Guide to the Hawaiian Islands

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It is that time of year, folks. That time of year when snow is beginning to fall and fingers and toes are beginning to numb. Right about now, a trip to the warm, sunny, and bright Hawaiian Islands sounds like a brilliant idea, doesn't it? If you are desiring a tropical getaway, then consider heading towards the Pacific Ocean. The U.S. state of Hawaii is made up of 8 islands. We know it can be a tough task deciding where you and your family/significant other should stay. But, we also know the Islands like the back of our hand and are delighted to walk with you through this process of selecting the Hawaiian Island(s) for you.

How to Choose the Hawaiian Island for You

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Beginning Your Search

What activities are on your bucket list?

While each Hawaiian Island provides tropical views, hiking opportunities, and water sports activities, we recommend getting out your bucket list and beginning to map out exactly which activities you want to do in Hawaii. From there, you can do research to find out which island has the best, say, snorkeling destinations, beaches, surfing spots, hiking trails, etc. Brainstorm all the things you hope to do on your Hawaiian adventure and once you have your list, pick the island that offers all of those activities.

Who are you traveling with?

Are you going to Hawaii for your honeymoon or going for a family vacation? Who you travel with changes everything. This will change whether you look for a quiet and intimate location or an eventful kid-friendly location. If you are traveling on a family vacation to the Hawaiian Islands, you will want to be on an island that offers ample activities for your kids to enjoy. If you are traveling with "outdoorsy" folks, then you will want to go to an island that offers numerous hiking trails, waterfalls, and other natural wonders. Knowing who you are traveling with and how they like to spend their time on vacation is key to picking the perfect Hawaiian Island for you.

Things to Consider Before Booking Your Ticket

Cost

How much are you willing to spend on your Hawaiian vacation? There isn't a "cheapest Hawaiian Island" per say. Prices tend to be all over the board. However, if we had to pick which island is the most affordable, we would say Oahu is the most all-around affordable. Though, Oahu can be pricey is you decide to stay at the high-end resorts. Oahu is best described as having a mish-mash of upscale options and affordable options.

That said, depending on what activities you plan on doing, if you need a rental car, what hotel you stay in, etc. the price can either increase or decrease. When planning a trip to the Hawaiian Islands, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of doing your research.

Time of Year

In the winter, the temperature hovers in the upper 70°. In the summertime, the temperature gets far hotter. We advise for travelers to take into account the time of year they plan on traveling so they can prepare accordingly. In addition to the weather changes between the winter and the summer, these seasons also bring about a different crowd to the Hawaiian Islands. In the off-season winter months, Hawaii is less crowded. That is, unless you are traveling to Hawaii around the holiday season when kids are on their winter break from school. When deciding what time of year you want to go to the Hawaiian Islands, consider the weather and how crowded it may be.

Hawaiian Islands: The Breakdown

Of the 8 Hawaiian Islands, tourists only have access to 6. Niihau and Kahoolawe–the two smallest Hawaiian Islands–have no airport and little to no lodging/dining facilities. Given the limited access, we will only be discussing the remaining 6 islands of Hawaii (the Big Island), Maui, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, and Lanai.

Hawaii (The Big Island)

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Pros

  • plus
    The Big Island of Hawaii is larger than all the other Hawaiian Islands combined
  • plus
    There are waterfalls, rainforests, botanical gardens, and historical corners to explore
  • plus
    The world's largest volcano-Mauna Loa-is located on the Big Island
  • plus
    The active volcano, Kilauea, is a stand-out feature on the island
  • plus
    Plenty of open, scenic space to enjoy without the crowds

Cons

  • close
    Will most likely need to rent a car to explore the Big Island
  • Less "city life" compared other islands, such as Oahu

Maui

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Pros

  • plus
    Home to some of the best beaches in the world as well as some of the best snorkeling
  • plus
    Many mountains (and volcanos!) to climb
  • plus
    Many scenic roads to drive along (including the famous Road to Hana)
  • plus
    Second largest Hawaiian Island

Cons

  • close
    Can be very touristy. Maui is, after all, a hot spot to visit

Kauai

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Pros

  • plus
    Kauai is the most uncrowded island. There is only one major road lining the island
  • plus
    More space and less traffic compared to the more populated Hawaiian Islands
  • plus
    Incredibly lush and scenic

Cons

  • close
    The quiet of Kauai is not something all travelers are looking for
  • Little nightlife on this island

Oahu

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Pros

  • plus
    Oahu is the most populated Hawaiian Island. Lots to do, see, eat, and experience
  • plus
    Home to the capital of Hawaii and the largest Hawaiian city: Honolulu
  • plus
    Offers a range of high-end luxury accommodations as well as affordable accommodations

Cons

  • close
    Most populated Hawaiian Island. Can be a good or bad thing, depending on your travel preference
  • close
    There is heavy traffic on the island because of its large population

Molokai

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Pros

  • plus
    Molokai and Lanai are the least developed Hawaiian Islands, providing a true historical taste of Hawaii
  • plus
    Little tourists visit Molokai
  • plus
    Plenty of natural scenery to observe

Cons

  • close
    Because of the island's little development, there are few lodging facilities to choose from. This is viewed as a "pro" for some travelers and a "con" for others
  • If you are not the outdoorsy type, you won't find much to do 

Lanai

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Pros

  • plus
    Lanai and Molokai are the least developed Hawaiian Islands, providing a true historical taste of Hawaii
  • plus
    Hardly any visitors come to Lanai
  • plus
    This is the smallest Hawaiian Island accessible to the general public

Cons

  • close
    Because of the island's little development, there are few lodging facilities to choose from. This is viewed as a "pro" for some travelers and a "con" for others
  • Road are, for the most part, unpaved. No traffic lights on the island. Only two resorts on the island

When in Hawaii...

Don't miss these relevant articles that share the top things to do, see, eat, and experience in Hawaii! Make the most out of your Hawaiian vacation and add these activities to your itinerary:

Conclusion

Now that we've provided a recap of the Hawaiian Islands and how to go about picking the right one, it's time to make your decision. So, which one will you choose? Let us know when you do. Happy travels to the wonderful islands of Hawaii!

riley loftus - trekbible - travel - trekbible.com - travel inspiration

Riley Loftus

Riley is a creative who is fascinated by the details of life. She feels most at home in an airport and cares most deeply about culture, exploring the world, and global justice. Riley also believes in the power of storytelling and in a love that has no limits. Keep up with Riley on her Instagram page where she contemplates grace and writes her raw thoughts on life, faith, and the world around her.

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