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One of the most popular questions on the internet is, “Which Hawaiian Island should I visit?”. Hawaii has eight main islands, so choosing the right island for you is a must! In this blog, we break down the six main vacation islands, the best attractions on each, how to island-hop, and some of the most frequently asked questions by travelers.
The island of Maui has something for everyone. The beaches often rank among the top in the world. The shopping and dining found across the island are second to none. Stunning beaches, breathtaking sunsets, and activities of all types make Maui one of the best places on earth.
Some of the top attractions on the Valley Isle are the Haleakala National Park, Road to Hana, Molokini Crater, Waianapanapa State Park, Kaanapali Beach, and Wailea Beach.
Check out the most popular Maui activities here:
Oahu is home to Honolulu and picturesque sunsets along white sand beaches. Known as the most affordable island to visit, there no shortage of fun and relaxation on Oahu. Walking distance to dining, activities, and plenty of nightlife make this island a fantastic time for all. Perfect for relaxing at the beach or doing some upscale shopping.
Some of the top attractions on Oahu are Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head Crater, Hanauma Bay, Waikiki Beach, Manoa Falls, and Waimea Bay.
Check out the most popular Oahu activities here:
The Big Island
The Big Island of Hawaii is a perfect choice for families with a wide variety of things to do. It offers many incredible opportunities to explore in adventurous ways. There are upscale resorts with amenities, and no shortage of activities to keep the trip packed with fun. The size of the island is spacious, allowing for a peaceful getaway.
Some of the top attractions on the Big Island of Hawaii are Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, Waipio Valley, Punaluʻu Beach, Akaka Falls State Park, Rainbow Falls, and Mahana Beach.
Check out the most popular activities on the Big Island here:
Kauai is the best island for outdoor enthusiasts. It is known for its gorgeous scenery and fantastic outdoor adventures. Waimea Canyon, Queen’s bath, and the Na Pali Coast are just a few visitor favorites. Some of the must-see places in Kaui are just as fun getting there, so bring your gear.
Some of the top attractions on the Garden Isle are Waimea Canyon, Hanalei Bay, Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park, Poipu Beach, Kalalau Trail, Wailua Falls, Queen’s Bath, and the Kilauea Lighthouse.
Check out the most popular Kauai activities here:
You won’t find any big crowds on Lanai. This little island is a great chance to get away from it all. A perfect fit for those looking for relaxation. Lanai is known as a throwback to what all the islands of Hawaii once looked like. The guided tours, golfing, and hiking give visitors plenty of options for a relaxing and serene escape. Also, the smaller size makes it feel like you have the whole island to yourself.
Some of the top attractions on are Lana‘i City, Keahiakawelo (Garden of the Gods), Lanai Cat Sanctuary, Shipwreck Beach, Puu Pehe (Sweetheart Rock), Dole Park, and Hulopoe Bay.
Check out the most popular Lanai activities here:
There are no stoplights on the island of Molokai. Yes, Molokai is very rural and has a sense of being untouched due to the lack of tourism-based businesses. The island is known as the birthplace of the hula and referred to as “The Most Hawaiian Island.” You truly immerse yourself in the Hawaiian culture with every trip to Molokai.
Some of the top attractions on Molokai are Kalaupapa National Historical Park, Papohaku Beach Park, and the Halawa Valley.
Check out the most popular Molokai activities here:
Want to know which Hawaiian Island you should visit? Click here to take our FREE QUIZ!
Five airports in Hawaii offer flights to the mainland United States. They include the following:
- Maui – Located in Kahului (OGG)
- Oahu – Located in Honolulu (HNL)
- The Big Island – The Big Island has two airport options. Located on the west side near Kona in Keahole (KOA). Also located on the east side of the island in Hilo (ITO).
- Kauai – Located in Lihue (LIH)
If you’d like to travel between islands when you arrive in Hawaii, you will need to take a commuter airline, also known as an interisland flight. Both Lanai and Molokai have small airports solely for commuter flights.
- Lanai – Located in Lanai City (LNY)
- Molokai – Located in Kaunakakai (MKK)
Four airlines offer interisland flights at this time. They are Hawaiian Airlines (a favorite of ours!), Makani Kai Air, Southwest Airlines, and Mokulele Airlines.
If you are staying on Maui and would like to visit Lanai or Molokai, both are accessible by ferry. There are no other ferries that travel between islands though, so if you’d like to go elsewhere, a short flight is necessary.
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Most Frequently Asked Questions About the Hawaiian Islands
What Hawaii island is Disney on?
Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, is an oceanfront resort located on the island of Oahu. The resort is not the same as the amusement parks in the mainland United States, but they offer many family-friendly experiences that are full of magic and sure to delight. Many say there is no better place to experience the spirit of aloha than at Aulani!
What Hawaii island is Pearl Harbor on?
Pearl Harbor is located on the island of Oahu. The Pearl Habor Historic Site includes four different fantastic experiences. Keep in mind you can still visit Pearl Harbor while staying on any Hawaiian island by taking an interisland flight to Oahu.
What necessities should I pack for Hawaii?
- Reef-safe Sunscreen
- Waterproof Camera
- Packing Cubes
- Portable Phone Charger
- Selfie Stick
- Rash Guard
- Water Shoes
- Bathing Suit
- Beach Towel
- UV-Protective Sunglasses
- Travel Backpack
- Water Bottle
- Hiking Shoes
What Hawaii island is best for families?
The four best islands for families include Maui, Oahu, the Big Island, and Kauai. Maui is best for families that want adventure outside of resort living. Oahu is an excellent choice for those who want an authentic Hawaiian experience with the convenience of a larger city. The Big Island is perfect for families that want to experience a wide variety of landscapes and climates all on one island. Kauai is an excellent option for those who desire more outdoor adventure than the beach offers.
What Hawaii island is best for a honeymoon?
We may be completely biased here, but we went to Kauai for our honeymoon and loved it! Instead of staying at a resort, we stayed at an oceanfront condo. It was so much fun renting a car and adventuring across the entire island for a week. We went snorkeling at different beaches, hiked to waterfalls, kayaked through lush landscapes, and visited many oceanfront restaurants.
However, Maui, Lanai, and Oahu are the next most popular islands for Hawaii honeymoons. Maui has many luxury resorts in Wailea and plenty of award-winning restaurants across the island. Lanai is the perfect spot for those who desire the luxury and seclusion that the Four Seasons Resort provides along Manele Bay. Oahu is an excellent choice if you enjoy all that the bustling city life has to offer. Depending on how long your trip is, many people island hop, as well.
What Hawaii island has the volcano?
Six volcanoes across Hawaii are considered active. The Big Island is home to five of those volcanoes and includes Hualalai, Kilauea, Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea, and Lo’ihi. Maui is home to the sixth volcano, Mount Haleakala.
What Hawaii island has the best beaches?
Hawaii is home to some of the best beaches in the world! Every island has spectacular beaches that are both stunning and family-friendly, so you can’t go wrong when choosing an island based on the beaches. However, several unique beaches are worth visiting across Hawaii!
The Big Island is home to the Papakolea Green Sand Beach and the Punalu’u Black Sand Beach. Kauai has what is known as Glass Beach, which is made up of sea glass. Maui has Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach on the Road to Hana and the Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach. Molokai offers an orange sand beach at Papohaku Beach and a black sand beach at Awahua Beach.
Which Hawaii island is the most affordable?
Oahu is widely known as the least expensive Hawaiian Island to visit. Since it is the most developed, you can often save on transportation on the island, and many things are within walking distance depending on where you stay. However, finding great travel deals is possible for any Hawaiian island.
Which Hawaii island is best for snorkeling?
Maui is known for some of the best snorkeling in the United States. However, as travelers to Hawaii we really enjoy snorkeling on the island of Kauai. You can snorkel on any Hawaiian Island though at many fantastic beaches, and each offers several tour options to do so.
As you can see, there is a Hawaiian Island for everyone, no matter what your vacation style is! Whether you love luxury resorts, or hiking and camping trips among lush landscapes, Hawaii is sure to please. If you still are unsure about which Hawaiian Island you should visit, take our quiz to find out.
What questions do you have about traveling to the Hawaiian Islands? We’d love to help you with your planning journey!