Hawaii First Time: What’s The Best Island in Hawaii to Visit?

Posted on May 15 2017 - 12:46am by Archie Ward

Deciding which Hawaiian island to visit for the first time you visit can seem a bit overwhelming. Each of the different major islands–Oahu, Hawaii island, Kauai, Maui–have something unique and different to offer travellers.


Surfing at Waikiki Beach | © Alan Light/flickr

Surfing at Waikiki Beach | © Alan Light/Flickr

The beautiful island of Oahu offers the traveler many options. Whether you like the hustle and bustle of big city life in Honolulu; enjoy the serenity of nature in the magnificent Kuala mountains; or want to catch some surf vibes along the North Shore–Oahu has something for everybody!

On the island of Oahu, you’ll find a vibrant mix of culture, arts, and entertainment. There’s plenty of shopping available on Oahu. You can also visit museums, cultural centres, and even attend an authentic Luau.

If spending time on the beach is more your style–Oahu has a number of beaches that meet the needs of whatever beach style you prefer. If you like the busy beaches with plenty of people, bars, and restaurants then Waikiki Beach is a must. But if you prefer more to see a more laid back Hawaii–head to the North Shore and find beautiful sandy beaches with sea turtles, surfers, and unique Hawaiian eats.

Oahu is an island best suited for someone who wants the full Hawaiian experience. Urban explorers can wander Honolulu, culture absorbers will fall for the Polynesian Cultural Centre, history buffs can visit the hallowed grounds of Pearl Harbour, nature lovers can visit some of the greatest beaches and swim in some of the most magnificent water. It’s truly an island for everyone and is our choice as the best island for vacation in Hawaii.

Hawaii Island

Hiking Around the Cape Kumukahi Lighthouse | © Eli Duke/flickr

Hiking Around the Cape Kumukahi Lighthouse | © Eli Duke/Flickr

Hawaii Island, known as the Big Island, is the largest of the Hawaiian islands–with an area larger than all the other islands combined. This island offers unique biomes with eleven different climatic zones–you can visit sandy beaches, snow-capped mountains, and active volcanoes–all on one island!

The Big Island is home to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park–a national treasure and the largest volcano on the islands, Kilauea is a must see. You can go hiking and find waterfalls, natural pools, and lush green mountains on Hawaii Island. If you’re lucky, you may encounter dolphins, sea turtles, and whales.

Even the beaches of the Big Island have their own unique characteristics from the black sand on Punalu’u Beach, the white sand on Hāpuna Beach, to the green sand on Papakōlea Beach–these beaches really have something to marvel over.

Hawaii Island is best suited for the naturalist. The variety of climatic zones available on the island brings a depth of life that cannot be matched anywhere else. Active volcanoes, colourful beaches, and incredible landscapes await on the Big Island.


Sunrise at Haleakala National Park | © Courtney Collison/flickr

Sunrise at Haleakala National Park | © Courtney Collison/Flickr

Even hearing the name Maui invokes a relaxed, calm, island vibe. There is perhaps a no better word to associate with Hawaii than Maui. 30 miles of beaches, the ancient volcano–Haleakala, and the spectacular waterfalls of Ohe’o Gulch are but a few highlights for those that wish to visit the old Hawaii.

Maui is a terrific year round destination with its mild, consistent weather allowing visitors to enjoy the island at its most brilliant. Beaches for every type line the island’s perimeter. Secluded beaches await those looking for privacy. The sports enthusiasts will enjoy the largest surfable waves in North America. Head to the windy side to take up your new favourite hobby of kiteboarding. Want to relax and spend a day on the water without the water thrashing your body–snorkelling meccas are everywhere.

The island is also home to some of the greatest hiking trails in the word. Maui is host to Haleakala National Park. Celebrating Hawaiian culture–both modern and ancient–the park offers a taste of history. Learn how the interactions humans make on their environment shapes the landscape. Don’t want to spend your time inside the fascinating museums–grab your backpack and spend a night under the darkest sky imaginable. Gaze up at the milky way with your naked eye as you fall asleep in the Hawaiian wilderness.

The people of Maui’s dedication to eco-friendly and sustainable farming means that a lot of the food produced on the island stays on the island. It’s a wonderful island for foodies as the locavore scene is exploding. Farm to table restaurants highlighting the glory of Hawaiian food culture dot the island.

Maui is an island best suited for the outdoor loving foodie. After a long day of hiking and exploring, coming back to your hotel, home, or camp with some of the tastiest local food imaginable…priceless.


The Top View of Hanalei Bay | © ruthdaniel3444/flickr

The Top View of Hanalei Bay | © ruthdaniel3444/Flickr

Located in the centre of the Hawaiian archipelago lies Kauai. Perhaps the most beautiful of the Hawaiian islands–Kauai is home to some of the best beaches and mountain ranges in the world.

Kauai lays claim to one of the best beaches to visit in Hawaii. Hanalei Bay is a haven for water lovers. Surrounded by majestic forested mountains, to say this location is picturesque doesn’t do it enough justice. In the summer, the ocean’s waves calm and the water is as still as glass. Outside of the summer, surfers from around the world come to enjoy the beauty and splendour of Hanalei Bay.

Known as perhaps the most gorgeous landscape in the United States and perhaps the earth, the Na Pali coastline invites you to take in the lush, tropical environment. See this wonder of geology, with its rocky crags and dense, green foliage by sea, air, or, for the more adventurous, by foot along one of the greatest hiking trails in the world–The Kailua Trail.

Kauai is an island suited best for the adventurous and active. Getting out and interacting with this incredible island is key to the ultimate Kauai experience.

Vacation Rentals | © Pixabay

Vacation Rentals | © Pixabay

Choosing where to stay in Hawaii doesn’t have to be a difficult decision. Just think about what you want out of your next vacation. Whether it’s beaches, fine dining, city life, history, or wild landscapes–Hawaii has something for everyone. The best island for vacation in Hawaii is the one that will provide you with the most long-lasting memories that you can share with others.

Archie Ward
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About the Author

Archie is a long time traveller in Asia, as well as a blogger, writer and entrepreneur. He wishes he could spend more time in Indonesia.