As America's only island state, Hawaii gets a lot of tourist attraction for its gorgeous scenery, unique geological formations, and tropical climates. Although some of the most beautiful natural attractions take some work to reach, they are well worth the effort. On your next student trip, you don't want to miss seeing these incredible sights that are only available in Hawaii. Aloha!
Hawaii Volcanoes National ParkThis Pacific archipelago is home to five volcanoes, two of which are active and situated on this massively scenic, incredibly rich park. A day or two spent in the park is recommended to get the full experience but if you only have a few hours, spend it at the summit of Kilauea volcano, the most active volcano that shaped much of Hawaii's Big Island. For longer visits, explore the 20 mile long Chain of Craters Road where you can see the East Rift ending where lava flows crossed the road back in 2003. Take a hike through lush forests down into burned and desolate remnants of volcanic activity and witness flowing lava with your own eyes.
Haleakala National Park
Covering a massive 33,265 acres, Haleakala has more than just one natural wonder worth visiting. If you're up for the four mile hike, take the popular Pipiwai Trail through bamboo forests to Waimoku Falls, a 400 foot waterfall that consistently ranks as the most beautiful in all of Hawaii. The unreal sights don't end there. Continue on the trails to Oheo Gulch, often misidentified as the Seven Sacred Pools. Seven gorgeous clear-water pools fed by waterfalls hide within dense bamboo forests where you can take a swim before heading on to the dormant Haleakala volcano. Also called the East Maui Volcano, Haleakala is now but a crater with magnificent views of the valley, especially when the area is covered in early morning fog as the sun rises over the horizon. Come at night, too, for the sunset and stay to stargaze for an incredibly clear picture of the Milky Way.
The highest peak in Hawaii, Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano that is considered to be the most sacred in the native Hawaiian religion. Meaning "White Mountain," Mauna Kea's snow-capped peak is the perfect, high altitude location for stargazing. Climb or ride to the summit and visit the Mauna Kea Observatory for a fun afternoon adventure, have a picnic on the mountainside and then explore the volcano's crater. See the sunset light up the sky with brilliant pinks and purples, watch as the Milky Way seems to move like clouds above your head, and understand why this ancient creation was so sacred to native Hawaiians.
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
Crystal blue and turquoise waters fill this crescent-shaped bay with an abundance of tropical fish, making the area one of the best for snorkeling. Not only can you easily observe hundreds of fish and marine creatures in the waters, Hanauma Bay is one of the most beautiful beaches in the state. Sunbathe, swim, and relax in the laid-back atmosphere of beautiful Oahu. Remember that this is a nature preserve and not a "recreational beach" so rangers expect visitors to be respectful of their efforts to restore the area to its natural, pristine conditions.
Na Pali Coast
Located along the northwest side of Kauai, much of the state park is inaccessible by land. Boating provides the best views of the massive, cathedral cliffs that make this coastline unique. However, for advanced - or ambitious hikers with impressive stamina - the Kalalau Trail is an 11 mile hike through waterfalls and lush valleys down to Hanakapi'ai Beach which is only visible and accessible during the summer months. Whether you go by land or sea, the views of the Na Pali Coast are magnificent in the extreme.
Maha'ulepu Heritage Trail
The highest rated attraction on Kauai, the Maha'ulepu Heritage Trail leads you from Shipwreck Beach Keoneloa Bay to Kawailoa Bay on Kauai's southern coastline. While the terrain is relatively flat and doesn't provide those high altitude views like Mauna Kea and the Na Pali Coast, Maha'ulepu offers you views of the cerulean seas, Hawaiian vegetation, lush forests, volcanic rocks, and even old ruins. Sea turtles are often visible in the water below your trails as are the endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal and whales. This trail is remote but relatively easy with cultural and historical attractions hidden within native Hawaiian flora and fauna.
Roughly thirteen miles long and over 3,000 feet deep, Waimea Canyon is often called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Colorful vegetation and rock formations spruce up this chasm to create the ultimate picturesque environment. You may find yourself staring at the sensational vistas for hours on end. Several hiking trails lead you through the natural landscapes for added views though the canyon is accessible by car via Waimea Canyon Drive.
Hawaii is paradise on earth with hundreds of opportunities for adventurous students. Like nowhere else in the U.S., the islands of Hawaii offer everything from wildlife reserves filled with tropical fish to active volcanoes and sacred sites hidden within bamboo forests. Whether you're in Hawaii for a class trip, graduation getaway, or family vacation, you don't want to miss out on the unreal natural surroundings waiting for you.