Which Hawaiian Island Should You Visit First? (Infographic)
Hawaii as a whole is a tropical paradise. Many tourists dream of spending their ideal vacation in the island state—but which island is the right one for you?
Like many first timers in Hawaii, it is normal that you feel overwhelmed with all the must-see places, and must do activities while on the island. One tip for you: choose one to two islands per visit—but how do you choose?
Of the eight major islands of Hawaii, six are openly accessible to tourists. However, only four are most frequented by most visitors of the state, namely Maui, Kauai, Oahu, and Hawaii—the big island. All of these are equally breath-taking, but each one has its own unique offerings.
Like a lot of visitors to Hawaii, you’re probably wondering which Hawaii island to visit and thinking about which one would be best for you and your travel party. The islands are very diverse and, making choosing an island rather difficult. And once you’ve started visiting the islands, coming back to a different island can often feel like a totally different place with a whole new set of experiences, sights, and attractions.
Here is everything you have to know to make your decision:
This island is one of the most popular destinations in Hawaii because it is home to the state capitol of Honolulu. At the same time, it is home to the majority of Hawaii’s population, making it by far the busiest island among the six.
Oahu is a vibrant mix of natural and cultural wonders with the entertainment and amenities of the 21st century. It has the perfect combination of beaches, food, history, and culture. This island is referred to as “The Gathering Place” as it’s the hub for the state when traveling to the islands.
When in O’ahu, visit:
There are also many hikes, beaches, and sights to see. If you only have a week on the island, you can take the Circle Island Tour and see a large portion of it’s beauty in one day!
Hawai’i the Big Island
This island got this name for a reason. Hawai’i is larger that all of the other islands combined. It encompasses 11 of the world’s 13 climactic zones – from white sand beaches to snow-capped mountains. For travelers who want the best of both worlds and a taste of each experience, this island is perfect for you.
From the world’s most active volcano to icy waterfall pools, and oceans that serve home to the the Humpback Whales, tourists can really have a worth it trip if they choose to visit Hawai’i.
When in Hawai’i, visit:
- Historic Kailua-Kona Town
- Waipio Valley
- Downtown Hilo
- Ka Lae (South Point)
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Be warned, this island is much larger than the others, and driving around the island can take a full day! But if you’re looking to see a more rural and cultural aspect, this is the best choice!
Maui is the second largest island in Hawaii and is known worldwide for its pristine beaches where tourists can surf or relax on the sand. It also has a vast offering of rainforests which nestle some of the island state’s national symbols.
When in Maui, visit:
- Lahaina Town
- Makena Beach State Park (Big Beach)
- Iao Valley State Park
- Haleakala National Park
- Hana Highway
If you’re looking for a romantic getaway, or just a more quiet and relaxing vacation, this is the best option for you!
If you want to experience Hawaii as aboriginal as possible, the island of Moloka’i is your best bet. Did you know that 50% Molokaʻi’s people have indigenous heritage? Residents prioritize and favor preserving their land and culture over promoting tourism and adapting to more modern infrastractures such as hotels, beach resorts, etc.
When in Moloka’i, visit:
- Papohaku Beach Park
- Kalaupapa Leprosy Settlement and National Historical Park
- Pala’au State Park
- Oloʻupena Falls
Moloka’I is one of the least visited islands, so this is very much off the beaten path. It won’t be for most guests, but if you’re looking for something different, or to really learn about the people and land, this might be a good choice.
Kaua’i is the oldest and northernmost island in the Hawaiian Islands, however, it is not short of history and natural beauty its residents are proud of. From beach stretches, canyons, cliffs, and rainforests, Kauai has a fair share of the world’s ecological profile. In fact, because of the perfect balance of trees and water, it has gained the moniker of “the Garden Isle”
When in Kauai, visit:
- Kokee State Park
- Waimea Canyon
- Limahuli Garden
- Poipu Beach
- Kalalau Trail
- Wailua Falls
There are not as many adventures to go on here, just enjoy the natural beautiy of the green mountains, the beaches and hikes. If you’re an active person, consider this island, also great for anyone who wants to camp instead of booking a hotel.
This part of Hawaii is perfect for those who want to do soul searching and reflect. Lanai is an isolated island of Hawaii. This entire island has plenty of pineapples planted. Pineapples from Lanai are exported since 20th century around the world.
When in Lana’i visit:
- Pu’u Pehe (Sweetheart Rock)
- Lanai Petroglyphs
- Hulopoe Beach
- Shipwreck Beach
Selecting the right island is no easy task for many visitors, especially for first time travelers to Hawaii. However, keep in mind that whichever island you choose to visit first will not fail to amaze you with its amazing scenery, friendly people, hula and music, and good food. After all, there’s always a next time for the other islands.