Thirty thousand acres of the Hawaii islands are dedicated to national parks across all five islands. Throughout the parks, you’ll find many different outdoor activities and learn about the history of Hawaii. Additionally, each park has varied terrain with many different levels of hiking trails. According to the Department of Land and Natural Resources, “Hawaii is the most remote archipelago on earth.” There is a lot to see and do, so it’s hard to narrow down the best parks. Nonetheless, these are the 10 best state parks in Hawaii.
10. Polihale State Park
This park is spread across 140 acres of land along the NA Pali coast. According to Hawaii Guide, Polihale Beach has a scenic cliff and a traditional heiau (place of worship). Another standout for this Beach is the area feels more like a dessert and less like the other beaches in Hawaii. If you choose to visit this Beach, you will need to brace yourself; it’s a bit of a trek to get down there, especially in a smaller vehicle.
9. Ahupua’a ‘O Kahana State Park
Situated almost thirty miles from Honolulu, this state park is on the eastern side of O’ahu between Kane’oe and La’ie. This park is one of the last state-owned historic land decisions. Additionally, it has five thousand three hundred acres from sea level at Kahana Bay to almost three thousand feet at Pu’u Pauoa near the Ko’olau mountains. It’s also one of the wettest areas on O’ahu. You’ll often see overcast skies. The annual rainfall is over seventy-five inches.
8. Wailoa River State Park
According to Hawaii Birding Trails, this park houses some of the ancient fishponds. These are habitats for many migrating birds, including waterfowl. Additionally, there is a flock of helmeted guineafowl who call this park home. Additionally, there are places to walk as well as boat and picnic areas. You can also find out about the site’s history at the Wailoa Center near Piopio street.
7. Koke’s State Park
This part is located on Kauai’s west coast near Na Pali. Anyone who enjoys nature hikes will fall in love with the views and the native plants and birds. There are almost twenty different trails to choose from for various activities, including biking, running, and hiking. Additionally, there are beautiful views of Waimea Canyon. If you want to stay overnight, there are several campgrounds.
6. Waimea Canyon State Park
According to Hawaii State Parks, Waimea is known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Over time, the Waimea river cared through lava and basalt. Besides the canyon, there are many other things to see. Most of the area is covered with tropical foliage. Additionally, there are several waterfalls along with multiple vistas at the rim of the canyon. There are also several trails to follow if you want to hike the canyon. Cliff trail is the shortest but has some fantastic views of the canyons. Whereas, Kukui Trail is for more experienced hikers and goes through the forest.
5. He’eia State Park
This park is also known as Ke’alohi Point. It’s located on O’ahu’s east coast and is approximately eighteen acres. While there, you’ll see beaches, bays, as well as gardens. Each portion of the park has been preserved and remains part of Hawaii’s original heritage. The park is also located on Kaneohe Bay which houses O’ahu’s barrier reef. The bay is also a great place to watch the sunset behind the Ko’olau Mountains.
4. Wailuku River State Park
Two things make this park stand out, Boiling Pots and Rainbow Falls. Boiling Pots is a group of pools connected underground water that rolls through each pool, making it look like it is boiling. Rainbow Falls is 80 feet tall and named after a rainbow only visible at 10 am on sunny days. There is a Hawaiian legend that this was the home of Hina, a Hawaiian goddess.
3. Akaka Falls State Park
This park is located along the northeastern Hilo Coast. There is a half-mile trail with a beautiful view for those who want to experience the beauty of Hawaii at a more leisurely pace. During the walk, you’ll see two waterfalls. One is Kahuna Falls that is a hundred feet tall and the other is Akaka Falls which is Hawaii’s most famous waterfall and falls almost 500 feet into a gorge. The walk also winds through a rainforest where you’ll see wild orchids and bamboo groves.
2. Makena Beach State Park
If you want to visit one of Maui’s signature beaches, this is it. White sands stretch for 2/3 of a mile and are one of the most extensive undeveloped beaches in the area. This allows you to visit and feel at one with nature while you’re there. Makena Beach State Park is situated between two black-lava outcroppings. This buffers it from trade winds. It is also divided into two sections. Big Beach is just south of Wailea, near a golf resort but is still less crowded than beaches in Kaanapali and Lahaina. Little Beach is a tiny cove that is isolated with no lifeguard on duty. Keep in mind that even though state park regulations prohibit it, many people swim nude on Little Beach.
1. ’Iao Valley State Park
This park is located in central Maui near Wailuku. ‘Iao Valley is four thousand acres and stretches ten miles. It’s also home to one of Maui’s most iconic landmarks, the ‘Iao Needle, which stands twelve hundred feet and offers beginners hiking trails. It’s best to start early in the day if you want an excellent view since sometimes the area gets extremely cloudy. This is also a perfect park for people who wish to learn about the history of Hawaii. According to Go Hawaii, in 1790, King Kamehameha I battled with Maui’s army while unifying the islands. He was victorious, which changed Hawaii’s history. Besides the history, you can also learn about the natural beauty in the park at the Hawaii Nature Center, which is in the Iao Valley.