From the relaxing beaches and sophisticated boutiques of Maui to the unspoilt natural beauty of Kaua’i, the Hawaiian Islands offer a unique and incredible holiday experience. Here is an overview of what you can expect from each of the four main islands.
Also known as: “the Gathering Place”
O‘ahu, the third-largest island in the group is home to the majority of Hawai`i’s diverse population, fusing Eastern and Western cultures with the values and traditions of the indigenous Hawaiian people. You’ll find an intoxicating blend of ancient and modern cultures: bustling city life and laidback surf towns, rugged mountains and towering skyscrapers, pineapple plantations and idyllic beaches.
Waikiki Beach is a fantastic place to try your hand at the sport that was first made popular here; surfing. Sign up for a lesson, then celebrate your achievements with cold beverages and poke bowls at the iconic Duke’s Barefoot Bar.
Take a day trip around the island, visiting iconic movie locations, legendary surf breaks and golden beaches along the way. When you reach the fabled North Shore, be sure to stop off at one of the famed shrimp trucks for a plate of freshly cooked shrimp doused in garlic, olive oil and lemon butter.
Also known as: “the Garden Island”
Hawai`i’s fourth-largest island is the oldest in the Hawaiian chain, renowned for its emerald valleys, steep mountains and jagged cliffs that are shrouded in tropical rainforests and cascading waterfalls. The island is home to a variety of outdoor activities: choose from kayaking the Wailua River, snorkelling on Poipu Beach, hiking the trails of Kokee State Park, or ziplining above Kauai’s lush valleys.
Take a break from all that adventure with a treat from one of the island’s famous shave ice stands. Wishing Well in Hanalei is renowned for making theirs with organic, house-made flavours and locally farmed fruits.
Fans of ‘Jurassic Park’ will find Kauai’s landscape familiar, and one of the best ways to experience its dramatic valleys and peaks, which have featured in many big movies, is by helicopter tour. Although you won’t see any dinosaurs, you can land at the famed Manawaiopuna Falls, which provided the backdrop for the movie’s dramatic helicopter landing site.
Also known as: “the Valley Isle”
Hawai`i’s second-largest island is beloved for its world-famous beaches, the sacred Iao Valley, views of migrating humpback whales, farm-to-table cuisine and the magnificent sunrises and sunsets from the summit of Haleakala.
The warm waters that surround the Hawaiian Islands are teeming with marine life, and one of the best ways to see what lies beneath the surface doesn’t even require you to get your hair wet! The Atlantis submarine underwater tour lets the whole family see what lies 100 feet below the surface, including a 19th century wreck and an artificial reef.
Visit Maui between December and May and you may lucky enough to see the humpback whales which migrate through Hawaiian waters at this time every year.
Also known as: “the Big Island”
The youngest and largest island in the Hawaiian chain, the Big Island is nearly twice as big as all of the other Hawaiian Islands combined and is still growing due to constant volcanic activity. Many of the world’s different climate zones can be found on the island, and two of its volcanoes – Kilauea and Maunaloa – are considered some of the world’s most active.
What could be more thrilling than a visit to an active volcano? Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park is an amazing place to explore – walk through ancient lava tubes and across its former lava flows, stopping off at Kilauea Visitor Centre for a great introduction to the park before you start.
Although its beaches often take a back seat to its volcanoes, Hawai`i has its share of spectacular beaches, from the beautiful white sands of Hapuna Beach to the unusual green sands of Papakolea. And be sure to come prepared for some amazing snorkelling.
The islands of Hawai`i are all so different and so endearing, it can be difficult to decide on just one – so why not see them all on your next holiday?