Hawaii: A Travel Guide Island-by-Island

If you’ve never been to Hawaii you might be asking yourself which island you should visit. Each island has a little something different to offer depending on your interests. No matter where you end up, booking your stay in one of the many vacation rentals in Hawaii is always a good idea. These luxury rentals allow you to get the most out of your trip without bothering with overpriced tourist towns where most hotels and resorts are located. By staying in a luxury Hawaiian home, you get all the comforts and amenities of a hotel plus insider knowledge and tips from locals. Hawaii is filled with interesting places to explore, and a little local how-to never hurt.

If you still need help deciding which island to spend your vacation read on for our simple travel guide by location. Choose what you like to do, and find the island that best suits your interests.

A Bit Of Everything

If you’re looking for a Hawaiian getaway that has a bit of everything, look no further than Oahu. Oahu is jam-packed with tons of landmarks and activities to keep even the most active visitor busy. Oahu has a rich history filled with stories of former royalty, and even the castle to prove it. Visitors can buff up on history from the times of the Polynesian royal family all the way up to World War II by visiting both the Iolani Palace and the Pearl Harbor and USS Arizona Memorials. Diamond Head makes for another incredible day trip as this fascinating and scenic volcanic cone can be a great site for hikes or helicopter tours. For more laid back sightseeing, Waikiki is an amazing luxury beach (also part of the royal history) offering beach service and just a generally awesome resort-style experience. If you’re at all a fan of surfing, a trip to North Shore is definitely in order. One of the most famous surf spots in all of Hawaii, this beach is packed with surfers catching waves or others watching the pros get at it. It’s also an awesome little town to find a drink, do some shopping, and walk around. For an all-around activity based trip, Oahu is an easy and safe choice.

Romantic Getaway

Celebrating a special event or anniversary? Maui is the perfect destination for all things romantic. All you have to do is look at pictures to know that Maui was made for honeymoons and anniversary getaways. With over 30 miles of sandy coastlines and enough waterfalls to make you never want to see one again, Maui is indeed the epitome of a romantic getaway. In addition to its many gorgeous beaches, visitors can explore Haleakala National Park where the dormant crater known as Haleakala crater makes for the perfect day hike or helicopter tour. To bask in amazing tidal pools and splash around under waterfalls worthy of a screensaver, head to Ohe’o Gulch. This little spot is a haven for all things involving the jungle and swimming. It’s easy to feel like you’ve escaped when visiting Ohe’o Gulch, and even easier to not want to leave this idyllic island after a few days spent under its charm.

Nature & Beaches

Kauai is probably Maui’s biggest rival as far as scenic beauty and things to do and see in the outdoors. A bit busier and less remote than Maui, Kauai offers a more rugged look into local culture, allowing guests to hang with locals in surf towns and get involved in the scene. Kauai also has an incredible line up of national and state parks, all ripe for the exploring. Nā Pali Coast State Park is one such example of a park that shouldn’t be missed, and many visitors attempt to complete at least part of its famed Kalalau Trail— well-loved for its views of sea cliffs and rare geologic formations. Waimea Canyon State Park is another experience that should not be missed, as this ten-mile wide canyon is often compared to the Grand Canyon for its impressive scenery and vast open appearance. To get in on the local surf scene, many visitors flock to Anahola Beach Park. This huge park offers several surf and swim spots, some less intense than others. It also has a great nightlife scene and is known as being one of the best watering hole spots on the whole island. For a more tame outdoor experience, Na ‘Aina Kai Botanical Gardens is another incredible opportunity. This well-manicured park isn’t just your typical garden. It takes grandiose to a whole new level with waterfalls and life-size bronze statues throughout. Kauai is one of the best places to explore the outdoors and admire all of the beauty of Hawaii, making it the obvious choice for nature lovers and beach bums.

Outdoor Adventure

If you’re looking for something a little more intense than just laying around and soaking up the sun, Hawaii Island offers up an extreme outdoor experience in several national park-size packages. Akaka Falls State Park is a great place to get the adventure started with miles of hiking trails past remote areas of the island. To see some of the most absurd landscapes on the island, head to Papakolea Beach or Punalu’u Beach where you’ll find green and black sand. But the most wild thing by far on the island are the two enormous active volcanoes. Book a tour to get as close to one as you (safely) can. For something a bit less intense, nothing beats the snorkeling on Hapuna Beach and Kahalu’u Beach.