This island is known as the gathering place, so if you want to spend your vacation here, you better like being around other people! The North Shore is a quieter, more laid back side of the island, but Honolulu is chock full of things to do and places to see.
Oahu is the most visited of all the islands, not because the personality of the island matches up with so many visitors, simply because it is the most well-known. After all, this is where you will find The Arizona Memorial and The Punchbowl Cemetery, which are the most well-known spots in all of Hawaii. We have many More Hawaii Vacation Information, Travel Review and Tourist Attractions Articles Now Available.
But truthfully, visiting the 2 most frequented tourist attractions will only take, at the most, one day. What will you do with the rest of your time? On Oahu, there are so many choices it will take several trips to do even half of them.
Besides lying about on the beach and playing in the ocean, Honolulu, the major city of the islands located on Oahu, is a vibrant and bustling city, full of a wide range of shopping and dining experiences, museums, rich in cultural history, fantastic scenery and so much more.
Oahu is the island to visit the North Shore, where world class surfers gather every winter to surf some of the best waves to be found anywhere on the planet. Enjoy the charming town of Haleiwa while you are on that side of the island.
Some other places you may want to visit while on Oahu are Diamond Head, a famous Hawaiian landmark, where you can hike to the top for some incredible views from an old army bunker; Hanauma Bay, a marine park where you can snorkel with Hawaii’s fantastic array of colorful ocean life; Sea World, the best setting I have ever seen for an aquarium and where you can partake of a program that allows you to get up close and personal with dolphins; I’olani Palace, the residence of Hawaiian royalty King Kalakaua and Queen Lili’uokalani and of course, make sure to take in China Town while on Oahu.
Maui is known as the Valley Isle, because of the valley between its two volcanoes. This is my favorite of all the islands, and it is what I consider to be a true tropical playground. I love the beaches of Hawaii, and that is why Maui is my favorite. When it comes to beaches, Maui No Ka Oi! (Maui is the best!)Ãï¿½Â
All of the islands, in addition to having their own personality, have two sides to the island. A wet side and a dry side. Maui’s wet side is most famous for the road you must drive to get there, the Hana Highway. It is more about a journey than a destination, a full day trek over a winding road viewing some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable. Make sure your camera batteries are charged!
Maui is also the best island for whale viewing from October to February, with the best viewing in December and January when the whales make the shores of Maui their winter playground. They come to birth and enjoy the shallow tropical waters of Au’au channel off the coast of Maui. They come back year after year, and if you are on Maui during whale watching season the excursion operators will guarantee a sighting or you get another trip free.
Lahaina is an old whaling village that has been turned into one of the premier shopping experiences on Maui, with a 1 1/2 mile long street with shop after shop after shop, with some great eateries to rejuvenate yourself at so you can do some more shopping. Lahaina also has one of the world’s largest banyan trees, its branches spanning an entire city block. Local art shows are frequently held in the cool shade.
Why is it called the Big Island? It is not named the Big Island because it is still growing, but rather because it is so big in comparison to the other islands. You could fit all the other islands combined into the same space the Big Island occupies. Like the other islands, it has its dry side and its wet side.
The Big Island is also the island of the volcano! Kilauea has been continuously erupting since 1983. The Big Island is the only island that is still growing. Pu’u O’o vent adds new real estate to the island on a regular basis, delivering fresh magma that rolls downhill till it meets the ocean. There is a whole industry surrounding the volcano and volcano viewing.
The National Park system provides rangers who go out onto the lava flow on a daily basis to chart safe paths for visitors to get as close as possible to the spot where the lava meets the sea. In addition to being able to walk on fresh lava and maybe get a glimpse of flowing lava, you can take a helicopter tour of the volcano. You are almost guaranteed to see some type of surface flow, and if the winds are not too strong, you can get a decent look into the center of Pu’u O’o.
There is also an industry growing around viewing the lava flow from the ocean. So far, there is not an actual tour company that takes people out, but rather intrepid fishermen taking paying customers out for a close-up look from the ocean. Scientist are studying the underwater world of lava meets ocean, but it is a rather dangerous endeavor, but the footage they have brought back of underwater lava is quite awesome!
But the volcano is not all the Big Island has to offer.
Kona is the dry, desert side of the island, while Hilo is the one that gets all the rain. The bulk of resort areas is on Kona’s dry side. Visitors don’t want to get rained on overly much while on their Hawaii vacation. They want sunny skies, and that is exactly what you will get in Kona. The town of Kona, or Kailua-Kona, was, like Lahaina, an old whaling village. The oceanfront area of Kailua-Kona is like Lahaina in another way too. It is chock full of shopping and dining options for the visitor to Hawaii. Behind and above the seaside area is a sprawling metropolis that not a lot of the visitors ever visit.
The town of Hilo is a couple of hours drive from Kona and will take you right by the volcano, and the town of volcano, and through some of the most uninhabited areas you will ever see. The landscape is not at all what most people envision when dreaming of Hawaii.
When you reach Hilo, the landscape changes dramatically. Gone is the desert landscape. In its place you will find the tropical landscape you are looking for. Lush green foliage, palm trees swaying in the breeze and waterfalls are everywhere. Hilo gets the rain and the rain produces the lush garden like effect. Hilo has some motels, B & B’s and resorts, but not like Kona and not like the mega resorts that Kohala is known for.
If you keep going on the road past Hilo, you will travel full circle, eventually ending back up in Kona. It is an island after all, so it should come as no surprise. Along the way you will pass some of the most gorgeous scenery on earth. Give yourself plenty of time to stop and see the sights. If you have the opportunity, try to spend a few days on each side of the island. If this isn’t possible, try for at least an overnight in Hilo, so you are not rushing yourself on the round the island tour. It can be done in a day, but not at a leisurely pace.
Ah, Kauai! They call it the garden isle; the island of lush vegetation, swaying palm trees, Fern Grotto, and Mt. Wai’ale’ale, the wettest place on earth! Sometimes you can feel the rain drift from Mt. Wai’ale’ale while sunning yourself on the beach where there is not a cloud in the sky!
If you are looking for a place to de-stress, Kauai is the island for you! Not too much in the way of nightlife on this island and you can’t be in too much of a rush, because the highest speed limit on the island is only 45. It is required that you slow down when you go to Kauai.
In addition to Mt. Wai’ale’ale and Fern Grotto, Kauai has Waimea Canyon, sometimes called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, and Alikai Swamp. That is a lot of diverse landscapes for a small island.
The major resort areas of Kauai are Poipu and Princeville with Princeville being on the wet, lush side of the island, while Poipu is where the sunseekers go to play.
That covers the overview of the four most visited islands of Hawaii. Most people will choose one of those islands for their first visit, and, if they are like me, they will get hooked on the beauty and friendliness of the islands and make many repeat visits until they have spent time on each of them.
But, you may have noticed that I did not answer the question of “Which Hawaiian Island Should I Visit.” Only you can answer that question! No matter which island you choose, you will have a great vacation. But, in my opinion, when you visit the island that matches your personality, you will have a fabulous vacation!
So do yourself a favor, and do a little research before you choose. I have a site that where I share my love of the islands with you. Why not make it your first stop of exploration? I would love to give you a tour of the Hawaiian Islands! We have many More Hawaii Vacation Information, Travel Review and Tourist Attractions Articles Now Available.