Hawaii has long been considered one of the world’s top vacation destinations. With its pristine beaches, cobalt blue ocean teeming with marine life, delicious cuisine, vibrant island culture, and the amazing range of activities to enjoy, it’s definitely easy to see why. Ready to get on the plane yet? Before you do, here’s a quick primer on the six main islands of Hawaii to help you decide which one – or ones! – you most want to visit.
The Big Island: Hawaii
Home to Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano, the Big Island is a hiker’s dream. You can literally watch red hot molten lava spew out into the ocean and explore some of the most diverse landscapes on Earth. From verdant valleys and snow-capped peaks to cascading waterfalls and the green sand of Papakolea Beach, it’s packed with breathtakingly beautiful sights that you’ll never forget.
Maui: The Valley Isle
Maui is like paradise on Earth, with sugar soft golden sandy beaches and crystal clear waters that are ideal for snorkeling and diving. Further inland, you’ll find secluded hiking trails that wind through lush forest and rugged mountains, and the island’s luxurious Outrigger resorts make for wonderfully romantic getaways. Don’t miss seeing the sunrise from the top of Haleakala volcano, and then the sunset over the ocean.
Oahu: The Gathering Place
This is Hawaii’s most populous island and home to the capital city of Honolulu. Its hustle and bustle is ideal for shopping and epic nightlife, as well as exploring museums and other historical landmarks. Oahu is also one of the best places to sample the state’s fantastic food culture, which is a delicious blend of influences from all around the world. Be sure to stop by the idyllic North Shore, known for its world-class surfing.
Kauai: The Garden Isle
This lush island earned its name from the tropical rainforest that covers much of its landmass, and it has been featured in numerous movies, including Jurassic Park. This rugged terrain can be explored by boat, helicopter, or on foot, and Kauai also boasts a welcoming and laid back lifestyle that has long enticed visitors to this rural wonderland.
Lanai: The Pineapple Isle
This tiny, remote island is actually almost entirely owned by the billionaire Larry Ellison, before which it was home to the world’s largest pineapple plantation. Lanai is a great choice to really get off the tourist track, and away from it all, and the gorgeous sands of Hulopoe Beach are almost always uncrowded, offering the ultimate in relaxation.
Molokai: The Friendly Isle
Another isolated getaway, Molokai, is the least populated of these six islands and retains a very un-touristy vibe. Nature lovers will enjoy hiking in the remote Halawa Valley, which produces most of the region’s taro, as well as the Kalaupapa National Historical Park. Papohaku Beach is perfect for relaxing on deserted golden sands, and the island is also home to Hawaii’s longest continuous fringing reef. At 28 miles long, it offers unbeatable snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities.