Guide to National and State Parks in Hawaii

Big Island Guide Travel Guide

The state of Hawaii is home to more than 50 state and national parks that honor Hawaiian culture and the natural beauty that’s so inherent throughout the state. More than 90% of the the native plants and wildlife that call these protected areas home are found nowhere else on the planet, leaving no doubt that these sites are vital to preserving the natural life in Hawaii.

The Big Island, the first of the Hawaiian islands settled by Polynesian explorers, carries special significance. Home to the greatest and most legendary Ali’i (chiefs) in Hawaiian culture, the Big Island was the headquarters of the Kingdom of Hawaii and evidence of that is present throughout the historical sites around the island’s diverse geographic areas. If you’re planning a trip to the Big Island, here are the parks you should experience to gain a taste of Hawaiian culture and historical perspective during your stay.

Kona Area State & National Parks Page

Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park – An educational and culturally-relevant site offering a glimpse of ancient Hawaiian life.

Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park – Home to the first meeting of Hawaiians and European explorers in 1779. Today, the bay is a popular site for kayaking, scuba diving, and snorkeling.

Kekaha Kai Beach Park – This beautiful beach park contains three different beach areas across a 4.5-mile long trail.

Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park – An important cultural site surrounded by a massive ancient stone wall, that served as a place of refuge for ancient Hawaiians.

Kohala Area State and National Parks Page

Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area – Beautiful white sand beach with picnic areas, showers, bathrooms, and BBQ pits.

Lapakahi State Historical Park – A large park with ancient Hawaiian ruins along a walking path.

Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site – Home to the last major Ancient Hawaiian temple.

Hilo Area State and National Parks Page

Lili’uokalani Park and Gardens – A sprawling, gorgeous park in Hilo with Edo-style Japanese gardens.

Wailoa River State Recreation Area – A quiet 131-acre park near Hilo Bay with cultural sites and picnic tables.

Wailuku River State Park – Home to Rainbow Falls and the nearby Boiling Pots.

Hamakua Area State and National Parks Page

‘Akaka Falls State Park – A self-guided hiking trail that provides access to scenic points and a 442-foot waterfall.

Laupahoehoe Point Beach Park – A small beach park overlooking a lava rock coast with a memorial to victims of the 1946 tsunami.

Kalopa State Recreation Area – Beautiful park with cabin rentals and a hiking trail through a native ‘ohi’a forest.

Puna Area State and National Parks Page

Ahalanui Beach Park – Part natural, part man-made pool connecting to the ocean and fed from a natural hot spring.

Lava Tree State Monument – A short walking trail that rewards visitors with an up-close glimpse of tree trunks preserved by ancient lava flows.

Kau Area State and National Parks Page

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – This famed national park offers a rare opportunity to witness an active volcano at work.

Manuka State Wayside Park – Enjoy the natural beauty of the nearby Manuka Natural Area Reserve.

Punaluu Black Sand Beach Park – A gorgeous black sand beach with frequent turtle visitors.

Ka Lae – South Point – A National Historical Landmark and the southernmost point in the United States.

Whittington Beach State Park and Honuapo Bay – Enjoy a view of the stunning cliffs and hawksbill sea turtles on the beach.


Volcanoes National Park Page

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – This famed national park offers a rare opportunity to witness an active volcano at work.


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