Landmarks of Hawaii

Eruption of Kīlauea volcano, 1954
Eruption of Kīlauea volcano, 1954 / USGS, public domain

Most interesting landmarks of Hawaii

Below are listed the most amazing natural and man made landmarks of Hawaii.

Natural landmarks

Hawaii are famous thanks to their natural beauty. Unbelievable, jungle covered cliffs, ravines and canyons, some of the highest waterfalls in the world, some of the most active volcanoes of the world and unique fauna and flora are fascinating enough to lure millions of tourists to these remote islands.


  • Halemaumau Crater with lava lake, Kilauea – Hawai’i. One of the most active volcanoes of the world, until 2018 contained one of the few lava lakes in the world.
  • Mauna Loa – Hawai’i. Volcano with the largest area in the world (of volcanoes above the sea level).
  • Mauna Kea – Hawai’i. One of the highest mountains in the world if measured from its underwater base – 10,203 m high, 4,207 m above the sea level.
  • Molokini crater – Maui. 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.
  • Pu’u ‘Ō’ō – Hawai’i. One of cinder cones of Kīlauea, erupting continuously since January 1983. Longest lived known rift-zone eruption. Continuous lava flows from this cone constantly change the geography of the island.

Canyons, monoliths and cliffs

Waterfalls in Waipio Valley, Hawai'i
Waterfalls in Waipio Valley, Hawai’i / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0
  • Bell Stone – Hawai’i. Rock pillar. When it is struck sharply, the stone emits low, powerful sound. In earlier times there were announced royal births with this stone.
  • Honopū Valley – Hawai’i. Deep valley in very dramatic, impressive natural setting. Impressive waterfalls. 27 m high natural arch, which makes powerful sound when hit by northern winds. Possible living site of pre-Hawaiian people – menehune – until the middle of the 19th century.
  • Iao Needle – Maui. Impressive, jungle covered cinder cone rising 686 m high.
  • Pelekunu – Wailau Cliffs – north coast of Moloka’i. Some of the highest sea cliffs, up to 1,010 m high. Drop is not vertical. Contain some waterfalls which 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.
  • Waimea Canyon – Kaua’i. Very impressive canyon, some 16 m long and up to 900 m deep, formed by Waimea River.
  • Waipio Valley – Hawai’i. Up to 610 m deep valley with steep walls and several large waterfalls, including Hiilawe Waterfall. Contains the steepest paved road in US and possibly, world – average grade is 25%.


  • Hualalai Ranch Cave – Hawai’i. Second longest lava cave in the world, 17,27 km long, up to 442 m deep.
  • Kazumura Cave – Hawai’i. The longest lava tube in world, 65.5 km long and up to 1,102 m deep.
  • Makauwahi Cave – Kaua’i. The largest limestone cave in Hawaii, the richest fossil find in Pacific. Graveyard of ancient Hawaiians. Contains sinkhole with paleolake. This lake contains 10,000 years long history of sedimentation, providing very detailed and precise timeline of natural evolution in Hawai’i. Found remnants of numerous species of extinct birds.


Wall of Tears, Maui
Wall of Tears, Maui / Steve Jurvetson, / CC BY 2.0
  • Hiilawe Waterfall – Hawai’i, Waipio Valley. Very impressive, powerful 442 m high waterfall, main drop is 366 m high.
  • Honokohau Falls – Maui. 341 m high falls from eternal cloud along emerald green mountain slope.
  • Kahiwa Falls – Molokai. Beautiful 660 m tall and up to 8 m wide waterfall falling directly into the ocean. Highest drop is 183 m tall.
  • Olo’upena Falls – Molokai. At 900 meters in height, this is an amazing seasonal waterfall. Considered to be the fourth highest waterfall in the world.
  • Papalaua Falls – Molokai. Approximately 501 m high, very impressive fall at the far end of enormous, up to 850 m deep valley.
  • Wai’ale’ale Falls – Hawai’i. Group of very tall waterfalls in a narrow canyon. It is possible that their height reaches 900 m.
  • Waihilau Falls – Hawai’i. 792 m high, flows throughout the year.
  • Wailua Falls – Kauai. 26 m tall, powerful waterfall with a single plunge. At low water the stream of falling water is divided into two separate falls.
  • Waipoo Falls – Kauai. 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.
  • Wall of Tears, Maui in Puu Kukui – Maui. Group of some 17 very tall (up to 480 m) waterfalls in dramatic landscape, falling down in one of the wettest places on Earth.


Haleakalā silversword in bloom, Maui
Haleakalā silversword in bloom, Maui / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0
  • Haleakalā silversword grove – Maui. This unusual plant grows only in alpine desert on the top of Haleakalā volcano. Unusual succulent plant grows up to 2 meters high if counted the tall flower stalk.
  • Kure Atoll – Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, the northernmost coral atoll in the world.
  • 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.
  • Nihoa Island – Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Island (70 ha) with its own palm, several endemic bird species, flowers and giant crickets.

Other natural landmarks of Hawaii

  • Halona Blowhole – O’ahu. Powerful, visually very impressive blowhole, especially high at high tide, in windy days.
  • Ka’ū Desert – Hawai’i. Unusual natural phenomenon – desert of dried lava devoid of any vegetation. Although the rainfall here exceed 1,000 mm per year, the rain is acid due to nearby volcanic vents and this eliminates any plants. Often the area becomes dangerous due to poisonous gas blows.
  • Mount Wai’ale’ale – Kaua’i. Summit of this mountain is one of the wettest places on Earth, average rainfall 10,800 mm, maximum – 17,300 in 1982. Swampy biotope with thicket has formed and is protected as Alaka’i Wolderness Preserve. Contains numerous unique species. Numerous waterfalls (Wai’ale’ale Falls) are falling along the 600 m high wall of crater.

Man made landmarks

Hawaii are inhabited comparatively recently.

There are alluring stories about some unknown ancient people – menehune – living here up to the middle of the 19th century (Honopū Valley, Hawai’i), but – as there is not found convincing testimony, this story belongs to legends.

Polynesians arrived in Hawaii in two waves – sometimes around 300 BC and around 1000 AD. Their culture is alive up to this day and they have created numerous exciting monuments, always accompanied by legends. There could be mentioned heiau – temples on large stone platforms and petroglyph sites.

Throughout the late 19th century descendants of Europeans gained more and more influence until they organised overthrow of Hawaiian government in 1893. Since then Hawaii gradually turned into a part of Western world with typical styles of architecture while retaining unique Hawaiian features.

Architecture monuments

Observatories on the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawai'i
Observatories on the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawai’i / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0
  • Aloha Tower – Hawai’i, Honolulu. Unusual and beautiful lighthouse. Built in Art Deco and Neo-Gothic style in 1925, 68 m high.
  • ‘Iolani Palace – Hawai’i. The only royal palace in United States, built in 1879 by king Kamehameha V and used as royal residence until 1893. Palace is built in unique architectural style sometimes called – American Florentine style.
  • Mauna Kea Observatory – Hawai’i. Group of astronomical research facilities on the summit of Mauna Kea. In total here are 12 telescopes, each into separate building, some telescopes belong to the largest in the world.
  • Windward Viaducts – O’ahu. Impressive pair of highway viaducts leading along the foot of Ko’olau Range. Viaducts are some 2 km long each, with both ends entering into tunnels.

Archaeological monuments

Pu'ukohola Heiau, Hawai'i
Pu’ukohola Heiau, Hawai’i / rjones0856, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
  • Hale O Pi’ilani Heiau – Maui. The largest known heiau – Hawaiian temple. Area – roughly 12,000 m². Walls up to 15 m high. Developed since the 1200ies.
  • Honokōhau petroglyphs – Hawai’i.
  • King’s Highway – Maui. Ancient paved foot trail.
  • Necker Island – 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.
  • Puako petroglyphs – Hawai’i. Area with more than 3000 petroglyphs, considered to be the highest concentration of petroglyphs in Pacific.
  • Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau – Hawai’i. Site where those who broke the law could avoid death sentence, this tradition continued up to the early 19th century. Reconstructed temple, residence site for powerful chiefs.
  • Pu’ukohola Heiau – Hawai’i. Last and one of the largest ancient Hawaiian temples, built sometimes around 1790. Enormous stone platform, impressive element of landscape.
  • Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs – Hawai’i. Numerous petroglyphs on a cliff, connected to a cult of life. Considered to be one of the largest petroglyph sites in region.
  • Pu’u O Mahuka Heiau – O’ahu. Largest heiau – ancient Hawaiian temple in O’ahu, built in the 17th – 18th century. Area of the elevated stone platform – nearly 8,000 m².
  • Ulupō Heiau – Hawai’i. Enormous ancient temple, reaching the height of its importance around 1750 AD. Platform is 55 x 43 m large, walls of platform are up to 9 m high.

Described landmarks of Hawaii

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The Hawaiian Islands belong to the most remote islands in the world. Hawaii are characterized by tropical climate, mountainous relief, volcanism and isolation. If compared to most islands in 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.

Hawaii, promotional video

HawaiiHTA, September 2016

Featured: Wai’ale’ale Falls

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

Summit of the 1,544 m high Wai’ale’ale volcano belongs to the rainiest places of the world – here fall some 10,800 mm of rain per year. More than 10 meters! No wonder that the volcano is covered with bright green jungle and adorned with many waterfalls. Especially impressive is the dramatic box canyon to the east with the numerous beautiful Wai’ale’ale Falls.

Articles about Hawaii

Top 10 waterfalls of Hawaiian islands

Wailua Falls, Hawaii
Wailua Falls / Miguel Vieira, Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Top 12 Moloka’i waterfalls

Map of 12 best waterfalls in Molokai Island

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 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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