Which Hawaiian Island to visit?
The 50th State of Hawaii has 8 islands in total, but only 6 that you can visit. Every island is magical in its own way. Picking just one is hard, I suggest going to at least two if possible. You have flown halfway across the Pacific, may as well make it worth it…
There are 4 main islands, then 2 other more rural style islands to choose from. Each island is filled with its own Spirit and Aloha. With activities including; hikes of different levels, weekly farmers markets, dolphin and turtle sightings, and the famous humpback whale sightings from November to May. Hawaii is a uniquely special place to visit and explore. While shopping is popular (lower sales tax) and great luaus on each of the 4 main islands, bring your credit card…
Accomodation options vary, from five star hotels, to family friendly resorts, to private condos and houses, to budget friendly hostels.
O’ahu (The Gathering Place)
The 3rd largest island of O’ahu is the Heart of Hawaii. It appeals to travellers with high energy and looking for lots of activity options. It is the most populated and busiest island, which contains the State’s capital Honolulu and the world famous Waikiki Beach. As most flights from the mainland go to HNL airport, O’ahu becomes a great ‘jumping off point’, to visit other Hawaiian islands.
The view of Diamond Head from Honolulu, has a magical effect on all who view it. While the bustle of the city can offer many activities, the beautiful nature of O’ahu is not far away. The urban area of Honolulu includes luxury resorts, world class restaurants, a vibrant nightlife scene and high end to budget friendly shopping. Once away from the city’s hustle and bustle, O’ahu has many activities to explore. You can hike to lush rainforests, kayak some beautiful bays or surf world class breaks like the North Shores’ Banzai Pipeline. The legendary North Shore town of Haleiwa is a great day trip, don’t forget to hit up a yummy food truck or get a delicious shave ice.
Families do love O’ahu with all its kid friendly activities. These include the Honolulu Zoo, Waikiki Aquarium and the Sea Life Park. The island even boasts its own Disney Resort Aulani. For history buffs, the tours of Pearl Harbor and iconic Bishops Museum are not to be missed. If you can only visit one Hawaiian Island, O’ahu might be the one for you!
Maui (The Valley Isle)
Maui is the 2nd largest island, it is a great location for travellers looking for adventure and relaxation. Popular with honeymooners, Maui has a little of everything. Many visitors believe this is the only island to visit and never even try the others. There are many direct flights from the mainland to Maui, which makes it popular as well.
Maui’s activities include top notch golfing, hiking on many levels, biking down Haleakala and superb dining, including farm to table cuisine. Snorkeling and scuba cruises are very popular, as are the dinner cruises. You can take a tour to Molokini, a crater off of Maui, it is famous for snorkeling. The Maui Ocean Center (Aquarium) is a wonderful place to see and learn about the Hawaiian marine life. Plus their gift store is loaded with local souvenirs to take home.
Maui’s towns are rustic and vibrant all in one. Check out the artist town of Pa’ia, for some of the best natural food establishments on the island. As well, the historic town of Lahaina with its bustling Front Street, filled with restaurants, shopping and art galleries. The one block long, banyan tree is a must visit. Planted in 1873 this tree boasts 16 trunks and is a great picture backdrop.
Take the road to Hana, you will see beautiful waterfalls and lush rainforests. The beauty of this drive will amaze you, more green than you could imagine. Try to stop at mile marker 7 and take in the rainbow eucalyptus trees.
Whether you are on a sunset cruise or taking in the world famous beaches of Kaanapali or Makena There is no sunset like a Maui sunset.
Kauai (The Garden Isle)
Kauai is the 4th largest and the oldest island. A very rustic and rural island with amazing natural beauty. It’s a perfect island for the adventure traveller, one who is eager for thrilling activities. However, you can also just relax and take in the stunning scenery it has to offer. Many movies are filmed here, the lush landscape may be the reason. As you can only drive to 20% of Kauai, other options might be to take a helicopter ride or boat cruise to see the whole island. The jagged cliffs and Na Pali coast are like no other, simply stunning. They offer some of the world’s highest sea cliffs.
Try to visit each side of Kauai, from the beautiful Hanalei Bay, to the breathtaking Waimea Canyon (Grand Canyon of the Pacifc). You will not be disappointed by the intense beauty this island has to offer. Beautiful waterfalls, glass beaches and many unique plants and flowers are here to see.
Popular activities of Kauai include zip lining, ATV off road adventures, horseback riding and tubing tours. For the not so adventurous, there are garden tours, tasting tours and bike rentals along the coconut coast (East side).
Sure it rains a lot on Kauai, but that’s what makes its landscape so lush and vibrant. Without rain there would be no rainbows !
Island of Hawai’i (The Big Island)
Hawai’i is the youngest and the largest of the Hawaiian islands. Known as The Big Island, it has a lot to explore. Travellers who want adventure or solitude can easily find both here. From the islands sunnyside Kona, you have coffee farms, beautiful beaches (Hapuna) and 5 star resorts (Waikoloa), to the tropical side and Hilo, you have waterfalls and Volcano National Park. Hawai’i boasts 11 of the worlds’ climate zones, you can visit white sandy beaches and snow capped mountains all on the same day.
Some Big Island activities include; hiking, horseback riding, helicopter tours and zip lining. As well, being the sportfishing capital of the world, it’s time to catch the ‘big one’. Adventure travellers will love the hike into Waipi’o valley, with its lush green forest. Other activities include, night time swims with huge manta rays and early morning snorkels near the Captain Cook monument. If you get there early enough, you might even get to swim with wild dolphins, what a treat!
Big Island events include; the Iron Man race in early October (Kona side) and the Merrie Monarch hula competition in mid April (Hilo side). Beware, hotels and car rentals can get expensive during event times.
From the exotic green sand or black sand beaches, to the lava flowing Kilauea volcano, Big Island is alive with energy and has room to explore for everyone.
Moloka’i (The Friendly Isle)
Moloka’i is the 5th largest Hawaiian island and boasts the highest sea cliffs in the world! For the traveller who likes seclusion and being ‘off the grid’, this may be the island for you. The island is very culture rooted and steep with native Hawiian ancestry. With secluded beaches and a quaint little town, this is the place to decompress.
Visit Kalaupapa National Park (former home of the Hanson’s disease leper colony). You can get there by mule ride, hike down or heli ride in. As well visit the ruggedly handsome Halawa Valley, private tours are the way to go here, expect awesome greenery and serene waterfalls.
A must do when on Moloka’i, is to go on a late night hot bread run. The local bakery in Kaunakakai offers up this sweet delight most nights, you purchase from their back alley… sounds dubiously delish!
Moloka’i is a favorite island for some travellers, as they preserve the rural lifestyle and the remoteness is a great escape.
Lanai (The Pineapple Isle)
Lanai is the smallest inhabited Hawiian island. Only 9 miles from Maui, a short ferry ride away to this unique secluded island. For the traveller who wants privacy, romance and luxury this is your spot.
Top notch hotel there, will pamper you in every way, after a great day of golf. You can visit the northern side and Shipwreck Beach or the northwest long secluded Polihua Beach, where green turtles are in abundance. Inland you can view the Garden of the Gods, rock towers and boulders.
As you rest on your secluded lanai (porch) on the island of Lanai, you can sit back and wave at the humpback whales going by.