Which Hawaiian Island Should You Travel To? • The Blonde Abroad

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Dreaming of a Hawaiian getaway? If you aren’t yet, you will be soon! With a unique culture and flawless beaches, the Aloha State is easily one of the most beautiful places in the United States. The only real question is, which is the best island for you?

While I wouldn’t say that there is one “best” island of the group, each one has own unique charm and personality. Planning your perfect Hawaiian escape is all about finding the right match for your travel style.

Ready to figure out which Hawaiian Island you should travel to? From Maui to Kauai, here’s a full rundown that’ll give you the lay of the land.

The Big Island

The Big Island

Nickname: The Orchid Isle, AKA Hawaii

Main Highlights

The towns of Kona, Waikoloa, and Hilo are all worth exploring. You’ll definitely want to check out at least one of the four active volcanoes too.

Top Things to Do

This is the most urban of the islands. You’ll find industry growing quickly here and, with that, there are ample activities and chances to explore the history and culture of the state.

While the Big Island has less greenery than you’d see in other parts of Hawaii, there are still plenty of opportunities to connect with nature.

In fact, thanks to its size, this is one of the most diverse of the Hawaiian Islands.

You can wander through lava fields, trek the mountains, go horseback riding in the Waipio Valley, explore the lush jungles, dive with manta rays at night, or bird watch from a volcano.

Travel Type: The Big Island is perfect travelers who want to experience a little bit of everything.

Oahu

Nickname: The Gathering Place

Main Highlights

Did you know that Honolulu is the 11th biggest city in the country? This is the place where 80 percent of the Hawaiian population lives and it’s likely where you will spend the bulk of your time.

There are countless historical sites, impressive museums, and opportunities to see how the locals live.

Top Things to Do

Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, exploring the history of Pearl Harbor, hiking Diamond Head, surfing the shore, and soaking in the beach city vibe of Waikiki-Waikiki will keep you busy.

Travel Type: If you’re into exploring cities and having first-class dining and accommodation, but are also looking for beach life, Oahu is for you.

Hookipa Park, Maui

Maui

Nickname: The Valley Isle

Main Highlights

This family-friendly spot is more chill and greener than Oahu.

There are plenty of beautiful beaches here and this developed island is good for the resort-loving crowd. While there aren’t a lot of big areas or shopping spots, it’s a good balance between the big city vibe of Oahu and the ultra-quiet greenery of Kauai.

Top Things to Do

Hana Highway is an iconic road trip that will take you to some of the most stunning spots on the island. Check out the hippie hotspot of Paia, plan plenty of time to explore the must-see Haleakala National park, then continue onto Lahaina. You’ll find outdoor activities galore in Lahaina and it’s a dream spot for snorkeling, golfing, and windsurfing.

Travel Type: If you love outdoor activities and that resort experience (you’ll find options everywhere from $100 to $1000 per night), this is a top option for you.

Kauai

Kauai

Nickname: The Garden Isle

Main Highlights

This is the place to go off the grid! The greenest of all of the islands of Hawaii, you’ll find dramatic tropical rain shows that come and go quickly as well as rolling power outages in some spots. If you want to truly feel like you’re on a desert island, look no further.

Top Things to Do

This can be a dream romantic destination or just a place to savor the natural beauty of Hawaii. Mark Twain called Waimea Canyon the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” and it’s just one of the many wonders of Kauai.

Much of the island is inaccessible by car so pack your hiking shoes and just start exploring. Be sure to plan time for the popular Poipu Beach and Princeville areas.

Travel Type: Nature lovers and anyone looking for a digital detox or a few days away from the world will adore Kauai.

Hawaii

Other Islands

There are other Hawaiian Islands out there, notably Molokai, Lanai, Niihau, Kahoolawe, but they wouldn’t be my go-to recommendation for first-time visitors. Areas well off the beaten path can be a bit too quiet and pricey, and not as accessible to get to.

The ones we’ve just run through are the most popular spots and for good reason.

That said, there is STUNNING beauty on the other islands and you shouldn’t discount them…but maybe for another trip down the line.

Overall

Each island has its own unique qualities making it a “better” place for certain kinds of travelers, but honestly, you’ll find lush nature and jaw-dropping beauty wherever you decide to go.

So, if you still can’t decide—why not look into island hopping? I had an amazing time jumping between islands and would definitely recommend it.

Wherever you go, make sure to try the local food! Here are my top ten fave Hawaiian meals! And be sure to only use reef-safe sunscreen.

Have you been to any of the Hawaiian Islands? If so, which ones?

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