Hawaii is a beautiful and diverse archipelago with eight major islands – Hawaii (Big Island), Maui, Kahoolawe, Lanai, Molokai, Oahu, Kauai and Niihau. A few islands are home to many unique towns and cities in Hawaii. Except for Honolulu, the locals refer to the others as towns due to their small size. Each one has its charm and offers something different for visitors. Here are 20 of the best Hawaiian cities to visit.
- Cities In Hawaii
- 20 Best Hawaiian Cities To Visit
- 1- Honolulu (Oahu)
- 2- Kailua (Oahu)
- 3- Waialua (Oahu)
- 4- Hana (Maui)
- 5- Kaanapali (Maui)
- 6- Kihei (Maui)
- 7- Lahaina (Maui)
- 8- Paia (Maui)
- 9- Wailea (Maui)
- 10- Hilo (Hawaii)
- 11- Kailua-Kona (Hawaii)
- 12- Waimea (Hawaii)
- 13- Hanalei (Kauai)
- 14- Hanapepe (Kauai)
- 15- Kalaheo (Kauai)
- 16- Kapaa (Kauai)
- 17- Kekaha (Kauai)
- 18- Poipu (Kauai)
- 19- Kaunakakai (Molokai)
- 20- Maunaloa (Molokai)
Cities In Hawaii
- Grand Circle Island and Haleiwa – A 9-hour tour
- Pearl Harbor – See the USS Arizona Memorial and USS Missouri Battleship Tour from Waikiki
- Small-Group Road To Hana Tour – Explore hidden gems on this road trip.
- Maui Island Private Day Tour – Plan your own itinerary.
- Big Island in a Day – Volcanoes, waterfalls, sightseeing and history.
20 Best Hawaiian Cities To Visit
1- Honolulu (Oahu)
Honolulu, the capital of Oahu and the state of Hawaii, is a popular destination due to its beautiful beaches, rich culture and diverse activities.
Waikiki Beach is a world-renowned destination for surfers and beachgoers and has high-end resorts and restaurants.
Another popular attraction in Honolulu is Diamond Head, a volcanic tuff cone with stunning views of the city and the Pacific Ocean.
You can hike to the summit, which takes about 1.5 hours and enjoy the panoramic views from the top and ride around the area on an e-bike.
Honolulu has many historic sites, including the USS Arizona Memorial, which honours the sailors lost during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
Take a boat tour to the memorial and learn about the events that led to America’s entry into World War II.
The city also has several cultural attractions, such as the Bishop Museum, which preserves and showcases Hawaii’s history and culture.
Visitors can learn about Hawaiian history and culture through the museum’s exhibits and live demonstrations.
Another popular cultural attraction is the Polynesian Cultural Center, which offers a glimpse into the cultures of Polynesia through interactive exhibits and live performances. Take a traditional Hawaiian canoe ride and enjoy a luau dinner show.
In addition to these attractions, Honolulu also offers a wide range of activities, such as snorkelling and diving in Hanauma Bay, golfing at world-class courses, and shopping at luxury boutiques and traditional markets.
2- Kailua (Oahu)
Kailua is on the windward coast of Oahu and is known for its beautiful beaches, outdoor activities, and laid-back atmosphere.
One of the main attractions is Kailua Beach Park, a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and windsurfing.
The beach is also home to the Mokulua Islands, a pair of small islands popular for kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.
Another popular attraction is Lanikai Beach, known for its clear, turquoise waters and white sandy beach.
It is considered one of the best beaches in Hawaii and is perfect for swimming, snorkelling and relaxing. You may like this tour of Kailua and Lanikai beaches.
Kailua is also home to Kailua Town, a charming shopping and dining area with various local stores, art galleries and restaurants.
One of Kailua’s most popular hiking trails is the Pillbox Hike, which offers spectacular views of the coast and the Mokulua Islands.
The hike is a moderate level of difficulty and takes about two hours to complete.
For those interested in history, the Mokapu Peninsula, home of the Marine Corp Base Hawaii, is a must-see attraction.
Visitors can tour the base and learn about the history of the Marine Corps in Hawaii.
Finally, Kailua is also home to many yoga studios and wellness centres, making it a perfect place to relax and rejuvenate.
3- Waialua (Oahu)
Waialua is on the North Shore of Oahu and is known for its picturesque scenery, outdoor activities and cultural attractions.
Some of the top attractions for tourists visiting Waialua include Waialua Beach, a beautiful white sandy beach that is a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing and beachcombing.
It is also an excellent spot for surfing and bodyboarding, with some of the best waves on the North Shore.
Waialua Bay is perfect for fishing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. Take a boat tour to see the local marine life, including dolphins and turtles.
The Waialua Sugar Mill is a historic site that once processed sugarcane. You can tour the mill and learn about Hawaii’s sugar production history.
Waialua Farmers Market takes place every Saturday and features local produce, crafts and food or sample local delicacies and purchase souvenirs.
Waialua Cultural Hike is a guided hike that takes visitors through the Waialua countryside and teaches about the area’s rich cultural heritage.
It includes stops at ancient Hawaiian sites, petroglyphs and heiau (temples).
The North Shore is famous for its big waves and Waialua is an excellent spot for intermediate and advanced surfers, with surf schools that offer lessons and rentals.
Dillingham Airfield is a popular spot for hang gliding, paragliding and skydiving.
You can take a tandem flight with an experienced instructor or take lessons to learn how to fly on your own.
These are only a few of the attractions that Waialua has to offer.
Go hiking, biking and horseback riding in the Waimea Valley and the nearby towns of Haleiwa and Sunset Beach.
4- Hana (Maui)
Hana is on the eastern side of Maui, known for its natural beauty and laid-back atmosphere.
The Road to Hana is a popular attraction, as it winds through lush rainforests, past waterfalls, and scenic vistas.
Wai’anapanapa State Park features a black sand beach, sea caves and a freshwater cave pool.
The Seven Sacred Pools, also known as Ohe’o Gulch, are a series of pools and waterfalls popular for swimming and hiking.
Hamoa Beach is a wide crescent-shaped beach with excellent swimming and body surfing.
Hana Cultural Center and Museum offer visitors an opportunity to learn about the area’s history and culture through exhibits and educational programs.
Ka’eleku Caverns is limestone and features a large underground chamber with various activities and stalagmites.
Hana Bay is a large, picturesque bay that is an excellent spot for swimming, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding.
Hana Ranch is a working ranch that offers horseback riding and ATV tours of the surrounding countryside. Joining a small group tour is a great way to relax and let a local show you around.
5- Kaanapali (Maui)
Kaanapali is a beautiful beachfront resort in Maui known for its sandy beaches, sparkling blue waters and great weather.
Some of the main attractions in Kaanapali include Kaanapali Beach, the main beach located in the area and is perfect for swimming, sunbathing and snorkelling. The best snorkelling is by boat on a tour where you’ll also see marine life.
You can also take a sunset walk along the beach and enjoy the beautiful views.
Whalers Village is a shopping and dining complex that offers a variety of stores and restaurants, live music and cultural performances.
Black Rock is a volcanic rock formation at the north end of Kaanapali Beach, a popular spot for snorkelling and diving.
The water around it is known for its clear visibility and abundance of marine life. Whale-watching cruises are popular.
The Kaanapali Golf Courses offers two world-class courses with gorgeous views of the ocean and the West Maui Mountains.
Ocean activities include paddleboarding, kayaking and parasailing.
The Old Lahaina Luau is a traditional Hawaiian luau held at the beachfront lawn of Whaler’s Village, showcasing the culture and customs of Hawaii through music, dance and food.
Enjoy sunset dinner cruises along the coast of Maui watching the sunset. Check out these tours:
- West Maui Snorkeling Experience by Boat from Ka’anapali
- Whale Watching Cruise with Open Bar from Ka’anapali Beach
- Premium Sunset Dinner Cruise from Ka’anapali Beach
6- Kihei (Maui)
Kihei is on the southern coast of Maui and you can enjoy a wide range of water activities, such as swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving and stand-up paddleboarding.
Several companies offer boat tours, including whale-watching tours and snorkelling excursions.
There are a variety of attractions for visitors to enjoy, including several beautiful beaches, such as Kamaole Beach Park, which is known for its clear waters and excellent snorkelling.
Kalama Beach Park is another popular spot, offering a playground and picnic areas.
The Kihei Kalama Village shopping centre has a variety of boutiques and souvenir shops, as well as a farmers market on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Several restaurants in the area also offer a range of cuisines, from local Hawaiian fare to international options.
Kihei is home to several golf courses, including the Wailea Golf Club. It features three 18-hole courses designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr.
Kihei is home to several cultural attractions, including the Gilligan’s Island Luau and Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Visitor Center, which offers educational exhibits and information on the annual migration of humpback whales to the area.
The Kihei Heritage Trail offers visitors a chance to learn about the area’s history and culture through a self-guided walking tour.
The Haleakala National Park is a popular spot for hiking, offering scenic views of the island and the opportunity to see native plants and animals.
Take a day trip to nearby destinations such as Lahaina, known for its historic sites and art galleries, or the Road to Hana, which offers scenic views and waterfalls.
7- Lahaina (Maui)
Lahaina is the perfect destination for relaxation and adventure on the west side of Maui.
There is something for everyone to enjoy in this beautiful and vibrant town.
Stroll along the famous Front Street, where there’s an array of art galleries, boutiques and restaurants.
For history buffs, the town is home to the Lahaina Banyan Court, which features a massive banyan tree over 140 years old.
Take a walk through the city’s historic district, visit the Lahaina Banyan Court or take a sunset cruise to watch humpback whales.
Some of the best local restaurants in Lahaina include Fleetwood’s on Front Street, Aloha Mixed Plate and Lahaina Grill. A dinner cruise is another way to enjoy the harbour.
You can also enjoy the nearby Kaanapali Beach and the island of Lanai.
8- Paia (Maui)
Paia is on Maui’s north shore and is known for its laid-back atmosphere and bohemian vibe.
The main street, Hana Highway, is lined with shops, restaurants, and cafes, making it an excellent spot for browsing and people-watching.
Some of the main attractions in Paia include Ho’okipa Beach Park, a famous spot for windsurfing and kitesurfing, and it’s also a great place to watch the sunset.
Paia Bay is a small but picturesque beach perfect for swimming and sunbathing.
Baldwin Beach Park is another popular spot for swimming, and it is a great place to bring the family.
Mama’s Fish House is a highly-rated restaurant that serves fresh seafood and is known for its oceanfront setting.
Paia Yoga Shala is a yoga studio with various classes for all levels. A Maui Island private day tour will get you to all the places you want to see.
9- Wailea (Maui)
Wailea is on the southern shore of Maui and is a popular destination for a relaxing and luxurious vacation.
Some of the main attractions in Wailea include Wailea Beach, a beautiful crescent-shaped beach that is one of the best in Maui, with soft white sand and crystal-clear water.
It’s perfect for swimming, sunbathing and snorkelling. For an unusual experience, try a sea scooter snorkelling tour.
Wailea Coastal Walk offers stunning views of the ocean and the surrounding mountains and is a great place to take a stroll or bike ride.
Wailea Golf Club is an 18-hole golf course considered one of the best in Hawaii, with challenging fairways and greens set against a breathtaking backdrop of the Pacific Ocean.
The Shops at Wailea is an outdoor shopping centre with a wide variety of high-end stores, art galleries and restaurants.
Maui Ocean Center is an aquarium that is a great place to learn about Hawaii’s marine life, with various exhibits and interactive displays.
Wailea Tennis Club is a world-class tennis facility with ten clay courts and six hard courts and is open to the public.
Wailea Sunset is known for its beautiful sunsets, where people gather to watch the sunset.
10- Hilo (Hawaii)
Hilo is on the east coast of Hawaii. It is known for its lush tropical landscape and many waterfalls.
Some popular tourist attractions include Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which is home to the active Kilauea volcano, hiking trails and scenic drives.
Akaka Falls State Park features a 442-foot (135 m) waterfall and lush rainforest. You can hike to see the falls and explore the park’s lush vegetation.
Imiloa Astronomy Center connects Hawaiian culture and modern astronomy, featuring exhibits, planetarium shows and a telescope observatory.
Hilo Farmers Market features a variety of local products, including fresh produce, crafts, and food. It is on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Panaewa Rainforest Zoo is the only natural rainforest zoo in the United States and home to various tropical animals, birds, reptiles and fish worldwide.
Wailuku River State Park has the Rainbow Falls and Boiling Pots, two natural wonders formed by volcanic activity. Take a scenic drive through the park or join this volcano adventure tour for an experience you won’t forget.
Pacific Tsunami Museum tells the story of the devastating tsunami that hit Hilo in 1946 and 1960 and educates the public about tsunami hazards and preparedness.
Richardson’s Ocean Park is a popular spot for swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving, picnicking and beachcombing.
Hilo has more activities and places to visit, like Liliuokalani Gardens, Mokupapapa Discovery Center and much more.
11- Kailua-Kona (Hawaii)
Kailua-Kona is on Hawaii’s west coast. It offers a wide range of activities that will keep you entertained and make your trip memorable.
From the moment you arrive, you’ll be captivated by the sparkling blue waters and white sandy beaches that are perfect for snorkelling, diving and swimming.
For the more adventurous, you can try stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, or even go on a fishing charter or boat tour to explore the beautiful ocean.
The city’s rich cultural heritage offers visitors a glimpse into the island’s history.
You can visit the Hulihee Palace, a former royal palace converted into a museum and the Mokuaikaua Church, the first Christian church built in Hawaii.
These sites are informative and offer a unique insight into the island’s culture.
You can also explore the nearby ancient Hawaiian temples and petroglyph fields.
Tour the island’s active volcano and the black sand beaches at Punaluu, or take a dip in the hot springs at Ahalanui Park.
Some of the best local restaurants in Kailua-Kona include Saffron Indian Cuisine, Kenichi Pacific, and Kona Brewing Company.
Kailua-Kona has many local shops and restaurants where visitors can experience Hawaiian culture and traditional foods such as poke and Hawaiian plate lunch.
Lastly, Kailua-Kona is the starting point for the Ironman World Championship, held annually in September and October.
This event is a must-see for sports enthusiasts offering a chance to see some of the world’s best athletes compete in one of the most challenging endurance events.
Check out this tour – Big Island in a day: volcanoes, waterfalls, sightseeing and history.
12- Waimea (Hawaii)
Waimea, known as Kamuela, is known for its scenic beauty, rich history, and cultural significance.
A few main attractions include Waimea Canyon State Park and the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”
It has breathtaking views of a deep gorge carved by the Waimea River.
You can hike the many trails that lead to the canyon overlooks or drive along the scenic Waimea Canyon Drive and go on an exhilarating downhill bike ride.
Visitors can explore the many shops and restaurants and learn about the town’s history at the Parker Ranch Center and the Imiola Congregational Church.
Parker Ranch is one of the largest in the United States and offers visitors a glimpse into Hawaii’s paniolo (cowboy) heritage, history and culture.
Take guided tours of the ranch and learn about its history and its role in shaping the island’s economy and culture.
Pu’u Ka Pele Lookout offers panoramic views of the Waimea Plains and the Pacific Ocean.
It is a popular spot for sunset viewing and an excellent location to see the Mauna Kea Observatory.
Waimea Beach Park is great for relaxing and enjoying the sun, sand and surf.
The beach park offers picnic tables, showers, and restrooms and is a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing and bodysurfing.
Waimea Valley is a botanical garden and cultural preserve that features a variety of plants and trees from around the world, as well as a 45-foot (14 m) waterfall and cultural sites.
You can take guided garden tours and learn about the native Hawaiian plants and culture.
13- Hanalei (Kauai)
Hanalei is known for its beautiful natural beauty, where lush green mountains surround the city, and the Hanalei River runs through the centre, providing a picturesque backdrop.
The main attraction in Hanalei is Hanalei Bay, a stunning crescent-shaped beach with crystal-clear water and white sand.
It is the perfect spot to soak up the sun, swim, and even try your hand at stand-up paddleboarding.
Along the beach, you will find a variety of local shops and restaurants that offer delicious Hawaiian cuisine and unique souvenirs to take home.
Hanalei has a vibrant arts scene home to many artists and art galleries that showcase the island’s culture and history.
It has a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere that is a perfect escape from the stress of everyday life.
14- Hanapepe (Kauai)
Hanapepe is on the western coast of Kauai and is known for its charming, old-fashioned atmosphere and friendly locals.
Some famous attractions in Hanapepe include the historic Hanapepe Swinging Bridge, a unique and fun way to cross the Hanapepe River.
Every Friday evening, the Hanapepe Friday Night Art Walk is when local art galleries and shops stay open late for visitors to peruse and purchase artwork.
Hanapepe Valley Lookout is a scenic viewpoint that offers panoramic views of the lush Hanapepe Valley.
Hanapepe Botanical Garden features a variety of tropical plants and flowers, as well as a koi pond.
Hanapepe Salt Ponds have been used for centuries to gather salt from the ocean, where visitors can take a tour and learn about the traditional Hawaiian salt-making process.
15- Kalaheo (Kauai)
Kalaheo is on the southern coast of Kauai.
Despite it not being as well known as other tourist destinations on the island, there are still several attractions that visitors can enjoy.
One popular attraction is Kukuiolono Park, which features a 9-hole golf course, a Japanese garden, and hiking trails.
The park offers spectacular mountains and ocean views, an excellent spot for a picnic or a stroll.
Another attraction is the Allerton Garden, a National Tropical Botanical Garden.
The garden features a variety of plants and trees, including exotic flowers and fruits.
It is famous for its gorgeous landscape and serene atmosphere, where you can take guided garden tours or explore it independently.
The Kauai Coffee Company is another popular destination and the largest coffee grower in Hawaii.
Take a tour of its coffee plantation to learn about the coffee-making process and sample different varieties of coffee.
Kalaheo is also home to several art galleries and studios where you can see and purchase works by local artists.
Lastly, Kalaheo is near several beaches, including Poipu Beach and Mahaulepu Beach, known for their beautiful scenery, clear waters and excellent surfing and swimming conditions.
16- Kapaa (Kauai)
Kapaa, on the east side of Kauai, has gorgeous beaches, lush tropical landscapes and friendly locals.
The main attractions in Kapaa include Wailua River State Park. It offers the opportunity to kayak or take a boat tour on the Wailua River, the only navigable river in Hawaii.
Lydgate Beach Park is excellent for swimming, snorkelling and picnicking, with a large, artificial pond that is perfect for young children.
Sleeping Giant is a mountain range that is a popular spot for hiking and offers excellent views of the surrounding area.
Kapaa Town is known for its colourful storefronts, local restaurants, and charming shops. It’s a great place to wander and soak up the local culture.
Opaeka’a Falls is outside of Kapaa and is a must-see. You can view the falls from a lookout point or a short hike.
Kauai Museum exhibits the history and culture of the island through interactive exhibits and artefacts.
17- Kekaha (Kauai)
Kekaha is known for its beautiful beaches and outdoor activities.
A few popular attractions include Kekaha Beach Park, which offers clear waters and a white sand shoreline, perfect for swimming, sunbathing and snorkelling.
Polihale State Park features one of the longest stretches of sandy beach in Hawaii and offers stunning views of the Na Pali coast.
You can hike, camp and take 4-wheel drive tours to explore the area.
Kokee State Park is known for its hiking trails and scenic views of the island.
Take a guided hike to see the beautiful waterfall and explore the unique flora and fauna of the island.
Kekaha Sugar Mill is a historic site once one of Hawaii’s largest sugar mills. Visitors can tour the mill and learn about the state’s sugar production history.
Visitors can experience the traditional Hawaiian luau with music, dance and delicious local food.
Kekaha is also known for its great surf spots, with waves perfect for both beginners and advanced surfers.
Visitors can play golf in the Kekaha area on the golf courses that are in the area.
18- Poipu (Kauai)
Poipu is on the southern coast of Kauai and is known for its beautiful beaches, scenic hiking trails and excellent snorkelling and diving spots.
Some of the main attractions in Poipu include Poipu Beach, known for its golden sand and clear water, making it a fantastic spot for swimming, sunbathing and water sports.
Spouting Horn is a natural blowhole that shoots water up to 50 feet (15 m) into the air, a must-see for visitors to Poipu.
National Tropical Botanical Garden is home to various tropical plants and features hiking trails that offer spectacular views of the surrounding landscape.
Allerton Garden is also known for its stunning beauty and features tropical plants and flowers.
Koloa Heritage Trail takes visitors through the historic town of Koloa, where they can learn about the area’s rich cultural and agricultural history.
Poipu Bay Golf Course is an 18-hole golf course that’s one of the best in Hawaii. It offers spectacular ocean views.
Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach Resort offers amenities and activities, including a swimming pool, tennis courts, and a full-service spa.
19- Kaunakakai (Molokai)
Kaunakakai is the main town on Molokai, a hub for visitors to the island and offers a variety of activities and attractions.
Papohaku Beach is one of the most extensive white sand beaches in Hawaii and an excellent spot for swimming, sunbathing and picnics.
Kalaupapa National Historical Park is home to a former leper colony. It offers guided tours that provide a glimpse into the island’s history.
Molokai Ranch is a working cattle ranch that offers horseback riding, ATV tours, and a zip line adventure.
Halawa Valley is home to an ancient Hawaiian village and offers hiking trails, swimming holes, and waterfalls.
St. Joseph’s Church was built in 1876 and is a popular spot for visitors to learn about the island’s history and culture.
20- Maunaloa (Molokai)
Maunaloa is on the western coast of Molokai and has stunning beaches, clear waters, and excellent snorkelling and diving opportunities.
Visitors can also explore the nearby Molokai Ranch, which offers a variety of outdoor activities, including horseback riding, ATV tours and more.
Maunaloa is home to several beautiful beaches, such as Papohaku Beach, one of Hawaii’s longest white sand beaches.
You can enjoy swimming, snorkelling and sunbathing on these beaches.
Molokai is known for its hiking trails, and Maunaloa is no exception. You can explore the many trails that wind through the lush vegetation and offer stunning views of the surrounding landscapes.
Maunaloa is home to several historic sites that offer a glimpse into the island’s past. One of the most notable is St. Joseph’s Church, which is a beautiful example of Gothic Revival architecture. The church was built in 1876 and is still in use today.
The Maunaloa Clubhouse is a historic building that dates back to the early 1900s, it was a social hub for the island’s plantation workers and is open for tours.
Maunaloa is a great place to experience traditional Hawaiian culture. Visitors can learn about the island’s history, customs, and way of life from the residents.
Visitors can find local art and crafts in Maunaloa made by the locals, such as Hawaiian quilts, paintings, and wood carvings.