Hundreds of thousands of tourists come to Hawaii each year, and I’ve always wondered how they make their decisions of which island to visit. Each island has its own unique experience, so I definitely think visitors should think a bit longer about which Hawaiian Island they want to visit. So here are a few little descriptions to help you answer the daunting question: what is the best Hawaiian Island to visit?
Oahu is definitely the most popular island for tourists. It’s got Honolulu, Waikiki, Pearl Harbor, and the North Shore (and here’s a post on a guide to the ultimate North Shore Day trip). While it does have some awesome nature spots, like this waterfall and this sunset view, Oahu also has some city life. On most of the other islands, stores and restaurants tend to close quite early. That means that after around 7 p.m., there’s not a lot going on. But on Oahu, you can find something to do late into the night.
Many argue that Maui is the best Hawaiian Island to visit. Maui is the island with a romantic vibe – all the honeymooners come here. The relaxing beaches, stunning sunsets, and beautiful palm trees all draw couples to this island. And if you’re looking for an absolutely striking sunrise, Haleakala is the best place across all of the islands to see one.
Kauai is the rainiest of all the islands, which means it has the most beautiful waterfalls. Honestly, you could spend days chasing waterfalls here. Oh, and Kauai has the beautiful Na Pali Coast. I would highly recommend a tour of that as well.
Hawaii (The Big Island)
The Big Island of Hawaii is easily the most diverse of all the islands – from rainforests to beaches to deserts to snow-capped mountains to erupting volcanoes. (Don’t worry, the recent lava eruption of Kilauea is only affecting a small part of the island). Be warned though, there is a lot of empty space between each of these beautiful sites, so be prepared to drive for a couple of hours to get to your destination.
Molokai and Lanai
Molokai and Lanai are two unheard of, yet easily accessible Hawaiian Islands. The population of both of these islands combined is barely over 10,000 people, so they are both quite remote. So if you are looking for a true island, off-the-grid getaway, pick one of these two islands.
Want to know a little more about Lanai? Check out The Ultimate Guide to Lanai, Hawaii.
Kahoolawe is another one of the smaller islands of Hawaii, and it is quite difficult to get to. I’ve actually only ever heard of people going to Kahoolawe for service purposes. So if you would like to visit the smallest of Hawaii’s eight islands, click here for information on a four-day volunteer experience.
Niihau is also quite hard to step foot on. This island is privately owned by a single family, who works to keep the Native Hawaiian way of living alive. Because of this goal, very few people are allowed to visit the island. There are two options: 1) get invited by the family who owns the island (let’s just say that one is probably not happening) or 2) book a half a day helicopter tour. But, as expected, that option is quite pricey. Personally, I have never been to this island, but I’m sure the experience is one to remember.
Feel like you might want to visit multiple Hawaiian Islands? Check out this post on Hawaiian island hopping!
Did this list help you answer the question, “what is the best Hawaiian Island to visit?” Do you have any other tips that you think would help with this decision? Write them below in the comments!
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