National Parks in Hawaii offer a gateway to a unique blend of oceanic wonders, lush rainforests, and volcanic landscapes. Hawaii, an enchanting archipelago with 8 major volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean, is a destination like no other. While renowned for its tropical beaches, the true essence of Hawaii lies in its national parks and preservation areas.
Hawaii’s natural beauty is shaped by its distinct tropical ecosystem, fostering a thriving wildlife population. From sea turtles, Hawaiian Monk seals, and whales in the surrounding waters to dolphins and various sea and forest birds, the islands boast a rich biodiversity without land predators.
With 2 main national parks on the Big Island and Maui, Hawaii beckons travelers to explore beyond its sandy shores. Additionally, the state hosts 7 protected areas managed by the National Park Services, encompassing Historic Trails, Historic Sites, Historical Parks, and National Memorials.
Embark on a journey with us as we navigate through Hawaii’s national parks, uncovering the top attractions and activities in each, offering a more profound insight into the natural marvels of the islands.
National Parks in Hawaii
1. Haleakalā National Park
- Year Established: 1961
- Annual Visitors: 853,181
- Area: 30,183 acres
- Best Time to Visit: December – April
Haleakalā National Park is located on the Hawaiian Island of Maui, and much of the park is only accessible on foot. The park showcases the Hawaiian Islands ecosystem perfectly, and allows visitors a chance to escape to nature as there are no developed areas within Haleakalā.
The park is split into distinct sections, one offering lush tropical rainforest and the other volcanic mountain summits. The park preserves a volcanic landscape and the best way to explore is by hiking Haleakalā’s many trails. Make sure to take in a sunrise or sunset above the clouds or hike to a waterfall in the Oheo Gulch.
2. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
- Year Established: 1916
- Annual Visitors: 1,262,747
- Area: 335,259 acres
- Best Time to Visit: Year Round
As the park’s name suggests, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is home to two active volcanoes. While the volcanoes are active it is never guaranteed that park visitors will see an active lava flow or lava glow while visiting. The park is located on the Big Island of Hawai’i and houses the largest volcano, Mauna Loas.
While laval flow is never guaranteed it is the major draw to the park. Visitors can also take in the diverse landscape as well as see the overwhelming power of lava and how it can reshape the landscape.
Other Areas of Hawaii Maintained by National Park Services
- Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail
- Hono’uli’uli National Historic Site
- Kalaupapa National Historical Park
- Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park
- Pearl Harbor National Memorial
- Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park
- Pu’ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site