This is a question that virtually every Hawaii traveler asks themselves at some time during their Hawaii travel planning experience. There is no simple answer to this question. For most travelers after their first trip to Hawaii they realize that they should have rephrased the question to "What is the Hawaiian Island I should visit FIRST when I got to Hawaii?". Most people that visit one of the Hawaiian Islands immediately develop a curiosity of what the other islands are like. This curiosity beckons many travelers to revisit the Aloha State until they eventually visited all of the islands. To help answer this question we have provided a summary of what you can expect from each island as well as some things to consider if you're doing a multi island trip.
Oahu is the most populated island in the state. The largest city on the island is Honolulu which is where the majority of the tourist activity is. Between downtown Honolulu and the Diamond Head Mountain lies Waikiki Beach. Waikiki is one of the most busy places in the state. When people visit Oahu they normally do so for one of two reasons. The first reason is that they want to see the big name attractions such as Waikiki Beach and the famous surfing beaches on the North Shore. The second reason people visit Oahu is because they are looking to PARTY! The other islands nightlife options are very limited. On Oahu the bars stay open later than on the other islands. There are actually strip clubs on the island of Oahu (which is something that is not found anywhere else in the state). People that are into this sort of late night party scene will quickly get bored on the other islands. (more)
Maui is the second largest island in the state. It is very family oriented and rural compared to Oahu but compared to the other outer islands its a fairly busy place. The island is made up of two mountains and a valley that connects the two. The south and west sides of the island is where the majority of the beaches and resort areas are. The two main attractions to the island are the "Road to Hana" and the Haleakala Crater. The road to Hana is a day trip that leads travelers down a narrow winding coastal road that takes them through the rainforest that is on covers the whole eastern side of the island. There are many waterfalls that can be seen from the road and most people that go out to this side will describe the scenery with such works as "mesmerizing" or "lush". The Haleakala Crater is located on the top of a 10,000 foot dormant volcano. The crater is about 3000 feet deep and 11 miles across. The views from the summit that overlook the crater are pretty breath taking, especially during sunrise or sunset! (more)
The Big Island attracts a variety of visitors. The main attraction of the Big Island is the active volcano on the east side. There has been continuous volcanic activity since the mid 80's in this region and it is the only place in Hawaii were you can actually see hot lava on a regular basis. The volcano is not the only reason why people visit, the west side of the island has some of the best sport fishing on the planet. 1000+ pound Marlins are caught regularly in this region and it is also the only place where visitors can actually make reservations to go on trips to swim with dolphins or manta rays. (more)
Kauai is a favorite place for couples our outdoors people to visit. It is a small island with very extreme topography that is almost completely covered with lush rainforests. There is a great deal of things to do but most of them are outdoors in nature. Kauai is not favored by families as much as Maui because the beaches generally have much larger surf and the island is more prone to natural hazards such as flooding and strong ocean currents. However, those that are willing to endure the raw nature of Kauai will undoubtedly find themselves rewarded views of some of the most beautiful locations they've ever gotten to experience. If you go to Kauai make sure to see the Napali Coast. Napali is best viewed by air or by sea. (more)
There are short inter-island flights available between islands and there is always the possibility of visiting multiple islands if you can't decide on which single one you would like to visit. This is something we recommend only if you're going on a trip where you'll be able to spend at least a 7-10 days on each island. There is so much to see on each island that it can take time to be able to explore them enough to find precisely what you're looking for. Even with the short inter-island flights the travel of between the islands will still eat up at least a half day (if not a whole day) of your vacation's itinerary.
Please contact us if you have any questions about visiting Hawaii. All of our staff are longtime residents of the state and we would love to help you with anything that you need to make your stay in the Aloha State more enjoyable.
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