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What is the best Hawaiian island to visit? Our top picks

by Elena Escudero | April 16, 2020
log cabin in the middle of the Hawaiian jungle

Hawaii Islands have always been considered the ultimate paradise destination. With splendid beaches and lush nature, these islands offer everything that all of us who are looking for a relaxing but fun holiday could dream of.

If you are planning to visit Hawaii in summer, first you need to apply for an ESTA visa. In terms of weather, you should know that there are basically two seasons in the archipelago: summer (kau) from May to October and winter (hooilo) from November to April. 

Indeed, the best weather in Hawaii can be experienced during the summer months, specially June, July and September, due to the least amount of rainfall along with warm water temperatures. 

Here you will discover a small selection of the best islands to visit in Hawaii, although each person will have their own answer to the question: "What is the best island to visit in Hawaii?".

What is the best Hawaiian island to visit?

Deciding what is the best island to visit in Hawaii is very subjective as each island has its own unique charm and personality.

Although Maui is very popular and often voted as the best Hawaiian island to visit, there are plenty of beautiful sceneries in the other islands. Deciding what is the best island in Hawaii depends on preferences and which kind of activities you want to do. Here are a few options for the best Hawaiian island to visit, but you'll have to go to make your own choices! 

Big Island, magnificent beaches and golf courses

Big Island is one of the best islands in Hawaii. Temperatures on Big Island are quite pleasant during summer. As you go up, higher temperatures can drop.

If there is one thing you shouldn’t miss while on Big Island, it is the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Other unmissable activities are the manta ray night dive and hiring a helicopter tour to see the island from the air.

On the west coast of Big Island you will find the town of Kailua-Kona, which is the perfect place to enjoy your summer holidays, with its magnificent beaches and world-renowned golf courses. To the east, the volcanic slopes are covered with coffee farms that offer tasting tours, and to the South you will find great snorkeling spots.

The beautiful city of Hilo that lies on the eastern side of Big Island is also a must-see. With its gorgeous Japanese teahouse, rock gardens, pagodas and fishponds, the Liliuokalani Gardens offers an idyllic location for an enjoyable summer stroll. 

Kauai, best Hawaiian island to visit for water sports

The north coast of the island of Kauai is truly spectacular. There you will find the lovely Hanalei town, accessible only by a single-lane road. It is renowned for its eclectic shops and its verdant green landscape. These make it one of the best places to stay in Hawaii.

If you are up for some shopping, don´t miss the Emperor’s Emporium and Ching Young Village Shopping Center, and if you are more in the mood for swimming, sunbathing or fishing, head to the Hanalei Pier. You can also rent a kayak and explore the coastal waters, or even take a scenic horseback ride over the hills.

Near the city of Lihue, which lies on the south-eastern coast of Kauai, you will find two of the island’s most beautiful beaches: Kalapaki Beach and Ninini Beach, both perfect for swimming, sunbathing and surfing. With only a short drive from Lihue you can also swim in the pool at the base of the spectacular Wailua Falls.

Kauai Island of Hawaii

Oahu, the capital and the largest city in Hawaii

When in Ohau, paying a visit to the capital and largest city in Hawaii, Honolulu, is mandatory. The worldwide famous Waikiki Beach offers soft sands, clear blue waters, and a wealth of water sports. This is one place where to go in Hawaii.

Hike to the top of Diamond Head Crater for a panoramic view of the city and the southern Oahu coastline.

Don’t miss visiting the USS Arizona Memorial, the Pacific Aviation Museum, and the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum at Pearl Harbor on the northwest side of the city.

Located on the north-eastern shore of Oahu, the town of Laie is also an unmissable spot as it is home to one of the most popular attractions on the island, the Polynesian Cultural Center that features numerous Polynesian villages highlighting various cultures. 

The town of Waimanalo Beach that lies on the south-eastern shore of Oahu also deserves a visit. It boasts three miles of beach, the biggest of the island. 

Maui, one of the best places in Hawaii

If you choose this island, you must visit the peaceful town of Hana on the eastern coast. It is the gateway to Haleakala National Park, which features spectacular views from the summit of a dormant volcano. Definitely, one of the best places in Hawaii to see an unforgettable sunrise.

On the coastline at the base of the mountains you will find the amazing Pools of Oheo. Head North to discover Waianapanapa State Park and its extraordinary beach of black volcanic sand.

If you are interested in spotting the Hawaiian green sea turtles, Ho’okipa Beachand is the place to go. Nesting season is in summer, so your chances will be bigger than ever, just remember you're not allowed to get too close. Also, this breathtaking white sand beach boasts some of the best waves on the Maui coastline so it's also a surfer’s paradise.

Lanai, the best island to visit in Hawaii for clear waters for swimming and snorkeling

This small island, which lies off the western coast of Maui is also a strong contender for the best Hawaiian island to visit in summer. Lanai City is the ideal base to explore it, as most of the shops and restaurants concentrate in this town, especially around Dole Park in the center. 

If a white sand beach with crystal-clear waters for swimming and snorkeling is what you are looking for, you must visit Hulopoe Bay. Walk to the cliffs overlooking the southern coastline for a look at iconic Sweetheart Rock.

To escape the summer heat, you can shelter under the shade of the famous Lahaina banyan tree, one of the largest in the United States, which covers an entire city block. Just north of town is Kaanapali Beach with three miles of golden sand and excellent swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving.

Places to go in Hawaii

Here is a list of recommendations on the places to go in Hawaii and where they are: