waterfall with two major plunges. The beauty of this waterfall is supplemented by the orange-colored rock with impressive erosion structures.

Waipoo Falls in Kauai
Waipoo Falls in Kauai / Garden State Hiker, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Spouting Horn in Kauai


A hissing and roaring blowhole that creates up to 15 and even 30 m high jets of water. Nearby was a larger blowhole but it was blown up because the saltwater spray from it damaged the nearby cane fields.

Spouting Horn in Kauai
Spouting Horn in Kauai./ Nogwater, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Biological wonders

Haleakalā silversword grove


This plant – Argyroxiphium sandwicense subsp. macrocephalum – grows only in the alpine desert on the top of the Haleakalā volcano. This unusual succulent plant grows up to 2 meters tall and flowers once per 15 – 50 years.

Haleakala silversword grove
Haleakala silversword grove. / Forest Starr and Kim Starr, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Kure Atoll

Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

The northernmost coral atoll in the world. The only island – Green Island – is a habitat for hundreds of thousands of birds.

Albatros chicks in Kure Atoll
Albatros chicks in Kure Atoll. / Forest Starr and Kim Starr, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Laysan Island

Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

This small, remote island has a hypersaline lake in its central part and endemic species of animals and plants including endemic duck and finch.

Laysan Island
Laysan Island. / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Nihoa Island

Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

70 ha large island with its own palm species, several endemic bird species, flowers, and giant crickets.

Nihoa Island
Nihoa Island./ NOAA, Wikimedia Commons / public domain

Archaeological wonders

Pu’ukohola Heiau


Last and one of the largest ancient Hawaiian temples, built sometime around 1790. The enormous stone platform is an impressive element of the landscape.

Pu'ukohola Heiau, Hawai'i
Pu’ukohola Heiau, Hawai’i / rjones0856, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau


A site where those who broke the law could avoid the death sentence. This tradition continued until the early 19th century. Reconstructed temple, residence site for powerful chiefs.

Wall at Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau
Wall at Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau. / Kris Arnold, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Necker Island in Hawaii

Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

This small, remote, uninhabited island contains 33 stone shrines and many stone artifacts. Archaeologists believe that this island was used for ceremonial purposes. Site of the legends – reportedly, this was the last refuge of Menehune – mythical little people who lived in the Hawaiian Islands before the coming of current native people.

Necker Island, ancient standing stones
Necker Island, ancient standing stones./ Andy Collins, Wikimedia Commons / public domain
Puako petroglyphs


An area with more than 30 000 petroglyphs. This could be the largest collection of petroglyphs in the Pacific region. Numerous signs hint at a preliminary development of a local writing system.

Puako petroglyphs
Puako petroglyphs./ Lee Hilyer, Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Architecture wonders

Mauna Kea Observatory


Group of astronomical research facilities on the summit of Mauna Kea. In total there are 12 telescopes, each in separate buildings, some telescopes belong to the largest in the world. This is a special land use zone, named “Astronomy Precinct” and was established in 1967. The summit of Mauna Kea is free of light pollution, there is low humidity and the atmospheric conditions, in general, are stable.

Observatories on the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawai'i
Observatories on the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawai’i / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Haiku Stairs


Dangerous stairway with (possibly) 3922 steps. Originally built in 1943 for a secret war-time radio station. Currently, it is illegal to climb due to safety reasons and property issues. Many visitors though take this risk due to the very impressive sights.

Haiku Stairs
Haiku Stairs./ Kalen Emsley, Wikimedia Commons / public domain

WorldYellow Recommended books

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Hawaii

Packed with culture and activities for travelers to enjoy including beautiful beaches, volcanoes, and insider tips for everywhere from Honolulu to Waikiki. Try local delicacies with our guide to great restaurants and cafes featuring island cuisine, or check out the best restaurants, clubs, and bars. We have the best hotels for every budget, plus fun activities for solitary travel or for families and children to make the very best of any visit to Hawaii.

Hawaii The Big Island Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook

The finest guidebook is ever written for the Big Island. Now you can plan your best vacation ever. This all-new eighth edition is a candid, humorous guide to everything there is to see and do on the Big Island. Best-selling author and longtime Hawai’i resident, Andrew Doughty, unlocks the secrets of an island so vast and diverse that many visitors never realize all that it has to offer.

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