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Unique Attractions in Hawaii

There’s more than just relaxing on the beach and eating exotic food while vacationing in Hawaii. There is a great variety of interesting and unusual activities in the Aloha State. Read the below to find out more about some of the most unique attractions in Hawaii.

Iolani Palace in Honolulu, one of the many unique attractions in Hawaii.

Iolani Palace. Photo by Barry Inouye.

Iolani Palace

Once the throne of Hawaiian royalty, Iolani Palace is the only royal palace in the United States. Iolani Palace was completed in 1882. Its first residence was King Kamehameha III. Sadly, its last was Queen Lilio’ukalani after the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown by an insurgency. Local American businessmen and plantation owners, supported by US military forces, led the revolt in 1893. Iolani Palace later served as the capitol for the provisional government, republic and the territorial and state legislatures until 1969.

The palace, located in downtown Honolulu, was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1962. The palace has undergone extensive restoration. The goal was to bring it back to how it might have looked during the days of the Hawaiian royalty. Since 1978, the palace has served as a museum opened to the public. Advanced reservations are recommended. Only a limited amount of visitors are allowed each day. The visiting hours are from Mondays through Saturdays from 9 am to 4 pm.

Papakolea Green Sand Beach. Photo by Edward Hon.

Papakolea Green Sand Beach

When visiting the Big Island of Hawaii, travelers expect to enjoy tropical greenery. However, they may not be aware of a hidden green wonder that this island has to offer. To get here, you will have to travel on a solitary road to South Point. This is the southernmost tip of not only Hawaii, but of the entire US.

Once you get to end of the paved road, head east. Then hike 2 ½ miles or pay for a private jeep ride to get to Papakolea Beach. This is the only green sand beach in the United States and one of four such beaches in the world.  The sand is green because the area is part of a collapsed cinder cone made from the mineral olivine. Olivine is green in color. This is yet another geological gift that Hawaii offers visitors who are willing to take the beaten path.

Kalaupapa National Historical Park

You can visit this solemn, isolated and historic National Park on the island of Molokai. But getting there can be a challenge. Most people get there by taking a breathtaking 3.5 mile mule ride down one of the steepest sea cliffs in the world.  You can also get there by private air charter. You will need to get permission to visit the park, which can be obtained from the tour operators.

Once you arrive at the settlement, you can visit sites where the famed Catholic priest, Father Damien, ministered to the thousands who were banished here in beginning in the 19th century because they were afflicted with Hansen’s disease, which was once referred to as leprosy.  Father Damien continued to care for sufferers of the disease until he himself succumbed to the disease. For his numerous selfless deeds and for his sacrifices during his time in Kalaupapa, Father Damien was canonized as a saint in 2009. Today, Hansen’s disease has been cured and is no longer the dreaded contagion that had maimed or killed millions throughout history.  Visitors to Kalaupapa are asked to be respectful of the few remaining once afflicted residents who have elected to live the rest of lives in this lonely, but peaceful, place.

Dole Plantation Maze one of the many unique attractions in Hawaii

Dole Plantation. Photo by Barry Inouye.

Dole Plantation Maze

When you think of Dole, you most likely imagine pineapples and bananas, but not a massive maze, but that is in fact what Dole offers in its Dole Plantation facility located right outside of the town of Wahiawa in central Oahu. The maze, which is the world’s largest, offers a fun way to spend with family or friends, walking through the greenery while trying to find your way out. If you are one the fastest to finish the maze, your name will be recorded on a sign at the entrance of the maze.

In addition to the maze, visitors can enjoy wide range of pineapple related drinks, snacks and dessert treats as well as shop for souvenirs. You can view a wide range of pineapple varieties that have been gown in Hawaii in the garden area. There are also a number of train rides that you can take giving you views of the facilities and surrounding fields.


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  • Hawaii's Best 2011
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