25 Amazing Hidden Gems in Hawaii

Written by Bart Meeuwesen
Updated on
Our travel recommendations are based on our personal experiences and research, written by locals and travel experts with deep familiarity with the destination. When you book a hotel or tour that we link to, we may earn a commission.

The last state to become part of the United States of America, Hawaii was admitted to the Union in August 1959. It was pipped to the post by Alaska, which joined in the January of the same year, with the previous state (Arizona) having joined almost 50 years before.

The only state to be made up entirely of islands, Hawaii is spread over the northeast corner of Polynesia, almost at the heart of the north Pacific Ocean.

The volcanic archipelago is comprised of hundreds of islands and islets, both big and small; six main islands are accessible for tourism. Did you know that the islands are the peaks of underwater mountains, which are part of the biggest mountain range on the planet?

The state is known for its gorgeous landscapes, fascinating landscapes, unique culture, abundant outdoor activities, and relaxed way of life. It is a place that really does offer everything for almost every kind of traveller.

The local culture is influenced by Polynesian traditions and imports from Asia and North America. The cuisine reflects the different cultures that have had an influence on the islands, with a fusion of native fare and elements from elsewhere in Polynesia, the USA, Japan, China, Korea, Filipino, Portugal, and others.

The only US state to produce coffee, Hawaii is also responsible for around one-third of the world’s commercially grown pineapples. Furthermore, Hawaii is the biggest producer of macadamia nuts. The state has the nation’s only royal palace, the biggest wind generator, the largest telescope, the world’s biggest dormant volcano and the most active volcano on the planet, and some of the most renowned scuba diving spots across the globe.

While some of Hawaii’s glorious beaches, vibrant cities, volcanoes, and lush rainforests attract many visitors, and can sometimes feel incredibly crowded, there are still plenty of places where you can head off the beaten track and find some secluded treasures.

Here are some of the best hidden gems in Hawaii.

1. Bamboo Forest, Maui

Bamboo Forest, MauiSource: Realest Nature / shutterstock
Bamboo Forest, Maui

An enchanting place that looks as though it could be from a fairytale realm, Maui’s stunning Bamboo Forest can be found along the scenic Pipiwai Trail in Haleakala National Park. Requiring a mile’s trek to reach, lots of visitors don’t want to make the effort. Those that do put in the legwork, however, will be rewarded by beautiful scenes.

The sun glints through the towering stalks, the densely packed trees providing plenty of shade and atmosphere. The bamboo sways gently in the breeze and the forest stretches for around half a mile. Birds twitter all around and insects clack and whir.

There are several lovely features en route to the picturesque forest too, including a stunning waterfall. Swimming is not recommended here, either at the top of the falls or in the pool at the bottom, for safety reasons. It’s a fabulous scene that’s best enjoyed with the eyes only.

Don’t forget to wear sturdy closed footwear and slap on plenty of bug repellent. Take plenty of water along on your walk.

2. Kawela Bay, Oahu

Kawela Bay, OahuSource: James Cross Photography USA / shutterstock
Kawela Bay, Oahu

A lovely secluded and protected beach, Kawela Bay is close to Oahu island’s northern tip. A reef prevents large waves from reaching the sandy shore and it’s a terrific place to feel at one with nature and enjoy a quieter stretch of sand away from the tourist crowds.

Despite past proposed plans to build here, the area remains blissfully undeveloped, protected by the North Shore Community Land Trust in accordance with the wishes of locals. This means that you’ll find few facilities here—a small trade off for being able to enjoy a small slice of paradise in relative seclusion.

Unusual banyan trees add an air of mystery to the area.

Swim and splash around in the calm, clear waters, have a go at paddle boarding, kayak next to the shore, sunbathe, and enjoy a picnic in pristine surroundings.

If you get a sense of déjà vu here don’t be too alarmed; the beautiful beach has appeared in several movies, notably Pirates of the Caribbean and The Hunger Games.

3. Kalalau Trail, Kauai

Kalalau Trail, KauaiSource: IndustryAndTravel / shutterstock
Kalalau Trail, Kauai

Rugged, challenging, remote, and exceptionally beautiful, the 11-mile-long Kalalau Trail leads along the breathtaking Na Pali Coast on Hawaii’s island of Kauai. Some parts of the trail can only be accessed with a permit, and exploring with a local guide is recommended.

Camping is permitted only in two places, and camp sites are basic with composting toilets, no potable water, and no seating areas.

The trail leads through five pristine valleys, each equally as attractive but different. The verdant velvet-like hills have a soft appearance that seems somewhat at odds with their sharp inclines towards the waves below. Walk across towering cliff tops for some of the most incredible views across the ocean.

There are several sublime waterfalls and superb beaches along the exciting trail, including the relatively secluded Kalalau Beach, which is also tantalizingly known as the Secret Beach. While the trail is sure to test you physically and emotionally, there are plenty of places to sit for a while in quiet contemplation, simply communing with nature, catching your breath, and marvelling at the beauty of nature.

4. Sanju Pagoda, Oahu

Sanju Pagoda, OahuSource: Dmitrii Sakharov / shutterstock
Sanju Pagoda, Oahu

Located within Honolulu Memorial Park on the island of Oahu, the soaring temple is a large replica of a place of worship in Japan, the revered Minami Hoke-ji Temple in Nara. Standing at 119 feet tall, the gigantic pagoda is a sight to behold. Despite its huge stature, it is relatively under-visited.

Showcasing fine Japanese designs, the three-level pagoda was constructed with concrete, rather than the traditional wood. It is on the list of the National Register of Historic Places.

Often said to be among the USA’s tallest temples, if not one of the tallest temples across the globe, the impressive building dates back to 1966. In spite of its fairly young age, the temple sadly fell into a state of ruin and disrepair when the park faced financial difficulties. With no money to maintain and preserve the pagoda, it became unsafe. It is now closed to the public, though people can still enjoy the magnificent structure from the outside.

5. Raëlian UFO Peace Park, Big Island

Raëlian UFO Peace Park, Big IslandSource: Matt Lafer / Facebook
Raëlian UFO Peace Park, Big Island

Strange, unusual, and hidden in plain view next to a highway, the Raëlian UFO Peace Park might make you question all you thought you knew about life. Or, it might make you wonder about the characters that dreamt up Raëlianism.

Raëlianism is an alternative religion (some may argue cult) that was born in the 1970s. Founded by a man named Claude Vorilhon, who is sometimes referred to as Raël, the belief system follows the idea that earthly life all stems from an alien species, known as the Elohim. Rather controversially, adherents believe that the prophets of major world religions were all part of the Elohim, appearing through the ages as humans to reach the general population.

The group plans to build a galactic embassy on Hawaii’s Big Island, following rejections from Israel. For now, however, all that exists is a model of the proposed embassy, presumably ready to welcome other species from outer space to Earth. Several curious statues surround the model.

While the unusual structures may catch the fleeting attention of people passing by, many casual tourists wouldn’t know what the site represented without further inspection.

6. Keahiakawelo, Lanai

Keahiakawelo, LanaiSource: Lynn Yeh / shutterstock
Keahiakawelo, Lanai

Also known as the Garden of the Gods, Keahiakawelo is a series of natural rock formations on the island of Lanai. Don’t worry that you’ve taken a wrong turn if hunting for this magical place; the road leading here is full of bumps and potholes. It does feel a lot like you’re heading to the middle of nowhere!

The otherwise desolate terrain is made weirdly attractive by the presence of the formations. The dry reddish earth is scattered with boulders in all shapes and sizes, and you may find that previous visitors have arranged the stones into small towers or to create designs. Legends say, however, that messing with the stones will attract the wrath of ancient gods—don’t say you haven’t been warned!

Stories say that two wise men from the islands of Molokai and Lanai were pitted against each other to see which one could keep a fire blazing for the longest. This otherworldly landscape on Lanai is said to be the result of the local sage’s efforts to win the challenge.

7. Harold L. Lyon Arboretum, Oahu

Harold L. Lyon Arboretum, OahuSource: Phillip B. Espinasse / shutterstock
Harold L. Lyon Arboretum, Oahu

Named in honour of a former director of the Hawaii Sugar Planters’ Association, a man who also specialized in the study of diseases in plants, the Harold L. Lyon Arboretum sees few visitors. Most people visiting the local area have only the nearby Manoa Falls on their mind and don’t make the time to also visit this lush and fertile garden.

Educational, attractive, and informative, the site is home to 12 well-organised gardens. Containing a vast assortment of tropical flora, there are also several walking trails to explore, stretching for a total of seven miles. One of the main trails encompasses the quiet Aihualama Falls, providing a terrific opportunity to view Mother Nature’s handiwork in all its splendour and while not surrounded by lots of other people.

Among the plants you can see several rare and endangered species that are native to Hawaii. It’s a great destination for people interested in botany and who want to step away from the well-trodden tourist trail for a few hours.

8. Glass Beach, Kauai

Glass Beach, KauaiSource: Felix Nendzig / shutterstock
Glass Beach, Kauai

Situated in a largely industrial area of Eleele on the island of Kauai, this might not be the first direction that people head in when enjoying a vacation on Hawaii. The unusual Glass Beach is, however, well worth making a quick detour for.

Sure, it’s not the kind of beach where you can lay down your towel and sunbathe, and you probably don’t want to go walking around bare foot, but it does present something out of the ordinary. It also won’t be the most beautiful coastal stretch that you’ll ever have clapped your eyes on, but there is something visually appealing, nonetheless, about smooth and rounded pieces of multi-coloured glass strewn across the basalt rocks.

Years and years have led to the buildup of glass left behind and tossed away, washed up here from the ocean. Bottles and other glass have broken and shattered, the jagged edges made smooth by the powerful forces of nature. The ebb and flow of the waves has removed many of the cutting edges and left behind fairly harmless shiny pebble-like pieces. Do still watch out for the odd sharp edges though, just to be on the safe side.

9. Kaumana Lava Tubes, Big Island

Kaumana Lava Tubes, Big IslandSource: orxy / shutterstock
Kaumana Lava Tubes, Big Island

Located on the Big Island, close to Hilo, the interesting Kaumana Lava Tubes is a relatively unknown site. Head into the intriguing tunnels to marvel at nature’s handiwork and get away from the bucket loads of tourists that can be found in other parts of island.

More authentic and raw than other now more commercialised lava tubes on the Big Island, the Kaumana Lava Tubes run underneath the ground, created by the forceful flow of hot lava from volcanic eruptions. Here’s the science behind it: hot lava continues to flow underneath a solidified top layer of lava, eventually flowing clean away and leaving a hard tube behind. If part of the roof collapses, the tube can then be entered and explored, as is the case at Kaumana.

There are no guards or guides here, meaning that a. you can explore any time you want without interference, but b. that you are completely responsible for your own personal safety. You’ll need to bring a torch if you want to venture deep into the caverns. The rocks can be jagged and slippery; be careful!

10. Coco Palms Resort, Kauai

Coco Palms Resort, KauaiSource: Evan Lugh Fahy / Facebook
Coco Palms Resort, Kauai

Sitting at the bottom of Nounou Mountain, also known as the Sleeping Giant, the small town of Kapaa is well set-up for receiving visitors, with hotels, eateries, and shops aplenty. It has another sleeping (or probably more accurately, dead) remnant, though—a ruined and disused resort that has really plummeted from its days of splendour.

Coco Palms Resort was, in fact, the first resort to open on the island. It opened in the 1950s with much aplomb, attracting well-known names like Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. The luxurious, and pricey, resort was a cool playground for the rich and famous. The revelry was brought to an abrupt end, however, in 1992, when a devastating hurricane tore across the area.

Hurricane Iniki was a cruel force to be reckoned with, sparing little in its path. Insurance companies had to file for bankruptcy, the local economy was shattered, and the island was all but destroyed.

Even when the financial, physical, and emotional scars started to heal, the Coco Palms Resort never recovered. Left unrepaired, its condition has gone from bad to worse. While plans are afoot to demolish the shell, disputes over land ownership have kept the resort still standing forlornly.

11. Hawaii Volcano Treehouse Rental, Big Island

Hawaii Volcano Treehouse Rental, Big IslandSource: Joshua Rainey Photography / shutterstock
Hawaii Volcano Treehouse Rental, Big Island

Another Hawaii accommodation, but one that is still fully functional and appealing, Hawaii Volcano Treehouse Rental can be found close to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the island of Hawaii (often referred to as the Big Island to prevent any confusion between the island and the state).

A chance to really get back to nature and spend a night, or several, in a novel accommodation, the hidden tree houses are sure to delight old and young alike.

Rustic, charming, and eco-friendly, the wood-built dwellings are perched high in the trees, branches snuggling close to the structures and fabulous views outside every window. Ideal for a romantic interlude, an adventurous solo stay, a family vacation to talk about, or as a hideaway to enjoy with your BFFs, the tree houses appeal to many.

Nestled in the rainforest and constructed across several sturdy trees, the tree houses are 20 feet above the ground. Perhaps give them a miss if you suffer from vertigo! Those with a cool head for heights can venture out of their lofty abode and walk along the canopy skywalk for even more great views of nature.

Each tree house has a private bathroom, wooden furnishings, comfortable beds, ample storage space, and separate seating areas. Each is also sure to inspire a sense of awe and wonder.

12. Niihau, Niihau

Niihau, NiihauSource: CHRIS STEFFENS / shutterstock
Niihau, Niihau

The private island of Niihau covers almost 70 square miles and is the archipelago’s seventh-biggest inhabited islands. Estimates for local population figures diverge greatly, with some reports stating that as many as 300 people call the island home, with lower estimates at around the 30-40 mark. It doesn’t really matter how many people live there though—you won’t be able to interact with them.

Home to a school, a church, and rent-free private homes, there is no electricity on the island save for solar power and no running water; the local water supply comes from rain catchments. When water is scare, locals have to move to another island until the rains come again. Groceries arrive on a regular barge, and meat is free for locals.

Needless to say, there’s no Wi-Fi and TV reception is poor. Something like a land that time forgot, the island works hard to preserve ancient Hawaiian customs, traditions, and ways of life.

Bought in 1864, prior to the island group becoming part of the USA, the island is now owned by the Robinson family. Those familiar with Daniel Defoe’s famous novel, Robinson Crusoe, or Johann David Wyss’s Swiss Family Robinson, might see the name as rather fitting.

Often referred to as Forbidden Island, outsiders are not permitted on the island save for special circumstances. This makes the island of Niihau a real hidden gem—and one that is likely to remain that way for the foreseeable future. Curious tourists can get a bird’s eye view of the island with a helicopter tour.

Alternatively, those who are truly desperate to set foot on the intriguing island can join a beach tour or hunting expedition on the island. There are still no visits to the community though.

13. Kukaniloko Birthing Stones, Oahu

Kukaniloko Birthing Stones, OahuSource: Leigh Anne Meeks / shutterstock
Kukaniloko Birthing Stones, Oahu

Close to Wahiawa on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, it is easy to simply drive right on past Kukaniloko Birthing Stones without knowing anything of the site’s significance and heritage.

It might just look like a rather haphazard arrangement of stones, maybe there accidentally and as nature intended or perhaps moved there by human design. However you view the site, do take a moment to stop, explore, and discover more about its stories.

The Kukaniloko Birthing Stones represent royal births occurred and mighty battles. The site was thought by aboriginal people to be where the island’s natural forces were at their strongest. Each time a leader was to be born, the pregnant lady would be shipped to this place to give birth under the intense gaze of many powerful chieftains. The baby would then be taken away, only allowed to see its mother again when it was a fully grown adult.

A sacred spot for islanders, it is also thought that the site may have had an astronomical function as well as a ritualistic one.

14. Dunes, Kauai

Dunes, KauaiSource: Gray Photo Online / shutterstock
Dunes, Kauai

Close to Koloa, tucked away in the cliffs, lies a prehistoric landscape, complete with unusual stone sand dunes. Yes, you read that right—sand dunes that are stone.

But are they sand or are they stone, you may wonder. The answer is that the dunes were once composed of sand, but over a period of many years have gone through a process known as lithification. To keep things simple, this essentially means that the sand has compacted under pressure, lost its porosity, and turned to stone.

The once-sand and now-stone dunes have maintained a vibrant sandy shade, providing a wonderful visual contrast against the blues of the sea. The landscapes certainly look ancient and out of this world.

A fairly easy walk leads to the area, tracing the tops of the clips. The drive in, however, is a different matter—a robust 4WD is advised.

15. Waimanu Valley, Big Island

Waimanu Valley, Big IslandSource: Mavrick / shutterstock
Waimanu Valley, Big Island

The splendid Waimanu Valley is the biggest valley along the Hamakua Coast. While the journey to reach the valley may be tough, the reward is rich. Stunning views and a real sense of achievement are there for the taking for those who complete the nine-mile trek. You can perhaps see now why this stunning natural attraction remains a hidden gem!

Follow the steep Muliwai Trail through the pretty Waipiʻo Valley, continuing past a number of picturesque streams and cascades. The path rises and falls a lot and it can get pretty slick; trekking poles may well become your best friend. Do note that you will also need to carry everything with you that you’ll need, And, don’t forget to book your camping pitch in advance.

The glorious hidden valley promises rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation for the mind, body, and soul. The black sandy beaches are perfect for endless days of basking in the sun’s soothing rays and the crystalline (and cold) waters are sure to tempt you in for a swim. With water to one side and a verdant valley to the other, views don’t come much better than this.

There are several waterfalls in the vicinity if you feel like doing a bit more trekking.

16. Makauwahi Cave, Kauai

Makauwahi Cave, KauaiSource: Jarek G / shutterstock
Makauwahi Cave, Kauai

Combining archeology, nature, and history, the sorely under-visited Makauwahi Cave is one of the biggest caves on the island of Kauai. Filled with fascinating fossils, it also offers a mesmerising peek into the past.

Something like an ancient diary, the layers of the cave tell the area’s past quite vividly. A fossilised sand dune caved inwards creating a sinkhole that can now be explored for a gigantic leap back in time. Marvel at animal fossils and the fossilised remains of plants that were found on earth long before the arrival of human beings. It’s a fabulous place for anyone interested in geology.

Don’t be perturbed by the cave’s narrow and claustrophobia-inducing entrance; it quickly opens out into a large cavernous space. Explore to your heart’s content and then pay a visit to the turtle sanctuary and make new amniotic pals. Be sure to also admire Mahaulepu Beach before you life; it was a filming site for Pirates of the Caribbean.

17. Ching’s Pond, Maui

Ching’s Pond, MauiSource: vagabond54 / shutterstock
Ching’s Pond, Maui

Also known as the Blue Sapphire Pools, Ching’s Pond cannot be seen from the road. This means that those who do not already know about the site are likely to sail past and remain oblivious to the nearby beauty. It is, however, a popular spot with locals—when you see it for yourself you’ll immediately understand why. The site can get fairly crowded at the weekends, but visit during the week and it should be fairly quiet.

The Palauhulu Stream meanders across the rocks, crossed by a bridge. Look below the bridge and you’ll see some of the most captivating pools of deep sapphire blue; so beautiful are the pools that you may need to blink and look twice to make sure that you’re imagining things!

There are two trails that lead down to the pools. One is a lot more challenging than the other and it really isn’t recommended. Look for a large tree some 50 feet or so beyond the bridge—the trail here is the best one to follow.

It’s easy to imagine fairies, nymphs and other water-loving mythological beings making their home here. Enter into the waters yourself and you may just have an ethereal experience. Do take care, though, as the water flows deceptively fast and it’s easy to lose your footing and be carried away for some distance.

There are rocks in the water and it is not an area that is suitable for diving. Though you may see others diving into the water from the surrounding high points, it really is best to refrain from doing so. Why risk ruining the rest of your vacation for a quick thrill?

18. Kau Desert, Big Island

Kau Desert, Big IslandSource: S.R. Brantley, USGS / Wikimedia
Kau Desert, Big Island

Expansive, rather lunar-like, unusual, and dry: these are just a few words that could be used to describe the Kau Desert on Hawaii’s Big Island. The little-visited area has sand, volcanic ash and gravel underfoot, as well as rocks and solidified lava. Very little wildlife can survive here and the desolate landscapes are almost completely devoid of any green plant life.

It’s not just the dry conditions and harsh terrain that prevents anything from flourishing here; rain that does fall is generally too acidic to be beneficial to life. Sulphur dioxide is released from volcanic vents, mingling with water droplets in the air and thus causing the rain to be toxic.

Quite like a place that the world forgot, the unusual vistas are really quite striking, in a rugged, raw, and dramatic kind of way. Be warned that it gets pretty hot out here—take plenty of water, slap of the sunscreen, wear loose clothing, and don a cap.

Keen hikers and trekkers, especially those who enjoy seeing places that are little bit different, will surely love this place. Do note that trails may be closed when the volcanoes are a little too active for comfort. Nobody wants to fall foul of the noxious gases that they belch out into the atmosphere!

19. The Vintage Cave Club, Oahu

The Vintage Cave Club, OahuSource: Vintage Cave Club / Facebook
The Vintage Cave Club, Oahu

Up-market, stylish, exclusive, luxurious, and with a suitably high price tag to reflect the quality, The Vintage Cave Club is one of the fanciest (and expensive) restaurants on Oahu, if not the whole of Hawaii. While not a secret gem as such it could be classed as pretty hidden thanks to the huge costs that keep many people away.

If you have an unexpected windfall or feel like really splashing the cash, The Vintage Cave Club promises an experience like no other.

The bare brick walls in the dimly lit restaurant are adorned with world-class artwork by famous painters like Picasso, Zhou Ling, Anton Molnar, and Leonard Tsuguharu Foujita. Exquisite glasswork and ceramics add to the air of grandeur and sophistication.

The wine cellar is packed with many fine wines, with something to suit every palate and preference. There are also diverse vintage whiskies, cognacs, brandies, and more. When it comes to your actual meal, the Japanese-French fusion gastronomy is sure to create an explosive taste sensation in your mouth. The creative chef uses fresh and local produce to produce innovative dishes.

20. Lanai Cat Sanctuary, Lanai

Lanai Cat Sanctuary, LanaiSource: Lanai Cat Sanctuary / Facebook
Lanai Cat Sanctuary, Lanai

Sheltering around 500 cats, Lanai Cat Sanctuary is a purr-fect place for all fans of cute and cuddly felines. The refuge has 25,000 square feet of land on which the former strays are protected.

Previously, the remote island had unmanageable numbers of stray cats, which eventually led to the animals being killed off, oftentimes not so humanely. The sanctuary was created to protect and rescue the unwanted kitties, providing them with a safe and comfortable place to live, play, and be at peace.

Protecting the cats also helps to ensure the survival of another species on the island: the ua’u bird. Feral cats were previously following their hunting instincts and catching the native birds. Neuter and release programs helped to control the growing numbers of cats, but it did little to help the birds. And so, in 2009, the sanctuary opened—good news for all concerned!

Cat-loving travellers can now visit the home to play with the cats, learn more about the sanctuary’s work, lend a hand and, of course, make a gratefully appreciated donation.

21. Pineapple Garden Maze, Oahu

Pineapple Garden Maze, OahuSource: Bedh Yadav / shutterstock
Pineapple Garden Maze, Oahu

A huge maze in the grounds of the Dole Pineapple Plantation, the Pineapple Garden Maze has the honour and the glory of being the biggest plant maze on the planet.

Covering two acres of land, around two and a half miles of paths can be found within the maze. Of course, some are dead ends and lead nowhere, while others are deliberately set to confuse and addle those trying to beat the maze.

There are several ways to get out, though; don’t worry—you won’t fall victim to any minotaurs or be trapped in a labyrinth forever!

Featuring around 14,000 plants, inhale the scents and admire the sights as you try to figure out the way to go for freedom. Those who make it through quickly will have their name listed on a sign near to the maze. Most people take around an hour or so to get to grips with the maze and find their way out.

22. The Himalayan Academy, Kauai

The Himalayan Academy, KauaiSource: Chase Clausen / shutterstock
The Himalayan Academy, Kauai

It’s more than likely that you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported to Nepal, Tibet, or some other faraway land when you visit the Hindu Himalayan Academy. Only, rather than the rugged terrain of the actual Himalayan Mountains you’ll find tropical landscapes instead.

A place where eastern religions meet Polynesian customs and western ways of life, and a sanctuary where old and new blend in almost perfect harmony, the tranquil monastery was founded by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami.

Serving as a worldwide outreach and educational centre for Hinduism, the academy follows the ancient teachings of gurus of old from Sri Lanka and southern parts of India.

Surrounded by towering cliffs, plummeting cascades, lush rainforests, and deep blue sea, the monastery and temple are in an ideal place to worship sacred deities and seek inner peace and balance. The temple building is impressive.

Monks wear traditional handmade robes, dine on fresh homegrown food, and devout themselves entirely to a greater purpose. They also, however, have access to all modern technology. Look closely and you’ll spot smartphones, tablets, laptops, and more among their possessions.

23. Shangri La, Oahu

Shangri La, OahuSource: Phillip B. Espinasse / shutterstock
Shangri La, Oahu

Moving from Hinduism to Islam, Shangri La is a hidden collection of striking Islamic art. Situated close to the state capital of Honolulu, the collection was started by a wealthy philanthropist called Doris Duke.

The paradisiacal Shangri La was Duke’s Hawaiian hideaway home. Built according to her own designs the building has strong influences from her travels around the world. She was particularly taken by the Middle East, as can be clearly seen in the architecture.

The home houses lots of beautiful artwork, collected by Duke over many years and from many destinations. Examples include detailed wooden carvings from Morocco, colourful tile work from Iran, and embroidered textiles from Central Asia. There are many paintings and sculptures, some of which she commissioned personally from eminent names within the Islamic world of art.

Shangri La, named after a fabled lost paradise, sits on several acres of land overlooking the swirling ocean. Within the grounds you’ll find a huge pool filled with saltwater and an Iranian-style pavilion.

24. The Blue Room, Kauai

The Blue Room, KauaiSource: Steve Heap / shutterstock
The Blue Room, Kauai

Another of Hawaii’s magical and almost unbelievable natural places of beauty, the unusual Blue Room is a spectacular cave that leads into an enchanting wet subterranean world.

While you will already have passed another two caves on the walk along the trail, nothing can quite prepare you for the overwhelming majesty of the phenomenal Blue Room. Also known as Waikapalae wet cave, it contains a hidden back cave that shimmers and shines a radiant shade of deep blue when the water level is high.

While the hypnotic scenes might really call to you to take a quick dip, visitors are discouraged from entering the water due to the risks of germs. Definitely don’t go in if you have any open cuts and scratches and do not swallow any of the lurid liquid. Though it may be difficult, try and hold out—there’s a great swimming beach, Ke’e Beach, just a short walk farther.

If you have your own gear and are experienced in cave diving, this could be a great place to scuba.

25. The Liljestrand House, Oahu

The Liljestrand House, OahuSource: Bob Liljestrand, 3300 Tantalus Drive, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA / Wikimedia
The Liljestrand House, Oahu

A historic home on Oahu, the Liljestrand House was built more than half a century ago. Constructed on the orders of Mr. and Mrs. Liljestrand, it is a great example of the work of the eminent modernist American-Russian architect, Vladimir Ossipoff. See what the trendy style was like in the middle years of the 20th century in Hawaii.

Mr. and Mrs. Liljestrand were a mixed American-Chinese couple who came to Hawaii in the late 1930s. Originally en route to China, they decided to stay in Hawaii for a while until political problems called down in Mr. Liljestrand’s homeland. They eventually abandoned these plans and chose to stay in Hawaii, searching high and low for their ideal plot of land.

A chance meeting on a hike in the then-undeveloped Tantalus Hills led to them striking a deal for the land where their home was built. Although they proved to be incredibly fussy when it came to the building of their home it paid off, as they ended up with the exact place to live that they had envisaged in their mind’s eye.

Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the home is owned today by the couple’s children. They are proud of their family home and are usually more than accommodating, allowing visitors to look inside the stylish abode if they ask them in advance.

Although Hawaii is a state that really makes you work hard to enjoy its hidden gems, such as taking long and arduous hikes and making advance appointments, it’s really worth stepping away from the beaten path and the popular tourist trail to discover another side of the beautiful island state.

25 Amazing Hidden Gems in Hawaii:

  • Bamboo Forest, Maui
  • Kawela Bay, Oahu
  • Kalalau Trail, Kauai
  • Sanju Pagoda, Oahu
  • Raëlian UFO Peace Park, Big Island
  • Keahiakawelo, Lanai
  • Harold L. Lyon Arboretum, Oahu
  • Glass Beach, Kauai
  • Kaumana Lava Tubes, Big Island
  • Coco Palms Resort, Kauai
  • Hawaii Volcano Treehouse Rental, Big Island
  • Niihau, Niihau
  • Kukaniloko Birthing Stones, Oahu
  • Dunes, Kauai
  • Waimanu Valley, Big Island
  • Makauwahi Cave, Kauai
  • Ching’s Pond, Maui
  • Kau Desert, Big Island
  • The Vintage Cave Club, Oahu
  • Lanai Cat Sanctuary, Lanai
  • Pineapple Garden Maze, Oahu
  • The Himalayan Academy, Kauai
  • Shangri La, Oahu
  • The Blue Room, Kauai
  • The Liljestrand House, Oahu