Which Is The Best Island in Hawaii to Visit? (2023)

With several beautiful Hawaiian islands to choose from, deciding which one or ones to visit on your trip can be one of the fewer fun parts of planning your vacation. The good news is really can not go wrong and you do not have to just pick one! If you are staying for more than 5-7 days you can always split your visit up to visit two different islands. So we hope this article makes it easy for you to decide which island in Hawaii you will visit during your new trip.

Kauai

Kauai, more commonly known as the Garden Isle, lives up to its name and is the perfect place for honeymooners to steal away and relax. You’ll understand what we mean when you visit the island for yourself. Everything is lush and green and beautiful. More than that, it feels otherworldly.

Which Is The Best Island in Hawaii to Visit? (1)

The popular opinion amongst the most experienced Hawaiian travelers is that Kauai is the best island. It is the fourth largest island and does not pull in the amount of tourism that the other islands do, which makes it quiet, relaxed and secluded; perfect for a romantic getaway. Their incredibly scenic mountains, clear blue water, adorable restaurants, and breathtaking hiking views will make sure that honeymooners never want to leave.

Oahu

Oahu blends the city atmosphere with its exotic landscape. The island has a plethora of stunning beaches like Waikiki and attractions like Diamond Head Crater, and Pearl Harbor. Oahu is just perfect for those wanting to enjoy the lively Waikiki shopping, the beautiful beaches, and the Hawaiian culture by going to its festivals, art scenes, and even the Polynesian Cultural Center.

Apart from immersing yourself in the mesmerizing view of the sea from Waikiki with its breezy palms and inviting grounds, you can also go swimming, snorkeling, or hire a canoe or a kayak. The waters of the Waikiki will surely remain etched in your mind for the rest of your life, allowing you to relive your honeymoon years later!

Which Is The Best Island in Hawaii to Visit? (2)

Get up early and make it to the Diamond Head peak for an amazing 360-degree view from the top. The hike itself is 1.5 miles up the crater and can get crowded quickly. A one-hour drive from Waikiki will get you to this legendary surf mecca. The North Shore has a more laid-back vibe. In the winter there are amazing waves where you can watch the pros. Also in the area is the Turtle Bay Resort, the Polynesian Cultural Center (a bit of a tourist trap), and Haleiwa Town which is a perfect place for shopping and getting a bite to eat.

Maui

Beautiful Maui isHawaii’ssecond-biggest island and a hugely popular honeymoon and destination wedding choice. It offers a little bit of everything with snorkeling spots, black sand beaches on the west side, luxury resorts, and famous sunsets. For travelers who want a more active vacation, Maui is also home to Haleakala, the largest dormant volcano in the world, and the famous Road to Hana, a great 64-mile drive on the east side of the island that connects Kahului with Hana and takes you through some of the most beautiful places in the island.

(Video) Which Hawaiian Island Should You Visit | Start Here for Your Hawaii Vacation Planning

Which Is The Best Island in Hawaii to Visit? (3)

Honeymooners especially will find plenty of romance between the glorious beaches, lush rainforests, volcanic landscapes, and fascinating cultural activities, Whether you’re an active and adventurous couple or a couple who prefers to luxuriate in bliss, take it easy, and relax, the stunning tropical island has something for all lovers.

The Big Island Of Hawaii

The Big Island, the largest Hawaiian island, is formed by 5 volcanoes, has 8 of the 14 climate zones in the world, and offers a great variety of activities. The Big Island is perfect for those who like the outdoors and it has some unique places that you won’t find anywhere else.

Which Is The Best Island in Hawaii to Visit? (4)

This is where you should go if you are looking to see active volcanos. At Hawaii Volcano National Park you can see lava flows from Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes in the world, and Mauna Loa, a colossus measuring almost 30,200 feet from the base (underwater) to the summit. Unique to the Big Island is the Manta Rays which you can go diving with year-round.

Best Hawaiian Island for first-timers

If this is your first time visiting Hawaii, we recommend starting your planning with Maui. Maui is perfect for the first visit to Hawaii because it offers such variety and beauty. Another option is Oahu, there you will also find a variety with the bustling Waikiki area for the nightlife and a variety of shops hotels, and restaurants, but you can also go to the north shore for less crowded beaches and a somewhat more authentic feel.

Which Is The Best Island in Hawaii to Visit? (5)

The perfect trip for a first-time visitor to the Hawaiian islands would be to split your time between Maui and Kauai. You can go to Maui for the In Kauai, the atmosphere feels very authentic and it is not as crowded.

Best Hawaiian Island for Seclusion

If you are looking to get away from the crowds you will want to visit Lanai. Lanai is very close to Maui where you can see it from half of the island. It is a very rural Hawaiian island with few people living on it. You can find some amazing beaches that are not crowded at all and plenty of trails to explore.

Best Hawaiian Island for Adventure

If you are looking for an adventure then head over to Kauai. Kauai is home to tropical gardens, cascading waterfalls, and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. During your visit to Kauai you can do the usual Hawaiian activities such as swimming, sunbathing, and hiking, but you can also add some adventure by going on a zip-line tour, exploring a cave, or taking a helicopter ride to see the Na Pali Coast.

(Video) Which is the BEST Hawaiian island to visit?!

Which Is The Best Island in Hawaii to Visit? (6)

Kauai is also great for those who are looking for some excitement. The island of Hawaii (the Big Island) is a great place to visit if you are looking for adventure. There are plenty of things to do on this island including hiking, biking, ATVing, and horseback riding. You can also go volcano sightseeing.

Best Island in Hawaii For Shopping

If you are looking for shopping as part of your Hawaiian vacation, Waikiki on Oahu offers all the luxury brands you would expect to see on the Las Vegas strip. While Waikiki is often mentioned as the best place for shopping in Hawaii, there is also great shopping in Lahaina and Wailea on Maui. Here you will find a variety of stores including local art galleries, gift shops, and high-end retailers.

Best Island in Hawaii for Beaches you

When it comes to the Hawaiian Island with the best beaches, it comes down to Maui and Oahu. Oahu has the longest sandy shorelines with a great variety of beaches. They are easily accessible with many of them being calm and protected by reefs. You can find gold and white sand beaches ranging from busy to secluded. On the north shore, you can even find some beaches famous for surfing in the winter. Maui also has many great beaches. There you will find a great variety of beaches including red, black, green and golden beaches.

Best Hawaiian Island For Nightlife

If you are looking for nightlife during your vacation to Hawaii, Waikiki has the most bars and nightclubs.

Best Hawaiin Island For Resorts

I think it is impossible to choose which Hawaiian island based on which has the best resorts. All of the Islands have awesome resorts. As with most of the categories Maui and Oahu stand out for the number of resorts they have along beautiful stretches of beaches, but you can find amazing resorts on all the Hawaiian islands.

Cheapest Hawaiian Island

Going to Hawaii can be very expensive, but if you are looking to go to Hawaii on a budget, the best island to visit in Kauai. It is the cheapest of the major Hawaiian Islands, and it has plenty to offer tourists. There are beautiful beaches, lush rainforests, and spectacular waterfalls. Kauai is also home to some of the best hiking trails in Hawaii.

Compare Islands in Hawaii

Here are some other articles to help you choose which Hawaiian Island is right for you.

(Video) Which Hawaiian Island is Best? Hawaii Travel Guide

FAQs

What is considered the best Hawaiian island to visit? ›

The short answer: Go to Maui if you want to be pampered at a resort with all the amenities. Book Oahu if you want to see Pearl Harbor and famous Waikiki Beach. Visit Big Island if you want to hike Volcanos National Park (and maybe see flowing lava). Head to Kauai if you want to experience wild, untamed Hawaii.

Which island should I visit first in Hawaii? ›

For most travelers visiting Hawaii for the first time, the Big Island of Hawaii should be the winner because it offers the most diverse experiences.
...
Maui drawbacks
  • Resort areas can feel like one big, manicured golf course.
  • Activities are fewer and farther between.
  • Beach resorts can be pricey, especially in Wailea.
14 Nov 2022

What is the most tourist friendly island in Hawaii? ›

Oahu is the most visited of all the Hawaiian islands, at nearly 4.7 million visitors annually. Oahu is primarily defined by the state capital of Honolulu, as well as Pearl Harbor and the famous beach known as Waikiki. These areas attract tourists by the thousands daily.

Which island in Hawaii has the prettiest beaches? ›

With 227 miles of shoreline, Oahu is the best Hawaiian Island for beaches. Oahu has the best beaches in Hawaii due to Oahu's many protected bays, reefs surrounding the island, gold-sand beaches, and calm waters year-round.

Which island is better to visit Maui or Honolulu? ›

Maui vs Oahu: Oahu is right for you if you want more of a cosmopolitan vacation, enjoy the nightlife, are excited about historical and cultural activities, or want to travel on a budget. Maui is right for you if you're looking for a romantic island, great snorkeling, a relaxing vacation, or more outdoor activities.

What is the number 1 attraction in Hawaii? ›

Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head State Monument, Oahu

Waikiki, with its beautiful stretch of oceanfront beach, is Hawaii's biggest tourist attraction.

Where should I start visiting Hawaii? ›

Where should I go in Hawaii for the first time? Usually, I recommend that first timers start off with a trip to Oahu. It's the most popular Hawaiian island, as well as the cheapest. Plus there are tons of attractions, activities, great food, and shopping.

Which Hawaiian island is most walkable? ›

The Best Hawaiian Island for Hiking is Oahu

But you would never know it on an Oahu trail. Hiking on Oahu gets you away from the traffic jams, crowded beaches, and Waikiki with its 72,000 visitors a day. Oahu is the best island for hiking due to the sheer volume of trails available.

What is the least visited island in Hawaii? ›

LANAI ISLAND - THE PLACE TO RELAX Lanai entices the sophisticated traveller with a handful of exclusive luxury resorts and championship golf courses. It's the least visited Hawaiian Island, small in size and slow in pace those that travel to Lanai, by air or on the ferry from Maui, are forced to rest and relax.

Which is the safest Hawaii Island? ›

Which Hawaiian island is the safest to live on? If you're just looking at the sheer number of incidents on each island, Kauai is the safest island to live on. In 2020, the Kauai Police Department reported the lowest number of violent crime incidents and property crime incidents of any of the four major islands.

What is the number 1 beach in Hawaii? ›

Kā'anapali Beach, Maui

Kā'anapali Beach on Maui's west side is the crème de la crème of beaches and this year it takes the top seat as the best beach in Hawaiʻi. Stretching three miles, the white sand and turquoise ocean make the shoreline postcard-perfect.

Which island is better Kauai or Honolulu? ›

We recommend Oahu if you desire a Hawaiian vacation that combines the amenities of a world-class city with the breathtaking beauty of nature. If you seek a peaceful time, we recommend Kauai because it offers a unique Pacific Paradise experience.

Is it cheaper to fly to Maui or the Big Island? ›

Even though the flights to Maui are usually cheaper, in terms of accommodation, shopping and eating it tends to be more expensive than Big Island. However, there are plenty of local restaurants and shops that are more affordable and offer great value for money.

Is island hopping in Hawaii worth it? ›

Island hopping in Hawaii is absolutely worth it. The islands are all incredibly different and it's easy to get from island to island. But it's important to know that island hopping can be time-consuming so you want to make sure your trip is long enough for these extra travel days.

How many days are enough in Maui? ›

So, How Many Days Do You Need in Maui? If Maui is the only Hawaiian island you'll be visiting, you'll want at least 7-10 days to explore the island. That will give you enough time to do some day trips, take a few tours, check out the beaches, and have plenty of time to relax and unwind.

What's the best month to travel to Hawaii? ›

The best time to visit Hawaii is between March and September. This is when the islands see the highest temperatures and the lowest amount of rain. It's the perfect time to enjoy the beach or the water.

What is the most popular month in Hawaii? ›

The peak tourism season in Hawaii typically starts in the middle of December and continues until the end of March or mid-April. The offseason stretches from the middle of April until mid-June, then resumes from September until crowds tick up before the holidays.

What should you not forget in Hawaii? ›

10 Items You Can't Forget to Pack on Your Next Trip to Hawaii
  • Towels. ...
  • Slippers. ...
  • Slippers you don't mind losing. ...
  • Beach bags. ...
  • Jackets. ...
  • (Reef-safe) Sunscreen. ...
  • Hiking boots. ...
  • Formal attire.
28 Jan 2019

How many days is enough for Hawaii? ›

While many vacations are five to seven days long, we recommend staying for at least 10 days to enjoy your Hawaiian vacation. The time change is difficult to adjust to at first and takes about 3 days to get fully acclimated. So, allowing a couple days to get over the jet lag is important.

What month is cheapest to visit Hawaii? ›

The cheapest time to fly to Hawaii is during February and March. The most expensive month to fly is December when the holiday period falls, with January being very expensive as well. The peak travel months of June and July are surprisingly not the most expensive months for flights, with middle figure prices.

How much time should I spend on each island in Hawaii? ›

If you want a quick rule of thumb, to see and experience the major highlights of each island, you're going to need at least four days for Molokai and Lanai and five days minimum for Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii's Big Island.

What is the most relaxing island in Hawaii? ›

Kauai is the best Hawaiian island for travelers who like hiking, relaxing, and a quieter vibe.

What is the best part of Hawaii to stay at? ›

If you're after a cosmopolitan vibrancy, Waikiki is one of the best places to stay in Hawaii. There's a lot more to choose from beyond this famous beach, with the island of Oahu presenting plenty of accommodation options too. If luxury is the priority, Maui gives you five-star resorts with a laidback feel.

Which Hawaiian island is best without a car? ›

Generally speaking, the best Hawaiian island to visit without a car is Oahu. This is because the bus system goes throughout much of the island and it's convenient enough to take the bus from Waikiki to different places, and there's also a bus from the Honolulu airport.

What Hawaiian island is most affordable? ›

Oahu is the cheapest Hawaiian island to visit, with a total cost of $2,625. A Ko Olina Resort lagoon on Oahu. Maui is the most expensive island to visit, coming in nearly $1,000 more expensive, with a total cost of $3,600. The Grand Wailea in Maui, a luxury resort.

Which Hawaiian island is easiest? ›

O'ahu is also the easiest Hawaiian to get to, as many international flights arrive in Honolulu before connecting to other islands. Even if you're traveling to Hawaii from the US mainland, you're likely to be routed through Honolulu.

What is the safest beach in Hawaii? ›

Lydgate Beach Park — Lihue

Lydgate Beach Park is the safest beach in Hawaii, featuring a jetty-enclosed swimming area and alert lifeguards.

Which Hawaiian island is the most laid back? ›

You want to experience the lush, green, tropical side of Hawaii, swim under flowing waterfalls and hike in the rainforest, as well as visit beautiful, isolated beaches and vast colorful canyons. Kauai is the place for you. With fewer crowds and a more laid-back vibe, this island is a nature lover's dream.

Which Hawaiian island has green sand? ›

The green sand is created by a common mineral in Big Island lava called olivine, which stays deposited on this beach because it is heavier than the other components of the lava. Swimming at the green sand beach is possible, but the surf is quite strong along the notorious southern shore. There is no lifeguard.

Where is the pink sand beach in Hawaii? ›

Explore the Incredible Red Sand Beach on Maui. Kaihalulu Beach in Hana, HI, is one of only a few red sand beaches in the world. It's part of a crumbling red cinder cone that cuts deep into Ka'uiki Head on the eastern side of the island.

Which Hawaiian island is best for foodies? ›

Oʻahu, known as The Gathering Place, is nothing short of a foodie paradise, and in the past few years Honolulu has emerged as one of the major culinary meccas in the U.S. Stroll through foodie 'hoods like Kakaʻako, Kaimukī and Chinatown to discover a melting pot of trendy eateries and mom-and-pop diners dishing up ...

Which city is cheaper in Hawaii? ›

Consider Hilo! Not only is this city one of the most affordable places to live in Hawaii, but it's also one of the best places to live for job opportunities, raising a family, or retiring!

What is the best city to stay in in Hawaii? ›

In our opinion, the best places that you can visit in Hawaii are: Honolulu: The place to be if you want to spend the night partying. Wailea: The ideal fitness vacation destination with plenty of sports courts and outdoor activities. Kapaa: The perfect rural retreat to enjoy the scenery.

Which island is prettier Maui or Kauai? ›

The short answer is, if you want gorgeous beaches with lots of activities, then Maui would be a good choice. If you prefer more natural beauty lush landscapes, then Kauai is probably better for you.

Is Kauai or Maui nicer? ›

If you're ready to trade the hustle and bustle for variety and adventure in your life, Maui probably sounds like the perfect escape. If you're looking for something quieter and family-friendly, with plenty of outdoor activities and natural beauty, Kauai is the ideal island paradise.

Is Big Island cheaper than Kauai? ›

Kauai vs The Big Island: Cost

What is this? In terms of accommodation, gas and shopping, the Big Island is probably one of the cheapest. In Kona there are many beach resorts and hotels for affordable prices as well as huge chains such as Marriott or Hilton.

What Hawaiian island is the most authentic? ›

Molokai. Only 38 miles long and 10 miles wide, the island of Molokai is home to a large percentage of native Hawaiians and remains the most authentic island experience you can have when visiting the Hawaiian archipelago.

Which is better to visit the Big Island or Maui? ›

Big Island offers the widest variety of experiences for authentic Hawaiian experiences. Maui is perfect for you if you're looking for an island with a more miniature landscape but plenty of outdoor activities.

Which Hawaiian island is the safest? ›

Which Hawaiian island is the safest to live on? If you're just looking at the sheer number of incidents on each island, Kauai is the safest island to live on. In 2020, the Kauai Police Department reported the lowest number of violent crime incidents and property crime incidents of any of the four major islands.

What time is best to visit Hawaii? ›

The best time to visit Hawaii is between March and September. This is when the islands see the highest temperatures and the lowest amount of rain. It's the perfect time to enjoy the beach or the water.

Which Hawaiian island is known as the Forbidden island? ›

Niihau (pronounced NEE-EE-HOW) actually became the "Forbidden Island" during a polio epidemic in the Hawaiian Islands in 1952.

Why is Maui so popular? ›

Maui is also famous for its glorious sands and has a beach for every mood. A drive along the coast takes you past windy kiteboard meccas, calm snorkel coves, and some of the biggest surfable waves on Earth. One of our favorite Maui beaches is Ka'anapali Beach, which is located on the western side of the island.

How many days in Maui is enough? ›

So, How Many Days Do You Need in Maui? If Maui is the only Hawaiian island you'll be visiting, you'll want at least 7-10 days to explore the island. That will give you enough time to do some day trips, take a few tours, check out the beaches, and have plenty of time to relax and unwind.

What is the least popular island in Hawaii? ›

Molokai is the least visited island of Hawaii. With about 65,000 visitors, the island attracts only a fraction of all the tourists that visit the island group each year. The island is more rural and doesn't have resorts.

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