While there are definite must-sees in Hawaii, if you have a little time to explore (or just want to get away from the more touristy areas) you can find plenty of hidden gems. These spots aren’t exactly “secret” – locals have known about them for years – but they’re a great place to discover the true Hawaii.
Hookipa Beach Park, Maui
Big waves and nearly constant blustery conditions make Hookipa one of the world’s top windsurfing destinations. Hang out on the grassy cliff overlooking the bay to watch the pros practice their aerials and flips. On calm days, you can cool off in a protected cove at the east end of the beach. Stick around for sunset, when dozens of sea turtles haul out of the water to rest on the sand.
Hawaii Theater, Oahu
With its gilded stage and art deco interiors, the venerable Hawaii Theater has been a Chinatown landmark since 1922. The theater was saved from demolition and lovingly restored in the 1980s, and now serves as a venue for numerous performances and events throughout the year. Sign up for the weekly docent tour to soak in the architecture, or head out on the town to take in a show – followed by dinner and drinks at one of Chinatown’s trendy restaurants, all located within walking distance (Maguro Brothers and Lucky Belly are two of the best).
Suisan, Hawaii Island
Located on the Hilo waterfront, this fish market has been feeding local seafood lovers for more than 110 years. Gone are the days when you could stroll through the market as fishermen unloaded their catch of the day, but it’s still known as one of the best places in Hawaii to enjoy poke, the dish of seasoned cubes of fresh, raw fish that’s become a national trend. You’ll find a wide variety of ono (delicious) flavors to choose from, including traditional shoyu ahi, wasabi king salmon, and spicy lobster.
Allerton Garden, Kauai
This lush, 80-acre garden was once the estate of a local sugar magnate, and previously belonged to Hawaii’s Queen Emma. The preserve is now under the management and conservation of the National Tropical Botanical Gardens, a non-profit dedicated to discovering, saving, and studying the world’s tropical plants. Here you’ll be able to enjoy guided walks through beautifully landscaped garden rooms, with exotic plants, sculptures, and fountains, under a canopy of towering rainforest trees.
While you’re discovering the hidden gems of Hawaii, be sure to book your stay at a Hilton.