Can you picture it? The gentle swaying of the palm trees, the plumeria-lined streets, the golden sand and turquoise water, the dramatic cloud cover over the tops of lush mountains and volcanoes, and the familiar ‘eh bras’ and sounds of ukulele?
Hawaii is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and there are many reasons to return time and time again. Each island holds a special place in history, culture and time, each with its own unique draws and attractions.
Please enjoy our breakdown of the Hawaiian Islands, and we hope to share of bit of our aloha with you soon.
Kauai – The Garden Isle
When most people picture Hawaii, images of Kauai come to mind. Rugged landscapes of colorful mountainous walls against deep blue water, desolate waterfalls in tropical settings, and picturesque sunsets along sweeping white sand bays are just a few of the draws of this magnificent island.
If you’ve come to Hawaii to relax, Kauai is the place for you. Take a sailing tour along the Na Pali Coastline, explore the local eateries and live music in Hanalei Bay, and witness the colorful landscapes of Waimea Canyon.
If you’re unsure which area of the island will be best for your stay, this guide to Kauai is an excellent and informative resource.
Hawaii – The Big Island
Larger than all other Hawaiian Islands combined, the Big Island boasts some of the most unique attractions in the Aloha State.
Travelers drawn to land exploration will have the opportunity to see Hawaii’s 5 volcanoes, including the popular Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which boasts active lava flows, lava tunnels, hiking and biking trails, and much more.
The Big Island is also home to Papakolea, one of only four green sand beaches in the world, as well as a huge population of manta rays, who come to feed on the plankton drawn to the underwater lights off the Kona coast.
Whether you’re interested in stargazing at the top of Mauna Kea or hiking in the legendary and stunning Waipio Valley, the Big Island certainly offers remarkable opportunities to see and experience world-class locations.
Maui – The Valley Isle
They say ‘Maui No Ka Oi’, and it’s hard to disagree. Although we may be biased, Maui is the ideal mix of culture, convenience, and nature in the Hawaiian Islands.
With excellent opportunities for snorkeling, lounging on a variety of 81 beaches, hiking to waterfalls in the lush rainforest, surfing, and enjoying world class meals with unbeatable views, Maui is the perfect escape for those looking to explore, relax, and experience Hawaii.
While there are hundreds of exciting activities, some of our favorite recommendations are driving the Road to Hana, watching sunrise at the summit of Haleakala Volcano, enjoying a scenic sunset cocktail cruise (which doubles as a whale watching cruise from December to April), taking a refreshing dip in Iao Valley, and enjoying a perfect beach day at Makena’s Big Beach.
Choose from cozy, romantic accommodations with panoramic views in Upcountry, remote bungalows on the Hana Coast, or go for gold at one of the beachfront five star resorts in Wailea or Ka’anapali. Whichever you choose, you’re sure to be left wanting more.
Lanai – The Pineapple Isle
Reached by a short ferry ride from Maui’s Lahaina Harbor, Lanai is home to only around 3,000 residents.
Travelers seeking a remote experience should head to Lanai for a different kind of Hawaiian vacation, away from the large group tours and crowded beaches.
Choose from one of three hotels on the island, including two Four Seasons Resorts and Hotel Lanai, and take time to see gorgeous sites such as Sweetheart Rock, Garden of the Gods, Shipwreck Beach and Hulopo’e Bay, where Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins are known to frequent in early morning hours.
Molokai – The Friendly Isle
Even more so than Lanai, Molokai offers a look into the ‘real Hawaii’ of the past.
With no beachfront resorts, no traffic lights, and no malls, Molokai provides a secluded escape for travelers who don’t mind digging a bit further for their own personal paradise.
Take a mule ride along the world’s tallest sea cliffs to reach the historic Kalaupapa National Park, where victims of Hansen’s Disease, more commonly known as Leprosy, were banished in times past, or enjoy a walk along Hawaii’s longest white sand beach. With a population that still boasts 40% Hawaiian ancestry, ‘The Most Hawaiian Island’ could also easily be the most interesting.
Oahu – The Gathering Place
With nearly 5 million visitors annually, Oahu certainly knows how to draw a crowd.
Often referred to as ‘The Gathering Place’, the most popular and populous Hawaiian Island provides an excellent mixture of historical attractions, nightlife, surf breaks, and cultural activities.
Take time to visit the historic sites of Pearl Harbor and ‘Iolani Palace, and don’t skip the opportunity to watch surfers take on waves on the famous north shore, particularly during winter months. Tour the gorgeous Kualoa Ranch, go for a scenic hike, take a surf lesson at Waikiki Beach, and make sure to enjoy ono grinds in Chinatown.
If you can handle the crowds, it’s definitely worth the trip.