Hawaii is like the buffet of vacation destinations! There are so many things to do and so many places to see, you could visit Hawaii each year and still not cover everything! So how, then, can you plan a fabulous trip to Hawaii without feeling overwhelmed by all the choices? You just need to make a few choices before you go and the rest will fall into place.

First, you need to decide which of the main islands you’d like to visit. Hawaii isn’t like most other places; it is actually the world’s longest chain of islands, with 132 islands in total. Each of these islands are actually the tops of submerged volcanic mountains and most are not inhabitable by humans. However, there are about 8 other main islands : Hawaii, Maui, Molokai, Oahu, Kauai, Niihau, Lanai, and Kahoolawe (which is not inhabited, but you can visit by boat). The main islands each boast beautiful beaches, volcanic mountains (many of which can be explored), tropical ocean swimming, diving and fishing, as well as popular tourist attractions such as shopping. The smaller islands can be visited, but you’ll want to spend most of your time on one of the bigger islands to get the best feel for Hawaii.

OahuOahu

If you are a little unsure of what you want, you’ll like Oahu. Oahu boasts a larger city feel with shopping, nightclubs and lots of wonderful restaurants. You’ll still be able to experience the diverse cultures that make up Hawaii as Oahu boasts the most cultural and historical sites in Hawaii. You can visit the famed North Shore to do some surfing or just lay on the white, sandy beach and then return to your first class hotel at night to relax. This is the best island to visit if you are a first-time visitor to Hawaii.

Oahu Travel Guide

MauiMaui Hawaii

Maui is perfect for you if you love to golf! It has several PGA class golf courses as well as gorgeous vistas and amazing beaches. You can hike to the summit of Haleakala in Haleakala National Park for something a little out of the way, or just lay on the beach all day. And Maui is a little less expensive, but also has fabulous hotels and condominium rentals for your stay.

5 Family Things to Do in Maui, Hawaii

Big IslandBig Island, Hawaii

If your loves are horseback riding, or hiking, the Big Island of Hawaii is the one for you. It is so ecologically diverse that you can experience water, lush tropical forests, snow-capped peaks of mountains and volcanoes all in one place. The Big Island has fabulous hotels, but is also much more budget friendly for families who might be visiting. 

Kauai

Napali Coast

Kauai is the oldest and has the most secluded feel of the main islands. The beaches stretch for miles and you might never see another soul as you walk along the shore. It has exotic vegetation and often people come here to explore and relax with a much slower pace to life. Although there are wonderful hotels to stay at, you will visit Kauai with a need to unwind and get back to nature without the hustle and bustle of big city life. This is a great place to honeymoon!

Navigating Kauai with Infants and Toddlers

North side of Kauai Hawaii

Lanai

Lanai is for the rich and pampered! It has two of the top hotels in the entire world and really is not the place to go if you want to do sight-seeing, shopping or exploration. This is the place to go if you have a platinum credit card and want to do nothing other than sit by the pool at your hotel and be doted on. To get a great feel for the diversity of the Hawaiian islands, Lanai is not really the place you’d want to visit. This is for those who have been before and just want an experience this time.

MolokaiMolokai Hawaii

If you really want to experience Hawaii, really get a feel for how the locals live, then you might want to visit Molokai. This island has the most natives living here, huge with diverse cultures and peoples, but not extensive in the way of tourism. This is a place where people live, not necessarily where people take a vacation. It might be interesting to take a quick hop over from Maui or Lanai to see the beauty of Molokai, but you won’t want to vacation here if you are looking to be pampered.

Now that you know which island you’ll be visiting, the rest is easy. Pack up your camera, sunscreen, bathing suit and some comfortable shoes and explore! Your hotels can provide you with great local maps and advice on what to visit when you get there. Who knows, maybe you’ll even get to see an active volcano? Hawaii is an experience like no other!

Read Next:

Beach Packing List for Hawaii Story

Best Resorts in Hawaii for Families