Rent a Car with Hawaii Discount – Save Money by Visiting these Landmarks on Your Own
By: Hawaii Tours
Date: May 18, 2020
Many visitors traveling to Hawaii are on a budget and do not have the means to do many of the tours and activities the island has to offer. This does not mean you will not be able to see everything the island has to offer. A lot of Hawaiian landmarks and attractions are open to the public and either at no cost or a very low cost. In this the case we highly recommend renting a car and visiting these places on your own. You can rent straight from Hawaii Discount an Alamo rental at a great price offering weekly and daily rates! Listed below are some of our favorite places to visit on each island.
Kalalau Lookout and Trail – Experience views of the 2 mile wide Kalalau Valley and the Na Pali Coast. This location has been home to many movie scenes as well. It serves as the highest elevation point in Kauai that is reachable by car at 4,000 feet. If you would like to visit the beach or the valley it unfortunately is only accessible by the Kalalau Trail. The Kalalau Trail is the most visited and used trail in Hawaii and it is located in the Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park. The trail is defiantly not recommended for beginners as it is a challenging 11 mile hike. No admission costs.
Queens Bath – In Princeville there is a unique tide pool surrounded by rock named the Queens Bath. The town of Princeville was name after Prince Albert and his mother was Queen Emma, who they named this landmark after. It is said it was a place where the royalty went to relax and destress. All it takes is a short 20 minute hike. This location is very dangerous and we do not recommend swimming here. The hike itself can also be relatively strenuous if you are not an avid hiker, only because it can be very slippery when the rocks are wet. No admission costs.
Waimea Canyon State Park – Located on the southwest side of the island this “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” is approximately 10 miles long and roughly 3,000 feet deep. Waimea Canyon got its name from the erosion of the red soil. Waimea is Hawaiian for “reddish water”. There is so much to see here from four main lookouts and trails including deep gorges, rugged cliffs and panoramic views. The lookouts are Waimea Canyon Lookout, Puu Hinahina Lookout, Kalalau Lookout and Puu o Kila and the trails are Cliff Trail, Canyon Trail, Black Pipe Trail and Kukui Trail. No admission costs.
Wailua Falls - This popular waterfall on Kauai is approximately 173 feet tall however the cascades themselves are only about 85 feet tall. It is located on the south end of the Wailua River near Lihue and very easily accessible. You can see the falls right off from the parking lot or you can take one of several trails to get a closer view. The trails do tend to be a little steep and wet in some areas so we do advise you to be careful if taking a closer look as they can be very slippery. The falls have been made famous by the old television show, Fantasy Island. No admission cost.
Banzai Pipeline / North Shore Beaches – Known to many as Pipeline or just Pipe, it is one of the most popular surfing beaches in Hawaii. Its name originated from a nearby construction site in the early 60’s where they were working on an underground pipeline and Banzai Beach that it’s located off of. The location is famous for its huge waves that break in shallow water right at dangerous reefs. The waves typically form thick curls of water that surfers ride inside. It is only recommended for experienced surfers as many have been killed or severely injured here trying to tackle the waves. Average size waves are anywhere between 9 and 20 feet and have even gotten as high as 40 feet! Even if you are not surfing the waves it is an amazing beach and site to see. Also be sure to check out some of the other nearby beaches such as Waimea Bay, Pupukea Beach and Sunset Beach. No admission cost.
Byodo-In Temple – The temple which means “Temple of Equality” is located in Valley of the Temples Memorial Park and is a non-practicing Buddhist temple. It welcomes people of all faiths to visit, worship or mediate. It was originally built to commemorate the 100th year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants and is a replica of the nearly 1,000 year old temple in Japan. Located outside the temple is a three ton brass peace bell. It is customary for visitors to ring the bell prior to entering the temple to grant them happiness and longevity. There is a small entrance fee of $4 per person and cash only. Hours are from 8:30am to 5pm daily.
Diamond Head – Diamond Head is and old dormant 400,000 year old crater located in Honolulu. British soldiers thought that the calcite crystals on the nearby beaches were diamonds and that’s how Diamond Head got its name. It was also known as Hawaii’s first U.S. military reservation and was used as a military lookout. Many visitors like to hike to the top of Diamond Head to see the 360 degree views of Oahu’s South Shore. The trail scales the inside of the crater for approximately .6 miles. There are roughly about 150 steps total to get to the WWII bunker and the summit. It is a moderately strenuous hike and not recommended for anyone not capable of walking on uneven terrain. Admission is $5 per car. Hours are 6am to 6pm.
Halona Blowhole and Beach Cove – The Halona Blowhole was formed from old volcanic eruptions creating lava tubes. The tube is located right on the shore line so that when waves hit the water is forced out of the tube like a geyser. The waters can be quite violent and when strong currents and big waves hit it can cause the water to shoot out as high as 30 feet in the air. This can all be viewed from the convenient lookout right above. Also at this location is the Halona Beach Cove made famous by the iconic romance scene in the movie From Here to Eternity and Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides. No admission cost.
Haleakala National Park – Haleakala means “House of the Sun” in Hawaiian and legend is that the demigod Maui stood on the mountains summit and lassoed the sun to slow down the day and make it last longer and only releasing it when the sun promised to slow down. Many visitors travel to the summit of 10,023 feet to catch the Maui sunrise and even sunsets. Please note if you do plan to see the sunrise without a tour group you will need to make a reservation with the park service. At the summit there are rock gardens and red desert like landscapes that many say resemble Mars. Closer to the coastal side near Hana there are wilderness with lush waterfalls and streams. Admission is $10 per car.
Road to Hana /Hana Highway – The Hana Highway is approximately a 65 mile stretch of roads that connects Kahului to Hana. The drive is very narrow and windy with 620 curves and passes over 59 bridges (46 one lane bridges). It is recommended for experienced drivers and to drive at own risk. There are many lookouts, waterfalls and roadside stands/ general stores along the way. We do suggest planning out your day before starting your scenic drive as this will help aid in knowing where to stop for the scenic locations and landmarks. The drive itself without stops can take about 2.5 hours. Depending on how many stops you add to your drive it can extend the duration an additional 6 to 9 hours on average. No admission cost.
Iao Valley State Park – The Iao Needle is a high peak that spikes about 1,200 feet in the air from the lush valley floor. It was created by millions of years of erosion from surrounding rock. The inaccessible cliffs in the valley of this sacred ground were used as a burial site for Hawaiian royalty. Iao Valley is easily accessible to get to and once there easy to navigate with the paved walkways and markers. It is said to be the second wettest place in Hawaii receiving an inch of rain per day! Admission is $5 per car. Hours are 7am to 5:30pm.
Lahaina Banyan Court Park – In 1873 on the 50th anniversary of the first Protestant mission in Lahaina a banyan tree seeding was planted. It was planted by the sheriff who received it as a gift from the missionaries in India. The banyan tree is a type of fig tree and native to India. Now it is the largest banyan tree in all of the United States standing at approximately 60 feet and with over 15 trunks! No admission cost.
Mauna Kea – Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano but still considered active due to the fact that it will erupt again but hasn’t in 4,000 years. It rises 4,207 feet above sea level and the highest point in the state and is considered the tallest mountain in the world if measured from its underwater point. Even though Hawaii is considered a tropical location you can often find snow on top of the mountain, especially in the winter months. Many Hawaiians believe that the peaks of both Mauna Kea and its neighbor Mauna Loa are sacred. In Hawaiian mythology the summit was considered “the region of the gods” and a place where spirits roam. Unfortunately it is also one of the best sites in the world for astronomical observation. Since an access road was built to get to the summit 13 telescopes and observation facilities have been built. It is one of the clearest locations of the night sky and is very popular for star gazing. The Onizuka Center has free nightly stargazing sessions from 6pm to 10pm. No admission cost.
Rainbow Falls – Located at the Wailuku River State Park the Wailuku River pours off a cliff into a pool known as Rainbow Falls. It received its names from the many rainbows seen off the falls on sunny mornings. The falls are approximately 80 feet tall and drop over a large lava cave that is said to be the home of the ancient Hawaiian goddess Hina, the goddess of the moon. No admission cost.
Volcano National Park – This is home to two out of four of the most recent active volcanoes on the island, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Most recently Kilauea had large of amounts of activity in 2018 creating many changes to the nearby areas and the park itself. The park has a few different highlights to give you the full experience. We do recommend visiting the Kilauea Visitor Center first to help plan your day and pick up maps. One of the more popular sites is the Halemaumau Crater, home to Pele the volcano goddess. For ten years this crater was filled with a lake of lava that disappeared after the eruption in 2018. The best location to see the crater and the steam vents is from the Volcano House. The Crater Rim Drive is about a 10 mile drive that circles around Kilauea and to the other main attractions like the Puu Puai Overlook, Devastation Trail and Kilauea Iki Crater Overlook. Admission is $30 per car and is valid for 7 days.
Waipi’o Valley Lookout – Known as “The Valley of the Kings” the Waipi’o Valley was the boyhood home of King Kamehameha I and thousands of other Hawaiians. Today there are only about 100 residents living in the valley. It was named after the river that runs through the valley. The valley is off the Hamakua coast and is one mile across and about six miles deep with cliffs up to 2000 feet high. It is home to Hawaii’s tallest waterfall of 1300 feet called the Hiilawe Falls. If you are up to a hike there is a trail that will take you from the lookout and into the valley to the black sand beach. No admission cost.
There are many other landmarks and activities to do around the islands and we do suggest researching what best suits the interests of you and your party. Some locations we did not mention such as Pearl Harbor or Hanauma Bay on Oahu because these can be done with a tour group or activity agent on a budget and we do recommend doing so. Hawaii Discount is welcome to offer any assistance for those looking for inexpensive and budget friendly activities.