The best Hawaiian island

Na'Pali Coast sailing, Kauai, Hawaii

Now that I’ve visited the four main Hawaiian islands – Oahu, Big Island, Maui, and Kauai – I wanted to make a post about what I thought was the best island of the four. Of course, this is just my opinion, and depending on what type of activities and scenery you like, you may feel the exact opposite.

The islands of Hawaii, ranked from my favorite to least favorite:

Swimming in Queens Bath, Kauai, Hawaii


If you can only visit one island and you want the true Hawaiian experience, I highly recommend Kauai. This island is pretty remote and it basically shuts down by 9:00 pm, but it really is amazing. Highlights include Tunnels Beach, the Queens Bath (pictured above), and a catamaran ride along the Na Pali coast. Try to avoid going in the winter, however. Not only is there a much greater chance of bad weather, but the waves are often too rough for swimming or even going on a catamaran tour, which are some of Kauai’s best activities.

Volcano National Park, Big Island, Hawaii

Big Island

This is almost my favorite island because it’s just so unique in comparison. There is so much different landscaping throughout this island and it really is an interesting place. The only downfall, however, is their beaches are less than ideal. Because this island is basically a volcano, many of their beaches are extremely rocky and filled with volcanic ash, and the water is often a little less than appealing as well. That’s not to say the island doesn’t have any decent beaches, but they are scarce. If you’re not really a beach person and this won’t bother you, though, I highly recommend the Big Island. Highlights include the Volcano National Park, Big Island Candies (awesome candy factory and shop), and the chance to see the lava flow into the ocean. (A must-see!)

Black Sand Beach, Maui, Hawaii


I’d say Maui is like a mix of Oahu and Kauai: it is somewhat remote, but many parts are also very commercialized. I think there is something here for everyone, so if you’re unsure about going to a more remote island like Kauai or the Big Island, Maui is a good option. Highlights include the black sand beach at Waianapanapa State Park, Hana Highway, and Makena Beach State Park.

North Shore beaches on Oahu, Hawaii


Although Oahu is my least favorite of the Hawaiian islands, I still want to say that I do like it very much. It falls at the bottom of my list because I feel it is the least “Hawaiian” island of all. It feels a lot like being on the mainland, and it’s unfortunate because when people plan a one-time  trip to Hawaii, it’s often only to Oahu and the other islands are ignored completely. If you don’t like the idea of a remote island getaway and like a lot of nightlife, though (and I do use the term “nightlife” loosely when it comes to Hawaii), you’ll enjoy Oahu. Highlights include Waikiki Beach, Hanauma Bay, and the North Shore. (In the winter, the waves are pretty large on the North Shore, so unless you’re an experienced surfer, observe only.)

Now all that’s left to visit is Lanai and Molokai!

If you’ve been to all the Hawaiian islands, which one was your favorite?

Essential Travel Information

Flights: Tons of round-trip, direct flights from the United States available via Hawaiian Airlines.

Hotels: At the time, I was collecting and redeeming Hyatt points, so I stayed at all Hyatt properties (except for the Big Island). On the Big Island, I actually found this amazing hotel on Expedia that was pretty cheap (at least compared with other hotels on the island) was actually more like a big apartment. Seriously, it was huge. It had a living room, dining room, and even a full-sized kitchen. For Oahu, offers a great selection of hotels in the Honolulu area.

Activities, tours, and everything else: No matter where you’re traveling in Hawaii, you can save a ton of money by purchasing one of these awesome coupon books from, which feature savings on pretty much everything throughout Hawaii.