Which Hawaiian Island Suits Your Vacation Style?
In the article, the Big Island takes the top spot for visitors who are looking for some hard-core hiking, and of course, fishing. For visitors who want to hike on Hawai‘i’s ultimate trails, the Big Island is the place to be. It has the widest variety of different landscapes. It also has the added thrill of letting you hike alongside molten lava. For fishing, the Big Island has the largest charter fleet and the most legendary fishing grounds of the Hawaiian Islands. Marlin, Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and more show up just a mile or two from the shore here. What’s more, they grow to unbelievable sizes—fish over 1,000 pounds are caught every year.
Hawai‘i: The Big Island
The Big Island is—you guessed it—the biggest of the Hawaiian islands. It’s also the youngest, and it’s constantly growing thanks to the island’s volcanic activity. The Big Island is a big hit with outdoorsy types who want to make the most of the incredible mix of landscapes you can find here. Lush jungle, cascading waterfalls, high arid plains, molten lava fields—you name it, the Big Island’s got it!
Hawai‘i Island is split into two distinct regions. Kona, in the west, is a land of beautiful beaches and otherworldly lava fields. It’s also home to the renowned sportfishing town of Kailua-Kona. The eastern Hilo region is where you’ll find the waterfalls and jungle, not to mention the world’s most active volcano, Kīlauea, which has been spewing out magma non-stop since 1983.
O‘ahu: The Gathering Place
Long before Europeans discovered the islands, O‘ahu was the main gathering place for the various peoples of Hawaii. These days, it’s home to the capital of Honolulu and it’s where the vast majority of visitors go to. Don’t let that put you off, though. O‘ahu is no tourist trap.
There are two very different sides to O‘ahu: town and country. The town, as Honolulu is known, is perfect for city lovers, shopaholics, and anyone looking for an easy vacation with plenty of sun, sand, and colorful cocktails. Head into the country, and you hit high mountains, remote beaches, and a “slow lane” feel that you wouldn’t expect from Hawai‘i’s most popular island.
Maui: The Valley Isle
If O‘ahu is where people gather on Hawai‘i, Maui is where they escape to. The island is the perfect hassle-free getaway for people who value relaxation and nature over active city living. Because of this, Maui is particularly popular with newly-weds. So much so, that it’s also known as “Honeymooners’ Isle.” Maui isn’t just for lovers, though—it’s an all-round winner for Hawaiian first-timers.
Most visitors to Maui never go more than a mile from the coast. They spend their days lounging on hidden beaches, then head back to their resort when the sun goes down. Take a trip inland, though, and you’ll find a lot more going on than you’d think. Maui’s famous valleys are home to some of the state’s only ranchland, as well as great wineries that you can take a tour of.
Kaua‘i: The Garden Isle
Kaua‘i is the least visited of the four main Hawaiian islands. It’s a land of unexplored mountains and dense tropical forest. In fact, much of the island is so remote that it can only be reached by boat or helicopter. Because of this, visitors to Kauai are often nature lovers or off-the-beaten-trail adventure seekers. You won’t find many glitzy resorts or luxury hotels here, just stunning nature.
The Garden Isle is well named. Kaua‘i gets the most rainfall of any Hawaiian island and is eye-wateringly green as a result. The heavy rains cut through the center of the island, carving dramatic canyons and gathering into rushing rivers – a rare sight in Hawai‘i. Kayaking and tubing in these rivers is very popular, because there isn’t enough water on the coast!
Moloka‘i: The Friendly Isle
Moloka‘i has a reputation as the place to go to find the “real” Hawaii. The island gets very few tourists and has the largest indigenous population by percentage. If you want to escape the resorts and crowds and get a feel for everyday island life, this may be the place for you. Be aware that it’s harder to get to than the four main islands, though.
Moloka‘i can be broken down into three distinct parts. The West End is where you’ll find the remote sandy beaches and small souvenir shops. The East End is known for its dense jungle, and unique plant life. In the middle, you’ll find coffee and macadamia farms, 700-year-old fish farms, and a national park commemorating the island’s former leper colony.
Lāna‘i: The Pineapple Isle
Lāna‘i is the smallest of Hawaii’s inhabited islands. Accommodation options here are limited, but people often visit on a day trip from nearby Maui. The island is known for its golf courses, which you can reach from local hotels or via a direct ferry from Maui.
Step away from the green fields and golf carts and you’ll find that most of Lāna‘i is actually pretty arid. The island has a remote, rugged, almost martian beauty which you won’t find on most Hawaiian islands. Lāna‘i is a place for people seeking stunning views without another human being in sight.
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