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First Trip To Hawaii: Which Island


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Lonni Feinberg



Welcome to the enchanting world of Hawaii, where pristine beaches, lush green landscapes, and a vibrant culture await you. This archipelago in the Pacific Ocean is a tropical paradise that attracts millions of visitors each year. With its breathtaking beauty and rich cultural heritage, Hawaii offers a unique and unforgettable experience for travelers.


Before embarking on your first trip to Hawaii, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the different islands that make up this stunning destination. Each island has its own distinct charm and attractions, ensuring that there is something for everyone to enjoy.


In this article, we will delve into the various islands of Hawaii, highlighting their key features and what makes them special. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or cultural immersion, Hawaii has it all.


So, pack your bags and prepare yourself for an incredible journey through these incredible islands. Whether you’re a nature lover, a history buff, or simply looking to unwind in paradise, Hawaii has something for everyone.


Overview of Hawaii’s Islands:

Hawaii is made up of six main islands: Oahu, Maui, Big Island (Hawaii Island), Kauai, Lanai, and Molokai. Each island offers its own unique blend of natural beauty, cultural experiences, and recreational activities.


Oahu is the most populous island and home to the state capital, Honolulu. It boasts world-renowned beaches like Waikiki and famous landmarks such as Diamond Head. Oahu is known for its vibrant city life, bustling nightlife, and historical sites like Pearl Harbor.


Maui is often referred to as the “Valley Isle” and is known for its stunning landscapes. From the picturesque Road to Hana to the breathtaking Haleakala National Park, Maui offers a diverse range of outdoor adventures. It is also a popular destination for water sports like surfing, snorkeling, and paddleboarding.


The Big Island, also known as Hawaii Island, is the largest of the Hawaiian islands. It is famous for its active volcanoes, including Kilauea, which has been erupting for decades. Here, visitors can explore the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, witness lava flow, and even take a helicopter tour to see the island’s dramatic landscapes.


Kauai, often called the “Garden Isle,” is a paradise for nature enthusiasts. It is known for its lush, emerald green landscapes, cascading waterfalls, and stunning cliffs along the Napali Coast. Kauai offers a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, ziplining, and kayaking.


Lanai is a secluded island that is perfect for those seeking peace and tranquility. With its luxurious resorts, pristine beaches, and world-class golf courses, Lanai offers visitors a chance to unwind and relax in a serene setting.


Molokai is known for its untouched natural beauty and rich Hawaiian culture. It is home to the highest sea cliffs in the world and the historic Kalaupapa National Historical Park. Molokai offers a unique glimpse into the traditional Hawaiian way of life and is a haven for those seeking an authentic island experience.


Each of these islands has its own unique allure, and exploring them allows visitors to truly immerse themselves in the beauty and vibrancy of Hawaii. Whether you prefer adventure, relaxation, or cultural exploration, Hawaii’s islands have something for everyone.


Oahu Island:

Oahu, often referred to as the “Gathering Place,” is the third-largest Hawaiian island and the most populous. It is home to the state capital, Honolulu, and offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, cultural experiences, and urban excitement.


One of the biggest draws of Oahu is its stunning beaches. Waikiki Beach, located in Honolulu, is renowned for its golden sands, crystal-clear waters, and iconic surf breaks. Visitors can soak up the sun, learn to surf, or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll along the shore.


For panoramic views of the island, Diamond Head State Monument is a must-visit. This iconic volcanic crater offers hiking trails that lead to the summit, where breathtaking vistas of the coastline and Honolulu skyline await.


Oahu is also steeped in history and culture. Pearl Harbor, the site of the infamous World War II attack, is a significant historical landmark. Visitors can explore the USS Arizona Memorial and the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center to learn about the events that unfolded on that fateful day.


For those interested in Hawaiian history and culture, a visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center is a must. Here, you can experience traditional Polynesian arts, crafts, and performances, and learn about the fascinating history and traditions of Hawaii and other Pacific Island cultures.


In addition to its natural and cultural attractions, Oahu offers a diverse range of outdoor activities. You can hike to breathtaking waterfalls in the Manoa Valley or explore the lush landscape of the Lyon Arboretum. For adrenaline junkies, the North Shore is renowned for its massive waves, making it a mecca for surfers from around the world.


Oahu is also a food lover’s paradise, with a thriving culinary scene. From food trucks serving up delicious shrimp plates to high-end restaurants specializing in Pacific Rim cuisine, there is something to satisfy every palate. Don’t forget to try the local favorites like kalua pig, poke, and shave ice!


With its mix of stunning beaches, historical landmarks, cultural experiences, and outdoor adventures, Oahu offers a diverse and vibrant experience for visitors. It truly showcases the essence of Hawaii’s beauty and charm.


Maui Island:

Maui, also known as the “Valley Isle,” is the second-largest Hawaiian island and is renowned for its breathtaking natural landscapes. From pristine beaches to stunning waterfalls, Maui offers a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.


One of the most iconic attractions on Maui is the Road to Hana. This scenic drive takes visitors along the island’s northeastern coast, showcasing lush rainforests, dramatic cliffs, and cascading waterfalls. Along the way, there are numerous stops to enjoy short hikes, swim in freshwater pools, and take in the stunning vistas.


The Haleakala National Park, home to the Haleakala volcano, is a must-visit while on Maui. Watching the sunrise from the summit of Haleakala is a magical experience, as the colors of the sky and the surrounding landscape come alive. The park also offers hiking trails that allow visitors to explore its unique ecosystem.


Maui is famous for its world-class beaches, offering something for everyone. Kaanapali Beach, with its golden sands and crystal-clear waters, is a popular choice for sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling. For experienced surfers, the waves at Honolua Bay and Peahi (also known as Jaws) provide an adrenaline-pumping experience.


For a taste of authentic Hawaiian culture, visit the historic town of Lahaina. This charming coastal town is filled with art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants. Be sure to catch the traditional hula performances and explore the Lahaina Historic Trail, which tells the story of the town’s rich history.


Maui also offers a range of outdoor activities and adventures. Visitors can go hiking in the lush Iao Valley State Park, zip-lining through the treetops, or take a helicopter tour to experience the island’s beauty from above. The waters surrounding Maui are ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving, with vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life.


Food lovers will delight in Maui’s culinary scene, which features a fusion of flavors from around the world. From fresh seafood to farm-to-table dining experiences, Maui offers a diverse array of dining options. Be sure to try the local specialty, the famous Hawaiian plate lunch, which typically includes a protein, rice, and macaroni salad.


Whether you’re seeking adventure or relaxation, Maui has it all. Its natural beauty, cultural experiences, and outdoor activities make it an unforgettable destination in Hawaii.


Big Island (Hawaii Island):

The Big Island, also known as Hawaii Island, is the largest and youngest of the Hawaiian Islands. It boasts an impressive range of landscapes, from white sand beaches to ancient lava fields, making it a haven for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts.


A visit to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a must when exploring the Big Island. Here, you can witness the raw power of nature as you marvel at active volcanoes, such as the legendary Kilauea. Hike through volcanic craters, explore lava tubes, and even see the glow of molten lava after dark. The park also offers breathtaking views of Mauna Loa, one of the world’s largest shield volcanoes.


The Big Island is also blessed with stunning beaches. One of the most famous beaches is Hapuna Beach, known for its crystal-clear waters and powdery white sand. Snorkeling, swimming, and sunbathing are popular activities here. For a unique beach experience, visit Punaluu Black Sand Beach, where you can relax on the black sands and potentially spot Hawaiian green sea turtles.


If you’re up for an adventure, head to the Hamakua Coast and explore the Waipio Valley. This breathtaking valley is surrounded by towering cliffs and lush vegetation. You can hike through its trails, take an ATV tour, or even go horseback riding to fully immerse yourself in its natural beauty.


The Big Island also offers excellent opportunities for stargazing. Mauna Kea, one of the world’s premier stargazing sites, is home to several observatories. Take a guided tour or join a stargazing program to witness the awe-inspiring night sky and learn about the wonders of the universe.


For a taste of Hawaiian history and culture, visit the Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park. This sacred site offers a glimpse into ancient Hawaiian traditions and serves as a place of refuge. Explore the restored temple and learn about the significance of this historical landmark.


The Big Island is also known for its coffee plantations. Take a tour of a coffee farm in the Kona region and learn about the process of growing and harvesting some of the world’s finest coffee beans. Sample the rich and flavorful Kona coffee and take home a bag of your favorite blend.


The Big Island offers a captivating blend of natural wonders, cultural experiences, and thrilling adventures. With its active volcanoes, stunning beaches, and diverse landscapes, it promises an unforgettable vacation in the heart of Hawaii.


Kauai Island:

Kauai, often referred to as the “Garden Isle,” is a tropical paradise that offers stunning natural landscapes and a slower pace of life. Known for its lush greenery, dramatic cliffs, and breathtaking beaches, Kauai is a haven for nature enthusiasts and those seeking a tranquil escape.


One of the highlights of Kauai is the Napali Coast. This rugged coastline stretches for 17 miles and is adorned with towering cliffs, sea caves, and cascading waterfalls. Explore this magnificent coastline by taking a boat tour, hiking the Kalalau Trail, or embarking on a helicopter ride for a bird’s-eye view.


To witness the power of nature, visit the Waimea Canyon, often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” Spanning 14 miles long and up to 3,000 feet deep, this geological wonder offers mesmerizing views of red and orange-hued cliffs dotted with vibrant green vegetation.


Kauai is home to some of the most picturesque and pristine beaches in Hawaii. Hanalei Bay, with its crescent-shaped bay and backdrop of lush mountains, is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. Other popular beaches include Poipu Beach, Tunnels Beach, and Ke’e Beach, all offering opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing.


For a unique adventure, take a boat or kayak tour along the Wailua River. Explore the lush surroundings, visit the Fern Grotto, and learn about the rich cultural history of the area. You can also take a guided hike to the hidden gem of Kauai, the Secret Falls, where you can enjoy a refreshing swim in the waterfall’s pool.


Kauai is not only blessed with natural beauty but also rich in Hawaiian traditions. A visit to the Limahuli Garden and Preserve allows you to immerse yourself in the island’s native plants and learn about traditional Hawaiian agriculture. For cultural performances, the Smith’s Tropical Paradise Luau is a popular choice, offering a taste of Hawaiian music, dance, and cuisine.


Adventure seekers can take advantage of the outdoor activities Kauai has to offer. From hiking the stunning Kalalau Trail along the Napali Coast to ziplining through the lush forests, Kauai provides endless opportunities for adrenaline-pumping experiences.


With its awe-inspiring landscapes, pristine beaches, and rich cultural heritage, Kauai is an island of natural wonders and tranquility. Immerse yourself in the lush greenery and peaceful atmosphere, and you’ll understand why it’s called the “Garden Isle.”


Lanai Island:

Lanai, often referred to as the “Pineapple Island,” is a secluded and unspoiled paradise in Hawaii. This small island offers a tranquil retreat surrounded by pristine beaches, luxury resorts, and stunning natural landscapes.


One of the main attractions on Lanai is the secluded Hulopo’e Bay. This crescent-shaped beach is renowned for its crystal-clear turquoise waters, vibrant coral reefs, and an abundance of marine life. Snorkel or scuba dive in these pristine waters to discover a colorful underwater world teeming with tropical fish, sea turtles, and other fascinating marine creatures.


The island is home to two world-class golf courses. The Manele Golf Course, designed by golf legend Jack Nicklaus, offers challenging fairways with stunning ocean views. The Experience at Koele, designed by Greg Norman, showcases scenic landscapes and lush greenery, providing a unique golfing experience.


Lanai also boasts some of the finest luxury resorts in Hawaii, offering an oasis of relaxation and indulgence. Four Seasons Resort Lanai and Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort, provide unparalleled comfort, top-notch service, and a range of amenities, including spas, pools, and exquisite dining options.


If you’re seeking adventure, explore the island’s rugged interior. Lanai is home to Keahiakawelo, also known as the Garden of the Gods. This lunar-like landscape features intriguing rock formations in various shapes and vibrant hues of red, orange, and brown. Take a guided tour or hike to this natural wonder and revel in its awe-inspiring beauty.


For a glimpse into the island’s history, visit the Lanai Culture & Heritage Center. Learn about the island’s plantation era, the Hawaiian traditions, and the impact of the pineapple industry. The center also offers exhibits and educational programs that provide insights into Lanai’s unique cultural heritage.


Lanai offers a serene and intimate ambiance, making it ideal for couples seeking a romantic getaway or individuals craving peace and solitude. Enjoy long walks on secluded beaches, witness breathtaking sunsets, and rejuvenate your senses in the island’s tranquil atmosphere.


With its secluded beaches, luxury resorts, and untouched landscapes, Lanai offers a getaway like no other. Escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse yourself in the serenity and natural beauty of this hidden gem in Hawaii.


Molokai Island:

Molokai, also known as the “Friendly Isle,” is a pristine and untouched gem that offers an authentic Hawaiian experience. With its rich cultural heritage, secluded landscapes, and warm hospitality, Molokai is the perfect destination for those seeking an off-the-beaten-path getaway.


One of the highlights of Molokai is Kalaupapa National Historical Park, a place of historical significance and natural beauty. This remote peninsula was once a place of isolation for people affected by leprosy. Today, it is a national park where visitors can learn about the history and stories of those who lived here. Access to the park is restricted, but guided tours can be arranged to explore its beauty and hear the tales of resilience and compassion.


Molokai is also known for its breathtaking natural landscapes. The lush Halawa Valley is a must-visit, offering mesmerizing waterfalls, lush rainforests, and ancient cultural sites. Take a guided hike through the valley, learn about traditional Hawaiian practices, and immerse yourself in the tranquility of this sacred place.


Molokai’s beaches are serene and undeveloped, offering a peaceful escape from the crowds. Papohaku Beach is one of the largest white sand beaches in Hawaii, stretching for three miles along the island’s west coast. Here, you can stroll along the shoreline, watch vibrant sunsets, and appreciate the solitude that Molokai provides.


The island is deeply rooted in its Hawaiian culture, and a visit to the Molokai Museum and Cultural Center offers insights into the island’s history and traditions. The center showcases exhibits that highlight the island’s cultural heritage, traditional crafts, and the role of agriculture in the local community.


Don’t miss the chance to attend a traditional Hawaiian imu ceremony, where food is cooked in an underground oven. This unique cultural experience gives you a taste of traditional Hawaiian cuisine and a deeper understanding of the island’s customs and traditions.


Molokai is also home to the Molokai Fish Ponds, an ancient aquaculture system that dates back more than 800 years. These fish ponds were used to trap fish and ensure a sustainable food source for the community. Take a guided tour to learn about the significance and importance of these traditional fishponds.


Molokai offers a peaceful and authentic Hawaiian experience. With its untouched landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and warm-hearted locals, it invites visitors to slow down, connect with nature, and appreciate the beauty of simplicity.



Hawaii’s islands offer a diverse range of experiences, each with its own captivating charm. From the bustling city life of Oahu to the majestic cliffs of Kauai, the active volcanoes of the Big Island, the secluded beauty of Lanai, the natural wonders of Maui, and the authentic Hawaiian culture of Molokai, there is truly something for every traveler in this paradise in the Pacific.


Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, cultural immersion, or simply a chance to connect with nature, Hawaii’s islands have it all. Indulge in water sports, hike through lush rainforests, explore ancient historical sites, or simply bask in the sun on pristine beaches. Immerse yourself in the rich Hawaiian heritage, try local cuisine, and witness breathtaking landscapes that will leave you in awe.


As you embark on your first trip to Hawaii, take the time to explore multiple islands and embrace the unique offerings of each. Plan your itinerary to include a mix of popular attractions and hidden gems to truly experience the diversity and beauty of the islands.


Remember to practice responsible tourism by respecting the natural environment and local culture. Observe safety protocols, leave no trace, and be mindful of the delicate ecosystems that make Hawaii so remarkable.


Whether it’s your first visit or a return trip, Hawaii’s islands will continue to enchant and captivate you with their beauty, warmth, and aloha spirit. So, pack your bags, immerse yourself in the aloha vibes, and get ready for an unforgettable journey through the islands of Hawaii.