Maui, Oahu, Big Island, Molokai or Kauai? Which island is best for you? Picking which Island to visit in Hawaii can be confusing and time-consuming. So listen in for help and learn more about the five main islands for travel. Do you prefer hikes in the rainforest versus hikes along the beach? Do you want to snorkel or lounge? Ride a surfboard or ride a horse? Explore museums or explore waterfalls? Do you like seclusion or lively crowds? Sunshine or shade? These are all the aspects to consider when picking the right Hawaiian Island for your trip.
Oahu – The Gathering Place
How this nickname came to be is a mystery, but it certainly fits. When you come to Oahu, you will most definitely “gather”. Ohau is the hub of the Hawaiian Islands and is home to the state capital. it’s the most populated island with over 1 million residents.
If you’re looking for a little bit of everything Hawaii has to offer, then choose Oahu. Waikiki, the North Shore, Pearl Harbor, and many other attractions bring millions of visitors to the island every year. This influx of tourists, combined with the residents and other visitors, makes O’ahu a gathering place for people from around the world. Pro tip reminder: Oahu is the Island, Honolulu is the county and Waaikik is the district where 90 percent of the hotels are located.
Maui – The Valley Isle
This nickname captures the beauty and landscape of Maui. The island was shaped by two major volcanoes, which carved out significant valleys. The deep valleys and gorges in the West Maui Mountains are the result of millions of years of erosion.
Maui is an excellent destination if you enjoy adventure but also seek some relaxing time at a quality resort or vacation rental. However, be prepared to drive. A car is essential to reach many of the popular attractions and beaches. The island resembles a sideways figure-eight. Most accommodations are situated on the South or West sides. In the south, the area of Kihei offers numerous condos at more affordable prices. On the west side, Honokowai has a plethora of vacation rentals catering to budget-conscious travelers
Kauai – The Garden Isle and Hawaii
With its lush greenery and tropical landscapes, it’s no wonder where this nickname originates. The island is home to Mount Waialeale, one of the rainiest places on the planet. There is so much natural beauty, making this island a wonderful place to explore. Since the island is small, you don’t have to drive very far to experience amazing waterfalls and hiking trails.
There are three areas of the island to find the best accommodations to suit your needs and preferences. On the South Side, the Poipu area has a mixture of beautiful resorts and vacation rental condos. Pricing varies, but the resorts in this part of the island tend to be more expensive. The east side of Kauai, spanning the Lihue to Kapaa areas, is also plentiful in beauty and accommodation, and it’s more centrally located. So, if you have a shorter stay, you can travel north or south rather easily, saving some time when exploring.”
Hawaii Island – The Big Island
The Big Island is, well, big! And thus, the nickname certainly fits the topography of this island. For this reason, many people confuse the island chain of Hawaii with the Big Island itself. This is why you see that reference to distinguish the island from the chain. Hawai’i is the youngest island in the Hawaiian chain, and recent volcanic activity has further expanded its landmass. Visiting the Big Island is not just about experiencing the volcanoes. There is so much more to Hawaii Island than that. In fact, Hawaii Island has many climates and vistas; for example, during the winter, you can be surfing on the beach and then skiing on snow-capped mountains. The Hamakua coast has some of the most beautiful beaches on the islands. Most of the accommodations can be found on the Northeast (Waikoloa) or Southeast (Kona) side of the island. The West Side (Hilo) is also a wonderful place to stay, but resorts are limited. The more expensive resorts are located in the Waikoloa area, and more affordable properties are in Kona and Hilo.
Molokai – The Friendly Isle
Molokai is a charming small island and gets its nickname from its Aloha Spirit and strong sense of individuality compared to its neighboring islands. If you’re looking for a more rustic, adventurous island to visit, Molokai is an excellent choice. You can visit the northern coast of the island where you can experience one of the tallest sea cliffs in the world. Also, Molokai is the location of the Kalaupapa Peninsula. Established by the Hawaiian monarch, this area was used to isolate people with Hansen’s disease and remained in existence for over 100 years.
This island is a bit harder to reach than most because fewer people travel there, and only small commuter planes provide flights. With the exception of a few vacation rentals, there is only one resort on the entire island: Hotel Molokai.