Best Hawaii Island to Visit: Your Guide to the Hawaiian Islands

Best Hawaii Island to Visit

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With a beautiful landscape, an unending view of nature, fantastic sights, towering mountains, inviting beaches, and historical tourist centres, the Hawaiian archipelago is every tourist's dream. Are you aware that the Aloha state has 137 islands? Of all these Islands, The eight largest Islands are well-known, although only seven are inhabited.
The seven main Hawaiian islands are Oahu, Maui, Hawaii (also known as The Big Island), Kauai, Molokai, Lanai, and Niihau. So many to choose from, right? What is more interesting is that each of these Islands offers distinctive features.
This guide will provide answers to what each Island offers and the best Hawaii Island to visit for each purpose.

In Short: Which Is the Best Hawaii Island to Visit?

There has been no collective decision on which of the Hawaiian Islands is the best to visit. Oahu is generally considered the best Hawaiian Island to visit. On the other hand, you might have heard many people say "Maui no ka oi", which means "Maui is the best" in the Hawaiian language. Another set of people will argue that the big Island is the best.
No particular Hawaiian island has been ranked the best because they all offer pleasurable peculiarities. However, this guide has helped by telling you what each Island is best rated for. We will provide information on what Island is best based on its beauty, beaches, and whether they suit couples, families, etc.

Which One Is the Most Beautiful Island in Hawaii?

The most beautiful Island in Hawaii is Kauai. This Island is also known as the garden isle. Kauai is blessed with such immense captivating beauty. Its dramatic scenery draws you in and keeps you locked up in nature's mesmerising beauty. Kauai is home to Waimea Canyon (the Grand Canyon) and the Coconut Coast. It is also filled with beautiful mountains, waterfalls, and white sand beaches. On the Na Pali coast, stunning beachside cliffs stretch up to 4,000 feet into the sky. The Na Pali coast, on the northwest side of Hawaii, is an embodiment of extraordinary natural beauty. All these add up to give Kauai a magnificent outlook.

Best Island to Visit in Hawaii for the First Time

The best Island to visit for couples is Maui, also known as the Valley Isle. This Island, of all Hawaiian Islands, offers the most romantic experience. As newlyweds couples celebrating anniversaries or special romantic occasions, Maui is the Island for you. Maui has Wailea Beach, located in southern Maui and is excellent for whale watching and sunbathing. There is Kaanapali Beach and Napili Beach. Napili is a charming beach with a gorgeous view of the sunset. Imagine a date with your partner, with the sunset view behind you. Yes! Maui offers this and more.
Maui also offers exquisite resort hotels explicitly designed for the lovers' delight.

Best Island to Visit in Hawaii for Honeymoon

Maui is also the best to visit for Honeymoons. Maui offers romantic getaways and many romantic activities. On your honeymoon, you want as much privacy as possible; Maui has luxury adults-only hotels for interested lovers. Visiting the Haleakala national park for sunrise or sunset or the road to Hana are exciting activities for you and your partner. Maui has many activities to deepen the ties between you and your partner and get you into a romantic mood.

Best Island to Visit in Hawaii for Families

Again, Oahu takes the cup for being the best Island in Hawaii to visit as a family. Oahu is very kid-friendly and has many family-engaging activities. One major factor that makes Oahu suitable for families is its kid-friendly beaches, like the famous Waikiki Beach. There is also Kailua Beach, which is small and free of harsh waves, making it safe for younger children.
On the educational aspect, Oahu is also very reliable. You can take your children to historical places such as the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor and the Polynesian Cultural Center, where they can learn and see a lot of history. Fascinating also is Disney Aulani, where your kids can have breakfast with Mickey Mouse. However, depending on your family's interests, Maui is also a great island for families. As you know, Maui offers an endless list of thrilling activities that can improve the family bond.

Best Island to Visit in Hawaii for Beaches

Oahu arguably has the best beaches in Hawaii. This should not come as a surprise because this Island houses the popular Waikiki. Oahu's beaches are known to be swimmable and very accessible. Protected bays and reefs surround the Island. Some of Oahu's beaches are accessible all year round.
Some beaches in Oahu have beach park facilities like restrooms, showers and free parking lots, which are not so common. There are no black sand beaches in Oahu as there are on the big Island; however, you will find clear white and gold sand to sink your feet into. Some of the best beaches in Oahu are Waikiki, Lanikai Beach (also known as the heavenly ocean), Makua Beach (tunnels beach), Ko Olina, and Waimea Bay Beach Park, amongst others.

Best Hawaii Island for Activities

As mentioned earlier, Oahu provides a long list of activities you cannot exhaust during your vacation. From visiting their splendorous beaches to visiting the pearl harbour national memorial or Jurassic Park, the list of things to do in Oahu is endless. This is why it is the most common Island for first-timers. Amongst all the other beaches, it is the most crowded; everyone is trying to get a piece of this Island. If you are looking for an island to fulfil your tourism bucket list, Oahu is the one.
However, depending on your favourite activities, each Island has its package of attractions. For example, the big Island is suitable for people seeking thrilling water activities. However, Oahu has a bit of everything.

Best Island for Hiking in Hawaii

The best Island for hiking is a battle between Oahu and Kauai. However, we believe the two Islands offer unique hiking experiences. Oahu is the place for both beginners and experienced hikers. The hiking trails in Oahu span the two volcanic mountain ranges that make up the Island. The gorgeous waterfall hikes add a little bit of waterline to your adventure.
Kauai is also popular for hiking because of its Na Pali Coast trail, considered one of the world's best. This hiking trail is very long, spanning 22 miles. So, if you are looking for an exciting and challenging hike adventure, Kauai is the place for you. However, because of its cliff-edge shuffles, elevation and length, it is not the best trail for beginners.

Which Island in Hawaii Has the Best Restaurants?

Oahu has the best dishes to offer, from local to modern dishes. Not only is Oahu the most developed Island physically and economically, but it is also developed in terms of food. This Island combines the richness of its local ingredients with exquisite modern dishes to give you the best culinary experience. This food paradise does not fall short of its name, the gathering place. Many fine-dine restaurants will melt your taste bud. Dining in Oahu is, in fact, an adventure of its own.

How to Select the Best Hawaiian Island to Visit for You?

Besides what is top-rated, there is always the best Island for each individual. You can select what Island to travel to based on your wants and what the Island is top-rated for.

1. What Are Your Preferred Activities?

Choosing what Island to travel to can be done based on your preferred activities. For example, if you love to hike, you should consider Oahu and Kauai. If you love golfing, you should visit Lanai. Molokai is the place for you if you are seeking adventure. If you love scuba diving, the Big Island is the place for you. If you enjoy swimming, Oahu has the best swimmable beaches. If you want to tour and drive, Oahu is an attractive option.

2. Is Being Close to Amenities and Tourist Attractions Important to You?

Oahu has the perfect package if you consider proximity to amenities and tourist attractions very important. This Island is the most developed and so has the best amenities. Home to the state capital of Honolulu, Oahu also has a lot of history preserved in its tourist attractions.
Maui is also filled with many amenities, high-rated resorts, and tourist attractions, and it is a close call to Oahu.

3. Best Hawaii Island for Beaches

The best Hawaiian Island is Oahu. If you are looking for an Island with numerous beaches, check out Oahu. Its beaches are also safe for inexperienced swimmers as well as experts. While swimming or lounging on the beach, this Island offers you an unlimited view of nature.
Maui is also a great choice, home to some of the best beaches in the US. Compared to Oahu, Maui's beaches are also less crowded and quieter, giving you a very serene atmosphere.

4. Which Island in Hawaii Has the Best Hikes?

Oahu is the Island of hikes. The Island itself is simply a stretch of hike trails. A very close call is Kauai. Kauai offers you the liberty of hiking while also taking in the most intoxicating views of nature. It leaves you wanting to stay in the mountains forever.

5. If You're a Foodie

If you are a foodie, you should explore Oahu, the Island with many fantabulous delicacies. In Oahu, there is a meal for every budget and everybody. Maui also offers excellent meals; rest assured, you will get the best seafood experience. However, your last stop should not be Oahu if you wish to be adventurous with your taste buds.

6. Which Island in Hawaii Has the Best Nightlife?

In Oahu, there is nothing like retiring to your home in the evening. Many restaurants, lounges and bars will keep the night energy pumping—one for every night of your stay. The sunset is the beginning of a plethora of activities.

7. Which Island in Hawaii Has the Best Accommodations?

Oahu has the best accommodations, owning most of all hotels in the Hawaiian State.
Maui is another Island with the best accommodations, second to Oahu. It has some of the best 5-star resorts.

8. Which Island in Hawaii Has the Best Shopping?

Oahu is the best Hawaiian Island for shopping. There are many retail shopping centres where you can find everything you need. This Island has the biggest shopping mall in Hawaii, Ala Moana Center.

9. What Is the Cheapest Island in Hawaii to Visit?

The cheapest of them all is Oahu. Oahu is a place for every budget. You do not have to break the bank to have fun in Oahu.

Major Hawaiian Islands: The Overview

The Hawaiian Islands are all distinctive with unique features. Let’s take a quick study of some of them.

Oahu: Numerous Hotel and Food Options & Great for Nightlife

Oahu is the third-largest of the Hawaiian Island chain. It houses Honolulu, the capital city. This Island is Hawaii’s cultural and economic heart, attracting the highest number of visitors annually. Because of its vastness and population, many hotels, restaurants and bars appeal to every taste. The Island is also known to have the best nightlife in Hawaii.
The list of activities to do on Oahu is just endless. You can visit Waikiki beach, the Royal Residence of Iolani Palace, the historic Pearl Harbor, the Dole Plantation and the Polynesian Cultural Center in Oahu. You can also go to Laniakea Beach, the turtle beach. There, you will find many Hawaiian green sea turtles.

Kaua’i: Nature, Secret Beaches, and Fewer Crowds Are Perfect for Outdoor Lovers

Kauai is the fourth-largest Island in Hawaii. Being the oldest of the Islands, it holds immense beauty that surpasses other Islands. It is more rural than the other Islands and has a smaller population. Kauai satisfies that need if you want to get away from the crowd and have a more private but fun vacation.
This Island is filled with many secret beaches where you can louche and take in the beauty of nature. You can appreciate Kauai’s natural beauty by visiting the Waimea Canyon, the Coconut Coast, Na Pali Coast, and many more. North shore Kauai is filled with jagged sea cliffs, rugged mountains and green fields; it is nothing short of paradise. Compared to other Islands, Kauai is less touristy but not less adventurous!

Maui: Enjoy the Resorts, Watersports, and Nightlife

Maui is the second-largest Island in Hawaii. This Island has many peaks and alleys. This Island was formed from lava flowing from two volcanoes which are now dormant. Maui is especially a place for lovers. This Island has many resorts and is a wonderful option for getting away from the crowd in Oahu.
Although its nightlife is not as alive as Oahu’s, Maui also has wonderful bars and lounges where you can relax in the evening and watch live performances. It is home to many beaches, giving you a wonderful water-life experience. It is suitable for snorkelling, and sailing adventures are waiting for you.

Big Island of Hawaii: Nature Lovers Will Enjoy Visiting a Volcano & Waterfalls

The Big Island (Hawai’i) is the largest of all the Islands. It is formed from the lava of five volcanoes. It has the world’s largest shield volcano, Mauna Loa and the most active volcano in the US, Kilauea. This Island offers you the view of molten lava flowing from mountains. This view, with the spectacular stretch of green jungles the Island houses, give you an adventure full of awe. This Island offers a lovely wild view for nature lovers.
On this Island, you can golf, have fishing escapades, and visit its many beaches, including its rare black sand and green beaches. This Island also has a lot of delicious food to offer. It is rich in local Hawaiian delicacies.

What Is the Best Time of Year to Go to Hawaii?

There is no exact best time to go to Hawaii. The best time of the year to visit the Island depends on what activities you are most interested in. The islands have a warm climate all year. It also rains all year but minimally during the dry season.
Although Hawaii offers an all-year adventure, some activities are best explored in certain months. For example, the best months for hiking are April, May, September, and October.

Top Things to Do in Hawaii

Although there is an endless chain of thrilling activities to embark on when visiting Hawaii, here are the top 10 things to fill your bucket list.
  • Visit Waikiki Beach, Oahu or any other Hawaiian beach.
  • Visit The famous Pearl Harbor, Oahu, or Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai.
  • Visit Hawaii’s Volcanos National park, Big Island.
  • Sail the Na Pali Coast, Kauai.
  • Hike in the Kalalau Trail, Kauai.
  • Snorkel with sea turtles on as many beaches as possible.
  • Drive the road to Hana, Maui.
  • Take a whale-watching tour on the coasts of Maui, Big Island, or Maui.
  • Watch the sunset at Haleakala, Maui.
  • Go skydiving over the North Shore in Oahu.
And if you’re wondering how much a visit to these beautiful islands may cost you, make sure to read our comprehensive guide on the popular topic among tourists: is Hawaii expensive?

Do You Need a Visa to visit Hawaii?

A visa or an ESTA is required for foreign nationals to travel to Hawaii. Bear in mind that the cheapest application fee for a Hawaii visa is $160. If you won't be spending more than 90 days, the Electric System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) is your best option. ESTA is only available to the countries under the US's visa waiver programme (VWP). This application is made online by filling out the ESTA form.
The process is speedy, and you will likely receive a response within a few hours, although it can take longer on rare occasions. Obtaining this type of travel authorisation is faster and less stressful than a traditional visa application.

Hawaii Best Island to Visit: FAQs

1. Which Island is best for the first time in Hawaii?

The recommended Island for first-timers is Oahu. This Island is filled with activities and many sites of attractions. It has many hotels and is rich with varieties of delicacies.

2. Which one is the most beautiful Island in Hawaii?

The most beautiful Island in Hawaii is Maui. The Island is the older of the Islands and gives the most breathtaking view of nature.

3. If I only have five days, which Hawaiian Island should I go to?

The Island to visit with limited days is Oahu. This Island has a bit of everything and is perfect for wetting your cultural and modern appetite. It also has many activities to fill up every hour of your vacation. However, if you wish, in 5 days, you can shuffle between two Islands.

Written by Abisola Fikayomi

Abisola is an accomplished writer interested in US Travel, immigration, passports and visas. She’s passionate about exploring new places and cultures and willing to share her experiences, expertize and findings with others. That is her primary drive for specialising in this industry.

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