The good thing is going to Hawaii means traveling to paradise no matter what island you decide to go. You really can’t choose a “wrong” island. It all depends on the length of your trip, what activities you want to focus on and your budget. There are six major Hawaiian Islands: Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui and Hawaii’s Big Island – each of them offering unique features.
Oahu is probably the island most people think of when they hear Hawaii and has the majority of Hawaii’s population. Its home to the famous Waikiki Beach with calm waters perfect waves for surfing. Here you will also find plenty of shopping like luxury row or the Waikiki Beach walk for genuine Hawaiian crafts. The island is also known for Pearl Harbor - where visitors can view the historical USS Arizona Memorial and the famous North Shore – the legendary birthplace of big wave surfing. Oahu is the right island for you if you want to be in Hawaii, but don’t want to miss the “city feel” during your visit.
Maui is the second largest island and also known as the Valley Isle. You can relax at one of the most beautiful beaches, go hiking in green valleys or drive along the winding scenic road to Hana. My favorite activity on the island is going up to the Haleakala National Park, Maui’s highest peak, in the early morning and watch the sunrise from the top. Then coast down to the historic town of Makawo on a bike – don’t worry it’s all downhill, so very little peddling required. ☺ Bike through eucalyptus forests and the upcountry community of Kula with its beautiful lavender farms and jacaranda tree lined roadways and all while taking in the beauty and fragrance of the flora surrounding you. There are many high end resorts to choose from and you don’t have to neglect your shopping habit with the variety of shops at Wailea.
Kauai is the oldest island and less visited then the other two islands. Its nickname is the “Garden Island” as it’s covered with lush greenery and tropical plants. Most of the island is not accessible by foot (or car) and therefore best viewed by helicopter (must do activity on the island!). If you haven’t been to the Grand Canyon – here’s your chance to view the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” in Waimea Canyon. At the same time Kauai’s coastline is truly majestic with green cliffs and cascading waterfalls. If you’re really adventurous you can do a hike on the Kalalau Trail, which crosses five different valleys and ends at the secluded Kalalau Beach. Much to explore for the active traveler on this island!
Hawaii Island: it’s called “the Big Island” for a reason – this one is bigger than all the other islands combined! It also holds 11 of the world’s 13 climatic zones. They say on the island that you drive 20 minutes in one direction and the weather changes – and yes it’s true! The Kohala Coast is on the sunny, dry west side of the island. It has most of the beach resorts here including my two favorites: the Fairmont Orchid and Four Seasons Resort Hualalai. Here you can really enjoy the best of both worlds: getting pampered in a luxurious resort while at the same time experiencing the uncultivated beauty of Hawaii. One of the unique natural wonders to experience here is the world’s most active volcano. It is incredible to see how the lava formed new land and you can explore lave tubes and caves on land and under water (Diving here is spectacular!). Don’t forget to bring home some Kona Coffee and Macademia nuts from one of the local farms that grow only here!
Lanai: this secluded island, home to pristine beaches, is sparsely populated, has only thirty miles of paved roads and not a single traffic light. It hosts two Four Seasons Resorts – one beachfront and the other country style –both most upscale resorts within miles of unspoiled wilderness. I would offer this island as a combination with any of the other islands above.
Molokaʻi is even more remote then Lanai as it also has no traffic lights and also no ritzy hotels. The island truly lets you find your inner peace and quiet your spirit. It’s called the “Friendly Isle” and half of its population being of Native Hawaiian ancestry. Visit Molokai to participate in a variety of outdoor adventures, experience authentic local culture and to see Hawaii back in time. I would suggest to come here on a day trip by boat from Maui (ferry service takes roughly 1 ½ hour).
As you can see each island has distinctive landscapes and one-of-a kind experiences. If you still can’t decide which island is right for you – let us guide you!