Ever thought, “If you’ve seen one Hawaiian island, you’ve seen them all?” Better think again.
Each of Hawaii’s six main islands offers a unique experience that no other island can match. In fact, recent statistics show that one out of three visitors to the Aloha State visit two or more islands during their trip. For a growing number of vacationers, “island hopping” has become an exciting Hawaiian adventure in itself.
For most people, Oahu is a “must” visit; about 75 percent of all visitors to Hawaii include a stop on this island. Appropriately nicknamed “The Gathering Place,” Oahu is where most of the action is. It’s where you’ll find Waikiki, Hawaii’s most famous resort playground, and where visitors can enjoy all the amenities of “big city” life. In addition, Oahu is home to some of the state’s most popular and revered visitor attractions, including the USS Arizona Memorial, National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific and Polynesian Cultural Center.
Kauai, on the other hand, is renowned as Hawaii’s most romantic island. It’s a place that is so rich in raw, unspoiled natural beauty that it’s a favorite backdrop for Hollywood‘s leading film producers. Kauai is famous for having some of Hawaii’s most breathtaking natural wonders, including Waimea Canyon (hailed as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”), Napali Coast and the island’s lovely North Shore.
The Big Island of Hawaii is exactly as its name implies. Encompassing 4,028 square miles, the Big Island is twice the size of all other Hawaiian islands combined! This island offers plenty of room to roam, and many opportunities to do so, from horseback riding and hiking to biking and fishing. What other island is large enough to hold five volcanoes, including the world’s most active volcano—Kilauea, which has been spewing molten lava since January 1983?
For many visitors, Maui offers the ideal blend of sophistication and Mother Nature. It’s not as crowded as Oahu, yet more refined than its other sister islands. The Valley Isle has distinguished itself, perhaps, for being able to offer the best of all worlds. There is something for everyone here: family attractions (Maui Ocean Center), world-class performing arts (Maui Arts & Cultural Center), scenic wonders (Haleakala National Park) and hidden natural gems (the road to Hana).
Molokai is the island of choice when you when to get away from it all. Here, there are no traffic lights or neon signs. No building is taller than a palm tree. Molokai is where time has stood still, eschewing modern trappings in favor of a slower, laid-back lifestyle. There is still a fair amount of activities to enjoy here—there’s golf, camping, hiking and the world-famous mule ride down to historic Kalaupapa—but the island that bills itself as “Hawaiian by Nature” is largely appreciated for what it doesn’t have.
Last but not least is Lanai, which has transformed itself from an agriculture-based island to a gorgeous resort with two world-class championship golf courses, two distinctive hotels, pristine beaches and a whole lot more. SCUBA diving, snorkeling, clay shooting, biking and hiking are among the other outdoor adventures available on Lanai.