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    15 Beautiful Places In Hawaii That Confirm It Is — Without A Doubt — The Best State

    Sorry, mainlanders.

    The coronavirus pandemic is still impacting travel, and destinations around the world have different COVID-19 restrictions in place. While Hawaii has reopened for tourists, there is an ongoing discussion about how this will affect the local population. For now, please use our content as inspiration for a future trip.

    1. Hanauma Bay — Oahu

    A beautiful bay on the ocean at sunset
    Islandleigh / Getty Images

    This bay is so beautiful and has such a rich marine ecosystem that Hawaiian royalty used to come here to fish and hang out. These days you don't have to be regal to swim with the tropical fish and enjoy the views from the beach. The park was declared a protected marine life conservation area in 1967 and remains one of the most beautiful snorkeling spots in the state.

    2. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park — Hawaii

    Lava lighting up the sky on a starry night
    Eachat / Getty Images

    The island of Hawaii, aka the Big Island, may be the largest island in the Hawaiian chain, but it’s also the youngest. The island was made from the composites of multiple volcanic eruptions, and it's not done growing; there are still four active volcanoes on the island today. You can see two of these at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, including Mauna Loa, the largest active volcano on Earth.

    3. The Hana Highway — Maui

    A highway on the coast next to the blue ocean
    Ehabaref / Getty Images

    The road to Hana may be the Maui go-to, but there’s a reason for that. This 52-mile stretch of coastal road connects Kahului to the quiet town of Hana. It’s special because along the drive — which can take anywhere from two to four hours — you’ll pass waterfalls, swimming holes, lush rainforests, hiking trails, and plenty of incredible beaches. It’s practically impossible to stay in the car.

    4. Keahiakawelo (Garden of the Gods) — Lanai

    5. Halawa Valley — Molokai

    A small bay leading to a valley surrounded by mountains
    Wallix / Getty Images

    There’s something a little extra magical about the island of Molokai, which is home to a high percentage of native Hawaiians, the highest sea cliffs in the world, and the state's longest continuous fringing reef (a reef found close to shore). It’s also where you’ll find Halawa Valley, a sacred place in Hawaiian history. What was once a place of worship and home to ancient Polynesians is now a destination of jaw-dropping beauty — from cascading waterfalls to rainforest-traversing trails and sprawling views.

    6. Wailua Falls — Kauai

    Two waterfalls dropping off a cliff to a pool below
    Maximkabb / Getty Images

    Hawaii wouldn’t be Hawaii without plunging waterfalls, and one of the best is found on the island of Kauai, also known as the “Garden Isle” for its expansive tropical rainforest. Here, you'll find the impressive 200-foot Wailua Falls, made iconic by the ‘70s TV series Fantasy Island.

    7. Punalu'u Beach — Hawaii

    Turtles sunning on a palm tree–lined black sand beach
    Mnstudio / Getty Images

    White sand beaches get all the attention; but if you ask me, black sand is the real showstopper. Often found in places with a volcanic history (here’s to you, Hawaii), black sand is the result of eroded volcanic material — think lava and basalt rocks. Punalu'u Beach on the southeastern coast of the Big Island boasts jet-black shores lined with palms. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a sea turtle soaking up the sun.

    8. Koki Beach — Maui

    9. Sharks Cove — Oahu

    A shallow rocky pool next to the open ocean
    Bennymarty / Getty Images

    Just off the North Shore of Oahu is a semi-protected cove that just begs to be explored. When the water is flat, the bay draws snorkelers who come to explore the underwater rock formations and swim with the schools of fish that find refuge behind the cliffs.

    10. Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park — Kauai

    Green-covered mountains leading down to a blue ocean
    Ingo Dörenberg / Getty Images

    Kauai is known for its rainforest-rich terrain, but on the northwestern shores you’ll find cliffs rising thousands of feet from the water and narrow valleys that feel like they belong in Jurassic Park. If you're feeling adventurous, take on the 11-mile Kalalau Trail, which runs through the park and ends at Kalalau Beach.

    11. Kaunolu Village — Lanai

    12. Akaka Falls — Hawaii

    A tall waterfall dropping into a pool
    Janice Wei / Getty Images

    Akaka Falls State Park, named after the park’s impressive waterfall, is a must-visit on the island of Hawaii. All it takes is a half-mile hike into the lush, green forest to witness the towering 442-foot waterfall for yourself. Along the way, you’ll also pass the smaller, 100-foot Kahuna Falls. Just think about it as prep for the big guy.

    13. Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail — Oahu

    14. Kalaupapa National Historical Park — Molokai

    A peninsula sticking out in a dark blue ocean
    Eric Broder Van Dyke / Getty Images

    The views found in Kalaupapa National Historical Park may be beautiful, but they also come with a unique and painful history. When leprosy was brought to the islands in the late 1800s, those who contracted the disease were sent to the isolated Kalaupapa peninsula on Molokai’s north shore. Today, the peninsula has become a refuge and home for some of the residents who, now cured, were once forced to live there. Between the history and the views, Kalaupapa is one of Hawaii's most sacred and beautiful destinations.

    15. Pools of Ohe’o (Seven Sacred Pools) — Maui

    A series of waterfalls and pools in a lush landscape
    Ejs9 / Getty Images

    It doesn’t get more beautiful than Maui’s Pools of Ohe’o, where you’ll find seven swimming holes connected by waterfalls and dense bamboo forest. It sounds magical and it is; but due to flash flooding, the pools are sometimes closed. Check in at the Haleakala National Park welcome center and follow their guidance.

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