Hawaiian Islands

In my 40 years in the travel business, I have yet to find a destination that offers more diversity than Hawaii. Whether it’s a romantic sunset cruise, a picnic on a beach, sightseeing, golf, water sports or just relaxing, Hawaii has it all. With hotels ranging from budget, to moderate to deluxe there is a resort for everyone. Discover each island below and let us know what interests you.

Honolulu and Oahu, Hawaii

Honolulu is the largest city in Hawaii and offers many hotels, restaurants, great shopping and night life. There are a few hotels directly on the beach but most are across the street or one or two blocks away.

King Kamehameha I Statue at Hawaii Supreme Court Building in Honolulu
King Kamehameha I Statue at Hawaii Supreme Court Building in Honolulu

Though somewhat congested, it is a good starting point of a Hawaiian vacation. The most popular sights that everyone wants to see is Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head Mountain, the Polynesian Cultural Center and one of the many traditional luaus. Honolulu is also the culinary center of Hawaii with many world renowned chefs having restaurants located there.

There is a misconception that Oahu is simply Honolulu, but this is far from the truth. About a mile outside Honolulu city limits a beautiful tranquil island emerges. Nice scenery and wonderful beaches abound. The North Shore, where the Hilton Turtle Bay is located, has nice beaches and the biggest waves in the islands. This is where the world championship surfing competition is held.

On the sunny Leeward side of Oahu, Disney has built the Aulani resort. This is probably the most family-friendly resort in all of Hawaii. Spend the day at one of the pools with twisting water slides or the lazy river. Kids can dine with Disney characters and there are many family entertainment venues. Also there are many activities for mom and dad.

Maui, Hawaii

Probably the most popular island of them all is Maui. Maui’s beautiful natural setting makes for a laid back Hawaiian feeling, as well as a sophisticated destination with a multitude of things to do. Resorts for all budgets as well as many condominium complexes gives you many choices of accommodations.

Waterfall and old tree near road to Hana, Maui, Hawaii
Waterfall and old tree near road to Hana, Maui

Maui offers more miles of swimmable beaches than any other Hawaiian Island, and 14 golf courses. The diversity of Maui is evidenced by the many different things to do. Here are some of the highlights that are the most popular: Haleakala, the largest dormant volcano in the world, whale watching (in the winter months), the old town of Lahaina, Maui Ocean Center and Aquarium, Tao Valley State Park, and the Haleakala National Park. Some of the most upscale resorts in the islands are located on Maui. These provide some of the most romantic setting for weddings and honeymoons. A car rental is almost a must to explore all the different areas and sights. Many people make Maui their feature Hawaiian Island destination, spending more time there than on the other Islands.

Kauai, Hawaii

Without a doubt, Kauai is the most scenic and lush of all the Hawaiian Islands. Magnificent mountains, coastlines, beaches and rainforests makes this a must stop on all itineraries.

View of Waimea Canyon, also known as Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Kauai, Hawaii
View of Waimea Canyon, also known as Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Kauai

Somewhat laid-back Kauai gives you the old real Hawaiian feeling without sacrificing comfort. The Na Pali coast is a must see. It is only accessible by sea (boat tour) or air (helicopter tour), but it is one of the most breathtaking views you will ever see. Other sights and tours that are popular include: Kauai Plantation Railway, raft tours, rainforest hiking and the Waimea Canyon excursion. Accommodations range from budget to moderate to deluxe. One of the best resorts is the St. Regis at Princeville, home to one of the most challenging golf courses in all of Hawaii. Whether it’s a honeymoon, family trip or just a regular vacation Kauai should be on your itinerary.

Big Island – Hawaii

Hawaii is the largest and most diversified island in Hawaii. Where else can you see an active volcano with a lava flow and a rainforest in the same place?

Holei Sea Arch in Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaii
Holei Sea Arch in Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaii

It is probably the best island for families because there is much to do and see that will interest people of all ages. Some of the highlights are: the active volcano with lava flow, for a little less adventure there is a dormant volcano (Mauna Kea), the Waipio Valley with its incredible waterfalls, visits to a coffee farm, macadamia nut farm or an orchid farm, island and rafting expeditions, etc. The island is geared for those who want a lot of activities, but there are still many fine beaches for relaxation. The big island also boasts a number of great resorts including Mauna Kea Beach, Four Seasons Resort, Mauna Lani Bay and the Fairmont Orchid. Because of the number of good resorts and many things to do, I highly recommend including the Big Island on your Hawaii trip.

Lanai, Hawaii

The Island of Lanai is a small, under-developed island that offers two unique and upscale resorts. The Four Seasons Lodge at Koele offers a one of a kind experience. A deluxe resort set up in the mountains offers a magnificent setting and a great golf course. The Four Seasons Manele Bay is an oceanside paradise with its own golf course. Lanai is only for those who want to experience luxury and seclusion.

For those who have limited time or can’t decide where to go, a great alternative is a one-week cruise on Norwegian Cruise Lines that visits all Hawaiian Islands for at least one day. Combined with a pre or post-cruise stay, this can get you a lot of Hawaii in a shorter amount of time.

Let one of our Hawaii experts plan your dream trip. Call us at (412) 241-8692 EST in the Pittsburgh area.

Also, check out more Things to Do in Hawaii or Search for Apple Vacations in Hawaii. Aloha!

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