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What is the Best National Park in Hawaii?

Thinking of Hawaii gives us beachy vibes with palm trees, seafood, and cocktails. It is also one of the most visited destinations in the country. Hawaii is considered one of the most beautiful places on the earth.

There is so much to see here that ranges from native Hawaiian heritage to World War II, volcanos, coastlines, ancient Hawaiian settlement sites, and even Hawaii national parks. National Park in Hawaii is very diverse and unique.

As for the question, of how many national parks are there in Hawaii, there are 9 or so Hawaii national parks.

Given below is everything about the national park in Hawaii.

1. Everything About the National Park in Hawaii

Hawaii National parks are all about preserving historic and natural sites. Only 4 out of 8 main islands have these 9 national parks in Hawaii. The national park in Hawaii is also known as National Park Service (NPS) site.

Oahu Island of Hawaii has the most popular Hawaii national park, Pearl Harbor National Memorial, and Honouliuli National Historic Site. Molokai Island is home to Kalaupapa National Historical Park.

Maui has Haleakala National Park and finally, Hawaii, the Big Island has a great number of the best Hawaii national parks.

Hawaii national parks include Kaloko- Honokōhau National Park, Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, Pu’ukoholā Heiau National Historical Site, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, and Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail.

There are only 2 ‘certified’ national parks: Haleakala National Park, and Hawaii Volcanoes national park.

Given below is Everything about these 9 National parks in Hawaii.

2. Top 9 Hawaii National Parks That’s Worth Visiting

The national park in Hawaii is so worth the time, as it gives an insight into Hawaiian heritage and history. Given below is everything about these 9 national parks in Hawaii.

2.1. Kaloko- Honokohau National Park

This national park was founded in 1978 on the coast of Kona on the Big Island. It is just half an hour away from the coast. It is near highway 19.

Kaloko- Honokohau national park is home to many historical places like religious sites, fish traps, and stone walls. The park shows how Hawaiians lived on the land and the abundant sea life almost 100 years ago in a hot and arid environment.

You can see petroglyphs and fishing paths here. This national park helps to learn all about the culture, traditions, and knowledge of the location of freshwater that flows into the brackish pools. There is a gravel parking lot near the entrance.

National park in hawaii
Photo by Paul Blessington on Unsplash

2.1.1. Things to Do

There are several things to do here in this national park. You get to tour around the ancient seaside settlements, buildings, old fishponds, and fish traps. You also can learn about their lava landscape, belief system, and nature.

The beautiful beaches are great to sit and calm down and go snorkeling and chances are you can see seals and sea turtles here.

There are also great hiking trails in the park. It is also home to the biggest fishpond wall.

2.2. Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail

This National Park was established in 2000. It is 175 miles of trail for walking. It is on the Big Island of Hawaii. The Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail was made to protect and preserve the traditional Hawaiian tradition and its natural resources.

The trail by the sea connects sacred sites of native Hawaiian culture. Some of their places have spiritual importance and historic lands of royal families. Hiking along the trail gives you a chance to see these sites along the pristine shores.

national park in hawaii
Photo by Sarah Humer on Unsplash

2.2.1. Things to Explore

The Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail has visitor centers and park service signs. These things give background to this land where the lava flows into the Pacific Ocean. Beaches are the best site here.

You can see shrimp cavort on volcanic rocks midst of tides on the west and south coasts. The trail also intersects with other Big Island Parks like Pu’uhonua o Honaunau national historical park.

You can also see ruins of old shrines, houses, ponds, and more. Some of these places are still beautiful as they used to be while some of them are overgrown and are under cliffs or over lava rocks.

2.3. Kalaupapa National Historical Park

This park is on the most secluded island in Hawaii, Molokai, also known as ‘The Friendly Isle’. Kalaupapa National Historical Park was officially established in 1980. It is the least accessible part of the island.

It is a place that is all about the history of tragedy in the state. The Kalaupapa peninsula was first an isolation settlement for Hawaiians affected with Hansen’s disease or Leprosy in the 1800s. The infected were sent here by king Kamehameha V.

It was also home to Belgian missionaries, some of the remaining residents are still cured patients or missionaries.

Kalaupapa National historic park can only be accessed by hiking, mule ride, or via air. It can’t be reached via car. To visit the region, you need a permit.

national park in hawaii
Image by mcyumyum from Pixabay

2.3.1. What to Explore?

The park is all about history, education, and preservation. Visitors here can experience all the ancient Hawaiian vibe. You get to learn about stories, people, and places here.

There is also a museum with archaeological artifacts, old quarantine houses, churches, and medical facilities. This place was certified as a national historic place by 1969.

If you get a permit, then you get to visit the white sand beaches and beautiful views.

2.4. Pearl Harbor National Memorial

This national park or memorial is the most visited site in Hawaii. Pearl Harbor National memorial is on the island of O’ahu.

This memorial is all about the life-changing incidents on December 7, 1941. It has millions of visitors across the world yearly.

The centerpiece is the memorial to the battleship USS Arizona. It is made on the remains of America’s battleship which was ruined by the Japanese in World War II.

There is another memorial for USS Missouri and USS Bowfin for Japan’s surrender on September 2nd, 1945. More than 2,400 Americans lost their lives that sad day and almost 12 ships were sunk.

national park in hawaii
Image by David Mark from Pixabay

2.4.1. What to Explore?

There is a visitor center that is all about the pearl harbor national memorial. You can visit the excellent waterfront museum that showcases illustrations about the events that happened here. There is also a pacific theater and a boat trip to the USS Arizona memorial.

There are many more monuments where you can pay respects to the fallen in World War II. The museum also shows real artifacts, exhibits, and old photos along with testimonies of survivors.

There is also an aviation museum, submarine museum, and park here. There is a 75-minute memorial program that has a documentary at the theater. There is a museum in Bowfin and Missouri.

2.5. Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park

This park was officially established in 1955. It is on the Kona coast of the Big Island. Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park is one of the accessible sites.

It is all about the Ancient Hawaiian culture. The history of this island is intriguing.

It was the last place for the defeated warriors and kings or lawbreakers. These people were those who violated any of the Kapu aka sacred laws. This national historical park was where they go to seek refuge and forgiveness.

This national historical park was also where civilians go to seek refuge during wars.

national park in hawaii
Photo by Alex Rhee on Unsplash

2.5.1. Things to Do

The place has a Great wall of 95 ft and a royal Spiritual Mausoleum known as hale poki. You can also see ancient houses, temples, sledding tracks, fishponds, and coastal villages.

You can see basket weaving and canoe carvings using the traditional ways of centuries. Visit Keoneele Cove, Sacred Heiau, and more. Take a hike around the royal grounds here.

Snorkeling in the Pacific Ocean is a great sport on this island, and you get to see beautiful fauna like whales and sea turtles. You can also have a picnic by the beach.

Just keep in mind that as this is a sacred place, many beach activities are not allowed.

2.6. Haleakala National Park

This park is on the island of Maui. It was founded in 1961. Haleakala national park is named after its namesake dormant volcano. It dominates the island. It is one of the best places to see the sunset from the heights of 9700ft+ caldera.

Haleakala means ‘house of the sun’ in the Hawaiian language. There is a legend related to the Haleakalā National Park. It goes that the demigod, Maui, lassoed the sun from its trip across the sky when he stood on the volcanic summit, which made the day last longer.

Haleakala national park is also home to endangered Hawaiian geese. It has an otherworldly view. There are trails here to go hiking. The trails connect sites sacred to the people along with geologic wonders. It is one of the most unique national parks in Hawaii.

There are many places to faun over like the summit crater, remote Kipahulu district, Hana village, and more. The best time to visit is sunrise, but sunset is equally marvelous.

national park in hawaii
Photo by Sebastien Gabriel on Unsplash

2.6.1. Things to Do

One of the best places to visit is the summit crater of the volcano. Haleakala is the 3rd highest mountain on the earth. The sunset and sunrise are the best on the summit. You can even see the 5 other islands far off in the water.

The hiking in the trails here passes cinder cones and lava flows. You also get to do epic stargazing, bird watching, and more in Haleakala national park.

Visit the silent, ancient, and remote district of Kipahulu district, east shore, which is a land of waterfalls, bamboo forest, rainforest, and a beautiful coastline. The waterfalls are known as the pools of ‘Ohe’o Gulch and Waimoku Falls.

2.7. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

This national park in Hawaii is on the Big Island. It was established in 1916. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the fastest-growing national park in the USA. This park is vast from sea level to 13,680ft.

It also shows the amusing forces in action which helped to form Hawaii. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve.

The park is home to 4 out of 5 active volcanoes. Frequent eruptions send the lava into the ocean which creates new land as Lava cools. Some paths there get you close to it. It is considered one of the best national parks in Hawaii.

national park in hawaii
Image by Tommy Beatty from Pixabay

There are many interesting places to visit here. It includes the 500-year-old lava tube known as the Thurston Lava tube. It is near the summit of Kilauea. It is a 4000-foot-tall volcano. Millions of people visit this national park.

2.7.1. Things to Explore

There are trails to go hiking by the active volcanoes of Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Visit the ancient sites as 23,000+ petroglyphs that go back to 1200-1450 BCE. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has the best volcano view in the world.

Go to the Chain of Craters and Crater Rim Drive and view the most beautiful and unique geological sights in the volcanoes national park. You can get to see unique birds like scarlet honeycreeper, Hawaiian hawk, and more.

There are some sacred sites, ancient ranches, pristine beaches, Hawaiian archaeological sites, scenic drive routes, and lava tubes like the Thurston Lava tube. One other must-visit place in Volcanoes national park is the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

2.8. Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site

This National Park is on the Northwest coast of the Big Island. It was established in 1962. It is a monumental structure made with lava rocks by native Hawaiian people. Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site has an intriguing backstory.

The history goes like this, In the 18th century, King Kamehameha was fighting for leadership of the islands. He got help from foreign sailors. It went on for years until a peace plan was made official in this national historic site.

The site is a great place to explore and know more about Hawaii and its history. It preserves many places like the Temple on the hill of the Whale and more.

national park in hawaii
Image by Social Butterfly from Pixabay

2.8.1. Things to Explore

The Pu’ukohola Heiau national historic site has some great hiking trails to try. They also have a museum to explore and see the past. There is also a big temple erected by the old Hawaiians.

There is the iconic Temple on the hill of the Whale which is the best site here. The remains of the temple are still seen in this national park in Hawaii. There is also a homestead used by foreign sailors during the times of Kamehameha.

There are archeological sites, great places for picnics and you can even see the endangered Nene Geese.

2.9. Honouliuli National Historic Site

While this national park in Hawaii isn’t open to the public as of now. It is on the island of O’ahu. Honouliuli is all set to become the newest National Park Service site.

This park preserves a World War II concentration camp where almost 3200 of Japanese descent were kept. Most of these people were American citizens.

This National Park in Hawaii will be open to the public soon and will take its place among camps like Manzanar in California where Japanese descent was kept forcefully.

This national park in Hawaii tells the past story of incarceration and the existence of prisoners of war.

This park will be a site to reflect on wartime atrocities.

3. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q.1. How many best Hawaii National parks are there?

Ans- There is a total number of 9 Hawaii national parks including the Hawaii volcanoes national park in the Hawaiian Islands.

Q.2. Which Hawaiian Islands have national parks?

Ans- National Parks are in the Hawaiian Islands of O’ahu, Big Island, Molokai, and Maui.

Q.3. Which one of the National Parks in Hawaii is the largest?

Ans- Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island is the largest national park in Hawaii.

Q.4. Which are the 2 official National parks in Hawaii?

Ans- The 2 official National Parks are the Haleakala National Park and Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.

Q.5. Does Big Island have any National parks?

Ans- Big Islands has 5 best Hawaii national parks and more state parks and so.

Top 10 Best National Parks to Visit in Hawaii | USA - English

4. Conclusion

National Parks in Hawaii are a reflection of America’s history. These islands have witnessed one of the worst military disasters.

The national park in Hawaii here also shows how the islands were born. The island and its national parks also help you understand traditional native Hawaiian culture. These national parks have a great national park service.

Hawaii is one of the best vacation destinations. National parks are the stellar site of the island. It is most visited sights in Hawaii. National parks in Hawaii contain active volcanoes, green rainforests, bamboo forests, waterfalls and so much more.

Make sure to visit the National Park in Hawaii and have a great and intellectual time in these parks.

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