With six great Hawaii islands that you can visit, how do you choose the best island(s) for you? That’s a question that many potential Hawaii visitors wrestle with. Trust me, I’ve been there.
I’ve seen a few surveys that ask a handful of questions and supposedly result in an answer of the perfect island for you. Though I’m often called a Hawaii expert, just for fun, I take these quizzes to see the result. After the result displays, I have to wonder how’d they come up with that answer? The trouble with these surveys is that they are too short and ask odd questions like, “Your perfect day includes hiking to a volcano or lounging on the beach or pampering in a spa or searching for beautiful waterfalls.” Well, I don’t know about you, but I want to do all of the above! I think the results of these simple questionnaires are as effective as picking an answer out of a hat.
So, how on earth do you pick an island or two to visit on your vacation? I have some suggestions and can point you to some great resources that will help you be informed to make a great decision.
1. Review the visitors bureau website for each island. If a particular island looks interesting to you, order their free island guide. These sites and guides highlight the scenery, cultural activities, and island adventures. The island visitor bureaus give you a good flavor for what each island has to offer.
- Kauai: Visitors Bureau website and page to download and/or order free Kauai guide that includes maps and island highlights.
- Oahu Visitors Bureau website and page to download and/or order Oahu vacation planner that includes maps and island highlights.
- Maui Visitors Bureau website and page to download and/or order Maui vacation planner that includes maps and island highlights. Note that the Maui Visitor’s Bureau also includes the islands of Lanai and Molokai – two lesser visited, but fantastic islands.
- Big Island Visitors Bureau website and page to download and/or order a Big Island planner which includes maps and island highlights.
- Lanai Visitors Bureau website and page to order a free Lanai travel guide. (Also see the link to order a Maui guide that’s mentioned above.)
- Molokai Visitors Bureau website and page to order a free Molokai travel guide. (Also see the link to order a Maui guide that’s mentioned above.)
You might also benefit from surfing the overall Hawaii Visitors Bureau’s website where you can watch videos, find festivals and quickly get lost in discovering all the wonderful things the islands of Aloha have to offer.
2. Take an island virtual tour. A picture is worth a thousand words and a virtual helicopter tour is worth even more! Though the Blue Hawaiian Helicopter island videos were not generated for the intent of helping a potential visitor choose an island, I think they’re great for just that. It’s one thing to see a still photo, but to see a video is even more useful. Here are links to the individual island videos:
There’s about a half a dozen videos or more for each island, so make sure you check them all out by clicking on the “Area of Interest” navigation on the left as well as the circles on the island maps.
3. Review our easy to follow Hawaiian Island vacation itineraries. Take a look through our island vacation itineraries and see which one(s) appeal to you. Each travel planner include all the must-sees of each island and are customizable. These itineraries are designed for a one week vacation, however they can easily be modified for more or less time.
- One week Kauai vacation itinerary and travel planner
- One week Oahu vacation itinerary and travel planner
- One week Maui vacation itinerary and travel planner
- One week Big Island vacation itinerary and travel planner
If you are considering Hawaii for a honeymoon or a romantic trip, checkout our island honeymoon guides:
4. Review the following infographic:
5. Still can’t decide? Just pick Maui and go with it. 🙂 It’s pretty common for Maui to top lists of the best island on travel magazine surveys. If you’ve never been to Hawaii, Maui is a great place to start. In fact, Maui is where we took our first trip to Hawaii and instantly got us hooked on the Hawaiian Islands.
6. Ask an expert. I’ve vacationed on every island and I know them very well. If you have thoroughly reviewed the above links and you are still not sure which island(s) best suit you, you can ask me. Do not cheat yourself by not taking the time to review the links and read the content of this page. Only you know what appeals and resonates with you. You’ll be wasting your time and mine by not thoroughly reviewing the links and resources in this article before you comment.
Bear in mind that I am not a travel agent. I write this site on a voluntary basis, so I am not available to assist with individual trip planning details.
Once again, do not cheat yourself by not taking the time to review the resources in this article. After you have reviewed every link and all the content in this article, if you are still unsure of which island(s) use the comments to describe:
- What do you like to do on vacation?
- What don’t you like to do on vacation?
- What island(s) are you considering? Are you already leaning towards one or two?
- Have you already identified some must see sights?
- Before you say you want to see Pearl Harbor, read this article if you are think you must see Pearl Harbor as you don’t necessarily have to stay on Oahu in order to see Pearl Harbor.
- Before you say you want to see volcanoes, read: Where to see volcanoes in Hawaii? If you want to see an active volcano then your answer is to go to the Big Island. UPDATE: the active volcano, Kilauea on the Big Island stopped erupting in August 2018. It may start erupting again, but we will have to wait and see.
- Before you say you want nightlife, read: Where to find nightlife in Hawaii.
- What time of year you anticipate you’ll be visiting Hawaii?
- How many days you have in mind for your Hawaii vacation? Read our article: how many Hawaiian Islands should you visit during your vacation.
7. Don’t worry. You can’t make a bad decision. You can have a fantastic Hawaii vacation no matter which island(s) you choose. They all have their own personality and unique features for you to enjoy and admire.
For more Hawaii vacation planning advice, see our guide for first time Hawaii visitors with step by step planning instructions.