Hawaii, the Aloha State, is renowned for its stunning beaches, rich culture, and lush landscapes. However, beyond the tropical paradise, Hawaii harbors a lesser-known side – a trove of abandoned places. These places, steeped in history and sometimes shrouded in mystery, offer a different kind of adventure for those looking to explore off the beaten path. From deserted military installations to remnants of old sugar plantations, the abandoned places in Hawaii are windows into the past that tell the tales of the islands’ heritage and evolution.
Note: Many of these locations are in an extremely delicate state. Specifics on locations, such as coordinates or maps, are not given. This is done so purposefully as a barrier to entry to those who may mean harm to these spots. I want to ensure that these abandoned places in Hawaii are known about, but stay as vandalism and destruction free as possible. Remember: Take only photos, leave only footprints.
Breakdown: The Top 10 and More
If you have a specific location from the list below that you would like to immediately get more information about, click the links in the list to snap straight to that abandoned places in Hawaii location.
- Coco Palms Resort (Kapaa)
- Old Koloa Sugar Mill (Koloa)
- Haiku Stairs (Kaneohe)
- King Kamehameha’s Summer Palace (Nuuanu Valley)
- Corsair Plane Wreck (Honolulu)
- Kualoa Sugar Mill Ruins (Kaaawa)
- Ka‘ena Point Satellite Tracking Station (Ka‘ena Point)
- Abandoned WWII Bunkers (Kualoa Ranch)
- Paradise Park (Manoa)
- Waialee Home for Wayward Boys (Waialee)
Broaden Your Horizons Beyond Hawaii
Are you interested in venturing outside the state of Hawaii? Maybe you live close to the state line, or maybe you’re just looking for adventures outside your home state. Whatever the case may be, here are some guides to easy-to-fly-to states that may be helpful in effective urban exploration:
Don’t Forget About Trespassing Laws
It is important when considering abandoned places in Hawaii to know the basics of Hawaii trespassing laws. Luckily, we have developed a massive guide to trespassing laws in all 50 states. For laws that specifically relate to Hawaii, please click here.
Without any further ado, let’s hop into the list of abandoned places!
The Best Abandoned Places in Hawaii
Coco Palms Resort (Kapaa)
The Coco Palms Resort, situated on the east side of Kauai in Kapaa, was once a jewel among Hawaiian resorts. Established in the 1950s, it was celebrated for its Polynesian-style architecture, lush gardens, and iconic coconut grove, which is believed to be the largest in the state. Coco Palms quickly grew in fame, attracting Hollywood celebrities and even serving as the backdrop for the Elvis Presley movie, “Blue Hawaii”.
However, in 1992, Hurricane Iniki struck the island, and the resort sustained significant damage. Despite various attempts to renovate and reopen the property, it has remained abandoned. Over the years, the grounds have become overgrown and the buildings have fallen into disrepair.
Yet, Coco Palms Resort still captures the imagination of many, as its weathered structures offer a haunting and nostalgic glimpse into the heyday of Hawaiian tourism.
Old Koloa Sugar Mill (Koloa)
Nestled in the town of Koloa on the southern coast of Kauai, the Old Koloa Sugar Mill is a testament to Hawaii’s sugar plantation history. In 1835, the Koloa Plantation became the first successful large-scale sugar plantation in Hawaii.
The Old Koloa Sugar Mill was its operational hub, with its massive machinery processing sugarcane into sugar. For over a century, the sugar industry played a pivotal role in the islands’ economy and culture. However, with the decline of the sugar industry in the late 20th century, the Koloa Sugar Mill ceased operations.
Today, the towering smokestack and the mill’s ruins are visible reminders of this bygone era. Although the buildings are not open to the public, there is a nearby Heritage Trail where visitors can explore the historical landmarks of Koloa town and learn about the area’s rich history.
Haiku Stairs (Kaneohe)
Haiku Stairs, also known as the Stairway to Heaven, is a series of nearly 4,000 steps that ascend the Ko’olau Range in Kaneohe, on the island of Oahu. The stairs were originally constructed during World War II for military personnel to access a radio station antennae atop the mountains.
In the 1950s, the wooden steps were replaced with metal ones, and the trail was opened to the public for a period of time. The Stairway to Heaven became popular among adventurers and thrill-seekers for the breathtaking views of Windward Oahu from the summit. However, the stairs were officially closed to the public in 1987 due to safety concerns and maintenance costs.
Despite this, many hikers have continued to attempt the challenging and often treacherous ascent, even facing fines if caught. There have been numerous discussions about the future of Haiku Stairs, including proposals for restoration or removal, but its fate remains uncertain. As it stands, the Haiku Stairs offer an alluring and mysterious piece of history that is entwined with the natural beauty of Hawaii.
King Kamehameha’s Summer Palace (Nuuanu Valley)
King Kamehameha III’s Summer Palace, also known as Kaniakapupu Palace, is situated in the serene Nuuanu Valley on the island of Oahu. It was built in the early 1840s and served as a retreat for King Kamehameha III and Queen Kalama. The palace was a place for relaxation and entertainment, and it also played host to large gatherings and celebrations, including the first Hawaiian national holiday, La Hoihoi Ea (Restoration Day) in 1847.
However, with the passage of time, Kaniakapupu fell into disuse and was eventually abandoned. Today, only the ruins remain, with the stone walls slowly being reclaimed by the surrounding forest. While it is not open for public tours, it is sometimes possible to catch a glimpse of the ruins from the nearby trails.
The site holds great historical significance, representing an important period in Hawaiian history, and is considered sacred by many native Hawaiians.
Corsair Plane Wreck (Honolulu)
An undersea marvel like no other, the Corsair Plane Wreck rests in the crystal-clear waters near Honolulu, offering a unique diving spot for adventurous explorers. The wreck is a haunting remnant of a WWII era F4U Corsair fighter plane that was intentionally ditched into the ocean during a training flight in 1946, owing to an engine failure. The pilot survived, but the aircraft found its final resting place 115 feet underwater.
Lying off the coast of Oahu, the dive site can be accessed by a short boat ride from Maunalua Bay in Hawaii Kai. The aircraft, over time, has become a part of the underwater ecosystem. Despite its watery grave, the plane remains remarkably well-preserved, its fuselage still intact with discernible details such as the cockpit and engine visible to divers.
Beneath the azure waters, the wreckage forms a silhouette against the shifting ocean light, creating an ethereal and strangely beautiful sight. It’s an aquatic graveyard teeming with marine life—colorful reef fish, green sea turtles, eagle rays, and occasionally, white tip reef sharks are known to frequent the area.
Exploring the Corsair Plane Wreck offers a truly unique adventure for divers, merging historical exploration with the fascinating world of marine biodiversity. Amidst the eerie quietude of the underwater world, one can almost hear echoes of the plane’s past, lending an intriguing blend of history and natural beauty.
Kualoa Sugar Mill Ruins (Kaaawa)
Located in the picturesque Kaaawa Valley on the island of Oahu, the Kualoa Sugar Mill was one of the early sugar mills in Hawaii. The Kualoa Sugar Mill began operations in the 1860s, and like many other sugar mills of the era, played a significant role in the local economy. Kualoa’s natural beauty and lush greenery provided an ideal setting for the cultivation of sugarcane.
However, due to various factors including water shortages and economic challenges, the mill closed down in the late 19th century. Today, the remnants of the mill, including parts of the old stone structures and machinery, lie amid the scenic landscape.
The site is now part of the Kualoa Ranch, a popular destination known for its outdoor activities and Hollywood filming locations. Visitors to Kualoa Ranch can take guided tours that pass by the ruins, and learn about the history of the sugar plantation and the cultural significance of the area.
Ka‘ena Point Satellite Tracking Station (Ka‘ena Point)
Situated on the rugged western tip of Oahu, the Ka‘ena Point Satellite Tracking Station was once a critical component of the United States’ satellite tracking network during the Cold War. Established in the early 1960s, the station was built to track satellites and support missile tests. Its remote location made it ideal for tracking operations, as it minimized interference from other signals.
However, as technology evolved and satellite tracking became more sophisticated, the need for such stations diminished. The Ka‘ena Point Satellite Tracking Station was eventually decommissioned in the 1980s.
Today, the remnants of the station, including dilapidated buildings and satellite dishes, are a haunting reminder of a tense period in world history. The area surrounding Ka‘ena Point is a designated Natural Area Reserve and is home to various native species and stunning natural beauty. Hikers and explorers visiting the abandoned tracking station can also experience the breathtaking views and wildlife at Ka‘ena Point.
Abandoned WWII Bunkers (Kualoa Ranch)
Kualoa Ranch, located on the windward side of Oahu, is not only famous for its picturesque landscapes but also for the abandoned World War II bunkers situated within its grounds. During World War II, Kualoa Ranch’s strategic location made it an ideal site for military installations to protect against potential attacks. The military constructed bunkers, pillboxes, and other fortifications in the area.
Today, these WWII bunkers remain scattered across the ranch, some of them nestled into the hillsides. The bunkers are an evocative reminder of the wartime history and the military’s presence in Hawaii. Inside the bunkers, you can find rooms that once housed troops, ammunition, and equipment.
Some of the bunkers at Kualoa Ranch have been repurposed to house movie memorabilia, as the ranch is also a popular filming location for Hollywood films. Visitors can take guided tours through the ranch, which include visits to the WWII bunkers and an opportunity to learn about the historical significance of these installations.
Paradise Park (Manoa)
Tucked away in the lush, verdant valley of Manoa on the island of Oahu, the remnants of Paradise Park paint a vivid picture of a paradise lost. Established in the 1960s as a botanical garden and bird sanctuary, the 20-acre park was an oasis showcasing Hawaii’s native flora and fauna. Visitors could stroll through an impressive aviary, marvel at the vibrant peacocks strutting freely, and appreciate the variety of tropical plants.
To reach the location, you must take a hike through the Manoa Falls Trailhead and veer off the main path into a dense bamboo forest. There you’ll discover the overgrown remnants of the park, now long abandoned and slowly being reclaimed by nature.
Although the park closed its doors in the late 1990s, what remains of Paradise Park today is a melancholy tableau of overgrown vegetation intertwined with fading man-made structures. Traces of ornate bird cages, stone paths, and scattered remnants of the once bustling tourist spot can still be found, providing a silent testament to its former glory.
Despite its somber atmosphere, the site presents a unique exploration opportunity. The echoes of bird calls, the rustle of leaves, and the breathtaking backdrop of the surrounding mountains offer an almost surreal experience. Nature’s reclamation of Paradise Park, although sad in its abandonment, represents the relentless resilience of Hawaii’s native ecosystem.
Waialee Home for Wayward Boys (Waialee)
Situated in the town of Waialee on Oahu’s North Shore, the Waialee Home for Wayward Boys, also known as Waialee Industrial School, is a haunting relic of Hawaii’s past. Established in the late 19th century as a reformatory school, the institution aimed to teach delinquent boys vocational skills like farming, carpentry, and mechanics.
The site is located off Kamehameha Highway, camouflaged by a curtain of dense tropical vegetation. The school closed in the 1940s, and nature has since begun to reclaim the site, with its overgrown paths and crumbling buildings now serving as a solemn reminder of its history.
Exploring the remnants of the school, one can find vestiges of dormitories, a cafeteria, a gymnasium, and various other structures slowly succumbing to the elements. While the structures are weather-worn and decayed, they evoke a palpable sense of history, offering a window into a largely forgotten chapter of Hawaii’s past.
Waialee Home for Wayward Boys, in its dilapidation, provides an intriguing site for those interested in history and urban exploration. The ghostly silence that now shrouds the once bustling institution enhances its aura of abandonment, creating a stark contrast with the vibrant tropical landscape that surrounds it.
Our Final Thoughts on Abandoned Places in Hawaii
Those who are into urban exploration in the Hawaii area should get comfortable with Hawaii trespassing laws. Luckily, we have developed a massive guide to trespassing laws in all 50 states. For laws that specifically relate to Hawaii, please click here.
For more about obtaining permission to explore abandoned places, check out our guide Explore Abandoned Buildings: How To Get Permission. Finally, if you are wanting to find more abandoned places in Hawaii, check out my resource How To Find Abandoned Places With Google Maps.
- John Bourscheid, Killer Urbex