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Is There a “Best” Island to Visit in Hawaii?

Mahalo For Sharing Your Aloha

Hawaiian Islands

Why is Hawaii a Great Place to Visit?

Hawaii is an incredible destination for travelers of all types, offering a range of activities and sites for everyone to enjoy. For the nature-lovers, Hawaii boasts four active volcanoes, lush forests, more than 1200 miles of coral reef, and green-sand beaches. History buffs can explore the state capitol of Honolulu, home to Pearl Harbor, and the many mom-and-pop shops in the sleepy bayside town of Hilo. Adventure seekers can kayak the Wailua River, go off-roading on an ATV waterfall tour, and take a boat tour of the Na Pali Coast. On the Big Island, visitors enjoy some of the best Kona coffee in the world. For those looking for a more relaxing vacation, Maui offers plenty of chill vibes and family-friendly fun with its tidal pools, calm beaches, and stunning sunrises. From its range of activities, to its stunning landscape, to its unique culture, Hawaii is the perfect place to experience the beauty of nature and the joy of exploration.

An aerial view of the Hawaiian coastline.

What to Consider When Planning Your Trip to Hawaii?

1. Choose the island you would like to visit.

Choose the island you would like to visit based on your interests and preferences. There are eight main islands in Hawaii, each with its own unique charm and personality. If you’re short on time and budget, consider the Big Island of Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, or Kauai. Don’t forget to limit your stay to one island for visits of eight days or less to make the most of your Hawaiian vacation.

2. Research the climate, weather and terrain of the island.

Step 1: Research the different climates on the Big Island of Hawaii. The Big Island has 10 out of 14 possible climate zones, including tropical wet, tropical monsoon, and hot desert.

Step 2: Learn about the geography of the Big Island. The Big Island is comprised of multiple coasts, including the east side (the windward side) and the west side (the leeward side). The east side is known for its lush tropical foliage, waterfalls, and black lava rocks, while the west side is more dry and is home to sandy beaches and resorts.

Step 3: Research climate and weather conditions by location. The east side of the Big Island has more rain and lush vegetation, while the west side is known for its sunny weather. Additionally, the South Kohala coast, just north of Kona, is known for its sunny weather year-round and gorgeous sandy beaches.

Step 4: Research terrain. The Big Island’s landscape is heavily influenced by its volcanic activity, giving it diverse terrain from snow-capped mountains to lava fields. The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a popular location for hiking and exploring the island’s volcanic activity.

Step 5: Research local flora and fauna. The Big Island is home to an abundance of plant and animal life, including lava fields, tropical rainforests, whales, turtles, and manta rays.

Step 6: Use online resources. Researching the climate, weather, and terrain of the Big Island can be easily done online through websites such as the Hawaii Tourism Authority or the National Park Service, both of which provide detailed information and resources. Additionally, satellite images and maps are available online, providing a bird’s eye view of the island.

3. Consider the activities you would like to do on the island.

When planning a trip to Hawaii, there are many activities to consider to make the most of your vacation. If a relaxing beach vacation is what you’re after, you may want to consider Lanai or Maui, where you can lay back, soak up the sun, and enjoy a stone’s throw away from the beach. If adventure is your cup of tea, the Big Island, Oahu, and Kauai are the best options, with plenty of activities like kayaking, waterfall hikes, and volcano climbing. Oahu is the best choice for those looking to tick things off their bucket list, offering attractions like Pearl Harbor and the Diamond Head Crater, and for those who want to explore the water, Hanauma Bay is the best spot for snorkeling. The Big Island is great for fishing and snorkeling off the Kona Coast, and also home to two of the world’s most active volcanoes, Mauna Loa and Kilauea. Lastly, Maui is the perfect place to relax, with plenty of restaurants to dress up for the night and whale watching tours. Kauai is ideal for Jurassic Park fans and nature lovers, with activities such as boat tours and hikes at Waimea Canyon, and Molokai is the perfect spot for those wanting to immerse in local Hawaiian culture. No matter what kind of vacation you’re looking for, Hawaii has something for everyone.

4. Look into the cost of the trip.

Planning a trip to Hawaii can be both exciting and expensive, so it’s important to consider the cost before you go. Airfare and hotels are typically the biggest costs, but food tends to be more expensive in Hawaii than in the continental US. To save money, try cooking your own food, staying in an Airbnb, and visiting during non-peak seasons. Deals can be found in September, when airfare and hotel prices are usually lower. Additionally, bring reef-safe sunscreen, rent a car, and bring reusable bags for shopping to cut down on expenses. Finally, U.S. News rates the cheapest travel insurance options, and hiring a vacation planner can also help you save money. With a bit of planning and research, a trip to Hawaii can be both affordable and enjoyable.

5. Research the local culture and customs.

One of the best ways to get the most out of a trip to Hawaii is to research the local culture and customs. By doing so, travelers can gain a deeper understanding of the history and traditions of the islands, which can help them plan a more meaningful and enjoyable experience. From learning about the traditional bamboo-pole fishing techniques of the Mālama Loko Ea Foundation, to getting involved in Hui o Ko’olaupoko’s volunteer projects, to joining the Kōke’e Resource Conservation Program, travelers can immerse themselves in Hawaiian culture and make a meaningful contribution to their destination. Additionally, with activities like horseback riding in the Hawaiian Legacy Forest, participating in Ulu A ‘e Learning Center’s days of caring, and making papa and pohaku with the Hui Aloha Aina Momona, travelers can easily find ways to explore and engage with the local culture. By researching the local culture and customs before they travel, visitors can ensure they get the most out of their Hawaiian vacation.

Some wooden statues in Hawaii.

6. Look into the accommodation options available.

Hawaii offers a variety of accommodation options, depending on your desired location and budget. On Big Island, you can find cozy yet luxurious quarters at Volcano Inn, or a budget-friendly option at Pele’s Hana ‘Ana Hostel. On Maui, visitors can stay at high-end resorts in the Kaanapali and Wailea area, or opt for budget-friendly beach hotels. For a luxury stay, consider the Kona-side Fairmont Orchid or the Four Seasons Hualālai in Hollywood. For those visiting the Hilo side of the island, the Volcano Rainforest Retreat offers four cottages on the edge of the rainforest. Glamping is also an option in Maui.

7. Consider the weather conditions when planning your trip.

When planning a trip to Hawaii, it is important to consider the weather conditions of the area. Depending on the time of year, Hawaii has different seasonal conditions that can affect the trip. Generally, the weather in Hawaii is mild and tropical, with temperatures between 75-85˚F year-round. Peak season is typically from December-April, with warmer temperatures and a higher chance of rainshowers. April and May are the beginning of the dry season, while September and October are also considered part of the dry season. November marks the beginning of the wet season, with more chances of rain. Travel experts recommend visiting Hawaii between April, May, September, October, and the first couple of weeks of December for cheaper prices.

8. Research the local restaurants and food.

Researching the local restaurants and food in Hawaii is an exciting way to explore the different islands. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

  1. Start by researching the different islands in Hawaii. Each island has its own unique offerings when it comes to dining and food. Oahu is known for its wide variety of restaurants, from high-end to cheap eats. Maui is known for its fine dining, with some requiring advanced reservations. On Kauai, you can find great poke spots and hole-in-the-wall eateries, as well as markets for groceries.
  2. Once you know what island you’re interested in, research the restaurants there. TripAdvisor is a great resource when it comes to researching restaurants. Look for restaurants with high ratings, especially those in the Traveler’s Choice list.
  3. Explore the different neighborhoods. As you research, take note of the different neighborhoods. Each island has its own unique areas and attractions. In Oahu, you’ll find a nice mix of restaurants and cafes in the downtown area. In Maui, Wailea is known for its high-end restaurants. In Kauai, the North Shore is a great spot for poke bowls.
  4. Check out the local food trucks. Each island has its own variety of food trucks. On Oahu, the garlic shrimp dish at Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck is well-known. On Maui, you’ll find a variety of food trucks offering everything from tacos to shave ice. On Kauai, some of the favorites include the Kauai Juice Co. and Kilauea Fish Market.
  5. Take advantage of the cheaper eats. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on food, you can find some great cheap eats options on each island. In Oahu, you can find budget-friendly restaurants in Chinatown and at the International Market Place. On Maui, there are a few hidden gems for cheap eats – like the food stands in Lahaina. On Kauai, you can grab groceries at a local supermarket and make your own meals.

By researching local restaurants and food in Hawaii, you can make the most of your trip and experience the unique flavors of each island.

9. Make sure you have all the necessary documents.

Planning a trip to Hawaii? Be sure to have the appropriate documents! Depending on your country of origin and the length of your stay, you could need a valid passport, a visa, a driver’s license, a birth certificate, and/or other proof of identity. It’s important to ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months after your planned departure date. Also, if you’re traveling with minors, you may need to provide additional documentation. For more detailed information on the documentation requirements for a trip to Hawaii, be sure to check with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest you.

10. Plan ahead for any unexpected circumstances.

When planning a trip to Hawaii, it’s important to consider what you can do to prepare for any unforeseen circumstances. Here are some tips to help you make sure your trip is stress-free:

  1. Get an Itinerary: When you have your itinerary planned out ahead of time, you will be able to easily adjust to any changes that may occur.
  2. Travel experts agree there are several advantages to hiring a vacation planner: A vacation planner can help you navigate any travel issues and make sure you are prepared for any problems that may come up.
  3. Use the airline’s app or make an international call if your flight has been canceled: You should always have an emergency plan in place in case your flight is canceled or delayed.
  4. Best Travel Tips: Do your research and make sure you know the best travel tips for your destination.
  5. How to Save Money for Travel: Look for ways to save money for your trip such as booking in advance, using coupons or discounts, and looking for special deals.
  6. The Ultimate Travel Packing List: Pack the right items for your trip. Make sure to include any items that may be necessary in case of emergency.
  7. Travel Safety Tips: It is important to know the safety tips for Hawaii such as avoiding standing in the ocean, using sunscreen, and being aware of your surroundings.
  8. How to Travel on a Budget: Look for ways to save money during your trip. Consider public transportation, hostels, and discounted tickets.

An aerial photograph of the Hawaiian coastline.

The Best Islands in Hawaii

1. Hawai’i

Hawaii is a paradise of islands, each offering something unique to explore. The most popular islands to visit are Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island. Oahu is known as the gathering place, full of bustling Waikiki resorts, stunning beaches, and many snorkeling and whale-watching spots. Maui is nicknamed the Valley Isle and is home to some of the best beaches in the world, as well as the incredible Haleakala National Park with its active volcano. Kauai is known as the Garden Isle, and is home to some of the most unspoiled beaches, botanical gardens and snorkeling spots in the world. The Big Island, or the largest island, is an outdoor adventurer’s paradise, with its snow-capped mountains, lava deserts, and Kīlauea volcano, as well as its many stargazing spots. Each of these islands is an amazing place to explore, and you’re sure to find something for everyone!

2. Kaua’i

Kaua’i is a great island to visit in Hawaii for many reasons. From its stunning natural beauty, vast outdoor activities, and romantic scenery, Kaua’i has something for everyone. The island is known for its lush greenery, dramatic cliffs, and valleys, earning it the nickname “Garden Isle”. It is the northernmost Hawaiian island and is renowned for its abundant natural beauty, from its tropical rainforests, to its stunning waterfalls, winding rivers, and stunning hiking trails. For adventure-seekers and nature-lovers alike, there are so many activities to explore on Kaua’i. From kayaking, snorkeling, and Ziplining, to exploring the Na Pali Coastline, the possibilities are endless. For couples looking for a romantic getaway, Kaua’i offers a wide range of activities, including stunning beaches, beautiful sunsets, and relaxing spa days. Those looking for a more unplugged vacation experience can find peace and relaxation away from the hustle and bustle of other Hawaiian islands, like Oahu and Maui. With numerous hotels and resorts to choose from, Kaua’i is the perfect place to enjoy a luxurious stay and take in the beauty of the island.

3. Lāna’i

Lāna’i is a great island to visit in Hawaii for a remote-feeling and uncrowded trip. The island is almost entirely privately owned by Larry Ellison, so it is largely a private area of Hawaii, making it ideal for those looking for a quiet but luxurious getaway. The island is home to two Four Seasons resorts, offering world-class facilities, championship-level golf courses and a myriad of other activities.

Visitors can also explore the 18 miles of almost empty beaches and more than 400 miles of rugged trails with four-wheel-drive or horse, or by hiking. The island is also known for its cat sanctuary and its abundant wildlife, including spinner dolphins and turtles. Moreover, the Hawaii Land Trust hosts volunteer days, such as a marine cleanup on Kāhili Beach, providing visitors with a meaningful way to contribute to the island. Finally, those looking to do some shopping can visit the Mālama Kaua’i Store and donate to the organization devoted to increasing local food production.

4. Maui

Maui is one of the most popular islands to visit in Hawaii for good reason. With its stunning hikes, like the Waianapanapa State Park and Waihee Ridge Trail, the island offers unbeatable views of cliffs, beaches and waterfalls, and is perfect for adventurous travelers. The Road to Hana provides a curvy coastal route that shouldn’t be missed, and those interested in scuba diving and snorkeling can explore the volcanic crater of the Molokini Crater. The island also boasts a number of beautiful spots, like the Garden of Eden, as well as breathtaking sunsets on the summit of Haleakala. Maui is perfect for all types of travelers, as it provides plenty of activities for couples, families and those seeking adventure. With so much to do and see, it’s no wonder Maui is a top destination for many travelers looking to explore Hawaii.

5. Moloka’i

Moloka’i is an ideal destination for travelers looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. With lush rainforests, beautiful beaches, and the tallest sea cliffs in the world, this island provides a unique and serene setting for outdoor activities. The West End is perfect for snorkeling and beach-going, while Central Molokai is where locals live and farm macadamia nuts and coffee. Finally, the East End features Molokai’s highest mountain and Hawaii’s longest continuous reef. Thanks to its remote location and lack of resorts, Moloka’i has a strong connection to its traditional Hawaiian roots and cultural heritage. There are lots of ways to experience the island’s natural beauty and vibrant culture, from Papohaku Beach and Kalaupapa National Historical Park, to joining a guided cultural hike through Halawa Valley. Whatever your preference, Moloka’i is sure to provide an unforgettable and rewarding experience.

6. O’ahu

If you’re looking for the best islands to visit in Oahu, Hawaii, then you can’t go wrong with Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach, Hanauma Bay, Pearl Harbor, KCC Farmers’ Market, Kaka’ako Farmers’ Market, the Seven-Mile Miracle and the Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort. Diamond Head is a great spot to explore the tranquil Byodo-In Temple and take in the stunning views of Hawaiian coastline. Waikiki Beach is known for its legendary surfing competitions, while Hanauma Bay gives you perfect opportunities for water sports. Pearl Harbor provides a sobering look at the past, as well as the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, recently renovated to include virtual tours of submarine interiors. The KCC Farmers’ Market and Kaka’ako Farmers’ Market give you a taste of local cuisine such as smoked-beef brisket bánh mì and Koko Kai coconut yogurt. The Seven-Mile Miracle is a must-see for experienced surfers, while the Royal Hawaiian is a pink-hued classic in the heart of Waikiki.

What are the Best Islands to Visit in Hawaii?

When considering which of the Hawaiian Islands to visit, it is helpful to compare and contrast the various offerings each one has to offer. Maui and Oahu are excellent destinations for those looking to relax on the beach and enjoy the finer luxuries of life. On the other hand, the Big Island, Oahu and Kauai are ideal for those looking for more excitement, with activities such as kayaking, waterfall hikes and volcano climbing. For a true nature lover, Kauai is the perfect choice with its nickname ‘Garden Isle’. Lanai and Maui are great for relaxation, while the Big Island and Oahu offer a wealth of biodiversity. All of the Hawaiian Islands have stunning beaches, excellent snorkeling, and sunset boat tours, so no matter which island you choose, your experience will be unforgettable.

What Attractions are There to Experience on Each Hawaiian Island?

The Hawaiian Islands have so many attractions and activities to experience, it can be hard to keep track of them all. On Oahu, you can visit the historical Pearl Harbor, hike the Diamond Head Crater, and surf on the North Shore. Hanauma Bay is a popular spot for snorkeling. The Big Island is the best place to go snorkeling along the Kona Coast where you can spot honu, Hawaiian sea turtles, as well as explore two of the world’s most active volcanoes, Mauna Loa and Kilauea. In Maui, you can relax on the beach, dine at fancy restaurants, and go whale watching. Kauai offers Jurassic Park fans a chance to visit the filming locations, and there are also lots of hiking and boat tour options along the Na Pali Coast. Molokai is great for those looking to experience the local Hawaiian culture, and Lanai is perfect for those who want to enjoy some peace and quiet while off-roading. No matter which island you choose, you’ll find lots of things to do and explore in Hawaii.

What type of Accommodation is Available on Each Island?

Hawaii:

Hawaii offers plenty of options for lodging, ranging from high-end resorts to low-key lodgings. High-end resorts can be found in the Kona area on the western side of the island, such as the Fairmont Orchid and the Four Seasons Hualālai. These luxurious resorts offer 540 guest rooms and suites with lanais and half with ocean views, as well as 865 acres of palm-fringed coastline, seven pools, and rock amphitheater.

Maui:

Maui is the second most visited island in Hawaii and is blessed with a wide range of accommodation options. Whether you are looking for a luxury hotel, budget-friendly beach hotel, vacation rental with a private pool, or a camping or glamping site, there is something for everyone in Maui.

Molokai:

Molokai is limited in accommodation options due to its sustainable stance towards avoiding over-tourism. Therefore, the island offers a selection of mid-range hotels. Popular accommodation choices include the Hotel Molokai, which offers oceanfront rooms, and Castle Molokai Shores, which offers self-catered apartments with balconies and patios with ocean views.

How Far Apart are the Hawaiian Islands?

The Hawaiian archipelago is composed of 137 islands, but 6 of them – Maui, Oahu, Hawaii island a.k.a. Big Island, Kauai, Lanai and Molokai – are open to visitors. The islands can be accessed via direct flights from the mainland to Oahu, Maui and Big Island or by inter-island flights to reach Kauai, Molokai, or Lanai. The islands are spaced out between one another, with some being as close as 26 miles apart and others being as far away as 250 miles.

Is there a Hawaiian Island Better-Suited to Hiking and Outdoor Activities?

Is there a Hawaiian island better suited to hiking and outdoor activities? With so many islands to choose from, it can be hard to decide which is best for outdoor activities. Kauai is the best island for hikes, with plenty of trails varying in difficulty for all levels. Oahu is great for shorter hikes, with a variety of trails and stunning scenery. Maui offers easy, family-friendly trails as well as longer hikes to sites such as the Iao Needle Lookout. And the Big Island has several popular hikes, like the Manoa Falls waterfall hike and the Diamond Head crater hike. No matter your preference, you’ll find something to suit your needs on each of the Hawaiian islands!

What Island has the Best Whale Watching?

When it comes to whale watching, Maui is indisputably the best island to visit. Every year, an estimated 12,000 humpback whales migrate from Alaska to the warm waters of Maui, where they give birth and prepare for their journey home. The Auau Channel, between Maui, Molokai and Lanai, is one of the best destinations for whale watching in the world, as it is shallow and offers ideal conditions for the whales. In addition, whale watching tours also depart from the Lahaina and Maalaea harbors, and visitors may also witness the spectacular sight from the shore. Winter is an especially great time to visit Maui for whale watching, as North Pacific gray whales make their annual winter commute to the island waters from November through March. So if you’re looking for the best whale watching experience, Maui is the perfect destination.

A humpback whale off the Kona coast.

What are the Best Snorkeling and Diving Spots in Hawaii?

Hawaii offers some of the best snorkeling and diving spots in the world. Oahu has some popular spots such as Hanauma Bay, Kuilima Cove, Makana Beach Park and Sharks Cove (for summer months). For the best experience on Maui, head to Turtle Town, the Molokini Crater, Black Rock at Kaanapali Beach, Kapalua Bay and Honolua Bay. On the Big Island, try Kealakekua Bay, Kahaluu Beach Park, Two Step Beach, Magic Sands and Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve. Kauai has Tunnels Beach, Anini Beach and Kee Beach. For more unusual locations, you can’t go wrong with the Molokini Crater and Makena Beach. If you’re looking for a fun excursion, try snorkeling with the turtles in Maui or go whale watching in Oahu. Lastly, don’t forget the two active volcanoes on the Big Island – Mauna Loa and Kilauea. Keep safe and have a great time exploring!

How Can I Find the Best Deals on Hawaiian Island Vacations?

Finding the best deals on Hawaiian island vacations can be a daunting task. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to ensure you get the best deal possible.

  1. Research the different islands. Take some time to familiarize yourself with each island and compare their attractions, accommodations, and costs. This will help you narrow down your choices.
  2. Look for deals. September is usually the best time to visit Hawaii, as you can find the best prices for flights and hotels.
  3. Bring the right sunscreen. Hawaii only allows reef-safe sunscreen, so make sure to bring it along with you.
  4. Rent a car. This will allow you to explore more of the island at your own pace.
  5. Bring reusable bags for shopping. Many retailers in Hawaii have banned plastic bags, so bring along reusable bags for shopping.
  6. Read up on the best places for you by island. Research the best hikes, activities, and attractions for each island so you can get the most out of your trip.
  7. Consider travel planning resources. Look for the best flight deals on Skyscanner, book hotels with Booking.com or TripAdvisor, and find apartment rentals with VRBO.
  8. Get travel insurance. Don’t leave home without it – Allianz and Medjet are two great options for occasional travelers.

By following these steps, you can make sure you’re getting the best deal for your Hawaiian island vacation.

What are the Best Beaches on Each Hawaiian island?

When it comes to the best beaches in Hawaii, each of the Hawaiian islands has something unique to offer.

On Oahu, Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head Crater are popular for their city-life atmosphere and easy access to the beach. The North Shore is great for experienced surfers looking for big waves.

On Lanai, Hulopoe Beach is one of the finest in Hawaii and is located on the island’s Southern Coast. Here you can find crystal clear waters and a protected marine preserve, making it the perfect spot for snorkeling and swimming with the Hawaiian green sea turtles and spinner dolphins. The adjacent Manele Bay is also great for diving, with plenty of coral and the Cathedrals on the western edge. Kaunolu Beach is another secluded spot on the southwest coast with over 100 stone ruins from a prehistoric Hawaiian village.

Maui is known for its golden beaches and resorts, as well as its coastal walks and charming towns. Hapuna Beach on the Big Island is a great spot for swimming, while Punaluu Black Sand Beach is another popular beach with dark volcanic sand. Wailea Beach, Makena “Big” Beach, and Kaunaoa Beach are all great spots for stunning ocean views and amazing sunsets.

Kauai has some great sandy beaches, although they’re not so easy to get to and usually involve some hiking. Lastly, the Big Island has the fewest beaches, making it less ideal for beach bums.

All in all, if you’re looking for beaches that are easy to access and full of life, Oahu is the best choice. If you’d rather have a more tranquil experience, Maui is the best place to go.

islands of hawaii

Mahalo For Sharing Your Aloha
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