August SPOTLIGHT on the Mountains of Hawaiʻi

Many people associate Hawaiʻi with its tropical water and stunning beaches with swaying palm trees. But every Hawaiian Island offers a unique bonus: some of the most scenic mountain ranges in the world formed by a series of eruptions throughout time.

Mount Wai‘ale‘ale

Kauaʻiʻs highest peak, Kawaikini is found on Mount Wai‘ale‘ale. The mountain name translates to “rippling water,” which is most apparent when staring down from a helicopter into the amphitheater of waterfalls at the crater summit. Over time, Kauaʻi’s waterways have formed deep valleys and coastline cliffs making its mountains some of the most visually dramatic in the world. Its remarkable natural features may be seen when hiking Nounou Mountain, also known as “The Sleeping Giant”, and meandering through its lush botanical gardens. Or, while sailing the stunning Nā Pali Coastline, at the base of Keanapuka Mountain.

Koʻolau Mountain Range

Oʻahu is made up of the Koʻolau Mountain Range along its eastern coast and the Waiʻanae Mountain Range located on its west coast. The Koʻolau Mountain Range features jagged peaks and valleys eroded by time and can be witnessed up close on horseback or a UTV ride, while a gradual incline of the Waiʻanae Mountain Range makes for an easier hike with sweeping coastline views. Several other smaller eruptions helped form the island, one of which created iconic Lē‘ahi or “Diamond Head.”

Munro Trail – Mt. Lānaʻihale

Mauiʻs sister island of Lānaʻi is one of the least mountainous islands. Its highest peak, on the inactive volcano of Mount Lānaʻihale, dims in comparison to the other islands at an elevation of only 3,366 ft. The mountain holds several breathtaking hiking trails offering up views of the entire island, the most popular being Munro Trail.


Hāleakala – “House of the Sun,” makes up the East Maui Mountains and formed more than 75% of the island and stands 10,023 feet above sea level making it one of the best places in the world to watch the sunrise. The West Maui Mountains, Mauna Kahālāwai, is known as “the holding house of water,” with erosion forming dramatic and uniquely shaped peaks. The fertile volcanic soil allows for a multitude of farming including lavender, coconuts, dragon fruit, and more.

Mauna Kea

As the most volcanically active location on Earth, Hawaiʻi Island hosts the youngest land mass and highest summits of all the Hawaiian Islands. It houses both the most massive mountain on Earth (Mauna Loa), as well as the highest mountain from seafloor to summit (Mauna Kea). Both mountains are considered active volcanoes and also receive a considerable amount of snowfall each year. The Kōhala Mountains make up the volcanic range on the northern part of the island, with meandering valleys and towering waterfalls best seen by one of the islandʻs touring helicopters. Hualālai and Kīlauea are the other 2 of 4 active volcanoes. Kīlauea has over 150 miles of trail systems, ranging in difficulty levels that will appease both the most novice and the most experienced of hikers.

When searching for a destination, Hawaiʻi offers the best from its mountains to its beaches, no matter the island!

All photos courtesy of the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority.