Hi there! My name is Rifat Sheerin. I’m a dreamer who took the leap and left my career in architecture to explore the world and live life on my own terms!

I’m here to share my love for travel, and inspire you to embark on new adventures and discover the world!

Stay Connected

Subscribe to receive my latest blog posts delivered straight to your inbox!

Which Is the Best Hawaiian Island to Visit?

The Hawaiian Islands, situated in the central Pacific Ocean, constitute one of the most geographically diverse and culturally rich regions on our planet. This archipelago comprises a chain of eight main islands along with numerous smaller islets. Renowned for their distinctive ecosystems, awe-inspiring landscapes, and vibrant communities, they offer a wide array of experiences. From the volcanic profile of the Big Island to the emerald valleys of Kauai, each island presents a unique adventure. So, how do you choose one for your Hawaii vacation? Well, it all boils down to your interests and preferences. Let’s find out what each island offers to help you choose the best Hawaiian island to visit!

Journey Through Hawaii

Big Island (Hawaii): Nature's Playground

Panoramic view of one of the top Big Island attractions - Rainbow Falls.

The Big Island of Hawaii is the largest and most diverse of the Hawaiian Islands. Its sheer size encompasses a range of climates and natural features, from the snow-capped peaks of Mauna Kea to the fiery lava flows of Kilauea Volcano. 

Do you enjoy embarking on epic outdoor adventures and witnessing the raw power of active geological phenomena? If so, the Big Island is the best Hawaiian island to visit! It’s an island of contrasts, with black sand beaches, lush rainforests, and igneous deserts. Here are some of the best things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii:

  • Explore Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park: Check out the magnificent terrain of one of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kilauea. Walk through Thurston Lava Tube, witness steam vents, and marvel at the glowing lava lake at Halemaumau Crater (if active).
  • Visit Mauna Kea Observatory: Savor astonishing views from the summit of Mauna Kea, one of the best astronomical sites on Earth! Opt for a stargazing tour to observe the night sky through powerful telescopes and learn about the cosmos from knowledgeable guides.
  • Snorkel with Manta Rays: Revel in the thrill of swimming with glorious manta rays at night. Join a guided snorkeling or diving tour off the Kona coast to see these gentle giants as they glide gracefully through the water.
  • Tour a Kona Coffee Farm: Discover the rich history and flavors of Kona coffee with a local coffee farm tour. Learn about the coffee-making process, from bean to cup, and sample a variety of freshly roasted blends!
  • Relax on a Black Sand Beach: Cherish the exceptional charm of black sand at Punaluu Beach. Admire the contrast of the dark volcanic sand against the turquoise waters, and keep an eye out for Hawaiian green sea turtles basking on the shore.
Images showing (1) the black sandy Punaluu Beach with sea turtles and (2) Thurston Lava Tube. The Big Island stands out for its dynamic landscape, including active volcanoes, majestic waterfalls, vibrant rainforests, and diverse marine life. It's therefore the best Hawaiian island to visit if you are seeking unparalleled exploration opportunities.

Maui: The All-Rounder

Road to Hana in Maui - the best island to visit in Hawaii for first-time travelers..

Maui, the second-largest of the Hawaiian Islands, is often referred to as the “Magic Isle” for a reason. It’s a place where magic comes alive, with its golden beaches, majestic peaks, and the legendary Road to Hana! Maui is often recommended as the best Hawaiian island to visit for first-time travelers. Here are some of the best things to do on Maui Island:

  • Watch the Sunrise at Haleakala: Experience a surreal sunrise from the summit of Haleakala, the world’s most expansive dormant volcano! The incredible landscape and panoramic views make it a must-do activity in Maui.
  • Drive the Road to Hana: Embark on a scenic journey along the famous Road to Hana, a winding coastal highway well known for its spectacular scenery. Traverse dense rainforests, refreshing waterfalls, and hidden beaches along the way!
  • Snorkel at Molokini Crater: Discover the vibrant underwater universe of Molokini Crater, a partially submerged volcanic crater known for its crystal-clear waters and colorful marine life. Snorkeling tours offer the chance to swim alongside colorful fish, sea turtles, and manta rays.
  • Go Whale Watching: Maui is considered one of the best places on this planet for whale watching, particularly during the winter months. Join a whale-watching tour to witness the grand humpback whales as they migrate to the warm Hawaiian waters to breed and give birth.
  • Attend a Traditional Luau: Immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture by attending an authentic luau, complete with hula dancing, live music, and a feast of local delicacies. It’s a fun and memorable way to rejoice in the spirit of aloha!
Snapshots of a golden beach, lush rainforest with waterfalls, and whale watching in Maui, Hawaii.

Oahu: The Island of Contrasts

People enjoying the pristine beach and turquoise waters of Hanauma Bay in Oahu, Hawaii.

Oahu is the most populous island in Hawaii and is home to the state capital, Honolulu. It pulses with energy, offering an exciting mix of bustling city life and laid-back beach vibes! From the iconic Waikiki Beach to the historic Pearl Harbor, the island boasts a plethora of attractions catering to mixed interests. Here are some of the best activities to do in Oahu:

  • Explore Waikiki Beach: Relax on the serene shores of Waikiki Beach, one of the most famous beaches on Earth. Swim, surf, or simply bask in the sun against the backdrop of Diamond Head crater! Enjoy a stroll along the lively Kalakaua Avenue, lined with shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues.
  • Take a Jurassic Adventure Tour: Embark on a thrilling Jurassic Adventure Tour and soak in the stunning sights of Oahu’s North Shore. Wander through filming locations from blockbuster movies like Jurassic Park and Jurassic World!
  • Spend time in the Polynesian Cultural Center: Immerse yourself in the multifaceted cultures of the Pacific Islands at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Indulge in traditional music, dance, and crafts from Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa, Fiji, and more. Don’t miss the evening luau and sensational “Ha: Breath of Life” show!
  • Check out Pearl Harbor: Pay homage to history at Pearl Harbor, home to the USS Arizona Memorial, USS Missouri Battleship, and other historic sites commemorating the events of December 7, 1941. Walk through museums, memorials, and exhibits that give insight into World War II and its impact on Hawaii.
  • Stop by the Dole Plantation: Journey to the heart of Oahu’s pineapple country and visit the Dole Plantation, where you can take a train ride through the fields, sample fresh pineapple treats, and navigate the world’s most extensive pineapple maze!
Some of the top things to do in Oahu include - visiting the Kualoa Ranch and enjoying traditional shows at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Oahu is the best Hawaiian island to visit if you love a blend of city life and island vibes!

Kauai: The Garden Isle

Spectacular view from Puu O Kila Lookout, Kauai, Hawaii. Nicknamed "The Garden Isle" due to its lush tropical vibe, Kauai is the best Hawaiian island to visit for those who love the wild and untamed!

Kauai, the fourth-largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago, is nicknamed “The Garden Isle” due to its lush, tropical scenery. It’s a natural wonderland, with landscapes so diverse they seem heavenly! From the soaring cliffs of the Na Pali Coast to the vast grandeur of Waimea Canyon, it’s an absolute exotic paradise! Kauai is the best Hawaiian island to visit if you seek the wild and untamed and want to deeply connect with nature. Here are some of the best things to do on Kauai Island:

  • Go on a Na Pali Coast Boat Tour: Sightsee the breathtaking Na Pali Coast by boat for a stellar perspective of Kauai’s rugged shoreline. Marvel at towering sea cliffs, misty waterfalls, and secluded beaches accessible only by boat!
  • Explore Waimea Canyon State Park: Dubbed the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” Waimea Canyon provides spectacular outlooks of deep gorges, colorful rock formations, and teeming valleys. Hike scenic trails or relish sweeping vistas from viewpoints easily accessible by car.
  • Set out on a Helicopter Tour: Treat yourself to a bird’s-eye view of Kauai’s jaw-dropping panorama on a memorable helicopter tour! Fly over cascading waterfalls, dramatic cliffs, and inaccessible areas like the heart of the island’s interior.
  • Unwind on Hanalei Bay: Relax on the picturesque shores of Hanalei Bay, a crescent-shaped beach surrounded by green mountains. Enjoy swimming, surfing, or simply soaking in the beauty of one of Kauai’s best beaches!
  • Gaze upon Hanalei Valley: Stop at the Hanalei Valley Lookout for panoramic views of the verdant Hanalei Valley and surrounding mountains. It’s a perfect spot for photos and a peaceful moment to take in Kauai’s natural allure. 
Some of the best things to do in Kauai including Na Pali coast boat tour, exploring Waimea Canyon, and driving around the garden island.

Maui, Oahu, Kauai, and the Big Island often steal the spotlight when it comes to choosing the best Hawaiian island to travel to! While planning your trip to Hawaii, please note that the rest of Hawaii has limited amenities, restricted access, and lack of extensive tourist infrastructure. 

In conclusion, the Hawaiian islands have it all, with each offering a unique experience for anyone seeking an escape to paradise! As you plan your trip, consider what activities and landscapes appeal to you most, helping you decide which is the best Hawaiian island to visit based on your preferences. Whether you’re drawn to the volcanic wonders of the Big Island, the majestic cliffs of Maui, the iconic surf breaks of Oahu, or the rugged shores of Kauai, there’s an island in Hawaii just for you!

Leave a Reply