Planning a trip to Hawaii and want to hit up some national parks? Find out the top national parks in Hawaii you’ll definitely want to check out! Scroll to see them all!

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The islands of Hawaii are among the most beautiful places on earth.

With tropical forests, breathtaking waterfalls, amazing wildlife and picturesque views, Hawaii is a paradise to say in the least.

There are also great national parks in Hawaii that deserve attention as well. Some of these parks have majestic volcanic views, while others the natives of Hawaii hold sacred, and deserve respect.

Here are some of the top national parks, along with some of the things you need to experience while visiting these parks.

National Parks in Hawaii

Haleakala National Park – Maui

On the Hawaiian island of Maui, Haleakala crater rises to a staggering 10,023 feet above sea level in Haleakala National Park.

Visitors are drawn to the crater, not only for its height above the island, but also as a point of interest to be explored in the park.

Trail sign at the Haleakala National Park for Sliding Sands hike on Maui
Sign at Haleakala National Park indicating trail to Pa Ka’oao, Keonehe’ehe’e and Sliding Sands.

The park is also known as the “house of the sun,” which creates some of the most incredible sunrises and sunsets in the world. This is why so many people come to this national park, to witness it for themselves. The night sky’s are equally as amazing to see.

Haleakala National Park also has several great hiking trails that will take you to beautiful waterfalls surrounded by lush green forests, and even red-desert like landscapes. Many endangered species and native flowers can be found along the way.

Sign up for a Haleakala Maui Sunrise Tour with Breakfast and Pickup

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – Big Island

Located on the Big Island, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is unlike any other national park you’ve been to, as it’s home to 5 volcanoes within the park, 4 of which are still active.

Hawaii lava tourist. Tourists taking photo of flowing lava from Kilauea volcano around Hawaii volcanoes national park, USA.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island.

Kīlauea and Mauna Loa are just two of its volcanoes that are actually the most active in the world. This park provides the best volcano-viewing in the world.

Make sure you travel the Crater Rim Drive and Chain of Craters Road to see some of the most astonishing views in the park.

Read my full post on Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park – Big Island

This national park was once a place of refuge for lawbreakers and where many powerful chiefs once lived.

Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park is immersed in Hawaiian culture, and also one of the most sacred historic places in all of Hawaii.Wide Angle Tikis at Place of Refuge (Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park) in Kona Hawaii

Make sure you check out the Royal Grounds, Keoneele Cove, and the sacred temple of Heiau.

There are thousands of archeological sites here in the park. One of the best times to see Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park is during sunset, when the structures and statues cast their shadows.

Before you pay a visit to this park, remember that it’s a sacred place, so many beach activities are not permitted.

Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park – Big Island

Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park is located on the Big Island and is a spiritual and historical places to visit.

Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park in Kona, Big Island
Photo credit: Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau (IHVB) / Emily Dickey

Etched on lava rock by ancient Hawaiians, hundreds of petroglyphs can be found in this park. There’s also two popular fishponds and great hiking trails in the park.

Chances are, you’ll come across green turtles (honu) and other wildlife while on the beach.

Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Park – Big Island

On the northwest coast of Hawaii, is the Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Park.

It has several ancient Hawaiian temples, awesome hiking trails, and also a great place for bird watching. Pu’ukohola Heiau is one of the last of impressive temples built in Hawaii, sometime around 1790.

Being able to walk these ruins is humbling to stand where a king once stood.

Kalaupapa National Park – Molokai

One of the most popular things to do on Molokai is visit Kalaupapa National Park. This is where King Kamehameha V sent people with leprosy (also called Hansen’s disease) to live out the rest of their lives in isolation.

View of Kalaupapa as mules ride up in Molokai
Photo credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Dana Edmunds

Today, visitors can go to Kalaupapa to learn about the people, places, and stories of the people who lived there. There is a living community, cemeteries, archeological artifacts, and a museum.

It’s also a place for spiritual healing. Families in Hawaii can learn about “lost” relatives and visitors can get a deeper understanding of Hansen’s disease and think about how they react to the disabilities and illnesses in our world today.

These are some of the top national parks to visit when you come to Hawaii. But, Hawaii also has a ton of state parks all across the islands.

Hawaii State Parks by Island

Big Island

  • Akaka Falls State Park – Gorgeous waterfall that is a top thing to do on the Big Island
  • Hapuna Beach State Park – Named one of the top beaches in the United States
  • Hulihe’e Palace – Summer home for Hawaiian royalty
  • Kalopa State Park – Native tree arboretum
  • Kealakekua Bay State Park – This is where Captain Cook landed in 1779 and first contacted with native Hawaiians
  • Kekaha Kai State Park – Used to be called Kona Coast State Park
  • Kiholo State Park – Lava-covered coastal park
  • Kohala Historical Sites State Monument – This is where King Kamehameha the Great was born
  • Kapakahi State Park – Go here to see a partially restored ancient Hawaiian village
  • Lava Tree State Monument – Forest of lava trees from 1790
  • MacKenzie State Park – Volcanic coastline
  • Manuka State Park – Nature trail and arboretum
  • Wailoa River State Park – The Wailoa Arts & Cultural Center is here
  • Wailuku River State Park – This is where you’ll find Boiling Pots and Rainbow Falls

Kauai

  • Ahukini State Recreational Pier – Great place for fishing
  • Ha’ena State Park – At the end of the road on the north side of the island
  • Koke’e State Park – Up past Waimea Canyon
  • Napali Coast State Park – Some of the best views in Hawaii
  • Polihale State Park – Huge sand dunes
  • Russian Fort Elizabeth State Park – Last remaining Russian Fort in Hawaii
  • Wailua River State Park – See waterfalls and go kayaking
  • Waimea Canyon State Park – Called the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”
  • Waimea State Recreational Pier – Another spot for fishing

Maui

  • Haleki’i-Pihana Heiau State Park – 10 acre park with 2 historic heiau
  • ‘Iao Valley State Monument – Great place for hiking on Maui
  • Kaumahina State Wayside – Scenic viewpoint
  • Makena State Park – There’s a dormant volcanic cinder cone here
  • Polipoli Spring State Park – 4 hiking trails and camping spots
  • Pua’a Ka’a State Park – Rainforest with waterfalls
  • Wai’anapanapa State Park – Black sand beach, tidepools, lava tubes, and blowholes
  • Wailua Valley State Park – Scenic viewpoints

Oahu

  • Ahupua’a ‘o Kahana State Park – Great place to learn about native Hawaiian culture
  • Aiea Bay State Park – Views of Pearl Harbor and Arizona Memorial
  • Diamond Head State Monument – One of the best Oahu hikes
  • He’eia State Park – Great view of Kaneohe Bay
  • Iolani Palace State Monument – Only royal palace in the United States
  • Ka’ena Point State Park – Great place for hiking, surfing, and snorkeling
  • Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline – You can see humpback whales in the winter
  • Keaiwa Heiau State Park – A temple where Hawaiians went to get healed
  • Laie Point State Park – Location of the “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” cliff diving scene
  • Malaekahana State Park – Kid-friendly beach
  • Nu’uanu Pali State Park – Great scenic viewpoint
  • Pu’u o Mahuka Heiau State Park – Largest heiau on Oahu
  • Pu’u ‘Ualaka’a State Park – Close to downtown Honolulu
  • Queen Emma Summer Palace – Summer home for Queen Emma of Hawaii
  • Royal Mausoleum State Monument – Burial place of Hawaiian royalty
  • Sand Island State Park – Urban park in Honolulu
  • Ulupo Heiau State Park – Ancient religious site
  • Wa’ahila Ridge State Park – Hiking trails
  • Wahiawa Freshwater State Park – Great place for fishing

Molokai

  • Pala’au State Park – Camping and hiking location with a sacred site
Which ones are you planning on visiting? If you’ve already been to one of these parks before, tell us about your experience.

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