Most vacation bucket lists begin and end with the Hawaiian Islands. For romance, family celebrations, or just plain fun, a trip to Hawaii can satisfy the needs and wishes of everyone, from newlyweds in search of the ultimate honeymoon to extended families looking for the perfect places to celebrate a milestone birthday or anniversary.
But with four major islands to choose from, planning a Hawaii vacation takes a lot of time and effort. Travelers should be aware of what each island offers, like which Hawaii beaches are the best for families, water sports, surfing and relaxation, as well as the best time to visit Hawaii. Even the little things that everyone should know about traveling to Hawaii, like what to pack and where to eat, are crucial to planning the perfect Hawaii vacation.
Our Hawaii travel guide aims to answer all those questions and more, assisting everyone from first-timers to seasoned guests of the Hawaiian Islands in planning the vacation of a lifetime.
With nearly one million residents, Oahu is the most populous of the Hawaiian Islands. It is also home to some of the most famous and legendary tourist spots, including Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head and the North Shore. But there’s so much more to Oahu, from the 7-Mile Miracle to every surfer’s dream destination of Haleiwa, and so it’s important for travelers to do their homework and know what to see and where to stay.
The state’s second largest island, Maui might be the first that comes to mind when you think of a week spent under the warm sun and beaches so beautiful they look like they were pulled from the big screen. The island’s main resort areas are Kaanapali, Kapalua and Wailea, and each one offers something special that will make your Hawaii vacation truly unforgettable. Local culture, delicious cuisine, world class golf, diving and snorkeling—Maui is packed with adventure and the ideal island for anyone looking to try it all.
Speaking of the big screen, the Garden Island is a certified Hollywood star in its own right, having served as the setting for some Jurassic Park films because of its lush tropical beauty. Kauai is also the island for the most adventurous travelers, with Waimea Canyon calling all hikers and the mountain rivers and waterfalls serving as the settings for tubing excursions and ATV rides. This is also an amazing island for learning about the rich flora and fauna, as well as its history, with tours of everything from cacao plantations and botanical gardens to blockbuster filming locations and even a guided helicopter journey over the Napali Coast.
Both the largest and youngest of Hawaii’s islands, the Big Island is all about volcanoes. In fact, Volcanoes National Park is a must-visit destination and the Crater Rim Drive tour is a great way to experience this amazing park. But there’s still plenty of that Hawaiian beauty on the Big Island, from beaches with various colors of sand to diving and swimming with giant manta rays near Kailua-Kona. Big Island is also home to some of the most luxurious resorts in Hawaii, if not the world, and that means incredible golf courses and spas that will promise the most relaxing experiences imaginable.
Again, choosing an island and the best places to stay in Hawaii can rely heavily on all of the things to do in Hawaii. First and foremost, Hawaii beaches are among the best and most popular in the world, and so first-timers will want to see the shores of legend and experience the waves, sand and sun that people have long cherished. Surfers will want to stay near the best waves, while divers and snorkelers will want to see as much marine life as they can. Thrill seekers can zip line through the jungles of Kauai, while foodies can plan entire trips around restaurants in Maui. It’s all about your personal preference, but don’t be afraid to try something new.