The Best Islands In Hawaii

Published on: Feb 25, 2021
Alyce Gibson
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Luaus, leis and coconut cocktails. Welcome to island life in Hawaii, where you can be as laidback or active as you like. With secluded beaches, active volcanoes and lava flows and lush green jungles filled with hidden waterfalls, Hawaii’s scenery is nothing if not diverse. From the thrilling volcanic hikes of Island of Hawaii and dramatic coastlines of Maui to the deep canyons of Kauai and the famous surfing beaches of Oahu – Hawaii has something for everyone. So whether you fancy a jaw-dropping adventure or a relaxed beach break, these are the best Hawaiian islands…

Kauai – The Garden Isle

Best For: Nature walks, waterfalls and beautiful scenery

Meet Kauai, Hawaii’s oldest island and one of the largest. Lovingly known as the Garden Isle and the “Isle of Discovery”, Kauai has been shaped by millions of years of erosion and is filled with spectacular landscapes from tropical rainforest to cascading waterfalls, rugged cliffs, white sandy beaches, emerald valleys and deep mountains. Take time to discover the jewels of the Napali Coast – proudly one of the most photographed landscapes in the world – a dramatic landscape accessible by boat, hiking or with a breath-taking helicopter tour.

There are plenty of outdoorsy activities to enjoy on this scenic island whether you prefer to keep active along the Kalalau Trail or simply kick back and relax on the quiet sand of Kalapaki Beach – a local favourite. Discover the crescent shaped Hanalei Bay where palm trees sway in the breeze and crystal-clear waters beg you to linger a little longer or go snorkelling at Lydgate Beach Park or Ha’ena Beach Park. During the day, admire the stunning valley and mountain views from the Kuilau Ridge Trail and the roaring Wailua Falls and when evening falls, admire one of the most beautiful sunsets on earth at Polihale Beach Park.

We recommend:

  • Visiting the Kilohana Plantation, home to Kauai’s only rum distillery.
  • Exploring the Waimea Canyon (The Grand Canyon of the Pacific) and Fern Grotto.

Browse our Kauai holidays

Oahu – The Heart Of Hawaii

Best For: Surfing, nightlife and adventure sports

Oahu is the heart of Hawaii and lovingly known as the “birthplace of surfing”. An impressive total of no less than 15 surf spots await water lovers on this island, including the more famous spots of Ehukai Beach Park and the Backyards on the North Shore. It’s also the liveliest of the Hawaiian islands with an incredible nightlife and music scene, particularly in Honolulu and Waikiki.  Mingle with trend-setters at M Nightclub, soak up some live music at RumFire or head to the beachfront with its high rises and trendy bars for some exotic cocktails with a stunning sea view.

The Windward Coast is where the adventure happens – don your walking shoes for a thrilling hike up to Diamond Head, one of Hawaii’s most recognisable icons. This extinct volcano offers panoramic views of Waikiki and the south shore of Oahu. Or dabble in a new watersport from wind surfing to kite surfing in Kailua. For those who enjoy mixing their adventure with leisure time, the beaches of Hanauma Bay are perfect for sunbathing and snorkelling.

We recommend: 

  • Booking a Jurassic Park Adventure at Kualoa Ranch or a historic Pearl Harbour tour.
  • A trip to the Valley of the Temples to see the replica of the Japanese temple, Byodo-In.

Browse our Oahu holidays

Maui – The Valley Isle

Best For: Colourful beaches, snorkelling and whale watching

Maui is the quieter alternative with quaint villages, stunning national parks and a relaxed “no news, no shoes” atmosphere. The scenery is about as tropical as it gets with endless rainforest jungles, volcanic landscapes and more than 80 beautiful red, black and white sandy beaches to discover. For those who wish to be a bit more active during their time on Maui, there is plenty of adventure to be had from zip lining through rainforests and the West Hawaiian Mountains to snorkelling with sea turtles in an underwater crater. Not to mention hiking volcanoes and surfing big breaks.

But if you prefer to take it down a notch and relax then take to the palm-lined country roads and enjoy some of the best shore-based whale watching in the world on the stretch of Highway 30 between Ma’alaea and Lahaina. Or venture into the valley of Maui with a guide who will reveal ancient secrets about the fascinating Hawaiian culture and life on the island of Maui.

We recommend:

  • Exploring the hidden allures of Haleakala National Park and experiencing an unforgettable sunrise at Maui’s highest peak.
  • Booking a helicopter ride over Maui at sunset or during the day to see volcanoes, waterfalls and the rainforest from above.
  • Taking a drive along the Road to Hana – one of the most spectacular and slowest drives in the world. It starts in Kahului and snakes along 54 miles of coastline past lush vegetation and waterfalls, ending in the quaint town of Hana

Browse our Maui holiday

Island of Hawaii – The Orchid Isle

Best For: Coffee, golfing and star gazing

The Island of Hawaii needs no further explanation. It’s Hawaii’s largest island as well as its youngest, home to the Hawaiian monarchy and great coffee. It’s an island of mountainous wonders, home to Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes in the world; Mauna Kea, the world’s highest sea mountain where skiing can be enjoyed all year round; and Mauna Loa, the tallest volcano on earth. It’s here that you can look forward to hiking some exceptional volcanic scenery from black lava fields to the glowing lava streams of the Kilauea volcano – over 150 miles of hiking trails traverse Island of Hawaii.

And with volcanoes come exceptional volcanic beaches: relax on the island’s beautiful black sandy beaches surrounded by snow-capped mountains and tropical greenery. Snorkel with manta rays or go horse riding to see the fauna and flora in Waimea or tee off on one of the world’s best golf courses. Coffee lovers will love the chance to visit a coffee farm in the heart of Island of Hawaii’s famous Coffee Country. And when darkness descends, you’ll get to experience some of the most spectacular star gazing on the planet…

We recommend:

  • Booking a Twilight Volcano Adventure and spending the day visiting Island of Hawaii’s impressive volcanoes
  • Enjoying a star gazing tour or helicopter flight over Mauna Kea

Browse our Island of Hawaii holidays

Which Hawaiian island would you like to visit? To plan your Hawaii getaway, visit our website or chat to our Hawaii experts.

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