Hawaii lakes are a great destination for people looking to get away from it all, but also want the option of nearby shopping and other activities. The lakes in Hawaii offer something for everyone: lakeside hotels with restaurants and bars, camping sites, cabins or cottages. Fishing is popular on many lakes in Hawaii as well as swimming, boating, kayaking and paddleboarding. Other activities include horseback riding tours along the shoreline trails which go by some historical Hawaiian landmarks like Pu’u Puaa O Honaunau National Historic Park (the site of an ancient city that was once ruled by King Kamehameha I), Haleiwa Beach Park (famous for its surfing), Makapuu Beach Park (an excellent snorkeling location), or Pu’u Manamana Trail.
On the Hawaiian Islands, lakes are available in each of the 4 major islands. When looking for lakes to visit on vacation, lakes should be chosen based on your interests. The lakes can vary greatly in size, offer different types of activities for people to do, and have different levels of crowds that you will encounter.
Our listings will help you find:
- The clearest lakes in Hawaii
- The best Hawaii lakes for swimming
- The best lakes for boating in Hawaii
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Of course a huge draw in Hawaii is the blue water of the Pacific Ocean, along with the beautiful beaches. But Hawaii’s natural lakes also have a lot to offer and are worth checking out during your stay. Some lakes in Hawaii have large lakeside resorts or hotels built next to them, while others are more remote and secluded. Some are extremely close together as well, but lakes on the same island can also take hours to reach from one another. Knowing that, it’s definitely worth planning out an itinerary of lakes to see before making the trip. Let’s look at a few of our favorites for Hawaii lake vacations.
The best lakes to visit in Hawaii
Lake Lanai is Hawaii’s sixth largest lake and located on the island of Molokai. The surface area is around 22 square miles (57 km) but it has a maximum depth of 1150 feet (351 m). There is a 2-mile long causeway that cuts across the middle of this lake. Visitors can drive along this causeway which opens up boating access for visitors who want to partake in water activities like fishing and boating. This also gives people access to nearby hotels and restaurants that are located lakeside.
Lake Waiau is the smallest of Hawaii’s lakes with a surface area of just 3.1 acres (1.20 ha) and a maximum depth of only 25 feet (7.6 m). It is located on the island of Hawaii, also known as the Big Island, at an elevation of 13000 ft above sea level making it the highest lake in Hawaii which explains its small size compared to most lakes in Hawaii. Lakes higher up tend to have less water volume because they contain less water than lakes that are closer to sea level due to their size, which is why lakes up high often do not appear very large even though they might be 3000+ ft above sea level.
In addition to lakes, there are also many rivers in the Hawaiian Islands. Rivers provide a way for visitors to get out into nature through canoeing or kayaking trips that can last anywhere from just 1 hour to all day excursions, depending on the length of the river. Shorter one-hour excursions might be closer to town whereas longer all-day excursions might take you deep into the heart of remote regions where it is impossible for cars and trucks to reach.
There are several rivers located throughout Hawaii and they vary greatly in their bodies of water and levels of activity offered (e.g. white water rafting or calm lakes perfect for families). Some popular rivers include: Wailuku River on the of Maui / Hamakua Rivers on the island of Hawaii / Waipi`o River (this is one of the most dangerous rivers in the world but no one has died in it for over 20 years, which marks a milestone towards river safety.)
Hawaii lakes are an excellent choice when choosing an activity to do when traveling with family or alone. Some lakes offer easy access while others can be quite remote and take hours to reach from one spot to another. Many lakes have small cottages and inns built lakeside so you can get a taste of living at a lake without needing to bring your own shelter along. Lakes also provide many different activities depending on what you want to do: fishing, boating, kayaking, paddleboarding, hiking, and birdwatching to name a few.