6 variations of paradise: How to decide on the correct Hawaiian island for you

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Irrespective of the place you go in America’s fiftieth state, Hawaii’s eight massive islands (one discourages vacationers, the opposite is uninhabited) supply all kinds of topography, lodging, actions, and experiences.

And whereas visiting Hawaii has been unattainable for many of 2020, hopefully 2021 will convey extra journey to the island. Simply bear in mind to verify Hawaii’s ever-changing journey coverage. Relying on the precise dates you’re touring, there could also be quarantine restrictions (earlier than departure or upon arrival) and COVID-19 testing necessities. You may additionally discover that some islands have stricter insurance policies than others, which might affect which island to go to. And even for those who booked your trip months prematurely, you could comply with the restrictions in impact on the day of your journey, not the day you booked your journey.

Associated: I Simply Traveled To Hawaii – Here is What Vacationers Really feel Proper Now

That stated, Hawaii is an extremely distinctive place to go to, and every island has its personal ambiance. How to decide on between so many various variations of paradise? Here is a brief information to discovering the correct Hawaiian island to go to in your subsequent trip.

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Oahu is Hawaii’s most vibrant and concrete island. It’s house to the town and the biggest procuring middle within the state, Honolulu, which is thought for an epic rush hour that typically rivals Los Angeles. Throughout the metropolis limits, Waikiki Seaside is the place to see and be seen – store, dine, and benefit from the facilities of huge high-rise resorts.

Associated: These are the very best instances to go to Hawaii

Oahu Waikiki from Air
The view of Honolulu and Waikiki Seaside at takeoff from HNL. (Picture by Leslie Harvey.)

However Oahu’s choices are extra various than simply Honolulu. The rising vacationer space of ​​Ko Olina is just not as urbanized and has a wide range of lodging, together with Disney’s Aulani Resort and the 4 Seasons Ko Olina (presently accepting reservations for stays from March 11, 2021 onwards). On the way in which to Ko Olina from Honolulu is Pearl Harbor, one of many islands’ most visited historic websites.

Associated: 7 enjoyable issues to do on a wet day in Honolulu

Oahu’s North Shore presents one other vibe, downright laid-back with its small-town surfer, meals truck and beach-loving scene. Hikers can discover many trails all through Oahu, from the peaks of Diamond Head to much less traveled locations like Makiki Valley or Waimea Valley. Nevertheless, sadly, many parks, museums and facilities are closed attributable to COVID-19, so make sure to verify the opening hours prematurely.

Oahu Waimea Valley Waterfall
Swim in a waterfall in O’ahu’s Waimea Valley. (Picture by Leslie Harvey.)

Oahu’s gateway for vacationers, Honolulu Worldwide Airport (HNL) has the biggest air service of any location on the islands, making it the most affordable vacation spot for mainland vacationers. It additionally presents most nonstop flights.

Associated: The most effective methods to redeem factors and miles on Hawaiian Airways

Oahu is greatest for:

  • First-time guests to Hawaii
  • Single vacationers
  • Giant teams
  • Finances vacationers

For extra Oahu analysis:

  • Issues to do on Oahu with children


The second most visited island within the state and likewise the second largest is Maui, house to the well-known Highway to Hana, Haleakala Nationwide Park, and the very best whale watching anyplace on the islands within the winter months.

Haleakala Maui Sliding Sands National Park
Sliding Sands Path in Haleakala Nationwide Park. (Picture by Leslie Harvey)

For a lot of vacationers, a Maui trip is the very best of each worlds. The island presents a few of the identical infrastructure, facilities, and actions as Oahu with out the visitors and concrete sprawl. It’s potential to have an energetic trip right here and go to many points of interest or additionally simply take pleasure in an island R&R at a resort.

Maui is my most suitable choice for households with school-age youngsters attributable to its many actions. It really works properly for multi-generational teams as a result of it has experiences that grandparents and grandchildren can take pleasure in, such because the Maui Ocean Heart or a dawn in Haleakala Nationwide Park.

Associated: You Can Guide a Household Trip to Maui for $ 330

The island of Maui additionally has many superb accommodations and resorts in all kinds of costs. Most are clustered in two fundamental areas: within the Lahaina / Ka’anapali / Kapalua hall on the northwestern facet of the island or in Kihei / Wailea additional south.

For its dimension, Maui presents a powerful number of accommodations for vacationers to ebook a stick with factors. A lot of the main chains are represented and lots of properties supply condominium lodging that work for households or bigger teams. Hyatt Regency Maui, Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Westin Nanea, Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, and Andaz Maui have carried out properly with TPG contributors and readers.

Hyatt Regency Maui
The Hyatt Regency Maui. (Picture by Leslie Harvey.)

Maui is greatest for:

  • Vacationers with youngsters
  • Multi-generational journey
  • Anybody in search of condominium properties in a resort

For extra analysis on Maui:

  • 9 issues to do in Maui that are not the way in which to Hana
  • Profiting from Maui
  • Accommodations in Maui that may be booked with lodge factors

Hawaii (the massive island)

Big Island of Hawaii with Kids - Black Lava KOA Airport
The strategy to Kona Worldwide Airport (KOA) presents guests a glimpse of the black lava of the Huge Island. (Picture by Leslie Harvey)

The island of Hawaii, referred to as Huge Island, is the biggest and latest island within the chain. As a result of it’s so massive, seeing every thing takes a few week, but it surely presents many various journey experiences from sooner or later to the subsequent.

The overwhelming majority of holiday makers to the Huge Island keep on the western facet of the island, close to the city of Kailua-Kona and the Kohala Coast, the place the massive resorts are positioned. Luxurious seekers can take pleasure in high-end properties just like the 4 Seasons Hualalai, the Mauna Lani Bay Resort, or the Mauna Kea Seaside Lodge. Households with a reasonable funds can even discover a vast lodge supply. Specifically, Waikoloa Seaside Marriott and Hilton Waikoloa Village cater to vacationers with youngsters. Pool complexes are an enormous draw.

Big Island of Hawaii with Kids: Mauna Kea Beach from Above
The magnificent white sand seaside of the Mauna Kea Seaside Lodge. (Picture by Leslie Harvey)

Whereas it is totally potential to spend every week on the Huge Island enjoyable on a resort seaside, the island will also be a haven for adventurous vacationers. Within the northern a part of the island, vacationers can zip-line, take off-road car excursions, bounce into waterfalls, dive or snorkel with large manta rays, or glide down the historic sugar cane irrigation canals.

Within the southern a part of the island, you may go to the Hawaii Volcanoes Nationwide Park, though some areas stay closed for security precautions. The city of Hilo on the east facet of the island has its personal native vibe that may be an ideal getaway for vacationers in search of an genuine Hawaiian expertise.

The Huge Island is good for:

  • Romantic getaways for {couples}
  • Luxurious vacationers
  • Journey seekers

For extra Huge Island analysis:

  • Why You Should not Skip the Huge Island of Hawaii
  • Issues to do on the Huge Island of Hawaii with children
  • Refurbished by Kilauea, the Huge Island of Hawaii welcomes households with new adventures


Kauai’s lush greenery makes it probably the most stunning of all of the Hawaiian islands. It’s house to waterfalls, climbing trails, and a wide range of eco-adventures. Most vacationers look to Kauai to keep away from the hustle and bustle of Oahu and Maui for a extra disconnected trip expertise.

Kauai (Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)
Kauai. (Picture by Summer time Hull / The Factors Man)

Sadly, Kauai’s pure magnificence additionally makes it much less dependable as a trip vacation spot. The vegetation of the island comes from the plentiful rains it receives, which makes it potential to your trip in paradise to be humid. For that motive, it’s in all probability higher to plan an extended journey, in case the climate doesn’t cooperate on a regular basis.

The lodge choices on Kauai are intensive. For households, the undisputed winner is the Grand Hyatt Kauai in Poipu, recognized for having among the finest slides and swimming pools on the island. The Grand Membership lounge is sort of particular too, with easy accessibility to breakfast, drinks, snacks, and extra. Sadly, nevertheless, with the present COVID-19 restrictions, this lodge has ceased operations in the interim, however is predicted to reopen in 2021.

Poipu, to the south, is house to many different main resorts; Princeville, to the north, has many others.

Kauai is greatest for:

  • Romantic getaways for {couples} and honeymooners
  • Hooked on journey
  • Rest seekers

For extra analysis on Kauai:

  • Exploring Kauai, Hawaii’s Backyard Island
  • The most effective actions on Kauai with children

Smaller Islands: Lanai and Molokai

One of the most private beaches in the world at Kalaupapa National Historical Park in Molokai, Hawaii
One of the vital personal seashores on the earth at Kalaupapa Nationwide Historic Park in Molokai, Hawaii. (Picture by Darren Murph / The Factors Man)

Though the overwhelming majority of vacationers to Hawaii go to Oahu, Maui, the Huge Island, and Kauai, there are two smaller islands that vacationers can even go to. Reaching each requires a bit of additional effort, as neither has air service from the mainland.

Lanai, the island owned by Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, is accessible by boat from Maui. It has two 4 Seasons resorts on the island, so it’s also luxurious and costly.

Molokai, against this, does not have name-brand lodging, making it a spot of refuge for locals and vacationers searching for genuine Hawaii journey experiences. Molokai has commuter air service from Honolulu Worldwide Airport (HNL) and the 2 Maui airports: Kahului (OGG) and Kapalua (JHM).

I’d not suggest that vacationers head to any of those locations till they’ve first visited a number of of Hawaii’s largest islands. You will in all probability get extra out of them (and know which one is best for you) upon getting extra context to understand them.

Hawaii’s smallest islands are greatest for:

  • Returning guests to Hawaii in quest of new experiences

For extra Lanai and Molokai analysis:

  • Off the overwhelmed observe: suggestions for visiting Molokai
  • Suggestions for visiting and exploring Lanai, Hawaii
  • I flew to Lanai simply to hang around with 600 cats for adoption

Planning a visit to Hawaii? Listed below are some extra suggestions:

  • 14 superb experiences you may have in Hawaii
  • Greatest Level Accommodations in Hawaii
  • 9 widespread errors vacationers make in Hawaii
  • The most effective methods to get to Hawaii utilizing factors and miles

Featured Picture from YinYang / Getty Photographs

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