Hawaii is home to an almost endless number of beautiful sites and areas to visit. Some of the most famous and significant are the national parks of Hawaii!
We’ll tell you all about the famous national parks of Hawaii, as well as some other important national historic parks and sites in Hawaii!
National Parks Of Hawaii
Hawaii actually has 5 national parks, technically speaking. However, the two true official national parks of Hawaii are Haleakalā, which surrounds and includes the dormant volcano of the same name, and the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which actually includes two active volcanoes!
Haleakalā National Park
Haleakalā National Park is one of the two official national parks of Hawaii. It’s named after the volcano Haleakalā, which sits within the boundaries of the national park.
The volcano itself is absolutely enormous, taking up more than three quarters of Maui, the island where you’ll find this national park. The volcano has erupted multiple times in history. It’s thought to have erupted at least three times in the last 100 years or so.
Don’t worry too much about this volcano, however, as it’s considered to be dormant, and likely last erupted somewhere in the 1500s.
Haleakalā National Park provides absolutely beautiful views of Haleakalā itself, as well as the surrounding areas. Not just that, but you’ll be blown away by the amazing night skies here – in fact, the place is something of a haven for amateur astronomers.
You can even rent equipment for viewing the skies from local merchants!
There’s even an observatory that’s run by the University of Hawaii!
Here, astronomers view the skies, as the exceptional views available are fantastic for the sort of research they do. The observatory is near the visitor center, but isn’t actually part of the national park itself.
Part of the national park, Kipahulu, is closed to the public. This is because Kipahulu is designated as a place that must have its ecosystem protected and carefully maintained.
This is especially important as the national park is home to more endangered species than can be found in any other national park in the country.
Haleakalā National Park is a fantastic place to visit if you’re in Hawaii – especially if you’re the type to appreciate rugged terrain and fantastic views of the night sky!
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the other official national park of Hawaii. As the name strongly implies, the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is home to active volcanoes – two of them!
Kīlauea is not just the most active of the volcanoes that form Hawaii Island, but it is one of the most active volcanoes on the planet, and has erupted multiple times in recent history.
It’s ranked as the most dangerous volcano in the United States. Not too long ago, the volcano actually had one of the longest recorded eruptions, lasting from January 1983 all the way up until September 2018!
During the decades in which Kīlauea was erupting, there was almost always a continuous lava flow from some part of the volcano.
The lava eventually covered almost 50 miles of land on the island, and added more than 200 acres of land to the island.
The other volcano in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is Mauna Loa, which is considered to be the largest volcano on the planet!
It’s an active shield volcano, and of course the largest of its type – but compared to Kilauea, it’s far less active.
The last time Mauna Loa erupted was in 1984. However, it is of course still considered to be a dangerous volcano!
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is of course an absolutely fantastic place to visit.
The chance to see two of the most significant volcanoes on earth absolutely cannot be passed up. However, be prepared for closures, as eruptions and volcanic activity can mean that areas of the park have to be closed off for safety.
National Historical Parks
In addition to the two official national parks of Hawaii, there are also two national historical parks!
Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau
Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau is on the west coast of the island of Hawaii.
It’s a national historical park, which preserves a famed place of refuge for those who broke Hawaiian traditional law.
Here, the offender could avoid punishment, which could often mean death.
They could seek absolution, and then be allowed to leave and escape death. This was also a place where people could seek refuge from battle.
This area was also once home to an ancient burial site, which housed the remains of Hawaiian nobles, including a famed monarch called Keaweʻīkekahialiʻiokamoku.
However, over the years, the area was destroyed and looted, including the theft of the bones of the internees.
Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park is another absolutely beautiful place of extreme importance to Hawaii and Hawaiian culture.
It was designated as an official national historical park in 1978, and is dedicated to preserving and protecting Hawaiian traditions and culture.
The site is an important historical area for fishing, and is of course home to beautiful views of the ocean.
The area was home to important settlements for hundreds of years.
Here, you’ll also find wetlands which are home to many native birds, and several fascinating trails to follow.
You’ll also find places to do various activities such as diving, snorkeling, and of course boating!
Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site
Puʻukoholā Heiau National Historic Site is another official national historic site in Hawaii.
It’s home to many different important sites that hold great significance in Hawaiian culture.
It’s home to the ruins of the last Ancient Hawaiian temple!
The temple was the setting for one of the most important acts in the history of Hawaii.
Here, the human sacrifice of Keōua, cousin of Kamehameha, was offered – after Keōua accepted an invitation from his cousin, supposedly in order to accept a peace treaty.
Instead, Keōua was killed, and Kamehameha went on to unite the islands of Hawaii under his rule.
Hawaii is a fascinating place to visit, with an extremely rich culture and history – as well as absolutely stunning landscapes and views, and fascinating wildlife too!
Hopefully our guide has helped you to learn about the great national parks in Hawaii!