If you want to visit Hawaii, don’t just hop on a plane to the first destination you see online. Hawaii has many islands, and each has something distinct to offer! What sort of traveler are you? No matter what you love, there’s a Hawaiian island out there for you!
What you do picture when you think of Hawaii? You probably envision white sand beaches, mimosas by a resort pool, and swimming in crystal-clear water. These images do reflect the typical Hawaiian vacation, but there’s so much more to Hawaii than just the regular tourist circuit!
Hawaii: For the Eclectic Traveler
Hawaii’s Big Island is the largest and most diverse of the Hawaiian Islands. While one side is bustling with tourist activity and bathed in tropical sunshine, the other is serene and thick with rainforests. Hawaii is the perfect island to visit if you want to see it all. You can get a taste of the beach life as well as the interior’s tropical wonderland. You can rub shoulders with the tourists but also hang out where the locals do.
One of the coolest things on the Big Island is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Take a walk through an active volcanic field and watch steam hiss up through vents in the rocky ground! If you’re not quite daring enough to get so close, you can learn all about the active volcano from afar at Jaggar Museum.
Hawaii’s Big Island is also filled with waterfalls. Take a trek through Akaka Falls State Park, and be sure to make a trip to beautiful Rainbow Falls!
The Big Island also has plenty of touristy attractions to keep you busy. You can visit any of the many beaches, or browse through museums and the Kona Coffee Living History Farm.
Great for: Honeymoons, solo trips.
Oahu: For the True Tourist
Do you love hitting all the big attractions and mingling with the crowds? Do long beaches and sprawling shopping centers take you to your happy place? You’ll be sure to love Oahu! This island has many of the classic Hawaiian attractions and more than its fair share of stunning beachfront resorts.
Oahu is home to Hawaii’s capitol city, Honolulu. Head downtown for awesome shopping and dining! Here, you’ll also find hotels and resorts with incredible views. The famous Waikiki Beach Hotel overlooks beautiful Waikiki Beach, where you can spend hours sunning on the powdery white sand.
Head outside of Honolulu for some of the island’s most interesting sights. Pearl Harbor is an obligatory stop in Oahu. Learn about the United States’ entrance into World War II and walk over the sunken USS Arizona.
You can also take a trip to Iolani Palace, the home of the last Hawaiian Monarchs. Or, drive to Kualoa Ranch, a Hawaiian film site and nature park.
Great for: Girl trips, family vacations.
Kauai: For the Outdoor Adventurer
Kauai is a tropical treasure. Take advantage of the lovely scenery and endless trails! There are many state parks, beaches, dive sites, and gardens to enjoy in Kauai.
Na Pali Coast State Park is a great Kauai destination! Tackle the tough Kalalau Trail. You’ll find yourself winding through tropical rainforest, up and down the hills, and along the stunning cliffs along the coast!
Waimea Canyon State Park is another awesome option for outdoor lovers. Wander through the canyons to see a new side to Hawaii. Or, head to Polihale State Park, where you’ll find lonely white sand beaches and cliffs.
When you’ve had your fill of hiking, relax at Na Aina Kai Botanical Gardens. Or, make a trip to Kanalei Bay for surfing and beach bumming.
Great for: Friend trips, couple adventures.
Maui: For the Curious
If history, geography, and science intrigues you, then Maui is the best Hawaiian island for you. Here, you can discover the marine biology behind the stunning reefs. You can learn the science behind the volcanos. You can explore the history behind present-day Hawaiian society. Does this intrigue you? Here’s what you can experience in Maui!
Haleakala National Park is a wonderful place to see the stunning beauty of Hawaii for yourself. In this national park, you’ll find the Pools of Ohe’o, Haleakala Volcano, and plenty of trails.
For a look at the world of marine wildlife, make a trip to Maui Ocean Center. This attraction has a shark tank, aquarium, and fascinating tide pools. To see underwater creatures in their natural habitat, book a snorkel or dive tour! The most popular dive site in Maui is Molokini, a volcanic crater that features a diverse reef ecosystem.
If you’re after a historical experience, you can’t miss Whalers Village Museum or Baldwin Home Museum. Both of these museums will give you new insight into the lifestyle of those who once called Maui home.
Great for: Family vacations, solo trips.
Molokai: For the History Buff
Molokai is styled “The Friendly Isle.” Take a trip to this uncrowded island to experience a true Hawaiian welcome. As soon as you land here, you’ll find that you’ve taken a step back in time. This island is filled with historic sites, but it’s lacking the crowds of tourists. This is a marvelous Hawaiian experience!
Although this island is small and doesn’t have much development, there’s still a lot to do! Wander through the wilderness, take a trip to Sacred Halawa Valley, or relax at Papohaki Beach Park. You can split your time between historic sites and snorkeling at the beach for a quintessential Molokai vacation.
Great for: Couple trips, veteran Hawaii travelers.
Lanai: For the Authenticity Seeker
Get off the grid in Lanai. This Hawaiian island has hardly been touched by the glitz and glamor of the tourist industry. If you’re looking for authentic Hawaii, this is it! Lanai only has 30 miles of paved road, so you’ll get to spend a lot of your time four-wheeling around the island. Hunt down uncrowded beaches or head inland for wildlife watching.
If you want to enjoy some vacation experiences, you can try golfing at Manele Golf Course, or go horseback riding through the island. Be sure to visit Prehistoric Kaunolu Fishing Village and Sweetheart Rock while you’re there, as well!
Great for: Honeymoons, couple trips.
Which island would you love to visit? Are you a true tourist or an outdoor adventurer? Or are you a blend of both? Let us know your favorite island in the comments!