Hawaii’s Best-Kept Secrets, Revealed

The Hawaiian islands are filled with magic and beauty. No matter which direction you look, water, lush mountains, and beautiful flowers are all around. Look even closer, and there are some secret spots across the islands that hold even more mystique. If you’re a visitor traveling to Hawaii, then we’ve got you covered with the places tourists aren’t aware even exist. These stops will spice up your photo gallery and have people asking where in the world you are in your comments section of Facebook or Instagram. Here are the best-kept secrets of Hawaii.

The Mermaid Cave

a cave in hawaii
gallivantuous/Instagram
gallivantuous/Instagram

Located on O’ahu’s west side, the Mermaid Cave should be on your bucket list. The cave is filled with just enough water to wade in at the right tide and offers incredible views of the ocean.

Locals want to keep this place under wraps, but some visitors have leaked its location. It’s near Kalanaiana’ole Beach Park, but accessing the Mermaid Cave isn’t easy. You’ll need to walk across sharp lava rock for access, but it’s worth it.

Kaimū Black Sand Beach

beautiful black sand
Douglas Peebles/Corbis via Getty Images
Douglas Peebles/Corbis via Getty Images

Seeing black sand for the first time might shock you at first, but you begin to warm up to it before eventually falling in love. Found in the once busy fishing village of Kalapana is the wonderful Kaimū Black Sand Beach.

The incredible sand is relatively new, around two decades old. This beach is a great example of the continuous destruction and rebirth cycle in nature. The Kilauea volcano filled the nearby land with lava, changing the landscape of the beach.

The Bamboo Forest On Maui

guy walking through
elpitagraphico/Instagram
elpitagraphico/Instagram

Who knew Hawaii contains so many places that could fit in a fairytale realm? Adding to the list of hidden gems is the Bamboo Forest. Located along the notoriously hard to drive road to Hana on the island of Maui, the forest is also nearby the scenic Pipiwai Trail in Haleakalā National Park.

You’ll have to hike for at least a mile before reaching it, and visitors describe it as a “moderately hard” trail, even for those who are in great shape.

Ono Organic Farms

farms
tania_mann/Instagram
tania_mann/Instagram

If you’re a fan of exotic fruits, then one place you need to try and find is Ono Organic Farms, also known as Maui Exotic Fruit Farm. The family-owned land produces a wide selection of rare veggies, chocolate, fruit, and Hawaiian coffee.

Found in Kipahulu, off Hana Highway, you can have a blast with the fruit tasting tour where they allow you to try up to 12 tropical treats and the coffee. They also teach you a thing or two about organic farming.

The Makawao Forest

forest
_alixae_/Instagram
_alixae_/Instagram

Along the Kahakapao Trail found on the lovely island of Maui, you can have yourself a splendid hike and encounter some unique sightings. You will find yourself in the Makawao Forest if you continue to walk that path.

Once in the forest, you can see young Redwood trees, wild Koa, ginger plants, eucalyptus plants, and raspberry bushes. Due to the elevation here being a little higher, it does get colder than many other places on the island.

Hilo Breakwater

yoga
thenilotus/Instagram
thenilotus/Instagram

An outstanding example of historic engineering has to be the wall of Hilo Breakwater. It came about in the 1920s to protect Hilo Harbor and is 1.5 miles long. At low tide, you can take a precious walk and absorb the scenes of the harbor and the city.

Many people enjoy fishing here and participating in yoga as well. It’s a wonderful place to go and clear your mind of life’s problems.

Ching’s Pond

a beautiful pond
danwatt/Instagram
danwatt/Instagram

Ching’s Pond, also known as the Blue Sapphire Pools, is not a location you can see from the roads. If you don’t know about this serene location, you’ll drive right past it along Hana Highway on the island of Maui.

Once you see it for yourself, you’ll gain an immediate appreciation and love for the secret spot. Only locals know about it for the most part, but it can get quite crowded on the weekends, so try and plan a visit on a weekday.

Keahiakawelo

Keahiakawelo
ma.ranwet/Instagram
ma.ranwet/Instagram

Known as Keahiakawelo or the Garden of the Gods, this beautiful rocky environment houses a series of natural rock formations on the island of Lanai. If you end up taking a voyage here, be careful of the potholes and bumps, it’s a tricky road!

This place has a dry reddish earth that’s filled with scattered boulders that come in all shapes in sizes. There’s a legend that says messing with the stones attracts the fury of the ancient gods, so tread carefully.

Papohaku Beach

golf course
Douglas Peebles/Corbis via Getty Images
Douglas Peebles/Corbis via Getty Images

To say Papohaku Beach is beautiful would be drastically selling it short. This is the longest white sand beach on all of the Hawaiian Islands, but you won’t find too many people walking the shores.

It’s one of only two beaches that allows camping on the island of Moloka’i, but be careful when it comes to swimming because the waters can be extremely dangerous. Papohaku Beach is a place where you can make timeless memories.

Kauai’s Glass Beach

glass beach hand
adventures.of.jesus/Instagram
adventures.of.jesus/Instagram

Found in Hanapepe, right by Port Allen Harbor is an impeccable beach filled with millions of tiny sea glass pebbles, shining bright with their luminous hues. Kauai’s Glass Beach gets it glass from broken bottles and auto glass wasted there years in the past.

Over time, the ocean waves smoothed the once-rugged materials, making the terrain smooth enough to walk across. While this place might be difficult to locate, it’s a beautiful location for those who love sea glass.

Mu Ryang-Sa Buddhist Temple

mom and son walking
nurdyk/Instagram
nurdyk/Instagram

Did you ever expect to find a Buddhist Temple on the island of O’ahu? You’re in luck if you answered yes because there is a beautiful Korean Buddhist temple deep inside a Manoa Valley neighborhood.

The name of the temple is Mu Ryang-Sa, which translates to “broken ridge temple” thanks to a construction accident in the ’80s. After neighbors complained that the roof was too tall for the county height restrictions, they had to lower it. This action left a distinct broken ridge.

Bibidden Isle, Ni’ihau

niihau
miss.pnw/Instagram
miss.pnw/Instagram

Many call this place the Forbidden Isle, but the Robinson family really owns Ni’ihau, where approximately 300 native Hawaiians dwell. The island boasts immaculate sunset views all around and the beaches are stunning.

You can see the island via a boat tour or in a helicopter as you will not be allowed on the premises. The only way to gain access is to receive special permission from the Robinson family, otherwise, you’re probably out of luck.

King Kamehameha’s Burial Site

the king
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

The founder and first ruler of the Kingdom of Hawaii was King Kamehameha. It’s a great thing they call him that for short because his real name is Kalani Paiʻea Wohi o Kaleikini Kealiʻikui Kamehameha o ʻIolani i Kaihikapu kauʻi Ka Liholiho Kūnuiākea (talk about tongue twister).

No one knows where his burial site is. King Kamehameha passed in 1819, and rumors are they buried jewels, diamonds, warrior robes and pearls with him. Some think he’s in a rainforest cave.

Munro Trail

munro trails
jayandmackfilms/Instagram
jayandmackfilms/Instagram

You’re in for a real treat if you ever come across Munro Trail, especially if you enjoy an adventure. North of Lanai City, past the Four Seasons Resort Lanai, The Lodge at Koele, rests a 12.8 mile, one-lane dirt road.

You will have plenty of panoramic views of the island while embarking on this trail. Not only that, but on a clear day, you can see the neighboring islands of Molokai, O’ahu, Maui, and the Big Island. At its peak, you will be 3,370 feet in elevation.

Tube The Mountain

man tubing
Kauai Backcountry Adventures/Facebook
Kauai Backcountry Adventures/Facebook

Who needs a water park when you can tube through beautiful Hawaiian mountains? Just the thought of that sounds sensational. Near Lihue is a series of canals and tunnels, built to bring in water to the Lihue Sugar Plantation, which has since closed.

but that doesn’t mean you can’t ride down in style. The canal system is still open and guides tubers on a journey with a unique perspective. You’ll be able to soak in as many views as you can handle.

UFO Peace Park

UFO peace park
teggers05/Instagram
teggers05/Instagram

Those in love with the obscure will have a blast at the Raëlian UFO Peace Park located on the Big Island. You might leave questioning life as you know it.

Raëlianism is a religion founded in the 1970s that some would argue is a cult. The ideal around the religion is that earthly life all stem from an alien species called Elohim. Equipped with that knowledge, you can only imagine the things you might see at this park.

The Vintage Cave Club

cave club
noriaki.numamoto/Instagram
noriaki.numamoto/Instagram

While The Vintage Cave Club isn’t exactly hidden, the luxurious venue with extremely high prices keep many folks away, so it might as well be a gem. The costs match the ambiance and the quality of food, so you’re going to get your money’s worth.

If you’re ready to spend a load of cash, then you’re in for a dining experience like no other. Once you walk in the dimly lit restaurant, you’ll see world-class artwork on the walls by Pablo Picasso, Anton Molnar, and more famous painters.

The Blue Room

Hawaii
Lainie Michel/Pinterest
Lainie Michel/Pinterest

Once you visit The Blue Room on Kauai, you’ll have dreams of returning. This natural beauty does a fantastic job of capturing the true essence of Hawaii while the water shimmers and shines a vibrant hue of deep blue.

Also known as the Waikapalae wet cave, it contains a secret back cave where you find the stunning blue water. It only does this once it reaches a high enough water level, so make sure you stay until that happens.

Lanai Cat Sanctuary

all the cats
Lanai Cat Sanctuary/Facebook
Lanai Cat Sanctuary/Facebook

This location has all the pesky felines you can handle. Lanai Cat Sanctuary, Lanai, shelters around 500 cats at a refuge that spans 25,000 square feet. They used to be stray cats, but now they’re protected.

In the past, the remote island had an insane amount of these little ones who weren’t properly cared for. Now, protecting the cats ensures the survival of a different species called the ‘ua’u bird.

Harold L. Lyon Arboretum

scenery
michaelericjr/Instagram
michaelericjr/Instagram

Harold L. Lyon Arboretum received its name in the honor of the former director of the Hawaii Sugar Planters’ Association. Only a few people ever visit the Arboretum, thanks to the nearby Manoa Falls taking a lot of the shine.

Those same people might change their minds after stepping foot in this fertile and lush garden. Not only is this an educational stop, but the wide variety of tropical flora makes it worth the visit every time.