With so many idyllic islands to choose from, picking the right one for your next Hawaiian holiday can feel like a daunting task. Do you want to relax on pristine beaches, hike through verdant rainforests, or hit the waves on world-class surf breaks? Or perhaps you want to do a bit of everything?
To help you make up your mind, here is a handy guide on choosing the right Hawaiian island for your next holiday.
How to Choose the Right Hawaiian Island for Your Next Holiday
1. Consider your budget
The first step in choosing the right Hawaiian island is to consider your budget. For instance, despite being more expensive than the other main islands, Kaua'i still offers excellent value for money. For those on a tight budget, Oahu is the best option, as it has a wide range of accommodation options and activities to suit all budgets.
2. Decide what kind of holiday you're after
Are you looking for a relaxing beach holiday or an action-packed adventure? The island of Maui is a wonderful destination for those wanting to relax and rejuvenate, with its beautiful beaches and luxurious resorts. If you're after an adventurous holiday filled with hiking, surfing and exploring, then Kaua'i or Big Island are ideal choices.
3. Choose when you want to travel
The time of year you travel will also impact your decision on which Hawaiian island to visit. Travelling during the shoulder season (between April and June or September and November) is a great option if you're looking to avoid crowds and enjoy lower prices. However, if you're after guaranteed good weather and don't mind paying a bit more, then planning your trip during the peak season (between July and August) is the way to go.
Oahu: The Gathering Place
When most people think of Hawaii, they picture pristine beaches, lush tropical forests, and towering volcanoes. And while all of those things can be found on Oahu, the island offers so much more. Nicknamed "The Gathering Place," Oahu is the most populous of the Hawaiian islands and is home to the state capital, Honolulu and its world-famous Waikiki Beach.
As a result, the island has a more cosmopolitan feel than its counterparts and offers visitors a wide range of activities to enjoy. Whether you're looking to learn about Hawaiian history, sample local cuisine, or simply relax on a beautiful beach, Oahu is sure to please.
5 spots on Oahu to fully experience the Aloha vibe
1. Hanauma Bay
Hanauma Bay is one of the most popular tourist destinations on Oahu. The sheltered cove is renowned for its pristine beaches and turquoise waters. The bay is home to a wide variety of fish and coral, making it a great place for snorkelling and diving.
2. Diamond Head State Monument
The volcanic crater of Diamond Head State Monument is one of Oahu's most well-known and visited hiking spots. An accessible one-hour hike leads to the crater's peak, where visitors are rewarded with panoramic vistas of Honolulu and the surrounding area.
3. Oahu's North Shore
The North Shore of Oahu is a place of contrast where you can truly embrace the Hawaiian spirit. On one side are the gentle waves of the Hawaiian Islands, and on the other is the rugged coastline. Visitors can find white sand beaches, secluded coves, wild surf breaks, and towering cliffs. Fumi's shrimp truck is a must-stop during your visit to Hawaii. The garlic shrimps are world-famous, and you can't miss out on this local delicacy!
4. Waimanalo Beach
It's hard to believe that such an idyllic spot exists so close to the hustle and bustle of Honolulu, but Waimanalo Beach definitely stands out among Oahu's many beaches. With its gentle waves, soft sand, and scenic mountain backdrop, it's no wonder this beach is consistently ranked as one of the best in Hawaii by locals and tourists alike.
5. Pearl Harbor
Whether you're interested in history or just looking for a place to relax, Pearl Harbor is well worth a visit. Visitors can take a tour of the USS Arizona Memorial, which commemorates the soldiers who lost their lives during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Several museums in the area also detail the history of Pearl Harbor and World War II.
Maui: The Magic Isle
Maui is a popular destination for travellers who want to experience Hawaii's natural beauty without sacrificing comfort. This is an island of soaring cliffs, verdant rainforests, tumbling waterfalls, and silky-smooth beaches—not to mention the world's largest dormant volcano. Maui has a relaxed, easygoing atmosphere that'll make you feel right at home.
Whether you're looking to catch some waves, hike through lush jungle, or simply lounge on the sand with a cocktail in hand, Maui has something for everyone. It's no wonder this idyllic island is often referred to as the “Magic Isle."
Maui's top 5 most enchanting attractions
1. Haleakala National Park
A visit to Haleakala is an unforgettable experience. Sunrise from the summit is especially memorable, as the sunlight slowly fills the crater. But even if you don't make it for sunrise, the views from the top are stunning.
After enjoying the views, take some time to explore the hiking trails that crisscross the crater floor. No matter how you experience it, a visit to Haleakala National Park is sure to be magical.
2. Kapalua Bay Beach
It's not just the physical beauty of the beach that makes it so special; it's also the magical feeling in the air. It's as if time stands still at Kapalua Bay, and all your cares just melt away. Soak up the sun, swim in the azure waters or simply stroll along the beach—whichever you choose, Kapalua Bay is sure to leave you with lasting memories.
3. Road to Hana
If you're looking for an epic road trip, Maui's Road to Hana is hard to beat. This winding stretch of highway hugs the island's dramatic coastline, offering up one breathtaking vista after another. But the road is about more than just pretty scenery; it's also a chance to experience Maui's unique culture and history.
Along the way, you'll find small towns steeped in Hawaiian traditions, as well as hidden beaches and waterfalls that are well off the beaten path. A drive down the Road to Hana will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression.
No trip to Maui is complete without a visit to the charming town of Lahaina. Once the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Lahaina is now a bustling hub of art, culture and history. Visitors can stroll along the quaint Front Street, browse the local shops and galleries, and enjoy the many restaurants and cafes. With its relaxed atmosphere and beautiful setting, Lahaina is an enchanting place to visit.
5. Iao Valley State Park
When you visit Iao Valley State Park on Maui, you'll feel like you've been transported to another world. The lush, green valley is home to a pristine stream that flows through a jungle-like setting. Hiking trails wind through the valley, providing stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
And at the centre of it all is the iconic Iao Needle, a towering pinnacle of rock that stands out against the sky. Whether you're looking for a place to hike, picnic, or simply relax, you’re sure to have a magical experience at Iao Valley State Park.
Kaua'i: The Garden Isle
Kaua'i is ideal for travellers who want to get away from it all and enjoy nature at its finest. This island is home to stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and cascading waterfalls.
Kaua'i is also great for hiking, with trails ranging from easy walks to challenging multi-day treks. If you're looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, Kaua'i is a perfect choice.
5 Kaua'i highlights for nature lovers
1. Wailua River State Park
Hike through the lush rainforest to Wailua Falls, a breathtaking spot on Kauai's east side. The view from this overlook is one-of-a-kind and will leave you feeling refreshed after your adventure in nature!
2. Kalalau Trail
The Kalalau Trail is a popular hiking trail that runs along the Napali Coast, offering stunning views of cliffs, waterfalls, and beaches. The trail is 11 miles long—a challenging but well-worth endeavour for those who love nature! The Kalalau Trail begins at Ke‘e Beach and ends at Kalalau Beach. Hiking the entire trail takes about 3 to 5 days.
3. Waimea Canyon
Treat yourself to a day exploring Waimea Canyon, a large canyon located on the west side of Kaua'i. With its red dirt cliffs, winding rivers and lush vegetation, the canyon looks more like Mars than Hawaii. And at 10 miles long and 3,600 feet deep, it's one of the deepest canyons in the Pacific.
4. Poipu Beach Park
When you think of a natural paradise, this might be the place. Named America’s Best Beach by The Travel Channel, Poipu Beach Park is a popular beach located on the south side of Kaua'i. The beach is situated in a bay and is protected from strong currents and waves, making it ideal for swimming, bodyboarding, and surfing.
5. Hanalei Bay
Hanalei Bay, located on the north side of Kaua'i, is known for its beautiful sunsets, as well as its surfing and snorkelling opportunities. Legend has it that this was once the playground of Hawaiian royalty, and it's easy to see why: Hanalei Bay is simply stunning.
Big Island: The Land of Adventure
As its name suggests, the Big Island is the largest of the Hawaiian islands. This island is ideal for travellers who want to experience a wide variety of landscapes, from active volcanoes to black sand beaches.
The Big Island is also home to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which offers visitors the chance to see lava flows up close. If you're looking for an adventure-packed holiday, the Big Island should be at the top of your list.
5 Big Island highlights for the adventurous type
1. Volcanoes National Park
There are many places to visit on Hawaii’s Big Island, but Volcanoes National Park is consistently ranked as a top attraction. The park is home to two active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa, as well as a variety of other geological features. Visitors to the park can hike through lava fields, see volcanic craters, and even witness lava flowing into the ocean.
Kilauea is one of the world's most active volcanoes, and visiting it is an unforgettable experience. There are several ways to do this, but one of the most popular is to take a helicopter tour. These tours typically last around an hour and will take you over the lava fields, through the rainforest, and past the crater.
3. Akaka Falls State Park
Akaka Falls State Park, located in North Kohala, is the perfect destination for adventurers seeking a little more than just a hike through the woods. The park is home to Akaka Falls, one of Hawaii's tallest waterfalls, which plunges 442 feet into a gorge below, as well as a variety of other hiking trails and natural attractions.
4. Mauna Kea
If you're the type of person who gets a thrill from standing on the edge of a cliff, Mauna Kea is the place for you. At over 14,000 feet tall, it's also one of the tallest sea mountains in the world. And because it's close to the equator, it's one of the best places in the world for stargazing. On a clear night, you can see the Milky Way with your naked eye. So whether you're looking for an adventure or just a chance to marvel at the stars, Mauna Kea is definitely worth a visit.
5. Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site
Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site is a sacred site once used for human sacrifice by Hawaiian chiefs. The site is now a popular tourist destination where visitors can learn about Hawaiian culture and history.
“Aloha” to a dream holiday in paradise
There's no wrong answer when it comes to choosing which Hawaiian island to visit—it all comes down to what kind of holiday you're after and when you want to travel. With so many idyllic islands on offer, there's sure to be one that's perfect for you. Mahalo!
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