You’ve heard about, and dreamt about, going to Hawaii forever. The beautiful sunsets, even more beautiful beaches and the adventure – no, thrill – of amazing activities. But how do you know which is the best island in Hawaii to visit? Like which one is really right for you? While there’s plenty of things to do in Hawaii, each island has its own personality.
One of the most magical things about Hawaii is the diversity of people, climate, scenery and activities. You could spend time on one island, and head on over to the next and have a completely different set of experiences.
Hawaii is more than just beautiful beaches, big waves and world-famous sunsets. Hawaii is home to ten of the fourteen climate zones in the world.
This means you’re sure to find weather and activities you’ll love in Hawaii, because there’s something for everyone. Are you ready to start looking for flights? Let’s get to the quiz so you know which is the best island in Hawaii for you!
The Hawaiian Island Quiz: Find the Best Island in Hawaii for You
Hawaii is made up of six major islands to visit, and over 100 smaller islands! For the purposes of this quiz we’ll look at the four islands that get the most activity and tourism.
You’ll get a different experience on each island. And your vacation can even change based on the part of the island you’re traveling to, and the activities you’re participating in.
As you take the quiz below, make note of which letter you answer the most frequently. The questions:
1: Going to Hawaii: what’s the occasion?
A – Family vacation
B – Romantic getaway
C – Relax and unwind
D – Adventure and explore
2: When you wake up, what kind of view do you want to see outside your window?
A – I want to feel the energy of the city and be able to people watch
B – Beautiful beaches with a little bit of action… I want to go snorkeling nearby
C – Palm trees, lush greenery and wide open spaces, like Hawaii was intended to be
D – Mountains and a waterfall would be nice
3: You’ve got a day free for water play. What activity is your go-to choice?
A – Surfing….go big or go home is my motto
B – Diving and snorkeling
C – Deep sea fishing for the best fish
D – Windsurfing, kayaking or paddle boarding
4: Your perfect vacation day consists of:
A – Beach and play, then shopping and followed up by upscale dining
B – Hopping in a car to drive the most beautiful coastline, and playing in water fall or two along the way
C – Helicopter tour of an active volcano, hitting up a local festival, then a quiet picnic at an uncrowded beach for dinner
D – A bit of hiking and then tubing down a winding river
5: What’s your perfect way to learn about the history and culture of the island?
A – I love museums, monuments and memorials
B – Catch a tour of a plantation and checkout an ancient temple
C – Submerse myself in the culture and chat with the locals
D – View the island from a helicopter, where you can almost imagine the island being formed 5 million years ago
Best Island in Hawaii: Quiz Results
If you chose mostly A’s, the best island in Hawaii for you may be: Oahu
The most popular of the islands for both visitors and residents, Oahu hosts Honolulu, which is a larger, busier city experience and home to Waikiki Beach.
But don’t think the city is all that the island has to offer! Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head and the North Shore are more popular destinations on Oahu.
The city of Honolulu boasts a big-city vibe with lots of bars, restaurants and entertainment options. It’s also home to the largest shopping centers in the state, and plenty of family-friendly activities like zoos, aquariums and even a submarine museum. Plan a glass-bottom boat tour or hit the beach for kayaking, parasailing or snorkeling.
Drive an hour away from the big city to explore the Windward coast of Oahu with a nature preserve and hike. Rent ATV’s, a super fun way to explore Hawaii, or hit up one of the amazing golf courses on Oahu.
Check out the waves on the North Shore, the Polynesian Culture Center, or take a tour of the Dole plantation to taste the best pineapple you’ve ever had. Finally, head out to a luau where you can truly enjoy the island life.
If you chose mostly B’s, the best island in Hawaii for you might be: Maui
Most popular as a honeymooner’s destination, Maui is beautiful, romantic and exciting. Whether you’re headed there on a couple’s trip, with family or friends, Maui has activities for everyone.
A slower pace than Oahu, but more commissioned activities than Kauai or the Big Island, Maui is a luxurious island with opportunities to satisfy your travel craving. Biking, ziplining, snorkeling, boating, hiking, fishing, lounging on the beach…the sky is the limit here.
Popular activities for visitors include watching the sun rise above the clouds at 10,000 feet with 360 degree views atop Haleakala, a dormant volcano. Then, as if that wasn’t cool enough, riding down the mountain on bikes, with really good brakes, to sea level makes a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Then grab a rental car and hit the Road to Hana. Marvel at the breathtaking coastal views, stop by a roadside stand for fresh banana bread, or hike to and swim in majestic waterfalls along the way to a black sand beach.
There’s plenty of water play in Maui, too. From snorkeling the Molokini crater to a whale-watching tour in Maalaea Bay, or simply swimming with the sea turtles off Kaanapali Beach, you’re sure to make memories of a lifetime.
Back on land, explore marvelous lavender fields, pose with the famous Banyan tree in Lahaina, grab a guided zip-line tour or heck, go check out a goat dairy farm that makes 25 kinds of cheese. Talk about the stuff dream vacations are made of, friends!
Island of Hawaii (Big Island)
If your list included many C’s, the best island in Hawaii for you may be: the Big Island
The island of Hawaii has a more laid back feel than the other islands, with less visitors than Oahu and Maui, yet so much to see!
By far the most popular tourist attraction is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Exploring the active volcano with a helicopter tour, walking through giant lava tubes underground, or watching the lava flowing at night are all completely unforgettable experiences.
Note: the eruption of the Kilauea volcano for three solid months in 2018 was devastating to some residents of the Big Island. However, the eruptions only affected an area of about 10 square miles, far from where most tourists travel, creating minimal impacts for tourists.
I recommend to check with the National Park Service for updates on Volcanoes National Park information.
But the Big Island offers more than the lava and volcanoes – like coffee! The only coffee grown in the U.S. is in the state of Hawaii, and the Kona region of the Big Island truly celebrates this, with the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival.
The Big Island is also home of a winery and popular macadamia nuts. Festivals, farmers markets and gardens are the right opportunity to mix with the locals and really experience the culture on the Big Island.
Fuel your soul on the Big Island by experiencing rain forests, orchid gardens, hiking, stargazing, whale watching, boating, deep sea fishing, scuba diving, swimming with manta rays and paddle-boarding.
It’s extremely diverse terrain allows for new adventures each day you’re on the island. Make sure to visit at least one black sand or green sand beach, too, for a truly unique experience! There’s so much beauty and power in this island, that you’re sure to fall in love with Hawaii here.
If most of your answers were D’s, the best island in Hawaii for you might be: Kauai
Full of adventure, beauty and a dramatic coastline that would make any island-lover swoon, Kauai is the least visited of the four featured Hawaiian islands. It’s an island truly made to be explored by foot, as only 10% of the island is accessible by car.
Take a helicopter, boat or kayak tour to see the stunning Napali Coast. Head into Waimea Canyon, known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, to view colorful peaks and lush gardens.
Grab your hiking gear and hike one (or more) of dozens of trails to explore nature at it’s finest. And make sure to add to your must-see list at least one of the fourteen gorgeous waterfalls on the island.
Kauai adventures don’t stop at hiking and lush greens though, there’s horseback riding, river tubing, diving, whale watching, ziplining, wind surfing and of course snorkeling and scuba diving.
Although most of Kauai’s adventures are in nature, there are museums and historical sights to learn about Hawaii’s oldest island. Oh, and beaches that will soothe your soul with their calmness and beauty. Can you say dream vacation any louder?
If you’re headed to Kauai for your next vacation, you are in for a special treat! The island of Kauai is a dream destination with a natural sweetness and, in my opinion, is the best island in Hawaii to travel to.
Wait, there’s more….islands, that is
There are two more islands that you could technically visit if vacationing in Hawaii, but they receive so few tourists that it made sense to focus on the four islands where accommodations and flights are most accessible.
Molokai and Lanai are both beautiful options if you’re flexible with your travel itinerary and really want a low-key vacation. Generally, Molokai is known for it’s simple lifestyle and stunning hiking trails. Lanai is serene and known for it’s amazing snorkeling and scuba diving…hard to believe it can get better than the underwater adventures of the other islands listed above.
So how do you choose the best island in Hawaii to visit?
So what if you wanted to select ‘all of the above’ for a few of the quiz questions? Well, the truth is, you really can’t make a bad choice in Hawaii!
Regardless of the type of vacation you’ve got your heart set on, you can find exciting things to meet your expectations on all of the Hawaiian islands. And generally, if you have the time, it’s easy to island-hop so you can visit multiple islands within your trip.
I recommend selecting your vacation island based on the main thing that you want to do in Hawaii. Want to see historical Pearl Harbor or Waikiki? Head to Oahu.
Looking to ride a bike down a mountain and drive the Road to Hana? Visit Maui.
Looking to relax and put your feet up, occasionally mixing with the locals or checking out some lava? The Big Island is right for you.
Or if you’re wanting to hike and explore rich landscapes, Kauai might be best island in Hawaii for you.
How to make the most of your trip to Hawaii
Finally, here are a few tips as you plan your trip to Hawaii.
- Research, research, research. Trip Advisor is my favorite tool for researching activities, because the reviews are recent and honest.
- Don’t plan every minute of every day. There’s so much to explore and do in Hawaii, make sure to leave yourself some time for an unexpected adventure. Ask locals (not the concierge or waitresses at a tourist-y restaurant) what’s the best thing to do on the island. Then do it!
- Eat local. This is a big one! Enjoy local cuisine, new flavors and unique dishes. I always rely on Trip Advisor to help find the best local restaurants. Within the app, you can search by cuisine type, cost per plate, and even use the app to find out the best meals within a specific restaurant. And while you’re on the islands, be sure to check out traditional Hawaiian shave ice, Kalua pig and at least one shrimp truck!
One of my first loves of the beach came after traveling to the Hawaiian islands. Friend, it’s a place you MUST experience at least once!
So dreamer, do you have your island picked out? Which is the best island in Hawaii for you? Where will you go first? Comment below or tag @shesavesshetravels on Instagram with the island of your choice! Now…time to save up for those flights!