Hunting for abandoned places in Hawaii? You’re in the right place. Below are 15 of my favorite abandoned places across the islands of Hawaii!
Abandoned Places In Hawaii
1. Coco Palms Resort
An abandoned hotel on Hawaii’s oldest island’s east shore is slowly being reclaimed by nature and becoming a visit-worthy abandoned place in Hawaii. For 40 years, it was a watershed moment, a success story memorialized in classic American cinema. The Guslanders, a couple who offered a delightful Hawaiian experience on gorgeous grounds with a coconut grove and lagoon, put in a lot of effort to create the Coco Palms Resort.
When it was featured in various mid-century films, including the Elvis Presley classic Blue Hawaii, the resort gained worldwide popularity. It was a favorite hangout spot for royalty and celebrities for decades, but it was severely devastated when Hurricane Iniki hit Kauai in 1992.
Most businesses and individuals on Kauai have moved on in the last two decades. But it’s still 1992 at the Coco Palms, where a perfect storm of stumbling blocks has kept the decaying property trapped in an inescapable purgatory.
2. Johnson Atoll Airforce Base
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) manages Johnston Atoll, which is an unincorporated territory of the United States. The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument includes Johnston Atoll, which is a National Wildlife Refuge. It is closed to the public, and only a Letter of Authorization from the US Air Force and a Special Use Permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service allow limited access for management purposes.
The remote atoll was under the jurisdiction of the US military for nearly 70 years. It was utilized as a naval refueling depot, an airbase, a nuclear and biological weapons testing site, a covert missile base, and a storage and disposal site for chemical weapons and Agent Orange during that time. The land was poisoned as a result of these activities, and now has become an abandoned US landmark in Hawaii.
The island boasts strong seabird nesting colonies and extensive marine biodiversity. To conserve native animals, USFWS teams conduct environmental monitoring and maintenance. Johnston Island has an abandoned airstrip, and Johnston Atoll has no public accommodations.
3. Kaniakapupu Ruins
Kaniakapp was completed in 1845 in the Nu’uanu Valley on O’ahu. The palace was built on a piece of crown land known as Luakaha, which loosely translates to “place of rest.” The palace itself was a pretty simple traditional structure, consisting of four stone walls surrounding one enormous room and bordered on all sides by a portico. A stone perimeter wall, a detached cook house, a garden, and a Lono heiau were also included in the grounds. Kaniakapp, which means “the singing of the land shells,” was the name given to the palace.
Built to provide relief from the summer heat for the king and his court, it also served as a refuge from Western influence, allowing them to shed their Western garb and discuss matters of politics and governance with Hawaiian chiefs, as well as providing refreshment and entertainment to the Hawaiian people and entertaining foreign dignitaries in Hawaiian style.
The site was closed to visitors in 2016 due to vandalism at Kaniakapp. The deteriorating 175-year-old structure has been surrounded by barriers. The Division of Forestry and Wildlife needs a permit to enter the region making it difficult to approach this abandoned place in Hawaii.
4. Haiku Valley Radar Base
The ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ also known as ‘The Haiku Stairs,’ a famous ruin in Hawaii, begins in Hawaii’s Haiku Valley on the island of Oahu and climbs 3,922 steps along the Koolau Mountain Range’s ridge. The US Navy built it in 1942, just months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, to serve as a radio tower for transmitting signals to US ships and submarines.
It was abandoned and closed to the public in 1987, but the staircase, which was rebuilt and renovated in 2003, is still in good condition.
Tourists who are technically trespassing have now uploaded images and directions to the stairway on Twitter and Instagram, resulting in around 4,000 hikers per year. However, the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, which owns the magnificent stairs and adjacent area, is considering dismantling the staircase due to security concerns and responsibility if someone is injured.
Of all the abandoned places in Hawaii, this is by far one of the most beautiful!
5. Old Waialua Sugar Valley
Waialua, on Hawaii’s North Shore, was once a thriving sugar mill town producing “World’s Best Sugar,” but after more than a century of operation, the Waialua Sugar Mill ceased operations in 1996.
Castle & Cooke, one of Hawaii’s Big Five trade and sugar industry management corporations, purchased the Waialua Sugar mill and grounds. As the Waialua Sugar Company, a subsidiary of the Dole Food Company, by 1991, the mill was generating 8% of Hawaii’s sugar.
The plantation, however, was unable to boost its sugar per acre production. The Waialua Sugar Mill was the last sugarcane plantation on the island of Oahu to close in October 1996 owing to business issues.
The Old Waialua Sugar Mill has become one of Oahu’s newest visitor destinations because of a quiet comeback of stores, enterprises, and local product manufacture in recent years. Waialua Coffee and Cacao / Dole are also processed at the mill. The local crew offers daily free small tours of the coffee and chocolate mill.
6. Marconi Wireless Station
The Marconi Wireless Telegraphy Station, built in 1914 between Kawela Bay and Kahuku on Oahu’s North Shore, is a historic abandoned landmark of Hawaii. It was formerly the most powerful telegraph station in the world. A hotel, as well as a station master’s building and an extra administration building, were built to accommodate staff. Staff had access to a library, and the hotel employed a full-time Chinese chef. The United States acquired control of all wireless stations in 1917.
Because of the rapid advancement of radio technology, the station became obsolete considerably sooner than expected. By 1919, the station had earned the moniker “junk.” Because steam was no longer utilized to power the station, its chimney was dismantled in 1924.
The location was utilized for aquaculture in the early 2000s, and the telegraph station was deteriorating. A businessman bought the station and its surroundings in 2005, and they are currently being rebuilt for tourism.
7. Old Koloa Sugar Mill
The Old Sugar Mill of Koloa was part of Hawaii’s first commercially successful sugarcane plantation, which was constructed in 1835 by Ladd & Company near Koloa on the island of Kauai. The plantation was founded here because of the soil’s overall richness, closeness to a decent port, and proximity to the Maulili pool, which allowed them to employ a waterfall for processing power.
After a fruitless attempt to colonize the rest of the Hawaiian Islands, Ladd & Co. closed in 1844. Cedric B. Baldwin oversaw the corporation from 1938 until his death on Iwo Jima during World War II. In 1996, the plantation was closed.
The large square stone foundation of the 1841 mill chimney, as well as the foundations of the Old Sugar Mill of Koloa, remain, albeit they are now obscured by a dense forest of trees and undergrowth. The neighboring streams have structural remains that are evidence of water impoundments, sluices, and diversion channels related with the mill, in addition to foundation platforms that span throughout the area.
8. Waialee Home for Wayward Boys
The Waialee Home for Wayward Boys, which was built in the early 1900s and operated from 1906 until 1947, was a sprawling compound that housed an average of 180 boys and now has become a haunting ghost town of Hawaii.
Its inhabitants were brought there for a variety of offenses, including truancy, disobedience, and vagrancy, as well as trespassing, burglary, larceny, and assault. Residents ranging in age from 7 to 25 years old grew their own taro, bananas, sweet potato, and sugarcane, milked and slaughtered animals and pigs, and ran the school’s generators, carpenter shop, repair shop, engine room, tailor shop, and icehouse.
Waialee, on the other hand, was not a happy place, and shackles, leg irons, lashings, and beatings were all commonplace. There have even been tales of boys being held in solitary confinement in underground chambers.
The land has been completely recovered by nature, with only the shells of houses remaining. Part of the property is currently owned by the government and is covered in graffiti. The Crawford Convalescence Home used various facilities on the land, and the former dormitory was burned down in 2002, leaving only the concrete walls standing today.
9. World War II Liberty Ship
The ship, which is commonly referred to as a World War II Liberty ship, is actually a ferrous concrete oiler with no name that was granted residency here as a cost-effective disposal method. Wreckage Beach, also known as Kaiolohia, is located on the northeastern side of Lanai and is only accessible by foot or four-wheel drive vehicle. It offers magnificent views of not just the shipwreck in the Kalohi channel, but also the lovely island of Molokai.
In 1824, the first known shipwreck occurred here, and two years later, the London, an American ship, sank here. The ship was said to be carrying a significant cargo of gold and silver, but no one knows how much was recovered. Of all the abandoned places in Hawaii, the liberty ship is by far my favorite!
Today You’ll have the beach to yourself whenever you visit this hauntingly abandoned wreck on a Hawaiian beach – except for the occasional marine turtle lounging onshore – and the rough length of sand is typically regarded one of the top beachcombing beaches in the country.
10. Battery Cooper
The construction of the battery began in December 1905 and was finished on August 15, 1906, when it was transferred to the Coast Artillery. Originally a concrete coastal artillery battery with two 6″ M1903 rapid fire guns were mounted on M1903 vanishing carriages during the Endicott Period. In 1917, this important piece of history from two world wars was decommissioned, adding its name to the list of Hawaii’s abandoned places.
The weapons are on the upper level and the magazines are on the lower level of this two-story battery. Both emplacements were supplied by a combined shell room and powder room. There were no powder or projectile hoists fitted. Until 1942, when a separate generator was erected, lights was powered by the Battery Worth power plant via pole line.
Fort Pickens is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. A 6″ cannon and carriage were relocated from West Point in 1976 and installed as a display piece in emplacement #1 of Battery Cooper. Today the exhibition gun is missing the breech block and the whole structure horrifyingly stands as an abandoned world war memory in Hawaii.
11. USS Utah
and she was launched on December 23, 1909. Throughout the 1920s, the ship undertook multiple training trips and fleet drills, as well as transporting dignitaries to South America twice, in 1924 and 1928, including President-elect Herbert Hoover.
She was also outfitted with a variety of anti-aircraft weaponry to train gunners for the fleet. She spent the rest of the decade in these two roles, arriving in Pearl Harbor in late 1941. She was in port on December 7th and was damaged by two torpedoes in the initial minutes of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, causing catastrophic flooding. The Utah fell over and sank fast; the vast majority of her crew managed to flee, but 58 men were murdered in the attack.
Utah cleaned her berth after being abandoned and now has become an interesting, abandoned sight in Hawaii. There was no attempt to refloat her after that. Her rusted hulk lies half-submerged in Pearl Harbor; the men killed when the Utah sank were never retrieved from the disaster, and she has thus designated a war grave. Of all the abandoned places in Hawaii, the USS Utah is by far the most widely visted.
12. Kualao Sugar Mill
Charles Hastings Judd and Samuel Wilder founded the Kualoa Plantation Sugarmill. They planted sugarcane in 1865 and erected a steam-powered mill with the latest Scottish gear.
On Oahu, this was the first of its sort. The mill is linked to a little-known tragedy in which Willy Wilder, Samuel Wilder’s nine-year-old son, fell into a vat of boiling syrup during processing in 1866.
He was in excruciating pain for a few days before succumbing to his serious burns. His mother had had enough of living on the ranch and had gone away.
Due to a lack of rainfall, the mill had failed by 1871. Sugarcane could not be grown because the soil was too dry. Wilder sold his part to Judd in 1870 and went on to make a fortune in inter-island shipping and the railroad on Maui and Hawaii.
These mills were in full swing during the Hawaiian Islands’ agricultural heyday, which began in the mid-1800s. These ruins are plainly visible from the road and are familiar to anybody, whoever’s seeking abandoned places in Hawaii, driving down Kamehameha Hwy on Oahu’s east coast.
13. Hawaiian Railway Society Train Cars
Waialua Agricultural Co. announced in 1970 that it will dismantle its 0-6-2T locomotive No. 6 because rust and degradation had turned it into an ugly liability that posed a risk to children who played on it. John Knaus, Nick Carter, Luman Wilcox, and Ken Peale met on August 22, 1970, to consider founding a local chapter of the NRHS.
The Hawaii Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society was given a charter of incorporation by the State of Hawaii’s Department of Regulatory Agencies on October 13, 1971. The Society has repaired roughly 6.5 miles (10.5 km) as of early 2009 and is attempting to restore more.
The Society has rebuilt around 6.5 miles of track so far and is working on more. Three old diesel locomotives have been brought back to life, and other steam locomotives have had their appearances improved.
The iconic Dillingham parlor car has been refurbished and is now available for rides and charter on the second Sunday of the month. Of all the abandoned places in Hawaii, this is the most beginner-friendly as new explorers can legally tour and see the new and old train cars.
14. Honuapo Ghost Town
Honuapo wharf, a bustling port town with industrial warehouses, a mill, and a railroad connection in 1883, was a thriving port town. Taro and sugarcane grown in the town region were transported through the port. The wharf was not used as much before the railroad was built.
According to legend, caterpillars would descend the ridge during a certain growth season in order to reach the sugarcane growing at the bottom. Because so many caterpillars would be crushed on the tracks, the train would struggle to climb the ridge due to the “slime.”
The 1890 Hutchingson Sugar Plantation ruins can be found near the top of the ridge. Much of it is still standing, although on private land. When the roads were upgraded, all shipments were made by truck, and the people of Honuapo left. The tsunami of 1946 wreaked havoc on the town and railroad (tidal wave).
Except for the pier, which was devastated by a tsunami in 1946, little of the town exists today. Only an Old Wharf, a large warehouse foundation, other foundations along unimproved roads, and the 1890 Hutchinson Sugar Plantation on top of the ridge across from the state park sign remain.
15. Ehukai Pillbox
Off the beaten path is a trail travelers can hike to reach a set of abandoned pillboxes along the beautiful Hawaiian coastline. These pillboxes were part of the island’s coastal defense during World War II. After WWII the bunkers were no longer needed and simply forgotten.
Explorers can reach the pillboxes by hiking a trail that starts in Kailua, Oahu. It takes about an hour to hike to the top and turns out to be about a 1.7-mile round trip. However, the views are breathtaking and you even get to experience some decay along the way.
Go out and explore!
That concludes our list of abandoned places in Hawaii, but that doesn’t mean that’s all there is to find. Take the back roads, follow train tracks, and find some places for yourself. There are plenty of places I kept off this list so get out there and explore.