Which Hawaii Island to Visit?
Like a lot of visitors to Hawaii, you're probably wondering which Hawaii island to visit and thinking about which one would be is best for you and your travel party? The islands are very diverse and each has its own unique offerings- this can make choosing an island rather difficult. And once you've started visiting the islands, coming back to a different island can often feel like a totally different place with a whole new set of experiences, sights, and attractions.
Having been to all the major islands, we admit we have our own personal favorite. However, please know that each island truly is spectacular and one is most certainly not ‘better’ than another. That said, here we'll objectively tell you about the major islands in the Hawaiian chain so you can pick the island that's just right for you. And, like us, we’re sure you’ll soon have a favorite. Our quiz below and our companion article, Selecting the Best Hawaiian Island should prove useful as you make your decision. But first, let's review each island and its highlights.
Overview of each major island
Kauai - The Garden Isle
Maui - The Valley Isle
The second-largest island is home to what some believe are the best beaches in the world. If you visit during the winter months, book a tour to see the majestic whales; as Maui has some of the world’s best whale watching. Wake up early to catch the sunrise at Haleakala, stroll through historic Lahaina town, or drive the majestic Road to Hana for spectacular scenery.
- Lahaina Town - Whale watch, shop, and dine in this historic hot spot.
- Makena Beach State Park (Big Beach) - One of Maui's largest beaches.
- Iao Valley State Park - Historic site home to the iconic Iao Needle.
- Haleakala National Park - Scenic home to Maui's highest peak.
- Hana Highway - Famous for the scenery, twists, and turns on the way to Hana town.
Big Island of Hawaii - The Orchid Isle
Larger than all of the other islands combined, the island of Hawaii, also known as Big Island, encompasses 11 of the world's 13 climactic zones - from white sand beaches to snow-capped mountains. See waterfalls, rainforests, and botanical gardens near Hilo; explore the historic Pu'uKohola Heiau, north of Kona; or view Kilauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes, in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Big Island of Hawaii Highlights:
- Historic Kailua-Kona Town - Historic seaside hot spot.
- Waipio Valley - Hawaii's largest isolated inhabited valley.
- Downtown Hilo - Discover local treasures in the island's capital city.
- Ka Lae (South Point) - The southern most point in the United States.
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park - The world's most active volcano.
Oahu - The Gathering Place
Home to the state capitol of Honolulu and the majority of Hawaii's population, Oahu is a vibrant mix of natural and cultural wonders with the entertainment and amenities of the 21st century. Check out the waves on the famous North Shore, relive American history at the memorials and museums of Pearl Harbor, or soak up the sun and take a surfing lesson on Waikiki Beach.
- Waikiki Beach - Iconic gathering place for visitors from around the world.
- Pearl Harbor - Explore the historic sites recounting the Pearl Harbor attack.
- Hanauma Bay & Nature Preserve - One of Hawaii's premier snorkeling sites.
- Nuuanu Pali Lookout - Historic spot with fantastic mountain views.
- North Shore - Legendary birthplace of big wave surfing.
Selecting the best Hawaiian Island for you
As noted, selecting the right island is no easy task for many visitors. It can be a confusion and even frustrating job, and that's probably the last thing anyone wants when planning a trip to Hawaii. So we've done our homework and created a little quiz that should help you determine the best island for you.
Basically you're going to read a series of questions below and our automated quiz will score each applicable question with a set number of points for each island. To ensure a proper score you should answer all of the questions.
While there are six major islands that you can visit in Hawaii, we've only detailed four of them. Why? Because the bulk of all visitors, probably some 98%, will never visit Molokai or Lanai. Even though you probably think we're crazy to omit them at this stage, we can assure you through experience that at this point, you'll be much better off selecting and visiting one of the major four. Once you've completed the quiz, our quiz will tally the points for each island, and you should have an good idea of where to book your next trip.
Please answer ALL Questions with a "Yes" or "No" response