From the bustling vibrancy of Oahu to the romantic calmness of Maui, from the off-beaten paths of Lanai and Molokai to the majestic beauty of the Big Islands of Hawaii, there is just so much you might not know about Hawaii.
If you are considering visiting the islands for the first time, give this best tourist guide for Hawaii a read. Hawaii is worth every dream and penny.
Like other first-time travelers, you are also wondering what islands you should visit when in Hawaii and what islands you should skip.
Unlike many different travel destinations, Hawaii is not just one single destination; it is made up of small but six very unique islands that are diverse and eclectic in their own manner. The six islands will be covered in detail in the article, from west to east - Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, and the Big Island of Hawaii.
All the islands are spectacular and have their own set of unique offerings, which further makes choosing just one rather difficult.
Kauai is blessed with natural beauty, the oldest of all the Hawaiian Islands, and the northernmost of all islands. In Kauai, you can explore the Waimea Canyon, the Kokee State Park Trails or can sit and take in the calmness of the Limahuli Gardens.
Kauai has the most iconic, lush surroundings, with abundant waterfalls, rainbows, and valleys. It is the most “rural” island, offering you the perfect getaway for the most romantic vacation. The backcountry trails keep you away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
In terms of connectivity, Kauai has one main airport in Lihue. There are plenty of great accommodation options in Kauai, especially on the North and Eastern coasts, and more recently developed options on the southern coast.
Home to most of Hawaii’s population and the state capital, Honolulu, Oahu is a blend of nature and culture with the right mix of vibrant entertainment and amenities of the current times.
When in Oahu, you should check out the North Shore to relive the American history at the museums and memorials of Pearl Harbor. You can also spend the day taking surf lessons on Waikiki Beach.
Oahu is a hotspot for all kinds of activities, tours, surfing, nightlife, dining, and even shopping. Of all the islands, Oahu is the most developed and busiest island. There is, of course, natural beauty but the parties and the bustling nightlife never end.
For those looking forward to just relaxing and enjoying the scenic beauty, there is plenty of that to enjoy in Oahu. There are some fantastic trails, incredible coastal views, and stunning natural beauty to entrap you in its arms.
The primary airport here services in Honolulu. Most of the accommodation options are located in Waikiki; however, few other great options are scattered all over the island.
The second-largest island in all Hawaiian islands, Maui is home to some of the best beaches in the world. Visiting this island, especially during winters, is an added advantage to your overall experience. You can book a tour to see the magnificent whales, and mind you, Maui is home to some of the biggest whales in the world.
Definitely get up early in the morning one day to catch an early sunrise at Haleakala, have a hearty breakfast, and stroll through Lahaina Town for a brisk walk. You can also drive through Hana on the majestic road towards the spectacular landscape.
Anyone who visits Maui will say, “Maui no ka oi,” literally translating, “Maui is the best.”
Maui has a bit of everything Hawaii offers, probably the best mix of the environment all over the six islands, with beauty, peace, great hiking trails, snorkeling, developed towns, and much more.
If you are visiting Hawaii for the first time, try to make this the first island you visit. All the best tourist guides say you will surely not regret even one bit of it.
The primary airport for the island is in Kahului, with some of the most amazon accommodation options for all kinds of people on the western coast and a few options on the southern coast.
Biggest of all attractions on all six Hawaiian islands and larger than all of the islands combined, Big Island houses all climatic zones of the world together, making it a unique island to visit. It has snow-capped mountains, and white sand beaches all coupled together in an island. From rainforests to waterfalls, volcanoes, and botanical gardens, Big Island is one location you surely should not miss.
The size of the island is another factor that makes it unique, often giving it a “rural feel.” Along with its sheer size, the island is also astoundingly diverse, lush, and eclectic, considering the rainforests and the barren black lava fields.
The big island houses two airports, one on the western side in Kailua-Kona and the Eastern side in Hilo. Most visitors who visit the island fly in on the western side, which has some pretty good accommodation options.
What is the best time to visit Hawaii?
The best time to visit Hawaiian islands can depend on your preferences, overall weather, lowest prices, and the number of visitors at different times during the year.
You can travel to Hawaii:
In April: It is a great time to visit. However, one must avoid all the holidays whenever applicable.
In May: it is the best overall month for visitors.
In September: Again, another excellent month to visit, and pretty great for people looking to enjoy the islands in peace and solitude with fewer visitors.
In October: A good month, with a great selection of events and festivals you can enjoy during the time.
You could spend years on the islands and spend thousands of dollars on the best tourist guide, but there will always be something left to do here!
- Wailua Falls: Kauai’s most famous waterfalls.
- Kalalau Trail: Not to be missed beautiful coastal trails on the northern coast
- Poipu Beach: One of the best American beaches
- Waimea Canyon: Also called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific
You can also discover the Holo Holo Charters, go on a Kalalau Lookout, spend your day on the Makua “tunnels” beach, and explore the Kilauea lighthouse.
- Waikiki Beach: A place which all the visitors to Hawaii visit for some iconic gatherings
- Pearl Harbor: Delve into the history and magnificence of the past at Pearl Harbor
- Hanauma Bay and Nature Preserve: Premium snorkeling sites in Hawaii.
- Nuuanu Pali Lookout: Scenic mountain views with historical value
- North Shore: Legendary birth sites of big-wave surfing
Maui Highlights :
- Lahaina Town: The best place in all of Hawaii to shop, dine and whale watching.
- Makena Beach State Park: One of the best and largest beaches in Maui
- Iao Valley State Park: Home to the historic iao needle.
- Haleakala National Park: Maui’s highest scenic peak
- Hana Highway: Known for its landscapes and its twists and turns on the highway
Big Islands of Hawaii Highlights:
- Kailua-Kona Town: A historic spot on the seaside.
- Waipio Valley: Largest isolated inhabited valley in Hawaii
- Downtown Hilo: Local treasure in the capital city of the island
- South Point: Ka Lae or the south point is the southernmost point in the United States.
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Home to some of the most active volcanoes in the world, along with some scenic beauty
No matter how many times you have traveled before or where you have traveled to, there is a straightforward rule to follow when packing for a vacation to Hawaii: “leave as many things as you can at home.”
Bring only what you truly need during your trip and nothing more. It is highly likely that you will only need either a pair of shorts and a shirt, even for some fine dining options. Do not carry any formal wear; leave it at home. And also, please do not carry your passport with you if you are a US citizen. It is surprising how many people in the US carry their passports to the six islands.
Coming back to clothing, a light jacket and a long pair of pants, possibly comfortable loungers, is ideal for your hiking trails around the higher elevations on the islands. Some people do not carry these and complain of some parts of Hawaii being chilly. Yes, most parts are tropics, but not everything is at sea level; you will require extra layers.
However, this does not mean that you will bring your winter jackets and coats. Your coats and jackets can stay at home sulking about the “things not to bring” list.
Here are few more things you should add to your luggage to Hawaii:
1. Your sunblock, possibly a 14+ one.
2. Backpack for hiking
3. Water Bottle
4. Slippers or flip flops
6. Snorkel and fins (you can also rent locally, but Covid-19)
7. At least two bathing suits and a cover-up, or two!
8. Lightweight raincoat or poncho
9. Bug spray
10. Flashlights (not necessary, but just in case)
11. Hiking boots and hiking rods (if you are going to hike)
12. Your happy vibes
Just leave all your worries and troubles at home and enjoy Hawaii.
Traveling in 2021
Current travel restrictions in Hawaii
Currently, there are a few restrictions in effect on all the major Hawaiian islands. These restrictions include trans-pacific travel restrictions, necessary for all the travelers who are not currently vaccinated in the US.
So, travelers vaccinated in the US can now skip quarantine and enjoy their time in Hawaii without taking a Covid test before their travel.
Covid-19 Test Requirements
As of July 14th, 2021, traveling to Hawaii without getting jabbed requires a negative Covid test result, a valid copy of the same by a state-approved and trusted testing partner. The test must be conducted within the previous 72 hours of the last leg of your departure to bypass the mandatory quarantine orders.