National Parks, Monuments and Historical Sites in Hawaii


Lava flowing to the sea at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park by Barry Inouye.

Travel agents, tell your clients not to forget to bring their National Park pass along with them (assuming they already have one) on their next trip to the Aloha State. In fact, the number one attraction in Hawaii is the Valor in the Pacific National Memorial on Oahu, of which the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor is now a part of. But also, if they head out to Maui, Molokai and the Big Island, there are a number of great national parks, monuments and historical sites they can visit. Here’s an overview of such places administered by the National Park Services in the Aloha State that your customers can and should see.

Haleakalā National Park – This national park on Maui covers all of the summit area and the east side of Haleakala volcano. The 10,000 foot summit area showcases a huge spectacular sometimes cloud-filled crater which could hold the entire island of Manhattan in New York City and offers spectacular views of east Maui, Kaho’olawe and the Big Island. Here on the summit, one can find the endangered and endemic silversword plant and the nene goose, which is Hawaii’s state bird. On Haleakala’s eastern lower slopes you can visit the idyllic Seven Sacred Pools area that offers view of picturesque waterfalls and serenely beautiful swimming holes.

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park – This national park on the Bid Island of Hawaii features what is known to be the world’s most active volcano, Kilauea, which has been continuously erupting since 1983 and is according to Hawaiian legend the home of Pele, the goddess of fire. Some highlights of the park include views of Kilauea crater and its Halemaumau caldera, a walk through rainforests to the ancient Thurston Lava Tube and close-up views of red-hot lava flowing to the sea. Mauna Loa, which is also an active volcano, the largest volcano on earth as well as the world’s highest mountain when measured from its base on the sea floor, is also part of this uniquely special national park.

Kalaupapa National Historical Park – This national historical park, located on an extremely isolated peninsula on the island of Molokai, preserves the compelling history of the banishment of over 8,000 people afflicted with what used to be called leprosy and now referred to as Hanse’s disease. Kalaupapa was the home of two recently canonized Catholic Saints, Father Damien and Sister Marian Cope, who dedicated their lives in administering to those who were afflicted with his once deadly disease. Kalaupapa is still home to a few remaining residents who once had but are now cured of Hansen’s disease, but still choose to live here.

Honouliuli National Monument – This is newly declared national monument is located on the island of Oahu and is still in the process of being further restored and developed by the National Park Service. This monument will tell about the experiences of the unjust internment of American citizens in Hawaii during World War II in an effort to prevent such actions from ever happening again in America.

Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park – This historical park tells the story of how the ancient Hawaiians skillfully built fishponds and fish traps while using their knowledge of the land to locate and carefully use fresh water sources to survive in this hot and arid Kona area of the Big Island. Here you can still see the remnants of those fish ponds and fish traps as well as petroglyphs left by those people.

Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park – This park located next to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island preserves a very sacred and ancient Hawaiian site where those who had broken a kapu, or sacred law, or was a defeated warrior could seek refuge. One could be spared from punishment or death by entering the Pu’uhonua, or place of refuge, before they were apprehended. Here you can still see the massive stonewall structures which protected the refugees from their pursuers.

Pu`ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site – This is of the last major heiaus or temples built in Hawaii and was constructed in the late 1700s by Kamehameha the Great, one of the greatest leaders in Hawaiian history. The heiau was built of stones laid to exacting specifications by thousands of men to fulfill a condition of a prophecy through which Kamehameha would be able to conquer and rule all of the Hawaiian Islands. It must have worked because Kamehameha was able to do just that.

World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument – The Hawaii section of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, which preserves and interprets the stories of the war in the Pacific, can be found on the island of Oahu, as previously noted, in the form of the Arizona Memorial. There are exhibits, a movie and a boat tour to sunken remains of the historic battleship, Arizona, in Pearl Harbor. The other sections of the monument can be found at various battles sites in Alaska and at a war time relocation camp in Northern California.

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