How to Pick a Hawaiian Island

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How to Pick a Hawaiian Island

Deciding to take a Hawaiian vacation is an awesome idea but before you can even begin to buy plane tickets or make hotel reservations, you will first have to decide which Hawaiian island(s) you want to visit on your trip.  With 6 island options, choosing the right island is all about what you want to experience and do.  You can opt for a bit of island hopping to see more or focus on exploring one island for an indepth experience.  To help you narrow down your options, below we have broken down some of the top highlights and features of the various islands.  Check it out and hopefully you will begin to discover an island just right for you.

Hawai’i – The Big Island

Let’s start with the big island.  Sitting on the eastern side of the island chain, Hawai’i is the largest island by far, with a total size greater than all the other Hawaiian islands combined.  What that means for you is endless options when it comes to island adventures and activities.  If you only have time to visit one island, this is a great choice.  You can go from gorgeous beaches to snow capped mountains on this island with plenty of jungles and volcanic lava flows in between.  It is a great island for hiking but also a nice place to experience a bit of Hawaiian culture.


Moving on to the second largest of the Hawaiian islands, Maui is home to literally some of the world’s best beaches.  This is beach paradise with everything from deserted hidden gems to vibrant party beaches with great windsurfing and other water activities.  If you are visiting during the winter, Maui is also known for having some of the islands’ best whale watching.  And last but not least, the island is also well known for its food and great chefs who work with the best local ingredients.


If your idea of the perfect island getaway includes peaceful relaxation and privacy, Lana’i is probably the island for you.  Without a single stop light and few people living full time on the island, Lana’i offers a deserted island feel with a luxury twist.  While the island is often overlooked in favor of the larger or more populated islands, many great resorts and hotels are found on Lana’i, creating the perfect remote island getaway.


For a chance to experience authentic Hawaiian culture, consider a visit to Moloka’i.  This island is inhabited by a native Hawaiian majority that has often chosen preserving their natural lands over tourism development.  While that means there are less hotel options, it also means a less commercialized feel throughout the island.  The island is also a great place to learn more about Hawaiian history, while still offering all the most popular Hawaiian treasures including deserted beaches and jungle treks.


The island of O’ahu is not only home to the state capital, Honolulu, it is also home to the majority of the state’s population.  If you want to experience the multicultural side of Hawaii, this is the place.  In Honolulu indigenous Hawaiians mix with island transplants from both the US mainland and from Asia, creating a uniquely modern Hawaiian culture.  It is a great place to visit if you are looking for good food, lots of activities, and a more active island vacation.  That being said, the island still hides many secluded treasures from deserted beaches to remote waterfalls.


Last but not least is Kaua’i, the oldest and northernmost of the islands.  This is another island most known for incredible beaches and great hiking.  The North Shore is a place where you can literally forget your old life, enjoying true laid back Hawaiian culture on a beautiful beach.  If you want a bit more action, just head inland to explore the island’s rugged jungle landscape where you will find breathtaking coastal cliffs and of course the famous Waimea Canyon, nicknamed “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”

Photo Credit: J. Stephen Conn via photopin cc

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