Hawaii Travel Guides

Which Hawaiian Island Should I Visit?

You’ve heard about it, you’ve dreamed about it, and now you’re planning your visit to the Hawaiian Islands. The big question: which Hawaiian island (or islands) are you going to visit?

All of the larger islands (the Big Island, Maui, Oahu) have plenty of shopping, resorts, restaurants, and outdoor adventures. The question isn’t “which island is good?” because they’re all pretty fantastic. Instead, we’re here to help you figure out which island you’d like to spend your trip (or the bulk of your trip) visiting.

We’ve picked out some photos and highlights of each Hawaiian island to help you choose which ones you’d like to visit. Check it out!

Hawaii (The Big Island)

Kilauea Volcano, Big Island

Hawai’i, more commonly known as “the Big Island,” is home to Kilauea, which has been continuously erupting since 1983 (Maunaloa last erupted in 1984). Most of the island’s hotels are located far from the volcano flow zones, but within a comfortable driving distance.

If you’d like to see lava flows and lava tubes on your vacation, make sure to visit the Big Island. It’s also got beautiful beaches, jungles, towns with shopping and restaurants, and the only mountain in Hawai’i that regularly receives snow.

Akaka Falls, Big Island


A bamboo forest on the Pipiwai trail, Haleakala National Park, Maui.

There’s a reason the phrase goes “Maui No Ka Oi,” which translates to, “Maui is the best.” I might be biased (I grew up here, after all), but I think Maui is the best island for a first-time visit.

There’s a perfect balance between town and country, some of the very best beaches in the world, and incredible sightseeing all over the island.

If you’re visiting Hawaii for the very first time, this is a great island to start with. Some of the highlights on Maui include the Maui Ocean Center, Haleakala National Park, the Road to Hana, Lahaina Town (the former capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom), and Ka’anapali Beach.

Wailea Beach Walkway, Maui


Molokai’s famous Sea Cliffs

Molokai is somewhat more populated than Lanai and has more activities, hotels, and restaurants (although it’s not nearly as full — or large — as Maui). Enjoy hiking through Kamakou Preserve or taking a helicopter tour and viewing the west end’s sea cliffs.

If you’d like to visit Molokai, but don’t want to spend your whole trip there, it’s a short flight over from one of the larger islands.

Halawa Beach Park, Molokai


View from Sharks Bay Overlook, Lanai, Hawaii

Lanai is the smallest of the main Hawaiian islands and (along with Molokai) is a part of Maui County. If you’d like to escape from the crowds and spend your vacation in peace and quiet, Lanai is a great place to do it.

The pace on Lanai is very slow (there aren’t any stoplights on the whole island), and there are limited activities. That being said, Lanai is beautiful and full of natural places to visit. One of the cooler things on island: the Lanai Cat Sanctuary. We’d recommend spending a day — or several — there after catching a boat or flight over from Maui or one of the other larger islands.

As with Molokai, it is very easy to spend a day on Lanai and have a great time, while spending the bulk of your trip on Maui. However, if rest and peace is what you’re looking for, Lanai is the place for you.

Shipwreck, off the coast of Lanai


View of Waikiki Beach and Honolulu Skyline from Diamond Head, Oahu

Oahu is home to Hawaii’s biggest city, Honolulu. Here, you’ll find Pearl Harbor and Iolani Palace, as well as the current seat of Hawaii’s government and many of the state’s best museums and night life.

There’s more to Oahu than just the city. Head out to the North shore and you’re in the small-town and rural Hawaii you’ve imagined.

As with all the islands, Oahu has plenty of great hikes and beaches, although it might take a little more work to escape the crowds.

Hanauma Bay, Oahu


Na Pali coast, Kauai, view from a sea sunset cruise tour.

Kauai is the favorite island of anyone trying to escape the hustle and bustle without sacrificing activities and modern comforts.

Slower in pace than Maui, Kauai is a great honeymoon destination and the perfect place to recharge. To put it another way, when Hawaii residents want to take a short retreat or vacation, more often than not, we head for Kauai.

Home to some of the world’s best surfing, Kauai is the island to visit if you want to get a sense of the Hawaii the world fell in love with in the movies.

Hanalei Bay, Kauai

Island Hopping…

All of the islands are within short flights of each other (sorry, no bridge, and with the exception of Lanai, no ferry). The flights are relatively inexpensive and it’s not uncommon to visit two or three islands during a two-week trip. Check out our blog on Island Hopping for more details.

We can’t wait to see you here!

What activities can I do in Hawaii?

All sorts! Browse the activities below by island and discover what you can get up to on each of the different Hawaiian Islands.


4-Hour Bottom & Sport Fishing Tour with Strike Zone

From: $154.00
Get on board this state-of-the-art 43' Delta, offering the only morning 4-hour bottom & sportfishing charter. A typical half day bottom-sportfishing charter aboard Strike Zone will have you depart promptly at 7am from Slip #64 at Maalaea Harbor and returning at 11 am. Depending upon the weather conditions and the species recently being caught, the boat usually high speed trolls the offshore waters of Maui, Lanai and Kahoolawe as the captain and crew search for signs of fish.

6-Hour Bottom & Sport Fishing Combo

From: $188.00
Get on board this state-of-the-art 43' Delta, offering the only morning 6-hour bottom & sportfishing charter. A typical morning Maui bottom fishing trip aboard Strike Zone departs promptly at 6:30am from Maalaea Harbor, Maui, Slip #64. We return at 12:30pm. It typically takes about an hour to reach some of the most productive spots; different locations are chosen  on any given trip, and are determined by what's been biting recently, as well as current weather conditions.

Afternoon Maui or Lanai Scuba Dive with Extended Horizons

From: $139.00
This is a great opportunity to enjoy a boat dive off of the Lanai or Maui coasts, featuring some of the most pristine diving locations in the world.  Certified divers can choose between 1 to 2 tanks and snorkelers are also welcome. Dive sites are decided taking in consideration divers' requests, weather and current conditions.
Pearl Harbor tour

Battleships of WWII at Pearl Harbor by Discover Hawaii Tours

From: $75.99
This tour takes you on the historic journey of the WWII battleships at Pearl Harbor.
Oahu Snorkel Trip

Captain Bob’s Snorkel Picnic Sail

From: $137.00
Come experience an unforgettable day in paradise.  Sail away aboard the Barefoot I and explore the amazing shallow coral reefs and the exotic sea creatures of Hawaii in the comfort of a glass bottom boat.  See Gilligan's Island for yourself and other popular landmarks such as Chinaman's Hat.  Snorkel, swim, sun, calm water barefoot sailing, Hawaiian style water volleyball, glass bottom viewing of large coral formations and a sumptuous barbecued lunch served on board at the Sandbar.  Truly a day of fun in the sun!

Dolphin Swim Adventure at Sea Life Park Hawaii

From: $199.99
Have that incredible Hawaiian vacation experience by swimming and playing with dolphins. You also get access to the rest of the Sea Life Park and can choose additional experiences to add to the excitement.

‘Doors Off’ Lava and Rainforests Helicopter Tour of Big Island

From: $290.35
When visiting the Big Island, you can't miss out on the thrill of flying doors-off over the world's most active volcano, aboard the Hughes 500, rated "the hottest helicopter on Earth" by the Travel Channel.

Atlantis Submarine Tour from Kona

From: $124.00
Experience the magic of an Atlantis Submarine adventure that will create lifetime memories as you explore the majestic coastal waters off the Kailua-Kona pier

Big Island Deluxe Helicopter Tour (1hr 45min)

From: $389.95
Experience 1 hour and 45 minutes as you explore the best the Big Island has to offer!

Fern Grotto Boat Tour – Smith’s Wailea River Cruise

From: $25.00
A journey of Songs and Legends. During the two mile river journey, you'll hear songs and stories of ancient Hawaii' like the King's Highway, sacred Mount Kapu, and the First Hau Tree.
Welcome to Hawaii!

Fresh Lei Greeting

Kick your Hawaii vacation off with a warm aloha lei greeting!

Kauai – SeaFun Shoreline Snorkel Tour

From: $76.80
This half day Kauai snorkeling excursion will take you to the best available shoreline snorkeling site on the day of your tour!

Visit Lanai – Expeditions Ferry Ride from Maui

From: $28.85
For over 15 years Expeditions has been providing the most reliable, affordable transportation between the islands of Maui and Lana`i. Local residents and visitors alike enjoy their short trip across the Auau Channel aboard Expeditions' fast, United States Coast Guard certified vessels.

Visit Oahu – Full Day at Pearl Harbor from Maui, Kauai, or Kona

From: $459.99
Available from Maui, Kauai or Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii, your tour will take you on a day long trip to historic Pearl Harbor. Highlights include: Pearl Harbor Visitor's Center, USS Arizona Memorial, USS Bowfin Submarine, USS Missouri Battleship, and Pacific Aviation Museum

Visit Oahu – Pearl Harbor and Arizona Memorial Tour from Maui, Kauai or Kona

From: $443.99
Available from Maui or Kona (Big Island), this full day tour to Oahu features the USS Arizona Memorial, the USS Missouri Battleship, and a tour of the Historic City of Honolulu.

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