Hawaii vacations – which island to choose

After easily choosing Hawaii as your next vacation destination, the next part is to decide which among its magnificent islands you should visit. Your next Hawaii vacations could be on one of the eight major islands – Oahu, Hawai’i, Maui, Moloka’i, Lana’i, Kaua’i, Ni’ihau, and Kaho’olawe. Each island has its own beauty to discover and adventures that await you.

You can choose to stay on the beach, sample the local food, discover the Hawaiian culture, or have a road trip! For the last one, however, commuting can be difficult if you want to see the landmarks of Hawaii. In this case, bringing your car along with you is an excellent option. However, you have to first consider the cost to ship car to Hawaii

Once you got that taken care of, then it’s time to choose which island to visit. Let’s have a look at each of them:


hawaii vacations oahu island
Hawaii vacations on Oahu Island

1. O’ahu

We start at the island where the state capital Honolulu is located. O’ahu is dubbed as the Heart of Hawaii. It’s the state’s most populous island and has a rich and diverse culture. Here, you can find famous surf spots such as the Banzai Pipeline, Waimea Bay, and Sunset Beach. You can also see iconic spots like Waikiki Beach, Pearl Harbor, and the North Shore.

O’ahu is a great place to experience nature and urban living. It’s also the reason why many tourists consider it as their top island to visit. According to a survey done in 2018, O’ahu welcomes at least 450,000-570,000 visitors per month

You can go shopping and dining in world-class restaurants in the city, go clubbing at night, or enjoy the breathtaking views in the Diamond Head Trail Hike. 

Needless to say, if you’re looking for an all-in-one vacation, then consider O’ahu.


hawaii vacations big island Waipio Valley
Hawaii vacations on the Big Island: Waipio Valley

2. Hawai’i

Hawai’i deserves the nickname Big Island since it’s the largest island in Hawaii. It is home to the state’s only active volcano, some of the best beaches, and amazing coastal scenery. Nature is at its best with a diverse climate and a variety of natural wonders. Hawai’i is also home to the US’s home-grown coffee with 7 different coffee-growing regions. 

With an island this vast and diverse, it’s a missed opportunity to not go on a road trip. For this, you can rent a car or ship a car from California to Hawaii or from any part of the mainland US. You can start from Waimea north of the Big Island and end up in Hapuna Beach in Kailua-Kona.


hawaii vacations molokini maui island
Hawaii vacations on Maui Island: Molokini crater, one of the best snorkeling spots in Maui

3. Maui

If you’re looking to live in a paradise, then Maui is for you. The island has been nicknamed “Beverly Hills Island” for its high-end luxury resorts with breathtaking accommodations.  

The guests of this island can participate in a variety of activities or simply lounge in peace. You can opt to go mountain biking to enjoy the scenery, view the scenery from dormant Haleakala volcano, or catch the rays from their world-famous beaches with red, black, and white sands. 

You can make your stay even more memorable with a scenic road trip via Hana Highway. It is a popular tourist activity in Maui for its magnificent views, waterfalls, and trails found along the way. Renting a car is also an option for a faster commute, or you can check the cost to ship car to Hawaii instead to bring your car along.


hawaii vacations kauai island
Hawaii vacations on Kauai Island

4. Kaua’i

If you want a more adventurous and rugged island, then Kaua’i is the best option for you.  Also known as the Garden Isle, it features a buffet of natural destinations with a wide range of rainforests, waterfalls, and mountains. This makes it the perfect spot for the adventurous traveler who wants to experience nature. 

For Hawaii vacations on Kaua’i Island, you can choose to lounge and take a dip in Hanalei Bay, see the sunset at Poipu Beach, and visit the dirt roads of Waimea Canyon. You can also sign up for an ATV tour for an off-road adventure, zipline across treetops, or bask in a catamaran cruise along the Na Pali Coast.


hawaii vacations lanai island dolphin
Hawaii vacations on Lana’i Island: the perfect spot for dolphin spotting while snorkeling

5. Lana’i

Lana’i is the perfect island if you want a remote and romantic vacation. It is not frequented by tourists and is one of the smallest major islands of Hawaii. The majority of the island is privately owned by billionaire Larry Ellison, which explains why it’s not as crowded. You can also experience small island life since most of the population there are plantation workers.

Despite its size, this island offers a slew of activities catered to those who want luxury with a touch of wilderness. During your Hawaii vacations on Lana’i Island, you can join a guided hike to Pu’u Pehe, also known as the Sweetheart Rock, for its breathtaking view and heart-wrenching legend. Afterward, you can enjoy a round of cocktails at one of the higher-end properties like Four Seasons Resorts.


hawaii vacations molokai island
Hawaii vacations on Moloka’i Island. Photo by Alden Cornell, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

6. Moloka’i

The rustic island of Moloka’i offers the most authentic island experience with the highest percentage of native Hawaiians living there. What it lacks in modern amenities for tourists, it makes up for it with the state’s highest sea cliffs and longest fringe reef. This island is perfect for those who want a taste of Hawaii without the usual tourist itinerary.

During your Hawaii vacations on Moloka’i Island, you can visit Kalaupapa’s sea cliffs that rise 3,000 feet above the ocean, then explore Kalaupapa National Historic Park and learn the history of a leper colony that inhabited there. You can also experience a piece of history in Kapuiawa Coconut Grove which is one of the oldest royal groves in Hawaii. It was planted by King Kamehameha V to commemorate the 1,000 men in his army in the 1860s. 


So where to go for the best Hawaii vacations?

Hawaii offers a different vacation experience for every traveler each time they visit. The islands are home to different gifts from nature, and it’s up to you to discover them all. Whether you’re planning to commute, fly, or ship a car from California to Hawaii, you will surely enjoy your stay in Hawaii.


About the author

Mirela Letailleur The Travel Bunny

Mirela Letailleur is a Romanian travel blogger getting ready to move to France. She writes on The Travel Bunny travel blog about affordable travel in Europe, creator of unique free travel guides, local travel expert. Problem solver. Wannabe coffee guru.

Read more about Mirela Letailleur

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