Located on the island of Oʻahu, the Pali Highway connects Honolulu to the Windward side of the island. Located high above a tunnel on the Pali Highway, the Nuʻuanu Pali State Wayside Park and Overlook had over 900,000 visitors in 2007.
From the lookout you have beautiful views of Kaneʻohe Bay, Kailua, the Koʻolau Mountains and the Mokapu Peninsula which is home to the Kaneʻohe Marine Corps Base.
Wailua River State Park is Kaua'i's most popular state park with over 850,000 visitors in 2007. The park has three areas.
From the marina area along Highway 56 riverboat cruises sail along the Wailua River to the Fern Grotto.
The Wailua Falls overlook is located at the end of Ma'alo Road (Highway 583) about five miles inland from Highway 56. Wailua Falls is a double waterfall that tumbles 80 feet into a large round pool. This waterfall was featured in the opening scenes of TV's Fantasy Island.
The scenic overlooks on Kuamo'o Road offer wonderful views of the Wailua River Valley and ʻŌpaeka'a Falls. Several heiau (places of worship), pu'uhonua (places of refuge), and birthstones are located within the park.
3. Hā'ena State Park
Located literally at the end of the road on Kaua'i's north shore, Hā'ena State Park is a popular destination for both its beach and for those wishing to hike the Na Pali Coast of Kaua'i.
Ke'e Beach is one of the island's loveliest beaches, but it can also be dangerous in high surf conditions. The State of Hawaii has recently agreed to assign four new lifeguards, an all-terrain vehicle and build a tower for the area. There is excellent shore fishing here. Many local families hold picnics or barbecues here.
Parking is often very difficult due to limited space. New bathrooms are being built.
The trailhead for the 11-mile Kalalau Trail begins in this park. The beginning of the trail is steep and rocky.
Hawaii's most famous landmark, seen on postcards throughout the world, is the profile of Diamond Head. In 2007 over 600,000 people visited the state monument and most made the 0.8 mile hike from the trailhead to the summit to see magnificent views of Waikiki, Kapi'olani Park and Oʻahu's southeast coast.
Diamond Head State Monument encompasses over 475 acres, including the interior and outer slopes of the crater. The trail to the summit of Leʻahi was built in 1908 as part of Oʻahu's coastal defense system. You can still see the remains of bunkers and observation stations.
The Hawaiians called this crater Le'ahi which means "brow of the tuna." Knowing that it's easy to see why.
5. Mākena State Park
Located south of Wailea, Maui's Mākena State Park had over 500,000 visitors in 2007. The park is huge, over 164 acres including three separate beaches and numerous picnic areas. It has one of the largest parking lots for any beach on Maui.
The three beaches of Mākena State Park are Big Beach, Little Beach and the rarely visited Black Sand Beach.
Big Beach is just as its name indicates - long and wide with great swimming during calm seas, bodysurfng, board surfing, shore fishing, and other beach-related activities.
Little Beach is Maui's famous "clothing optional" beach. You must hike over a lava outcropping to get to it.
Mākena's Black Sand Beach is undeveloped with lava rock and coral right offshore.
6. Hāpuna Beach State Recreation Area
Located 27 miles north of the airport on the Big Island's Kohala Coast, the 61-acre Hāpuna Beach State Recreation Area had over 500,000 visitors in 2007.
Hāpuna Beach is a half-mile crescent shaped beach bordered by the Hāpuna Beach Prince Hotel and Hāpuna Golf Course on its northern end.
There is great swimming during calm seas, bodysurfing during periods of shore breaks, a covered picnic pavilion, picnic areas, snack bar, restroom and shower facilities. Dangerous rip currents and pounding shore breaks occur during periods of high surf.
A number of A-frame tent shelters are available for rent. Hiking opportunities are available as the park serves as an access point for the historic Ala Kahakai Coastal Trail.
A thousand years ago, Hawaiians gathered at 'Īao Valley to celebrate and honor the bounty of Lono, god of agriculture, during the annual makahiki festival. Over a hundred years ago visitors began coming to witness the natural beauty of this valley.
Today 'Īao Valley is recognized as a very special place for both its spiritual value and spectacular scenery. The trails in the park are paved, but may be slippery when wet. The trail is also steep in places.
The presence of Pihanakalani, a large heiau (temple) near the shore and along the 'Iao Stream, denotes the religious significance of ʻĪao.
Commonly called 'Īao Needle, the traditional Hawaiian name for the 2,250 foot peak that dominates the valley is Kukaʻemoku.
Also located on the island of Kaua'i, Waimea Canyon State Park saw over 400,000 visitors in 2007. The author Mark Twain was the first to call Waimea Canyon the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific." and while it does remind one of the Grand Canyon, Waimea is actually more colorful and features many waterfalls, many of which are visible from one of the lookouts.
Ten miles long, a mile wide and up to 3,600 feet deep, Waimea Canyon is best viewed from a helicopter from which you can see areas not visible from the highway or lookouts.
The canyon itself was formed by the Waimea River as it cut it's way from Alaka'i Wilderness Area to the ocean.
Nā Pali Coast State Park encompasses over 6000 acres along the northwest side of Kaua'i stretching from Keʻe Beach to Polihale State Park.
Nā Pali (the cliffs) rise 4,000 feet from the ocean. This is an area where a large portion of the island fell into the ocean hundreds of thousands of years ago.
The Nā Pali Coast State Park was formed to protect the Kalalau Valley. The coast itself is not accessible by car, although you can view the Kalalau Valley from lookouts in Kokeʻe State Park.
The coast can be enjoyed by hiking, boating or from a helicopter. The Kalalau Trail provides the only land access, traversing eleven miles and crossing five major valleys before reaching Kalalau Beach at the base of Kalalau Valley.
10. Ka'ena Point State Park
The remote Ka'ena Point State Park on the island of Oʻahu had almost 350,000 visitors in 2007.
The park is actually divided in two by Ka'ena Point itself. You cannot drive from one side to the other.
The leeward part of the park is the most lovely with excellent hiking opportunities where you can see beautiful rock formations, tide pools, stone arches and great views of the leeward coast. Keawa'ula Bay, otherwise known as Yokohama Bay, has a large sandy beach with good board surfing and bodysurfing for experts and swimming only during completely calm conditions in the summer.
The less popular windward part of the park is located at the far western end of Oʻahu's North Shore.