We couldn’t be more excited about all of you visiting Hawaii in 2018 with all of the unprecedented Hawaii deals about to be released. So today is a great time to start planning which islands you’ll be visiting.
When choosing the best Hawaiian island for your trip it’s just hard to go wrong. It all comes down to expectations and having some understanding in advance of the unique qualities of each island. But that having been said, we’ve also seen visitors who weren’t entirely happy with their choice choice of islands.
Which is the Best Hawaii Island to Visit?
Oahu: still the best choice for travelers looking for variety, value and choice including beaches, activities, nightlife and a city experience.
Beat of Hawaii Recommendations for Oahu – Kaimuki neighborhood for shopping and dining, touring the Doris Duke “Shangrila” Estate, swimming at Sans Souci Beach at the Diamond Head side of Waikiki, the white sands of Waimanalo Beach, a picnic lunch at Spalding House (Contemporary Art Museum) and Iolani Palace for a history of the Hawaiian monarchy. For activities, you can read how we went nuts and found xlnt value with the Go Oahu card.
Hawaii’s only real city is an eclectic blend of cultures, nature and activities. You’ll often find some of the best deals on airfares (but not always), with the largest range of accommodations and prices. It’s the island where 80% of our state’s population live. You’ll have an endless supply of things to do which includes excellent shopping, major museums, unlimited and quality dining and good entertainment. Oahu is home to renowned Waikiki Beach, great surfing for all levels, snorkeling at Hanauma Bay and historic Pearl Harbor. For a more laid back lifestyle, drive to the other side the island where a more rural environment exists. Waikiki offers the greatest choice in value Hawaii hotels.
Maui: a good mix of rural and city with spectacular beaches, an interesting blend of action and relaxation, and tremendous variety in all regards.
Beat of Hawaii Recommendations for Maui – Makena Beach as well as Wailea Beach (and in fact all of the south Maui beaches). Also the circle drive of West Maui.
The second most populated island has something for everyone, which often makes it a great pick for multi-generational families with children. Famous resort locations along South Maui and West Maui include Kapalua, Kaanapali, and Wailea among others. These also feature some of the islands most beautiful beaches with views to neighboring islands of Lanai and Molokai. To escape the crowds, head upcountry including amazing Haleakala National Park or east to beautifully remote Hana. Some of the best cheap flights to Hawaii are found between the west coast and Maui. These are at times even less expensive than flying to Honolulu. Nightlife, resorts, white, black and red sand beaches, Maui has it all.
Big Island: larger than all of the other Hawaiian Islands combined, with a unique landscape sculpted by ongoing volcanic action.
Beat of Hawaii Recommendations for Big Island – the eerie, historic Mookini Heiau, Hapuna Beach, art tour at the iconic Mauna Kea Resort and Hilo Farmer’s Market. Also visiting Volcanoes National Park.
Big Island is vast, diverse, and magical. You’ll need some extra time to drive around and experience all it has to offer. Highlights of the Big Island include Volcanoes National Park, Kona town, renowned resorts of the Kohala Coast, and coffee plantations in the Kona and Kau areas. Also beautiful waterfalls including Rainbow falls, ancient Hawaii fish ponds, and charming Hilo town.
Kauai: iconic tropical scenery, rural charm, resorts and great beaches.
Beat of Hawaii Recommendations for Kauai: Mahaulepu coastal walk starting at Shipwreck Beach, biking the Kauai Path from Kapaa to Donkey Beach, swimming at Hanalei Bay in summer and the Sunset Tour of the Allerton Estate at the National Tropical Botanical Gardens (NTBG). Stay tuned for NTBG update coming soon.
Kauai still retains much of its rustic and sometimes funky charm of yesteryear, with spectacular natural wonders that include North Shore Kauai and magnificent Hanalei Bay, Kokee and Waimea Canyon State Parks, and South Shore Kauai and its beautiful resorts along the Poipu Beach coastline. This is a perfect place for anyone who loves the natural experience of the outdoors and hiking above all.
Lanai: Evolving with a world-class resort. | Molokai is a return to Hawaii of the past.
Beat of Hawaii Recommendations: Kalele Bookstore in Kaunakakai Molokai and taking the ferry between Maui and Lanai.
Both of these islands are a real step back in time. Molokai highlights include a visit to the historic Kalaupapa leprosy settlement, incredible beaches, and the Coffees of Hawaii Molokai plantation. Neither island has mainland direct flights so you’ll pay somewhat more for the quiet life. Lanai is continuing to evolve with new owner Larry Ellison is at the helm.
Still not sure where to go?
A go to source for Hawaii destination information is the Hawaii Revealed series of guidebooks, both online and in print.
Lastly for the first time visitor who would like to visit multiple islands, read our better-than-expected review of the all-Hawaii NCL Pride of America cruise.