If you are thinking about a vacation to the Pacific you may be wondering about the best Hawaiian island to visit. There are six islands that are open to the public and each are incredibly special and unique. The key to having an amazing Hawaiian vacation is choosing the best island for your family.
You may want to visit popular hotspots like Waikiki, Kona and the Road to Hana but they are all on different islands and island hopping will eat up much of your vacation time. Before you can pick an island you have to determine what you want to get out of your vacation do you want to see volcanos? Learn how to surf? Experience local culture?
The six main Hawaiian islands are Oahu, Maui, Kaua’i, Hawaii(Big Island), Lana’i and Moloka’i and each has a distinct personality.
Below are profiles of each of the islands. If you would like a Complimentary Planning Session to discuss which is best for you schedule a call.
Best For Beaches, Food and culture
If you are visiting Hawaii for the first time and not quite sure what you are looking for, Oahu is a good place to start. It has a nice mix of all of the activities that the rest of the island chain has to offer. It is home to the state capital, Honolulu and it’s famed Waikiki. It’s crowded – so everyone rubs elbows on the bus and city sidewalks. Yet miles of beaches and forest trails are just a short drive from Honolulu’s museums and historical monuments.
I love Ko Olina on the West Coast and is a haven that was once royal land. It is a short drive to Honoulu to the South and neautiful National Forests to the North.
Another popular attraction on Oahu is the sobering USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. My favorite thing about Oahu is the endless feast – If you do nothing else on Oʻahu, eat. And then eat some more. Food trucks, island farmers markets and fusion menus by Hawaii’s star chefs can all be found here.
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.
Best for Hiking, Culture, Wildlife
The Big Island is the destination for naturalists and hikers. Kilauea, Earth’s most active volcano offers amazing hiking with emerald valleys, icy waterfall pools, and lava flows crashing against rainforest.
Animal lovers will enjoy watching spinner dolphins leap and sea turtles glide. For snorkelers coral gardens are packed with brightly colored fish. If Whale Watching is on your must do list, Hawaii in the winter is your best bet.
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 southernmost point in the United States.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – Home of one of the world’s most active volcanoes and otherworldly scenery.
Best for Beaches, Hiking, Food, Sun & Surf
Maui is a great option for families who want something a little quieter than the bustle of Oahu.
Beach bums will find their haven here, it is said Maui’s got a beach for every mood – wind-whipped kiteboarding meccas, calm snorkeling coves, hidden gems and some of the biggest surfable waves on the planet. Or just plop down on the sand and scan the horizon. If you are traveling with kids you should look for a spot on the South or West of the island, the waves are usually a little calmer and more relaxing for a day of splashing in the sun.
Maui is also a mecca for hikers, the island’s hiking trails wind through bamboo forests, climb to lofty ridgetops, wander past waterfalls and crunch through cindery volcanic national parks.
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 of Maui’s highest peak.
Hana Highway – Famous for the scenery, twists, and turns on the way to Hana town.
Best for Beaches, Landscape and Lifestyle
Kaua’i is my favorite island to send honeymooners. It offers a little more seclusion and romance.
The weather in Po’ipu is almost always perfect. The most consistently sunny area of the island, Poʻipu is a tropical dream, where every day is a beach day with plenty of postcard sunsets.
If you want to add some activity to your beach vacation The rugged terrain on the Garden Isle lends itself to a plethora of adventures ranging from gaping chasms to dramatic coastal cliffs, balanced by copious verdant flora. A relaxing kayak for 2 on Hawaii’s only navigable river is a wonderful romantic memory. Zipline over the Grand Canyon of the Pacific or rent an ATV for something a little more adventurous.
Wailua Falls – Kauai’s most popular waterfall.
Kalalau Trail – Spectacular coastal trail on Kauai’s North Coast.
Poipu Beach – Voted one of America’s best beaches.
Waimea Canyon – Nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”
Best for Remoteness, History, Beaches
Ignoring the great views of other islands, Lanaʻi feels like an isolated bit of subtropical pleasure far from the rest of the world. You won’t get the endless activities here but if you are looking for a place to escape and feel like a local, this is it. Originally a pineapple plantation the main city of Lanai town still celebrates the islands past.
Hulupo’e Beach – Lanaʻi’s one main beach is a beauty: a long crescent of sand on a bay good for snorkeling, and backed by a tidy, uncrowded park.
Puu Pehe (Sweetheart Rock)
Best for Culture, History and Adventure
If you want to learn more about the Hawaiian culture and be immersed among it’s people head to Moloka’i where more than 50% of it’s people have indigenous heritage. Locals favor preservation of land and culture over schemes promoting tourism. Yet there is aloha spirit everywhere and visitors find a genuine – rather than a paid-for – welcome.
Halawa Valley – This end-of-the-road valley once was home to hundreds of sacred taro patches. Guides take you on a trail past ancient temples to waterfalls pounding into swimmable pools.
If you are ready to have the family vacation you’ve been dreaming of, without spending time researching, planning and making it happen, schedule a call today. I’m here to help busy working Moms plan, organize and book the perfect family vacation. With me, all you have to worry about is enjoying your well-earned time away with your family. If you are ready to stop trying to do everything on your own and see how I can help you schedule a complimentary trip planning session now.
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