Pacific Business News published a list of Hawaii’s 10 most visited attractions in their print edition on June 15th. This passed us by until today, so if you haven’t heard yet what the top ten most popular Hawaii activities are for the state of Hawaii, read on. What came as a surprise to many was that of all the sites listed, not one of them was a beach or beach park. Which seems strange for Hawaii. Isn’t this what so many tourists travel to the islands to experience? I guess us locals are getting checked on what travelers really want to see while in Hawaii, so without further ado, here are the top 10 visited attractions in Hawaii, in order of popularity:
- USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor- Japan attacked Hawaii on December 7th, 1941, and thus propelled World War II. Oahu’s Pearl Harbor, and more specifically, the USS Arizona battleship, took the brunt of the attack, but miraculously, still stands today as a reminder of this history-shifting event. I’m happy to hear this is the most visited attraction in Hawaii because it shows that people have a genuine interest in our country’s past and wish to learn more about world history.
- The Dole Plantation- We don’t get it, but maybe it has to do with the Pineapple Express train that runs through 2 miles of pineapple plantation fields. Or maybe it’s the world famous Dole Whip icee treat. Perhaps it’s the pineapple maze or maybe it’s just the good old fashioned town of Wahiawa, whatever it is, 1.5 million visitors frequent this location every year, making it the second most visited attraction in the state of Hawaii.
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park- Located on the Big Island, this state park showcases erupting volcanoes, hot lava, ancient calderas and crater rims, and scorching steam from the depths of the earth’s epicenter. It also harbors the Jaggar Museum, a gift shop, and a hotel, and is a great place to visit that will amaze the whole family.
- Haleakala National Park- Maui has the famous dormant volcano, Haleakala, or “House of the Rising Sun”, which is a popular place for visitors to watch the sunrise, as well as hike, drive around and explore, or witness the abundant native plants and wildlife. This is a great day trip experience while on island and offers visitors a look into the history of what makes Maui the Valley Isle.
- Hanauma Bay- For locals, this place is avoided like the plague, but as someone who has never visited this famous snorkeling spot, I have a secret desire to blend in with the tourists and see what all the hype is about. This preserve is known for its incredible underwater wildlife, which is accessible to anyone willing to sit through the traffic, informative video, and crowd. So is it worth it? I’ll let you know when I find out first hand.
- Diamond Head State Monument- Hike the Diamond Head trail and you will get to this lookout point, which gives visitors an aerial, panoramic view of the grand Pacific Ocean. Take a guided tour along this trail or hike it on your own, this adventure is less than 2 miles roundtrip and takes approximately 2 hours to complete. Just don’t forget to bring your camera.
- Polynesian Cultural Center- I’m surprised this one isn’t more towards the top of this list, considering it is the only attraction of its magnitude. Visitors can learn about Pacific Islander culture, traditions, arts & crafts, and history. It’s a hands-on, audience participation, lively theme park, if you will, spanning 42 acres of verdant land on Oahu’s north shore.
- Honolulu Zoo- This is a surprisingly great zoo. Visiting Hawaii you might think that a Hawaiian zoo would only have tropical animals. Not true. They have everything a traditional zoo has, and then some. Plus, the layout of the property is well manicured and adventurous, with peacocks roaming the grounds and plenty of activities for everyone to enjoy. I especially like the petting zoo with the friendly Billy goats.
- Battleship Missouri Memorial- This battleship lovingly referred to as “Mighty Mo” was the site of the Japanese surrender on September 2nd, 1945, marking the end to World War II. Located in Pearl Harbor, you can visit this ship and discover its history, or take the Battleship movie tour, featuring clips from the Universal picture, “Battleship”.
- Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park- The majority of visitors probably can’t even pronounce this attraction’s name, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a popular place to check out. Located on Big Island, this park showcases archeological sites, ancient heiaus, white sand coves, temple platforms, and other interesting structures depicting the site of refuge for Hawaiian criminals who had broken sacred laws.
Now that you know the 10 most visited sites in Hawaii, will you explore them yourself or stray away from them? Are tehse sights something you would typically include into your itinerary, or are you more of a beach goer while on your Hawaiian vacation?