Which Hawaiian Island Should You Visit?

Many people think that Hawaii is only one island, because that’s how it’s so often referred to. While it’s true that Hawaii’s main island is a big tourist hit, don’t rule out its surrounding smaller islands as potential vacation destinations. Every location in Hawaii has its similarities, but each island offers something slightly unique from the other. Read on to learn more about the most popular Hawaiian islands and what they have to offer to tourists like yourself.

What Are The Four Hawaiian Islands?

In Hawaii, there are four main islands to be aware of: the main island, which is usually just referred to as Hawaii, Kauai, Oahu, and Maui. These are not the only Hawaiian Islands by a long stretch, but they’re the most populated by tourists, and tend to be the ones with the biggest pulls for prospective vacationers looking for a trip away in the sunshine. Hawaii is the largest island of them all, followed by Maui and Oahu, and finally, Kauai. Here’s a little more information about each of the islands:


Hawaii’s main island, often referred to as the Big Island, is the most ideal destination for travellers who want to see and do it all. It features every type of landscape, from tropical woodlands to sparse volcanoes, and boasts nearly a full year of sunshine. If you’re after a varied beach selection, Hawaii’s Big Island will more than meet your needs. There’s so much to see, do and explore, whether you prefer to make your own adventures, or you’d rather enlist in the local wisdom of a professional tour guide.

Hawaii has not one but two international airports, and with it being the most touristy island of the four, you’d expect to find that travel to the Big Island is the easiest. However, it is sometimes common for tourists to have to switch over at Honolulu Airport to get to Hawaii, so be aware that booking direct might not be an easy option. You’ll have your biggest struggle with accommodation – more specifically, how to narrow it down! There are so many options for every budget and personal taste.


If you’re looking for a romantic getaway, Maui ticks all the boxes. It’s quite often the Hawaiian island that honeymooners and couples celebrating key relationship milestones will consider visiting, thanks to its charming village life and incredible selection of beaches. You’ll find plenty to appeal to the inner romantic in Maui, including tailored romantic tours and island activities, and romantic restaurants that offer stunning evening sunset views over Hawaii’s coastline.

You can often get to Maui directly without having to switch over at Honolulu airport nowadays, so it’s becoming an increasingly convenient destination for people who prefer to travel efficiently. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding where to stay – and there are plenty of adults’ only spa results if you’re after something really special.


Being relatively smaller than Hawaii, you’d think that Oahu would offer a more peaceful, laid-back vibe. It’s true that you can find plenty of scenic havens in Oahu, but if you’re a fan of the big city life, you’ll love Oahu for its on-the-go shopping and restaurant scene. Staying in Oahu means getting the best of both worlds: you can visit the hustle and bustle of the city during the day, and while away your late afternoons away from all the action in a secluded beach-side hotel resort.

Oahu is home to Honolulu International Airport, which has great transportation links to many US airports. From hotel high-rises to traditional resorts away from the city, there are plenty of accommodation choices to look between. You can rest assured that there’s something to suit every vacation requirement in Oahu.


Don’t even think about visiting anywhere other than Kauai if nature is your thing. Kauai is well known for its stunning scenery and natural beauty, and it’s on this island that you’ll really get the sense of serenity and seclusion. It’s quite common in Kauai to feel as if you have the island to yourself, because there are so many hidden nature spots that you won’t often have to share with other tourists. If you enjoy outdoor activities, there are plenty of affordable activity offerings on the island, including whale-watching, hiking, zip lining and water sports.

With Kauai being the smallest of Hawaii’s four main islands, if you want to fly direct from the US, you should be prepared to dish out a little more cash. It might make more sense to stop over at Honolulu and take a second flight from there, so consider your options carefully. You can expect Kauai’s hotel scene to appeal to every taste, but some of the best resorts are located on Kauai’s stretch of beautiful coastline.

Making Your Decision

Deciding which Hawaiian island is for you is ultimately a case of weighing up the pros and cons that each island presents for you personally. It might be that you can’t seem to see any cons for either – which may make the decision more difficult! But many people generally find that one island of the four calls out to them more than the rest, so it could end up being a case of simply listening to your heart.

Even once you’ve decided which Hawaiian island you want to visit, there’s no reason why you can’t hop over to the other islands if you want to check them out also while you’re there. Even if you’re visiting Hawaii for one specific purpose, if you find yourself being drawn to the vibrant lifestyle of Oahu, the scenery of Kauai, the romance of Maui or the adventure potential of the Big Island, why not make a day out of island-hopping?

Transportation links are good, with boat and plane travel being the speediest. Look out for companies that offer island tours, which tend to be the easiest way to get the most out of your island-hopping experience, and may provide additional perks, like food and overnight accommodation.