Seven Secret Places in Hawaii

By Jeannette Foster
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A beach in Lanai, Hawaii
A beach in Lanai, Hawaii  (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

There’s a Hawaii away from the famous Waikiki Beach. Most visitors never see this side of the islands (and we don’t mean honeymooners who never leave their hotel room). Even some lifelong Hawaii residents have never set foot on these "secret" places. This Hawaii of yesteryear includes a remote valley where kings trace their ancestry, a community hidden off the beaten track, a place where royals were born, a handful of forgotten islands, a 233-acre field of petroglyphs that no one can explain, and even a sacred Hindu temple. We’ve selected seven "secret" places below, but shhh. . . don’t tell anyone.

Valley of Kings
One of the secret places in Hawaii is Waipio Valley on the Big Island. Considered sacred by Hawaiians, this is the place where Hawaii’s kings, including King Kamehameha the Great, trace their ancestry. In fact, a powerful heiau (temple) once sat on Waipio’s black-sand beach, before it was wiped out by a tsunami in the 1400s. The handful of residents who live in the lush, tropical valley, still talk about mysterious "night marchers," or ghosts, who occasionally appear in the valley.

Hidden Huelo
Off the Hana Highway, on the island of Maui, lies a hidden Hawaii of an earlier time, where an indescribable sense of serenity prevails. Hemmed in by Waipio and Hoalua bays is the remote community of Huelo, which means "tail end last." At one time 75,000 lived here; today only a few hundred dwell in the scattered homes. A handful of bed-and-breakfasts and exquisite vacation-rental houses cater to the trickle of travelers who make their way here. Tucked into this forgotten community is the historic 1853 Kaulanapueo Church, a perfect example of New England architecture. This coral-and-cement church, topped with a plantation-green steeple and a gray tin roof, is still in use, although services are held just once or twice a month. It still has the same austere interior of 1853: straight-backed benches, a no-nonsense pulpit for the minister, and nothing on the walls to distract you from the sermon. Next to the church is a small graveyard, an intimate record of village history in concrete and stone.

The Unknown Island
When people think of traveling to Hawaii, they probably don’t think of the island of Lanai. Once a giant pineapple plantation, today the small, rural island has a couple of Four Season Resorts, a quiet way of life, and a relatively uninhabited landscape to explore.

Published: 18 Apr 2012 | Last Updated: 14 Jan 2013
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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