Instagram Guide to Hawaii
We’re just going to say it: Hawaii is the most beautiful state in the entire U.S.
Made up entirely of islands in the Pacific Ocean, it provokes daydreams of Mai Tais enjoyed under palm trees as the sunset turns the sky pink and orange, and exploration of natural landscapes so unique they may as well exist on another planet.
Before you pack your floral patterned shirts and sunscreen, check out the top Instagrammable spots in Hawaii, from surfer-friendly breaks to verdant rainforest to stark black-sand beaches.
Let the fantasizing begin.
The North Shore on Oahu
While Honolulu and its vibrant Waikiki Beach get most of the attention on Oahu, the island’s North Shore is equally inviting. Specifically, this is the place to go if you want to watch the best surfers in the world ride waves that average an astonishing 16 feet in height.
Oh, and the sunsets are pretty amazing too.
Waimea Canyon on Kaui
This natural wonder comes by its "Grand Canyon of the Pacific" nickname honestly. Like its more well-known counterpart, Waimea Canyon features a gorge inked in browns and reds, as well as waterfalls and numerous hiking trails.
Unlike the Grand Canyon, it also touts frequent rainbows and the Pacific Ocean stretched out in the distance.
Road to Hana on Maui
The Road to Hana is a short but narrow drive on Maui dotted with fruit stands and food trucks to enjoy along the way. While the journey isn't for the faint of heart, the views of the ocean are unbeatable.
Poipu Beach Park on Kauai
Visit Poipu Beach Park from December to May and you're likely to see a majestic kohola, or humpback whale, off the shoreline. Hawaiian green sea turtles and monk seals also frequently spend their time here.
Even if you don't spot wildlife, you'll still get to experience a color-soaked sunset and sandy beach. So really, you can’t lose.
Matsumoto Shave Ice on Oahu
Shave ice — a cold treat soaked in sweet syrup — is perhaps Hawaii's most beloved local food. It's excellent across the islands, but Matsumoto on the North Shore serves what many consider to be the best (and most photogenic) version.
Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park on the Big Island
You'll find all the trappings of Hawaii's most glorious beaches here, from white sandy shores to sea turtles to bluer-than-blue ocean. But it's the park's intricately crafted warrior sculptures that draw most visitors.
Back in the day, if you reached the shores of this refuge, you'd be protected from punishment for any misdeeds.
Haleakala on Maui
You’ll be captivated watching the sun rise or set from the summit of Haleakala, aka “The House of the Sun.” But a morning jaunt does promise one advantage: You might be able to witness locals crooning a Hawaiin song as the sun comes up.
Punalu'u Beach on the Big Island
Hawaii is famous for its striking black-sand beaches crafted by lava flow, and they don’t come more eye-catching than this. See the volcanic activity that gave Punalu'u its distinctive look at nearby Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Koko Head Summit on Oahu
If you'd like a great workout to go with your Instagram view, consider climbing more than 1,000 stairs at the Koko Head Summit. You'll be rewarded with a panoramic view of Oahu when you reach the top. It's definitely worth the effort.
Pu'u Pehe Sweetheart Rock on Lanai
After snapping a picture at this famously photogenic spot, take a hike or go for a swim. The landmark is situated between Manele and Hulopoe Bay, and is easily accessible via a short hike that starts at the Four Seasons.
Kakaako District on Oahu
This district hosts an incredible arts festival every spring with a name you can’t forget: “Pow! Wow!” The event brings in artists from all over the world, who turn blocks of the urban area into splashy murals that stay up for a year.
Hanalei Valley Lookout on Kauai
Stop along the road at the Hanalei Valley Lookout to see the bright green valley floor, taro fields and, if you’re lucky, a rainbow or two looming above. For good measure, you'll also see the Namolokama mountain standing watch in the background.
Chain of Craters Road on the Big Island
The Chain of Craters Road is part of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, a must-visit on the Big Island that is truly unlike any other national park. The 19-mile long paved road offers coastal views and examples of where lava has flowed over the roadway across the years.
Makena Beach on Maui
Maui has what feels like countless beaches to check out, but Makena Beach, aka Big Beach, is the favorite of many locals and tourists. This mile-long stretch of sand met by blue-green water is quintessential Hawaii, in the best possible way.
Go early in the morning if you want to enjoy a sun-kissed swim before the wind picks up.
Onomea Bay/Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens on the Big Island
With its waterfalls, black-rock beach, palm-tree-shaded hiking trails and expansive views of the Pacific, Onomea Bay fulfills every expectation you have for a scenic Hawaii destination.
The bay, located on the Hamakua Coast, also features the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens, with over 2,000 types of flora. Zoom in for a shot of a brightly colored flower that typifies the Hawaiian landscape.
The Cliffs of Molokai
Molokai is a small, remote Hawaiian island that offers spectacular views of sheer cliffs dropping into the ocean. The natural features were left behind when the island’s two volcanic ranges, East Molokai and West Molokai, collapsed.
Hookipa Beach on Maui
Watch the sunset as monk seals nap at Hookipa Beach. Just make sure to keep your distance, as the species is endangered.
Honolulu Museum of Art on Oahu
In addition to housing stunning pieces of art, the Honolulu Museum of Art is Instagram-worthy itself. Intricate tile work, gardens and sculptures are just a few of the property’s standout features.
Lahaina Banyan Tree on Maui
One of the most charming towns on Maui, if not all of Hawaii, Lahaina features restaurants located directly on sandy shores and historical attractions like a small former prison from the 1850s. But what revelers love most is its banyan tree.
Planted in 1873, the tree looms large over town, and makes for a dramatic backdrop in Insta shots.
Kalaupapa National Historical Park on Molokai
On the oft-overlooked island of Molokai, you'll find this off-the-beaten-path historical park, where you can take a guided tour, camp or ride a mule down 2,000-foot sea cliffs.
Spouting Horn on Kauai
Spouting Horn Beach Park is one of the most visited spots in all of Kaui. When waves crash into the lava tube, water is sent as high as 50 feet into the air, a truly astonishing natural feat.
Akaka Falls on the Big Island
Take a short hike on the northeastern Hilo Coast to see Akaka Falls dropping 442 feet into a deep gorge. On the trek through the rainforested state park it’s named after, you'll also see Kahuna Falls — at 100 feet, not quite as impressive as Akaka, but still striking — alongside bamboo, orchids and ferns.
Waikiki Beach on Oahu
While people often complain that Waikiki Beach is too crowded, you can beat the masses by visiting in the early morning. Plus, this beach on the south shore of Honolulu is beloved for a reason: It’s gorgeous.
Napali Coast on Kauai
You've likely seen photos of the Napali Coast all over Instagram. But what you might not know is that one of the best ways to see this state park is via helicopter. Gaze upon sea cliffs, streams, waterfalls and beaches from the sky, enjoying a new perspective on one of the most photographed places on Earth.
Waipio Valley on the Big Island
You might recognize the Waipio Valley from the ending of the cult-classic movie “Waterworld.” The abundant valley is home to epic waterfalls and captivating black-sand beaches. And rainbows are also, but of course, a common occurrence.
Kualoa Ranch Jurassic Valley on Oahu
The Kualoa Ranch Jurassic Valley has everything you could want for an adventurous day out, from ziplines to horseback riding to rough-and-tumble ATV tours. You'll recognize the Ka'a'awa Valley on the ranch from its role in “Jurassic Park,” “Lost” and “Hawaii Five-0.”
Diamond Head on Oahu
For views of the Pacific Ocean and Honolulu, head to Diamond Head State Monument. The park is one of Hawaii's most popular and picturesque spots. It is equally stunning from afar, as shown in the photo above from the Queen Kapiolani Hotel, where Diamond Head meets Waikiki.
Anini Beach on Kauai
If you find yourself on Kauai, make sure to check out Anini Beach on the north shore. From here, you can see one of Hawaii’s largest coral reefs, protected by unusually calm waters.
The island is also famous for its windsurfing, should you be in the mood for a more thrilling experience.
Pipiwai Trail on Maui
Waterfalls and cliff-side views of the ocean wow, but the real star of this trail is its bamboo forest, featuring stalks that tower over tourists who wander through.
Waikolu Valley Lookout on Molokai
Check out the deep ravine in Molokai's rainforest at the Waikolu Valley Lookout. On a clear day, you'll see the ocean in the distance. After a rainstorm, you'll see waterfalls.
Wailea Beach on Maui
Don't be shocked if you see a celebrity on this wide beach flanked by several high-end resorts. From the sand, you can sometimes see the smaller islands of Kaho’olawe, Molokini and Lanai. During the winter you might spot whales from the shoreline.
Lanai City on Lanai
Lanai City used to be the center of the pineapple industry, at one point producing 75% of the fruit consumed worldwide. Nowadays, you'll find shops, restaurants, galleries, cultural centers and local businesses in the bustling city.
Go here to connect with locals in a part of Hawaii not yet overrun by tourists.
The Ritz-Carlton Residences on Oahu
Influencers and more casual Instagrammers alike make their way to this uber-posh property for pics of its adult-only infinity pool, perched above the sea.
Keahiakawelo on Lanai
Pass by boulders, spires and rock towers at this rock garden that also touts sweeping ocean views. Go at sunset to see the rocks painted in vivid shades of orange, red and purple.
They don't call this "Garden of the Gods" for nothing.
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve on Oahu
Enjoy sandy beaches surrounded by verdant green cliffs at this picture-perfect nature reserve. Rumor has it that Hawaiin royalty loved using the bay for fishing and relaxing in the 1800s.