Hawaii is the ultimate dream vacation destination, and is often a once in a lifetime trip for visitors. The islands are remote and expensive to vacation on, with plane tickets alone often costing over a thousand dollars during the busy seasons.
So if you only have one opportunity to vacation in Hawaii, which island should you choose? Each island is special for its own reasons, so we’ve categorized them based on what they’re best known for.
Best for the Adventurous: Kauai
With the Napali Coast and Waimea Canyon (nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of Hawaii”), Kauai takes the award for the best island for hiking. It is the wettest island, which does mean more rain, but it also means the most lush rainforest and stunning coastline out of all the islands.
Most of the jaw dropping coastline photos of Hawaii are taken along the Napali Coast.
However, there are tons of other adventurous activities that make for the perfect vacation for lovers of the outdoors. If you want to go off-roading or zip lining during your vacation, Kauai has most stunning views and fun terrain. The island is less developed than other islands and therefore offers the most authentic and natural Hawaiian feel.
Best for Honeymooners/Family Gatherings: Maui
Most people agree that Maui has some of the best beaches, which makes for an ideal spot for both honeymooners and families. It has even been voted the best island in the world, offering a great mix of everything. The upscale area of Wailea is full of ritzy, famous hotels such as the Four Seasons and Andaz Resort that are perfect for a luxurious honeymoon experience lounging by the pool.
There are also hundreds of family friendly activities around the island, such as luaus, snorkeling trips, zip lining, surfing, hiking, and even submarine tours.
Best for the Nightlife Scene: Oahu
If you love the city, then Oahu will be your ideal tropical location. You get everything that the city has to offer along with the beautiful beaches that Hawaii is known for.
Waikiki has some of the top restaurants in the world, great shopping, and a lively nightlife scene.
Every other island has little to no nightlife, and even if they do, people go to bed by 9 PM. Oahu on the other hand is full of bars and clubs that are open late into the night.
Drive an hour to Oahu’s famous north shore and experience the laid back surfer vibe with cooler temperatures and more outdoor adventures.
Best for Golf/Unique Experiences: The Big Island
The Big Island has less visitors than the other Hawaiian islands but is the best spot for both golfers and anyone looking for a more unique experience outside of the typical beach vacation.
It has the top rated golf courses in Hawaii with stunning ocean views, such as Mauna Kea.
The big island is one of the most ecologically diverse places in the world, and the landscape is unlike any other Hawaiian island with two active volcanoes. This means you can hike to view lava flowing in the morning and go to the beach or golfing in the afternoon.
Whether you are looking for a relaxing honeymoon full of spa treatments and romantic dinners, water activities to entertain the family, or adventurous hiking through remote areas, Hawaii will not disappoint.
Each island offers unique experiences with plenty of aloha spirit. If all the islands sound appealing, take the opportunity to visit multiple in one vacation to really get a taste of Hawaii!
Inspired? Check out some of our amazing rentals we already have listed in Maui. We don't charge guest booking fees, so you'll have more to spend on your dream vacation!