The Hawaiian Islands - Which one is which?

Hawaii Close-up: Which Island Will You Love?

11/26/2019

Now with 19 airlines offering flights from major cities around the world, Hawaii is more accessible than ever. But with so much laid-back culture across six distinct tourist-friendly islands—and so many miles of beautiful beaches—it can be difficult to choose. Our shortlist highlights the best-of to help you decide which island is right for you, and which should be your next destination for aloha.

The Big Island

Who'll Love It: Explorers 

With five national parks, including the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, The Big Island—a.k.a. Hawaii—is for those who like a little (lava-laden) adventure. Bring the sneakers versus the swimsuit, and be ready to tour top island hiking spots like Waipio Valley, known as the Hawaii's modern Garden of Eden. Highlights: See the volcanoes by boat; Check out the Insta-worthy Akaka Falls.

Oahu

Who'll Love It: Those who want it all

Honolulu. Pearl Harbor. Waikiki Beach. From the start of island surfing on Waikiki, to the birth of tiki, to today’s craft beer and art scenes, the island of Oahu is the top island for culture—and lives up to its name 'The Gathering Place'.  It's also got outdoor adventure and some of the best beaches, so it's a great pick for those who want it all. Highlights: Hike to Waimea Falls; Climb Diamond Head; Check out the nightlife in supercool Kaka’ako.

Kauai

Who'll Love It: Nature-lovers and Insta-mavens

The greenest, lushest of the six tourist-friendly islands, Kauai is for (nature) lovers—and it's one of the most naturally beautiful destinations on earth. Its beaches are especially breathtaking, and the landscape is no stranger to the big screen—providing the oh-so-scenic backdrop for movies from Blue Hawaii to Jurassic Park. This also makes it a favorite for the Instagram set, so be ready to create some #wanderlust. Highlights: Fly over the cliffs and valleys of the Nā Pali coast; Snorkel at Tunnels Beach; Hike the 22-mile Kalalau Trail.

Maui

Who'll Love It: First-timers and solo travelers

Hawaii’s second-largest island, Maui is a mix of quintessential, lush-Hawaiian natural beauty and great culture, from roads winding through rain forests to craft breweries. A great spot for both solo travelers and first-time Hawaii-goers, the island’s rich history is also on full display, with ancient sites of worship, heiau, that add to the magic of the place. Highlights: Swim with sea turtles on Maluaka Beach; Go to a traditional luau at Old Lahina Luau; Drive the famous Road to Hana.

Lanai

Who'll Love It: Luxury loungers

Lanai is the place you go when you don’t want to be seen. Privacy. Luxury. Romance. It’s the place for remote indulgence and relaxation, and that makes it a favorite for global celebrities. The allure? You get the best of Hawaii’s activities—without the crowds. Highlights: Hike Garden of the Gods; See all 6 Hawaii islands at once from the Munro Trail; Snorkel at Hulopoe Beach. 

Molokai

Who'll Love It: Digital detoxers and Solitude-seekers

This ultra-sleepy isle almost doesn’t make the tourism list. With no traffic lights and only one town, it’s the place to go for secret hideaways—and days-long digital detoxes. It’s perfect for those who prefer local hotels, and equally local cuisine. Known as the Friendly Isle, Molokai has 106 miles of pristine, nearly people-free coastline and striking cliffs that make for gorgeous shots. Highlights: Hike the Halawa Valley; Listen to the waves from (mostly) deserted Papohaku beach.

Interested in exploring more of the Hawaiian Islands? Click here.
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  • Beachfront location
  • Home of Duke’s Waikiki
  • Hawaii’s best live music venue, Blue Note Hawaii
  • Voyager 47 Club Lounge
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  • Beachfront location
  • Home of Hawaiian Music, Kani Ka Pila Grille
  • Renovated modern guest rooms
  • Immersive cultural activities
  • Voyager 47 Club Lounge
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  • Hawaii’s first and only craft hotel
  • Home of The Beachcomber Originals
  • Hawaiian Aroma Caffe, Waikiki’s most Instagrammed coffee shop
  • Island’s longest bar at Maui Brewing Co
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  • Intimate retreat for adventure seekers
  • Easy access to Waikiki Beach
  • Choice for value-minded families and groups
  • Spacious guest rooms and studios
  • Offering connecting rooms and kitchenettes
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  • Spacious guest rooms with kitchenettes
  • Ideal for large groups or families
  • Steps to Waikiki Beach and International Market Place
  • Onsite restaurants – Appetito Craft Pizza & Wine Bar and Tanaka of Tokyo
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  • Only half a mile from Daniel K. Inouye International Airport
  • Pet friendly
  • Convenient for business travelJust minutes from Pearl Harbor
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  • Only resort condo directly on Waikiki Beach
  • Sweeping panoramic ocean views
  • Family friendly
  • Perfect for extended stays
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
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  • Intimate, boutique style condo resort
  • Situated in the Waikiki Beach Walk shopping and dining district
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
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  • 38 tropical beachfront acres
  • 3-acre aquatic playground
  • AAA Four Diamond Award accredited
  • Luxury, 1, 2 and 3 bedroom suites on Kaanapali Beach
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  • Located on 22,000-acre Kapalua Resort
  • Choose from 3 beaches and 11 restaurants
  • Ocean and golf room views
  • Offering two magnificent golf courses
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
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  • Located within the world-famous Wailea Resort community
  • A short drive from the Shops at Wailea and beaches
  • Near Wailea’s most renowned restaurants
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  • Boutique-style condos in heart of Lahaina
  • Two blocks away from Front Street
  • Walking distance to shops and restaurants
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  • Fronts the fairways of Kaanapali Beach Resort
  • Short walk from Whalers Village
  • Featuring three swimming pools
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
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  • Ocean view of Molokai and Lanai
  • Boasts oceanfront pool
  • Private lanai
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
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  • Offering stunning views of Lanai and Molokai
  • Newly renovated condos
  • Oceanfront on property dining at the Gazebo Restaurant
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  • Heated river pool running through two-acre property
  • Features flumed water slides
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
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  • Oceanfront condos
  • Includes an ocean pool within a natural stone breakwater
  • Adjacent to the Coconut MarketPlace
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  • Cottage-style beachfront condos
  • Complimentary access to Poipu Athletic Club
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
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  • Set on 18 oceanfront acres
  • Boasts 3 swimming pools and 2 tennis courts
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
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  • Guests treated to infinity pool and lava rock whirlpool
  • Surrounded by Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed golf course
  • Selection of on property dining options
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  • Five distinct properties to choose from
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
  • Close to upscale King’s Shops and Queen’s Market Place
  • Golf at Beach Course
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  • Set on a lava rock bluff
  • Panoramic views of the Kona coast
  • 5-minute drive to restaurants and shops
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
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  • Beachfront bures
  • Complimentary beach services
  • Kava ceremony welcomes guests
  • Wood-carving guest activity
  • Enjoy Meke traditional song and dance
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  • Beachfront bures
  • Offering Meimei nanny service
  • Talai butler service available
  • Named #1 Family Resort
  • Amazing firewalking ceremony
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    • Luxury beachfront suites
    • Mauritian Rum tasting experience
    • Dance to Sega music
    • Relax on private beach
    • Complimentary kid’s club
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    • Famous for Waikiki Beach
    • Hike Diamond Head Crater
    • Take a historical journey at Pearl Harbor
    • Birthplace of legendary surfer Duke Kahanamoku
    • Home to Lolani Palace, US’s only royal place
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    • Voted “Best Island in the US”
    • Home to Haleakala volcano
    • Famed for whale watching during the winter months
    • Famous scenic stretch road to Hana
    • Mile long of sandy shore at Kaanapali Beach
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    • Nicknamed the Garden Island
    • Known for lush valleys, waterfalls and hiking trails
    • Has more beaches than any other Hawaiian Island
    • Most hiking trails than an other Hawaiian Island
    • Largest coffee plantation in the US
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    • Often referred to as the “Big Island”
    • Kilauea volcano is the most active and largest in the world
    • Known for black sand beaches
    • Grows most of the world’s macadamia nuts
    • Home to some of the world’s largest telescopes
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