10 Hawaiian Towns and Neighborhoods You Should Visit

Haleakala National Park
Kula is the spot in Maui where travelers can catch some awesome views of the Haleakala volcano. // Photo by StevenGaertner/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

In honor of the Fourth of July holiday, we've rounded up stories on top destinations nationwide. 

Most Hawaii travelers are pretty familiar with the Aloha State’s major islands for tourism. But not everyone knows every hidden gem located in each of these island’s coolest towns and neighborhoods. 

In an effort to promote more experiential travel within Hawaii, the Hawaii Tourism United States (HTUSA) breaks down some towns and neighborhoods on the islands of Hawaii Island, Kauai, OahuMaui, Molokai and Lanai with hopes of driving more Millennials to the destination. 

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Here’s what you need to know about each:

The Island of Hawaii

Hawi

On your way to the famed Pololu Valley Lookout, be sure to stop and explore the quiet haven of Hawi. Perhaps best known as the bicycle turnaround for the annual IRONMAN World Championship before triathletes pedal back south to Kona, this historic town, located on the northernmost tip of the island, is home to homespun boutiques and lively restaurants, as well as exciting outdoor adventure activities like farm tours, kayak tours, zip lining, ATV tours, and the original Kamehameha I statue.

Hilo

Brimming with local flavors and culture, residents of this midsize bayside city love its tasty multiethnic comfort foods, diverse attractions, rainforest escapes into nature and accessible waterfalls, as well as the state’s largest farmers market.

Kauai

Koloa

This appealing town on Kauai’s south shore honors its sugar plantation past with restored, old-fashioned storefronts, the quaint Koloa History Center and the annual Koloa Plantation Days Celebration each July. Also, be sure to hit up the Koloa Heritage Trail, a 14-stop, self-guided 10-mile tour of the Koloa and Poipu area’s most important cultural, historical and geological sites.

Hanapepe

Affectionately known as “Kauai’s Biggest Little Town,” Hanapepe’s historic buildings are home to a small collection of enchanting cafes and local eateries offering a diverse array of culinary delights. Craving a Hawaiian plate lunch? Or perhaps authentic Mexican tacos? You’ll have a number of options to ponder while admiring the many artisan galleries scattered throughout this west Kauai town.

Oahu

Haleiwa

On Oahu, visitors can experience both town and country with vibrant Honolulu and the famous North Shore, known for big waves and trendy food trucks. The first stop along the North Shore is the historic surf town of Haleiwa, filled with local style and country ambiance, as well as cool surf shops and boutiques, charming art galleries and restaurants housed in plantation-era buildings. Home to some of the most world’s biggest surf competitions, there are also a number of art and cultural festivals held throughout the year.

Kaimuki

Urban explorers searching the streets just outside of Waikiki for food, drinks and interesting stuff should head mauka (towards the mountain) and past Leahi (Diamond Head) to the eclectic Honolulu neighborhood of Kaimuki. From all manner of appealing bakeries and healthy cafes to craft brew pubs and trend-setting eateries big on international inspiration, this walkable hood offers plenty for the foodie.

Maui

Kula

An authentically rustic district ascending the west slope of Haleakala volcano, Kula is where much of the fresh, grown-on-Maui produce served at the island’s best farm-to-table restaurants originates. While in Kula, reserve a spot on a farm tour at Surfing Goat Dairy, Hawaii Sea Spirits Organic Farm and Distillery, Alii Kula Lavender, MauiWine or other area producers. Inns and bed and breakfasts, such as G&Z Upcountry, allow guests to fully enjoy everything Kula has to offer.

Wailuku

Located at the foot of the West Maui Mountains, this relaxed residential town is known for its locally beloved assortment of family-owned cafes, restaurants and bakeries. In addition to these mom-and-pop eateries, Wailuku is also home to an assortment of contemporary bistros and coffee cafes offering a robust array of eats and drinks popular with both visitors and residents.

Molokai

Kaunakakai

Travelers looking to explore Hawaii at an even calmer pace will feel right at home in this central Molokai town, which, despite appearances, is also the island’s largest. To walk Kaunakakai’s main street, Ala Malama Avenue, is to take a step back in time, exploring its weathered West-style storefronts and mom-and-pop stores.

Lanai

Lanai City

Founded in the early 1900s as a plantation town whose residents worked for the island’s then nascent pineapple industry, Lanai City remains the island’s residential gathering place with most of its shops, restaurants and business forming a town square around Dole Park. Though pineapple production on Lanai ended in 1992, the island once produced 75 percent of the world’s pineapples. But be sure to bring a light sweater as you explore the town. Situated at an elevation of 1,700 feet, Lanai City is noticeably cooler than coastal areas of the island.  

Visit www.gohawaii.com and keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for all your latest travel news. Be sure to follow Travel Agent’s Joe Pike on Twitter @TravelPike and Instagram @pike5260.

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