How To Decide Which Hawaiian Island To Visit

Hawaii Aloha Travel > Podcast > How To Decide Which Hawaiian Island To Visit

One of the most frequent questions people ask us as a Hawaii travel agency is, “which island should I choose?” While this may seem like a tough choice as a first time traveler to the islands, we’re here to reassure you that with Hawaii, you really can’t go wrong. The Hawaiian archipelago is made up of seven islands, four of which are most popular for travel. And although each island offers incredible beaches and tropical beauty, the islands are individual and unique in their own way. You won’t find volcanic splendor like what the Big Island offers, and you won’t find a nightlife that rivals Oahu’s bustling city. Kauai is a lush, verdant island where you can hike into the rainforests, while Maui offers a similar tropical experience with a mixture of nightlife as well. There are many names that each island is given, and while these pronouns might give you a glimpse into what the lands offer, it’s always a good idea to ask an expert. Which is why we’re answering the number one question for Hawaii travel companies on today’s show!

Today we’ll highlight the four main islands for travel: Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and Big Island. Like we said, each island is individual and has something different for everyone. But we’re going to generalize for the sake of giving you a straightforward answer. We asked our Facebook fans “If you won a trip to Hawaii and could only pick one island which one would you choose?” We mostly received answers that reflected a “die hard” type of attitude toward one island or another, or people answering based on what they had not yet experienced of Hawaii. I have to admit, I like both these answers. And while I personally would choose Kauai, I would also be torn between choosing an island I had never been to before, to further experience the breadth of Hawaii. These answers make sense to us, especially because we’ve lived and vacationed around the islands. But for a first time traveler to Hawaii, we’d like to offer a few tips on how to choose the ideal island for your Hawaii vacation, based on what popular vote has to say.

First and foremost, the first question you want to ask yourself is, what type of vacationer are you? Do you prefer a laid-back, relaxing type of getaway, or an active, adventure-filled one? Do you like a little bit of nightlife or a sleepy town to saunter through in the evenings? Are beaches your main reasons for traveling to Hawaii or do you enjoy hikes, shopping, or tour activities? Choosing your island depends on your vacationing style, so once you have this figured out, the choice will be much easier. Here are some guidelines:


This Island has the best nightlife by far. With a bustling city and multiple hot spots on island, you can have a different club or bar experience for every night you’re here. But don’t be fooled by its liveliness. Oahu has some incredibly tranquil and relaxing counterparts. The north shore is a surfer’s paradise; filled with the iconic breaks of Waimea Bay, Pipeline, and Sunset Beach. The east side is also a quieter place, with boutique shopping and white sand beaches that are seriously unmatched elsewhere in Hawaii. We recommend Oahu for the active family, the lively couple, the party group, or the person who wants a little bit of everything Hawaii.


Known as the Garden Isle, this green island’s beauty will take your breath away. Tropical vines drip from stoplights and the north shore beaches are back dropped against humid rainforests. If you want to experience Hawaii as a lush island with a relaxed atmosphere, then Kauai is the place for you. A smaller island with far less nightlife than Oahu, many honeymooners, retired vacationers, and families enjoy this island. The daytime activities are nothing short of an adventure, because here you’ll find kayaking, hiking, beach going, snorkeling, leisurely walks, and golfing a plenty! Plus, each side is dramatically different. From the west side’s deep red canyons to the north shore’s damp green forests, you’ll find an aesthetic beauty that is unlike any other island.


This Island is a perfect blend between Kauai and Oahu because it offers nightlife as well as daytime activities. Maui is spread out, so that each side you seek is a car ride away and therefore requires a rental. Unless of course, you are content with the resort community lifestyle that Kaanapali has to offer or the other towns of Paia and Lahaina. Maui is a great relaxation destination, and has bountiful activities for a wide variety of age ranges. From shopping in quaint fishing villages to getting up close and personal with tiger sharks at the Maui Ocean Center, this island is a perfect blend of country and suburbs. It’s also the only island with vineyards, and is home to a couple famous surf breaks such as Jaws and Honolua Bay. Maui is an ideal destination for honeymooners, group travelers, and anyone who wants to get the all around feel of a relaxing, tropical destination.

Big Island

The largest of all islands in the Hawaiian archipelago, Big Island offers diverse landscapes that seem to deviate from the norm. Volcanoes, black rocky coastlines, lava tubes, tropical rainforests, unique beaches, shopping towns, a little bit of nightlife and a whole lot of interesting points of interest. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is an incredible place that will pique anyone’s interest, and Kona offers a fun town for nightlife or daytime activity. Although Big Island is the youngest island of the Hawaiian chain, it offers an abundance of history and plenty to explore during your stay. Big Island is ideal for the whole family, the avid traveler, or vacationers who want something a little different from the classic idea of Hawaii. If you want to see spewing hot lava, volcanic craters, or dark lava tubes and sulfur pools, Big Island is the place for you.

What’s interesting about picking an island destination is that most people decide to plan their trip during the busier seasons of summer and winter. While it makes sense to plan your future vacation during peak travel times, we’d also like to share with you that booking your getaway during an off season month (like November) is a great way to save money. Airfare and hotel prices are down, plus you have the full attention of your travel agent. Off seasons is a great time to begin planning your much-anticipated vacation, and we at Hawaii Aloha Travel are eager to help!