Things to do in Hawaii
The raw beauty of the Hawaiian islands has long attracted travelers, and rugged nature-lovers will find plenty of things to do in Hawaii—hiking active volcanoes, surfing massive waves, driving dramatic coastal roads, exploring lava rock deserts, and trekking in rainforests with cool waterfalls. From Maui to Kaui to the Big Island and Oahu, there are plenty of activities and attractions for more sedentary types too—museums dedicated to the islands’ Polynesian heritage, public gardens, pristine beaches, art galleries, markets selling local crafts, and great bars serving mai tais.
No matter how or where you choose to embrace the aloha spirit—on one of the world’s most scenic golf courses, under the stars on Waikiki Beach while listening to ukulele music, or on a bus to historic Diamond Head Lighthouse—there are countless places and things to do in Hawaii to keep you coming back. For ideas on how to make the most of your trip, peruse our Hawaii travel guide. All listings are created and vetted by Travel + Leisure editors and writers. Our experts know what to do in Hawaii and will have you planning your photo safari, helicopter tour, and beach excursion even before you step off the plane.
The huge, centuries-old temples and 15-foot walls that lie in ruins at this ancient historical site, sacred to native Hawaiians, were built by the Hawaiians to provide a sanctuary for war refugees and those who broke the kapu (taboo) laws.
The Waianapanapa beach is part of a 120-acre state park near Hana, in east Maui. The beach is made of smooth black lava pebbles and is surrounded by lava cliffs that are topped with lush, tropical foliage. During calmer weather, the beach is a good place for swimming, snorkeling, and diving.
Hook up with the naturalists at Trilogy, who pilot small groups in a 32-foot inflatable boat.
Located in the Ala Moana shopping center, Panya Bistro is an offshoot of the Panya Bakery, a Japanese bakery founded by Alice and Annie Yeung. The bistro is a sort of expansion on the original bakery concept, providing customers with a full-service restaurant, a bakery, and a full bar.
Located at the east end of Waikiki, Kapiolani Park is home to Hawaii’s famous Diamond Head (a volcanic crater), as well as the Honolulu Zoo. The park is named after Queen Kapiolani, the wife of King Kalakaua, and was established in the 1870’s.
Located in the Whalers Village Shopping Center, the aptly named Whalers Village Museum explores the history of Lahaina’s biggest industry in the 1800's.
Fresh flowers and good prices are the norm at the M. P. Lei Shop, on Maunakea Street, in Honolulu’s Chinatown. Look for the storefront with sky-blue trim, colorful Asian lanterns hanging from the eaves, flowers in the open doorway, and a sign that includes Chinese characters.
This open-air swap meet has everything from T-shirts dyed with island red dirt to baskets woven from coconut palm fronds. Stop by Captain Danno's stand for Hawaiian-style shaved ice.
The Experience at Koele, located at the Four Seasons Resort Lana’i, the Lodge at Koele, is a 7,014-yard, par 72 championship course designed by Greg Norman and Ted Robinson.
Hours are easily whiled away digging through the hodgepodge of Hawaiian paintings, Depression glass, aloha shirts, collectible toys, costume jewelry, and kitschy hula girl figurines at this circa-1997 shop.
Located at the Moana Surfrider Hotel, the Beach Bar faces famous Waikiki Beach and provides customers with unparalleled views of the sand and water from beneath its signature banyan tree.
Tobacco heiress Doris Duke stipulated in her will that her opulent and fanciful home (called Shangri La) on the shores of Diamond Head be turned into a museum.
The most popular outfitter on the island offers ziplining, ocean and river kayaking, and more.
A local institution, the shop for surf gear, mountain bikes, and Franko's Oahu Surfing Map, a vital guide to the legendary surf breaks of the North Shore.