Little needs to be said when the state of Hawaii enters the conversation. The mere mention of the name conjures a paradise that is as imprinted upon the American psyche as the Grand Canyon or the Empire State Building.
The pristine white sands welcome the blue crush of Pacific waves. The deep green overhang of the jungle-like forests holds secrets deep inland on Kauai. The fog-soaked mountains, volcanoes, and pin-drop silent coves are as ancient as the islands upon which they rest.
However, more awaits visitors of the former Polynesian kingdom annexed by the U.S. in 1898 and admitted as a state in 1959.
The ancient archipelago is comprised of 137 volcanic islands, including the more famous inhabited ones of Niʻihau, Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Kahoʻolawe, Maui, and Hawaiʻi.
Thankfully for those looking for a tropical adventure, some of Hawaii’s most prized natural treasures are preserved within the state park system.
Below are some can’t-miss Hawaii stops along the way to paradise:
Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park: This destination boasts one of the most famous coastlines in the world. But that’s not all it has to offer! Its majestic cliff escarpment climbing high above the ocean and its secret-like coves, fed by streams and rivers, lead into a mysterious tropical backcountry. It is one of the most beautiful and inviting places in the world. Hikers and adventurers of all stripes flock to this site on the rugged island of Kauai year-round to commune with nature, experience the deep, mysterious Polynesian wilderness, and even explore the ruins of people who lived here centuries ago. This state park is a unique opportunity not to be missed.
Ka’ena Point State Park: Skipping over to its sister island of O’ahu, another magical Hawaii State Parks awaits. A comparatively remote getaway, this park encompasses two distinct sections of O’ahu: the Ka‘ena Point Mokuleia section on the North Shore and the Ka‘ena Point Keawa’ula section on the western side. Ka’ena Point is the entranceway to the most northwestern part of the state and is a favorite destination for hikers setting out on the famous Ka’ena Point Trail. It also attracts surfers looking for that big wave, body surfers looking for that smaller one, and fishermen searching for that record catch. Some visitors simply sit on one of its gorgeous white sand beaches and watch the dolphins come in in the wee hours of the morning. Ka’ena Point is truly a place like no other!
WaiIʻĀnapanapa State Park: On the backside of the popular tourist route called “The Road to Hana,” the more adventurous at heart will be happy to stumble upon this incredible and remote destination. The park offers visitors a true getaway from the rigors and the hustle and bustle of urban life on the islands. Its rugged volcanic coastline is as welcoming as it is foreboding, and this dichotomy draws seekers by the thousands annually to its confines to bird-watch, hike, or swim. The long, narrow, bumpy Road to Hana and beyond is not for the faint of heart or the two-wheel drive-equipped. But for the sojourner with a day to spend behind the wheel of a sturdy four-wheel drive vehicle and an adventurous glint in their eye, there may be no better place to explore than this incredible site.