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Which hawaiian island is the best to visit our 2024 ranking.

Though it can be easy to assume the six most visited Hawaiian Islands offer similar experiences, they are more diverse than you can imagine. From Waimea Canyon to Waikiki Beach, Hawaii’s wealth of natural beauty (think: cerulean waters, verdant vegetation and stunning white sand beaches ) is just waiting to be explored. To help you decide which Hawaiian Island is ideal for your next vacation, U.S. News took into account sights, expert opinion and reader input to determine the best Hawaiian Islands to visit. Vote for your favorite island below to have a say in next year's list. 

Kaua'i

Hawaii - the big island, honolulu - oahu.

what other islands to visit in hawaii

Though it's perhaps most famous for the fabulous coastlines of Ka'anapali Beach and Wailea Beach, Maui is a great option for both couples and families looking for variety in their vacation. Away from the sand, you can drive the Road to Hana, enjoy a bird's-eye view during a helicopter tour , see one of the world's largest dormant volcanoes at Haleakala National Park and get up close to marine wildlife while snorkeling in Honolua Bay or around Molokini. Then, for an experience you won’t forget, relax on the volcanic coastline of Wai'anapanapa State Park, where jet-black sands meet vibrant sapphire waters.

what other islands to visit in hawaii

With a more easygoing environment than other islands like Oahu and the Big Island, the Garden Isle lets its wild, natural beauty speak for itself and is perfect for an adventurous getaway. The main attractions here are Koke'e State Park and Waimea Canyon, otherwise known as the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific." But you also won’t want to miss Kaua'i’s breathtaking Wailua Falls or dreamy Po'ipu Beach. And if a challenging hike is what you’re after, it doesn’t get more scenic than the Kalalau Trail along the rugged Napali Coast. Just remember to pack galoshes and a rain jacket – Kaua'i is one of Hawaii's rainiest islands.

what other islands to visit in hawaii

The island of Hawaii's bevy of one-of-a-kind attractions and family-friendly activities makes it ideal for travelers who prefer a jam-packed itinerary. Not only does the Big Island offer white and black sand beaches , including the famous Punalu’u Black Sand Beach, it is also home to lush rainforests and two active volcanoes at Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. History buffs will love visiting Pu'ukohola Heiau National Historic Site (home to one of Hawaii's largest restored temples) and Kealakekua Bay (where British explorer James Cook first arrived in 1779). Or, head to Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park to see petroglyphs, ancient Hawaiian fishponds and green sea turtles.

what other islands to visit in hawaii

The least-developed island on this list, Moloka'i was made for those who don’t mind going off the beaten path. With lush rainforests, miles of beautiful beaches and some of the tallest sea cliffs in the world, Moloka'i is a great place to reconnect with nature, whether you’re staying overnight at one of Moloka'i’s quiet oceanfront cottages – there is only one hotel on the island – or visiting on a day trip from one of the other Hawaiian Islands. Top activities here include soaking up some sun on secluded Papohaku Beach, snorkeling Moloka'i's 28-mile reef or joining a guided cultural hike through Halawa Valley.

what other islands to visit in hawaii

Dubbed The Gathering Place, Oahu is home to plenty of famous sites and a great jumping-off point for first-time visitors to the Hawaiian Islands. On the South Shore, you'll find Waikiki Beach, Hanauma Bay, Pearl Harbor National Memorial and Le'ahi (Diamond Head) State Monument, all in or near the capital city of Honolulu. Meanwhile, the North Shore is home to a more laid-back vibe, as well as the renowned waves at Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach, which host major surfing competitions every year. After exploring along the coast, head inland to the tranquil Byodo-In Temple, a replica of a Buddhist temple in Uji, Japan.

what other islands to visit in hawaii

For a secluded, nature-centric escape, set your sights on Lana'i. Centrally located between Maui and Moloka'i, this remote hideaway makes a great home base for inter-island travel. Travelers can take a four-wheel-drive vehicle to spots like Kaiolohia (Shipwreck Beach) and Kaunolu Village, a prehistoric fishing village that was once frequented by King Kamehameha I, or spend their days sunbathing on Polihua Beach. In winter, head to Hulopo'e Bay for terrific whale-watching opportunities. Then, make your way to Keahiakawelo (Garden of the Gods), an enchanting rock garden that was once part of a native dryland forest, for a breathtaking Lana'i sunset. 

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Island Hopping: How To Travel Between Islands in Hawaii?

How to get from one island to another.

Hawaii Sun Set View

The urge to travel between Hawaiian islands is very common and hits virtually all of Hawaii’s 10 million annual visitors. There are once-in-a-lifetime experiences to be had on each of Hawaii’s islands and you want to see it all. But you should fight that urge.

As you’ll find out, there’s only one way to get from island to island, and the price can add up quickly. But, more importantly, you’ll need a lot of time just to see the attractions on one island. Hawaii Island hopping will spread your itinerary very thin.

Spend At Least A Week Per Island

Adventure

We recommend a repeatable three-day schedule for your Hawaiian vacation. Here it is below:

Day 1 “Active” - Hike to get the blood flowing.

Day 2 “Semi-active” - Take a guided tour to see part of the island that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Day 3 “Rest” - Spend the day at the beach, in the spa or by the pool to recuperate.

Let’s say that you land at 10:00 a.m. You’ll have to collect your bags and rent a car before driving yourself to the hotel. You’ll then have to check-in before you get settled into your room. Well, it’s 2:00 p.m. by the time you’re ready to go, but don’t you want to just relax? After all, you flew for hours to get to this tropical paradise, and you’re tired.

Beach

That leaves you just six days to go through the cycle twice. You’ll have to pick your two favorite hikes, and each island has way more than two alluring hikes. Your crew will be forced to choose just two guided tours, and that leaves just two days for your two favorite beaches. As you can see, there’s no way to see everything a single island has to offer in just a week. Of course, you can pack more into the afternoons and evenings, especially a luau or something similar, but you are still limited in how much you can do.

When To Hawaii Island Hop?

You can see the highlights of your favorite island in a week, so, if you have more than a week to spend in Hawaii, then it’s a good time to island-hop. If you have 10 days then spend a week on one island then three days on your second-favorite island. Best case scenario: You book two weeks solid in Hawaii to split your time between your two favorite islands. If you really want to see three islands then you should try to extend your stay to three weeks, and so on.

How To Travel Between Islands in Hawaii?

Book a fligh

For years, Hawaiian Air and Mokulele Air have been your choices for inter-island flights with Hawaiian holding up to 90% of the market share. That’s not a whole lot of competition which means Hawaiian Air can raise prices artificially. But Southwest Airlines has announced they’ll be jumping into the inter-island market in 2019 which should force a fare war to the consumer’s benefit. Be prepped and ready to finally travel between the island in Hawaii on a budget . 

What To Expect On Hawaii Island Hopping Flights 

Island Hopping Flights

But you may find yourself connecting for your inter-island flight. Flight schedules between two airports in Hawaii can be rather sparse, so many flights take you to Honolulu to connect to your destination. So a flight that should take 45 minutes might take you a few hours if you factor in your layover time.

Itinerary Disruption

As you can see, it may take you a while to get from one island to another. Plus, you have to factor in the time it takes to pack your stuff, drive to the airport, return your rental car, board the plane, layover (if necessary), pick up your new rental car, drive to your new hotel, and unpack again. That could be a day in and of itself, so only island hop if you have the time and the flights work out in your favor.

The Supreme Way To Travel Between the Hawaiian Islands

Norwegian Cruise

Are you ready to explore all of the islands yourself? You clearly need help but do not know where to turn? Discover how the Hawaiian Planner can do all of the dirty work to get you on your dream vacation. Contact us today to learn more about our affordable services and reliable information.

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Best of the hawaiian islands.

OK, let's get right to it - the very best of the Hawaiian islands. If you're like most Hawaii visitors, you probably want to know the highlights first and the details later. Or maybe you don't have three months to leisurely tour each island; who does, right? Most visitors have just a few days to a few weeks at most. That's why we've put together a highlight reel , if you will, of Hawaii's best places to visit. Below, you'll find our recommendations of the top places to visit and things to do on each island.

It's not to say there aren't a few dozen other great stops on each island, we just think these are the very best. Hopefully, if you have only a day or two on a particular island, these lists will help you get right to the good stuff. If you're looking for our complete Must See & Do breakdown by island, scroll to the bottom of this article and select the specific island(s) you're visiting.

— article continued below —

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Kauai Must See & Do - Tours, Activities, & Accommodations

The Garden Isle’s lush landscapes are ripe for exploring. Hit the trail, as some of Hawaii’s best hiking can be found here. If you’d rather not do the walking yourself, mosey along on a horseback riding adventure you’ll never forget. If the ocean is on your mind, reel in the catch of a lifetime on a fishing charter or watch the sunset on a relaxing cocktail cruise. And let’s not forget the awesome NaPali Coast; a flight over its peaks and valleys will leave you speechless. Book your favorite Kauai tour soon.

view all Kauai Must See & Do →

Maui Must See & Do - Tours & Activities

They say “Maui is the best”, and many people think the best tours and adventures can be found on the Valley Isle. Fly over Haleakala and see what makes the “House of the Sun” so enchanting. Snorkel and kayak with Hawaiian green sea turtles and other fascinating creatures. Enjoy a beautiful luau or rock along with “Elvis” as he sings some groundbreaking tunes. All this and more can be had on these exciting Maui adventures.

view all Maui Must See & Do →

Big Island Must See & Do - Tours, Activities, & Accommodations

Hawaii’s Big Island is a land of contrasts and every inch is filled with wonder. Soar over Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in a helicopter and see the island grow before your eyes. Rather zoom over the water? Then try a little parasailing to bump the excitement up a notch. If high-flying adventures aren’t your thing, explore the ocean’s mysteries in a captivating submarine tour. And no trip to the Big Island would be complete without a little Kona coffee in your day; tour a coffee farm and learn about one of the best coffees in the world.

view all Big Island of Hawaii Must See & Do →

Oahu Must See & Do - Tours & Activities

How would you like to experience Oahu? How about a little skydiving adventure for you adrenaline junkies? Rather kick back and relax? Then a sunset dinner cruise fits the bill. Looking for something in between? Then enjoy a Pearl Harbor tour, hike the trails, or take a surf lesson. No matter what you’d like to do, we have a great Oahu tour waiting for you.

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All Must See & Do

Our breakdown by island.

With so many impressive sights, attractions, and things to do, it can be hard to choose the absolute "can't miss" adventures on each Hawaiian Island. That's why we've broken out our complete Must See & Do list by island- so you won't miss a thing while visiting each unique destination.

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What’s the Best Island in Hawaii for You?

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Sarah Schlichter

Deputy Executive Editor Sarah Schlichter's idea of a perfect trip includes spotting exotic animals, hiking through pristine landscapes, exploring new neighborhoods on foot, and soaking up as much art as she can. She often attempts to recreate recipes from her international travels after she gets home (which has twice resulted in accidental kitchen fires—no humans or animals were harmed).

Sarah joined the SmarterTravel team in 2017 after more than a decade at the helm of IndependentTraveler.com. Sarah's practical travel advice has been featured in dozens of news outlets including the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Budget Travel, and Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio. Follow her on Twitter @TravelEditor .

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There’s no wrong choice when it comes to deciding which Hawaiian island to visit . They’re all naturally beautiful, they all have gorgeous beaches, and they all welcome visitors with the gentle “aloha” spirit for which the islands are known. But there are important differences from one island to the next—and while there’s no such thing as a single best island in Hawaii, there may be a best island for you .

What’s the Best Island in Hawaii?

The best island in Hawaii depends on your passions. Are you into food? Adventure? Hiking? Beaches? There are six Hawaiian islands open to visitors, and each one offers something unique.

Luckily, you don’t have to choose just one. Most flights from the mainland U.S. land in Oahu, but frequent service from Hawaiian Airlines makes it easy to fly to other islands in the chain. You can also visit four different islands in seven days with Norwegian Cruise Line , allowing you to sample the best of Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island.

Below is a rundown of Hawaii’s six main islands to help you decide which one (or more than one) is the right choice for your next tropical vacation.

oahu skyline

About 1.4 million people live in Hawaii, and you’ll find the bulk of them on Oahu. The capital city, Honolulu , is home to the best high-end shopping, fine dining, and nightlife in the islands. Waikiki is the heart of the action, where you can hit the beach, snag a new pair of Gucci sunglasses, and sample chef Roy Yamaguchi’s Japanese/Hawaiian fusion cuisine all in the same day.

But Oahu has its quieter sides, too. Get outside of Honolulu and you’ll discover the laid-back surf towns of the North Shore and the lush green mountains of the windward (east) coast. Movie buffs and adventurers should stop at Kualoa Ranch , where you can go horseback riding or mountain biking, take an ATV tour, or check out the filming locations for dozens of movies including Jurassic Park and 50 First Dates.  For more ideas, see The 10 Best Things to Do in Oahu Beyond Waikiki .

Best for: Shoppers, foodies, city lovers, and those who like a mix of action and relaxation. Oahu is also probably the best island in Hawaii for travelers on a budget, as you don’t have to spend extra on inter-island airfare, and the wide choice of hotels and vacation rentals means it’s easier to find a reasonably priced place to sleep.

Where to stay: One of the most popular spots to stay in Waikiki is the upscale Aston Waikiki Beach Tower , with spacious condos located right in the heart of the action. A more affordable option is the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort , which has two towers right on the beach as well as a vast outdoor complex including a saltwater lagoon, waterslides, and five swimming pools.

Check Prices for Aston Waikiki Beach Tower in Honolulu

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garden of eden maui

The second-largest of the Hawaiian islands, Maui is a perennial visitor favorite because it has a little of everything: golden beaches, tumbling waterfalls, laid-back nightlife, championship-caliber golf courses, and plenty of outdoor adventure, from hiking and biking to snorkeling and surfing. You can get a taste of many of these attractions along the rugged Road to Hana , one of the most gorgeous drives on the planet.

If all you want to do during your vacation is to lie on a beach and relax, you can do so in popular resort areas like Kaanapali and Wailea. But more active travelers will find endless things to do in Maui. Head to Haleakala National Park to watch the sunrise from the summit of a volcano and then take an exhilarating 26-mile bike ride back down to the base. Go snorkeling among sea turtles and lava arches off the small island of Molokini. Come in the winter months to see migrating humpback whales. Or visit Maui’s many farms and plantations to sample local specialties like coffee, dragon fruit, and chocolate. (Many of these ingredients make it into farm-to-table cuisine around the island.)

Best for: Adventure seekers, honeymooners, foodies who love sampling local fare, and travelers who enjoy scenic drives.

Where to stay: Hotel Wailea is an ultra-luxe, adults-only resort featuring 72 beautifully designed suites with ocean or garden views; it’s the perfect spot for a secluded honeymoon. Or book yourself a beachfront condo at Maui Kai , where family-friendly units include kitchenettes and on-site laundry is available.

Check Prices for Hotel Wailea in Wailea

Check prices for maui kai in lahaina, big island (island of hawaii).

beach turtle

Put all the other Hawaiian islands together and they’re still only about half the size of the Big Island (officially known as the Island of Hawaii). Nor can they match the Big Island’s sheer natural diversity. As you travel around the island, you’ll see not only the landscapes you’d expect to see in Hawaii—black and white sand beaches, golf courses, fertile jungle valleys, waterfalls—but also a green sand beach ( Papakolea ), stark black lava fields, and even a little snow.

This varied terrain means there’s plenty to do on the Big Island for any visitor, starting with its most famous attraction, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park , which you can explore on foot or by car. Try stargazing from Maunakea , the island’s highest peak, where you’ll see that aforementioned snow. Near Kona you can relax on the beach or go snorkeling at night with manta rays , while the Hilo area is known for rainforest hikes, botanical gardens, and waterfalls. The Big Island is also a good spot to see Hawaiian green sea turtles, especially along the Kohala Coast .

Best for: Animal lovers, golfers, and outdoorsy travelers. The Big Island is also the best island in Hawaii for those seeking a variety of climates and landscapes on their vacation.

Where to stay: The Fairmont Orchid sprawls over 32 oceanfront acres in the northwestern part of the Big Island. Thanks to its large swimming pool, tennis courts, fitness center, and “spa without walls,” you may never leave the resort. If a B&B is more your speed, try The Inn at Kulaniapia Falls , an eco-friendly collection of rooms surrounding Hawaii’s largest privately accessible waterfall.

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kauai hawaii

As you drive past mile after mile of lush foliage in every imaginable shade of green, it’s not hard to see how Kauai earned the nickname “the Garden Isle.” Only about 20 percent of the island is accessible by foot or road; the rest is a dense tangle of rugged cliffs, primeval jungle, and rain-drenched mountain peaks. Consider taking a helicopter ride for the best views over Kauai’s most remote landscapes.

But there’s plenty to do on land, too. Drive to the western part of the island where lookout points and hiking trails offer spectacular views into Waimea Canyon , a deep and colorful gorge that’s often compared to the Grand Canyon. Just up the road is Koke’e State Park , where you can gaze out over Kauai’s distinctive Napali Coast and the pristine Kalalau Valley. Another must-see spot is the North Shore. Here you’ll find Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge , home to albatrosses and red-footed boobies, and Kauapea Beach (also known as Secret Beach ), a vast, unspoiled stretch of golden sand accessible via a short downhill hike. For more ideas, see The 10 Best Things to Do in Kauai .

Best for: Nature lovers, beach bums, hikers, bird watchers, and travelers who want to escape tourist crowds without getting too far from civilization.

Where to stay: Those looking for a resort experience should try the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa , which offers multiple restaurants, a golf course, a massive pool area (including a lagoon and a lazy river), and a location right on the beach. A more affordable option is the family-owned Garden Island Inn in Lihue, with 21 rooms featuring kitchenettes and freshly cut tropical flowers from the hotel’s own gardens. The beach is a short walk away. For more ideas, see The 10 Best Kauai Hotels for Every Budget .

Check Prices for Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa in Poipu

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lanai hawaii menele bay

Lanai sees only a tiny fraction of the tourists that visit the four best-known islands, and that’s part of its appeal. For much of the 20th century, the island was used exclusively for pineapple farming by the Dole company, but these days the main source of income for Lanai is its small but growing tourism industry. About 98 percent of the island—including its two Four Seasons resorts—is owned by billionaire Larry Ellison.

Apart from relaxing on Lanai’s uncrowded beaches, travelers can visit the Lanai Cat Sanctuary to see what the staff playfully calls “Hawaiian lions,” check out the galleries and boutiques in Lanai City, relax on serene Hulopoe Beach , or hike the 12.8-mile Munro Trail to Lanaihale, the island’s highest point.

Best for: Well-heeled travelers looking for an exclusive escape and day trippers from Maui (via the Lanai Ferry ).

Where to stay: The Four Seasons Resort Lanai is all about oceanfront opulence and seclusion, complete with a spa, an 18-hole golf course, limo service, and a Nobu restaurant. Non-Four Seasons options on Lanai are few and far between, but the 1920s-era Hotel Lanai offers 11 simple, recently renovated rooms.

Check Prices for Four Seasons Resort Lanai in Lanai City

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molokai hawaii

The only Hawaiian island that sees fewer visitors than Lanai is Molokai, which feels like the island that time forgot. The pace of life is slow, there are no big resorts or traffic lights, and the mostly Native Hawaiian locals still embrace a simple, laid-back lifestyle. “If you want a place where you can sit on the beach by yourself and have no one talk to you, Molokai might be the best bet,” one recent visitor told me.

Molokai’s most unique attraction is Kalaupapa National Historical Park , a remote part of the island where people with Hansen’s disease (leprosy) were once sent to isolate them from the rest of the Hawaiian population. (You can currently reach the park only by air due to a landslide that wiped out the trail used by mules and hikers; restoration efforts are under way.) The island also has numerous uncrowded beaches, including Papohaku , a three-mile stretch of white sand. Take a guided hike through the stunning Halawa Valley to learn about local history and see one of the island’s most impressive waterfalls.

Best for: Outdoorsy travelers, those looking for off-the-beaten-path experiences, and people who want to get away from it all.

Where to stay: Accommodations on the island are limited. Hotel Molokai is the best of the bunch, offering comfortable rooms (some with air conditioning, some cooled only by the trade winds) as well as a pool and restaurant. The condos at Ke Nani Kai are another good option, though past guests report that some units feel dated.

Check Prices for Hotel Molokai in Kaunakakai

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what other islands to visit in hawaii

More from SmarterTravel:

  • What to Wear in Hawaii
  • The Essential Hawaii Packing List
  • 12 Things You Should Never Do in Hawaii

Sarah Schlichter traveled to Hawaii as a guest of Hawaiian Airlines and Barclays . Follow her on Twitter @TravelEditor for more travel tips and inspiration.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2018. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

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How to Plan the Perfect Multi-island Trip to Hawaii

These eight tips will help you travel between Hawaii's islands with ease.

Matt Anderson Photography/Getty Images

The Hawaiian archipelago includes more than 100 islands, atolls, and islets. But if you’re planning a visit, don’t worry, as you need not plot a 100-island itinerary. With the majority of the islands uninhabited and inaccessible, you can focus on four of the eight largest islands: Kauai , Oahu , Maui , and the Island of Hawaii (often referred to as the Big Island), with the option to add on a few others.

Here are some tips for planning an epic multi-island trip to Hawaii .

Determine travel dates and destinations.

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

Ideally, you should spend at least one week on each of the four islands. But if you don’t have a full month, plan for four to five days per island, then choose one or two regions within each. 

Make a list of things you want to do in order of importance. This will help you determine where to base yourself on each island and what to eliminate if needed. For example, if sleeping near an active volcano and night snorkeling with manta rays are two activities topping your list, book a couple of nights at the historic Volcano House — the only lodging within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park — on the Hilo side of the Island of Hawaii and a few nights at Mauna Kea Resort or The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort on the Kona side, where you can join a guided small group night snorkel with Manta Ray Advocates .

Don’t forget to factor in flight and drive times. Although some islands appear small on the map, weather, road conditions, and traffic can impact overall travel time. 

Also, consider when to go . Hawaii has microclimates, so weather can vary, but in general, summer is warm with minimal rainfall. This is ideal for beach lovers, but it’s also one of the peak travel times, with families visiting during summer break. Expect higher rates and larger crowds during this time, as well as the weeks surrounding major U.S. holidays such as Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. 

You may find lower rates and thinner crowds during the winter (with the exception of the holiday season), but the colder months are generally wetter, so if you’re traveling to Hawaii from November through March, be prepared for cooler temperatures, rain, and possible road closures and activity cancellations. The shoulder seasons from March to May (excluding spring break and Easter) and September to October tend to have comfortable weather conditions and slightly fewer crowds than peak seasons.

Identify your travel style.

Some travelers crave leisurely days at the beach, while others prefer an action-packed itinerary. Some gravitate toward lively, larger cities, while others enjoy slower-paced small towns . Discuss your expectations and interests with your travel companions so you can hone in on the regions, tours, and hotels best suited to you.

Do your research. I often hear visitors comment that Oahu is "too busy," yet they haven't ventured beyond Honolulu. Honolulu is the capital city and home to about one million people, so yes, it’s busy. Find an oasis amidst the chaos: With convenient locations, Espacio and The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach are tranquil retreats in the city. Or, if you’re not interested in the urban experience at all, skip the capital and head elsewhere on Oahu . 

You might be tempted to schedule every hour of your itinerary in order to make the most of your trip, but don’t overbook. Allow time for rest, and aim for balance, so you don't wind up exhausted. Follow an active day of touring with some leisure time or a spa treatment.

Plan your route.

Art Wager/Getty Images

Although you can start and end wherever you choose, it’s wise to look at flight schedules to plot an efficient route. Kauai is in the northwest, and the Island of Hawaii is in the southeast, so starting in Kauai and traveling southeast — to Oahu, Maui, and then the Island of Hawaii — makes sense logistically. It also provides variety, from the slower pace of Kauai to a mix of urban adventures and cruising the countryside on Oahu and Maui. You'll end with a bang on the Island of Hawaii, where you can feel the energy of volcanic activity. In this case, you’ll also be following the order in which the islands were formed, so it’s a great way to experience them from oldest to youngest and observe the geological evolution along the way. 

When booking flights, consider multicity rather than a round-trip option. If you’ll be traveling the Kauai to the Island of Hawaii route suggested above, you can arrive in Kauai, book onward interisland flights to Oahu, Maui, and the Island of Hawaii, then depart from Kona. Keep in mind that some interisland flights are not direct and may require a stopover in Honolulu or Kahului, for example, so be sure to check before booking. You can often secure direct interisland flights by choosing one that departs earlier in the day.

Enlist the help of experts.

Alec Fuller /Getty Images

While you can travel around the islands on your own, we recommend booking some guided experiences. Native Hawaiian guides and cultural practitioners, in particular, offer personal stories and context that will give you an entirely different — and much richer — experience. Plus, by booking with Native Hawaiian experts, you’re supporting the perpetuation of Hawaiian culture. 

Many hotels, like ‘Alohilani Resort and Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa on Oahu and Ka’anapali Beach Hotel on Maui, are increasingly providing complimentary, Native Hawaiian-led activities that include hula, Hawaiian language lessons, lei-making sessions, and sunrise ceremonies. Other properties, like Timbers and Kukui’ula on Kauai, offer farm tours to acquaint guests (and their taste buds) with the abundance of plants and produce grown there. Some hotels, including Halekulani , provide private tours or discounted or free entrance to local sites of significance such as Bishop Museum , Iolani Palace , and Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture, and Design . Be sure to ask about these offerings prior to booking your hotels. 

When it comes to physical activities such as hiking, guided tours with reputable operators like Kauai Hiking Tours help ensure your safety. And in some cases, a guided tour can afford access to extraordinary places, like Hualalai crater, a sacred site located on private land that only two tour operators — Uluha'o O Hualalai and Hawaii Forest & Trail — have permission to reach. (For a beachside stay nearby, check out Four Seasons Resort Hualalai ).

Some expert-led trips from operators such as Kailani Tours can also help you maximize your time by bringing you to a variety of sites in one day, allowing you to enjoy the ride rather than worry about logistics and navigation. 

Make reservations.

Westend61/Getty Images

Many popular places such as Hanauma Bay on Oahu now require reservations, and popular tours, including sunrise at Haleakalā on Maui and sunset at Mauna Kea on the Island of Hawaii, often sell out, so it’s best to book as far in advance as possible. Arnott’s Adventures offers sunset and stargazing tours from Hilo, and if you’re on the Kona side, check out Hawaii Forest & Trail’s Summit & Stars Give Back Experience .

You should also secure dinner reservations so you don’t miss out on your top choices or waste time waiting for a table. And don’t forget car rentals for each island, too; these do sell out and — with the exception of Honolulu, where shuttles, public buses, and ride-share options are available — it can be difficult and expensive to get around without your own wheels. 

Pack your bags.

milan2099/Getty Images

One of the biggest mistakes people make when traveling to Hawaii is assuming it’s always sunny and warm. If you’re planning to visit multiple islands, you’ll likely encounter a variety of microclimates and changing weather conditions. Come prepared with layers and appropriate footwear for your activities, and always pack a rain jacket. And, of course, pack a Hawaiian shirt or two.

Bring binoculars, too, to get a better view of wildlife such as endemic birds and migrating whales, as well as dynamic landscapes. If you’re fortunate enough to witness volcanic activity, you’ll be happy to have these on hand for a close-up view of bubbling lava. Some tours do include outdoor gear and equipment; inquire when booking. 

Consider additional islands.

John Elk/Getty Images

If you have time and want to add another island to your trip, there are a few options available to visitors. You can take the ferry from Maui to Lanai for a day trip or spend a night or two and sink into that relaxed island life. 

If you’re interested in visiting Kalaupapa National Historical Park on Molokai, allow a few extra days. Keep in mind that flights to Molokai are limited, and as the island is home to vulnerable kupuna (elderly people), it's slowly reopening to visitors since the pandemic started.

If you prefer a private tour to a neighboring island, Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea can charter a yacht or helicopter from Maui to Lanai or Molokai. 

Although you’re not permitted to step ashore on Ni'ihau, the “Forbidden Island,” without an invitation, you can snorkel the waters nearby on a Holo Holo Charters Super Tour . 

Travel with aloha. 

rebelml/Getty Images

For you, Hawaii may be a dream destination. For those who live here, it's home and, for many, sacred. Travel with respect : Stay on marked trails, don’t enter private property, obey warnings (from posted signs, lifeguards, and law enforcement), and be mindful that the environment is fragile and the land has cultural, spiritual, and ecological significance.

Be flexible, too. Don’t be attached to a particular expectation or activity. Sometimes, plans change due to weather (like that time I flew to Kauai to see the famed cliffs of the Nā Pali Coast and colors of Waimea Canyon, only to find it all covered in clouds and fog). If you’re lucky enough to visit Hawaii, embrace the unexpected, stay present, and aim to enjoy the experience — rain or shine. 

Related Articles

19 of the best places to visit in Hawaii

Catherine Toth Fox

Mar 5, 2024 • 13 min read

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Narrow down your Hawaii hit list with these top places to visit © Fly View Productions / Getty Images

No matter what you're looking for in a vacation – adventure, relaxation, romance, cultural experiences, food – Hawaii has it all.

Every island has its own kind of vibe, from the laid-back serenity of Kauaʻi to the bustling beach towns of Maui. There are so many unique experiences , too, like hiking to an active volcano on Hawaiʻi Island and watching monster surf crash on Oʻahu's North Shore.

With so many options, here's a shortcut to the best experiences you can have in the Aloha State.

1. Waikiki, Oʻahu

Waikiki on Oʻahu's sunny south shore is the state's most famous resort town. Over the years, the neighborhood has evolved to be less kitschy and more authentic. Hotels offer lei-making classes in their open-air lobbies, and traditional hula is showcased on the tiki torch-lit hula mound on Kuhio Beach . Take surfing lessons from modern-day beach boys or indulge in afternoon tea at the historic Moana Surfrider . Some of the island's best restaurants are located in Waikiki, too.

Planning tip : The Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort has been putting on a fireworks show every Friday night since 1988 (bar the pandemic years). Bring a picnic dinner and find a spot on the beach to watch the skies light up. The show starts at 7:45pm during the winter and 8pm in the summer.

Explore more of O'ahu with this ultimate long weekend itinerary

Three people sit taking photos of the sunset on a mountain above the clouds

2. Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, Hawaiʻi Island

The 323,431-acre Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park on Hawaiʻi Island is a place unlike anywhere else in Hawaii (or the US). This is one of the few places in the world where you can drive up to safely view an active volcano. Kilauea , an active shield volcano, had been, up until 2018, continuously erupting and altering the landscape since 1983. It's currently not active , but that can change any day. The national park – one of five on the Big Island – stretches from sea level to the summit of the 13,679ft Mauna Loa , one of the largest volcanoes in the world. Trek along one of dozens of hiking routes in the park and see old lava flows and tubes, steam vents, and native trees and birds.

Detour : Stop at Volcano Village, a rustic town in the middle of a lush rainforest filled with native hapuʻu fern and 'ōhiʻa trees just outside the park. You can find quaint vacation rentals here, a handful of restaurants, a farmers market on Sundays, a small winery that sells locally produced wine, an orchid farm and the Volcano Art Center , a working arts studio and gallery.

Save our complete first-timer's guide to Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park

3. The Island of Molokaʻi

Undeveloped and often overlooked, Molokaʻi offers some of the most unique experiences of any of the Hawaiian Islands. Spanning 38 miles long and 10 miles across at its widest point, this island – the fifth largest in Hawaii – is home to the world's tallest sea cliffs, the longest waterfall in the Islands and one of the state's largest white-sand beaches, Papohaku Beach . 

There are no big resorts or traffic lights here; instead, you'll find the windswept Moʻomomi Dunes, the 2744-acre Kamakou Preserve with its unique montane bog, and the secluded Kalaupapa Peninsula, once an isolated community of patients with Hansen's disease. Stop at Kanemitsu Bakery in Kaunakakai for freshly made Molokaʻi sweet bread right out of the oven.

A red car on a coastal highway

4. Hana, Maui

The 53-mile Hana Highway – also known as the Road to Hana – is as scenic as it is winding. The road twists across 59 mostly one-lane bridges, along plunging cliffs, past waterfalls and around 620 turns to the unspoiled town of Hana on Maui's northeast coast. The drive itself – which can take several hours – is part of the journey. Once in Hana, enjoy hala tree-lined Hamoa Beach , sunbathe at Waiʻānapanapa State Park's black-sand beach, or hike to the 400ft Waimoku Falls in the Kīpahulu end of Haleakalā National Park . 

Planning tip : If you're planning to visit Waiʻānapanapa State Park,  you'll have to book reservations , which can be made up to 30 days in advance. It costs $5 per person and $10 for parking per non-commercial vehicle.

5. Nāpali Coast, Kauaʻi

The towering green cliffs of the fabled Nāpali Coast rise 2000ft from the ocean and stretch 15 miles along Kauaʻi's rugged northern coastline. You can experience these verdant valleys and razor-edged cliffs aboard a catamaran, on a kayak, from a helicopter or along the 11-mile Kalalau Trail.

Planning tip : To get to Keʻe Beach , the start of the Kalalau Trail, you'll need to make advance reservations to enter Hāʻena State Park. It costs $5 for out-of-state visitors to enter the park, $10 for each car.

Seascape of sunset and beach with silhouettes of surfers and people swimming.

6. North Shore, Oʻahu

In winter – from November to February – some of the world's best surfers (and thousands of spectators) flock to Oʻahu's North Shore and its 7 miles of famous breaks, from Banzai Pipeline to Sunset Beach . Once in a while, the waves are big enough (consistently larger than 40ft, measured from the front of the wave) at Waimea Bay to hold the prestigious, invite-only Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitation. Summer brings calmer ocean conditions, great for swimming and snorkeling. The colorful beach town of Haleʻiwa features cute boutiques, eateries and the famous Matsumoto Shave Ice shop.

Detour : To get a bird's-eye view of this famous coastline, take the 2-mile ʻEhukai Pillbox hike. The trail climbs the side of the northern Koʻolau Mountains to WWII bunkers that offer panoramic views of the entire North Shore coastline.

7. Haleakalā National Park, Maui

Catching the sunrise at the top of Haleakalā, a dormant volcano that rises to 10,023ft above sea level, is one of the most popular activities on Maui. Reservations are required for sunrise – and the fee doesn't include entrance into the national park – and can be hard to get. Consider viewing the sunset instead and staying for the night sky. The park also has numerous hiking trails through otherworldly landscapes and the chance to see the endangered ʻāhinahina (silversword) and nēnē (Hawaiian goose), the state bird.

Planning tip : The park offers pristine dark skies – with minimal light pollution – perfect for stargazing. Temperatures can drop quickly at the summit, so dress warmly and bring layers. You'll also want to bring your own snacks, as there are no food or drinks available in the park.

A surfer heads out into the waves at a beach surrounded by high volcanic hills

8. Hanalei, Kauaʻi

On Kauaʻi's quiet north shore is the sleepy town of Hanalei , marked by emerald green mountains, kalo loʻi (flooded taro fields) and some of the island's best beaches, including the breathtaking Hanalei Bay with its historic pier. Browse art galleries and boutiques, eat fresh poke from Hanalei Poke and plant-based taro doughnuts from Holey Grail, and walk around a farmers market.

Detour : About 2 miles west of Hanalei Bay is Lumahaʻi Beach , made famous by the 1958 classic film South Pacific . This is where Mitzi Gaynor spent her time "washing that man right out of her hair."

9. Maunakea, Hawaiʻi Island

Maunakea , or "white mountain," is, at 13,802ft above sea level, the world's tallest mountain when measured from its base. (More than half, or 19,698ft, of Maunakea lies underwater, making it 33,500ft from base to summit.) It's considered one of the most sacred of all Hawaiʻi volcanoes and is known by Native Hawaiians as a region of the gods. It's also a hub of astronomical observation with more than a dozen massive telescopes from around the world. You can book guided stargazing tours with outfitters like Hawaiʻi Forest & Trail .

Detour : In April,  Hilo , which is about 30 minutes west of Maunakea, hosts the annual Merrie Monarch Festival , a competitive hula festival featuring some of the state's best dancers and performers. You have to book tickets in advance to attend the event, but the craft show, which is a huge draw, is open to the public.

A large white building out over the sea

10. Pearl Harbor, Oʻahu

Known for the 1941 attack on the USS Arizona , which launched the US into WWII, Pearl Harbor draws millions of visitors each year to the memorial erected in honor of the 1102 men who are still entombed in the metal hull of the battleship. You can catch a boat to the USS Arizona Memorial , tour the aircraft hangars of the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum , and stand on the decks of the "Mighty Mo" battleship where Imperial Japan formally surrendered in 1945. Pearl Harbor was once known as Wai Momi, or pearl waters, because of its abundant oyster beds.

11. Upcountry Maui, Maui

On the slopes of Haleakalā are the quaint towns of Kula and Makawao, collectively known as Upcountry Maui. Up here, the air is crispier, and the vibe is slower. Pick fresh strawberries in season at Kula Country Farms , wander around the fragrant Aliʻi Kula Lavender Farm , or feed goats at Surfing Goat Dairy. This area is famous for its paniolo , or Hawaiian cowboys.

Detour : Not many visitors know that grapes are grown here. Open since 1974, MauiWine produces wines made from estate-grown grapes, pineapples and raspberries. Visit its tasting room at the picturesque ʻUlupalakua Ranch.

A canyon with sheer brown-red rock walls

12. Waimea Canyon, Kauaʻi

Called the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific," Waimea Canyon, with its buttes, crags and earthen colors, stretches 10 miles long, is 1 mile wide and is more than 3600ft deep. Stop at the Waimea Canyon Lookout for sweeping views of the canyon and the 800ft Waipoʻo Falls . But you can also experience the canyon via numerous hiking trails, on horseback and from a helicopter. Any way you see it, it's breathtaking.

Detour : The best trails are located within the 4345-acre Kōkeʻe State Park . The cost is $5 per person (nonresident) and $10 per car. From the park, you can stop at the Kalalau Lookout at 4120ft above the Nāpali Coast, with commanding views of the lush, amphitheater-headed Kalalau Valley. Camping is available, and the restaurant is worth a stop (but note: it only serves breakfast and lunch.)

13. South Kona, Hawaiʻi Island

Head south from Kailua-Kona, and you'll be in coffee country. This area – Kaʻawaloa (Captain Cook), Hōnaunau, Kāʻu – is known for its high-quality coffee grown exclusively in this high elevation and volcanic soils on the slopes of Hualālai Volcano. There are hundreds of farms here, and many offer guided tours and free tastings. Hōlualoa is a small artsy town with cute shops. Kealakekua Bay in the region of Captain Cook provides some of the island's best snorkeling. And Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park is a sacred place of refuge that you wander on a half-mile walking tour.

Detour : In Keauhou, you can dive at night with the gentle manta rays that swim along this coastline. Seeing these graceful giants glide and twirl in the water with you is an experience you won't likely forget.

Exterior shot of a grand palace building surrounded by gardens with palm trees

14. ʻIolani Palace, Oʻahu

Built in 1882 under King David Kalākaua, ʻIolani Palace in Downtown Honolulu is the only royal residence in the US. It took three years to complete at a cost of $343,595, with Hawaiʻi's first electric light system, flush toilets and intra-house telephones. The last two monarchs of the Hawaiian Kingdom – King Kalākaua and his sister and successor, Queen Liliʻuokalani – resided here until the overthrow of the kingdom in 1893. You can tour this American Florentine-style palace and see its throne rooms, dining rooms and the private living quarters of the royal family.

Detour : Walk to nearby Chinatown and browse the markets or eat at one of the many restaurants – ranging from Korean takeout to poke bowls to restaurants run by James Beard Award-winners and nominees – in this neighborhood.

15. Molokini, Maui

Three miles off shore from Wailea on Maui is Molokini Crater, known for its deep, crystal-clear waters teeming with marine life. This crescent-shaped islet is a marine preserve, home to more than 250 species of tropical fish. The only way to get to this popular snorkeling and diving site is by boat.

Planning tip : While the boat ride out to Molokini is typically smooth, the journey back can be tumultuous. If you're prone to seasickness, either sit in the center of the boat where it's more stable or take some motion-sickness remedies.

16. Kailua, Oʻahu

A quick 15-minute drive from Honolulu, Kailua seems like a world away. The beach town is built around Kailua Beach , a powdery-white stretch of sand that runs 2.5 miles long. People fish, surf, kayak, swim and paddle canoes in these waters. Nearby Lanikai Beach , with its unobstructed views of the Mokulua Islands, is another popular stop for beach lovers. It's smaller and more secluded than Kailua Beach, but often more crowded because of its reputation for calm waters and gorgeous vistas. The town itself boasts popular restaurants, boutiques, local breweries and a great locally-owned independent bookshop called Bookends.

Planning tip : Consider exploring Kailua town by bike. You can rent one from The Bike Shop . (There's no city-run bike-sharing on this side of the island.) The shop has a range of cruisers, mountain bikes and road bikes for rent, complete with helmets and bike locks. Electra cruises – the most popular bikes – start at $18 for up to four hours. You can book online and pick it up at the shop.

17. Old Lahaina Lūʻau, Maui

Open in 1986, the locally owned Old Lahaina Lūʻau on Maui has been a favorite lūʻau for decades, showcasing traditional hula , music and food. It's located right on the ocean off Front Street in Lahaina with great sunset views. Tickets include live entertainment, an open bar, historical storytelling and chanting, and an all-you-can-eat buffet with Hawaiian staples like lau lau, kālua pig, poi and poke .

A green sea turtle swimming at a reef in Lanai, Hawaii

18. Hanauma Bay, Oʻahu

This protected nature preserve in East Honolulu is one of the best spots to snorkel on Oʻahu . About 400 species of fish inhabit this bay, along with honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles) and the occasional endangered Hawaiian monk seal. There are restrictions for access to this popular bay: online reservations are required , and it costs $25 per person for non-Hawaii residents 13 years and older. Parking is another US$3 per car. The bay is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Planning tip : You can rent snorkel gear at the bay, so you don't have to lug your own. While you can walk down the steep road to the beach, you can also opt to take the free tram (we recommend that on the way back to your car).

Least known of all the Hawaiian Islands – and the smallest inhabited island – Lanaʻi is an ideal escape. Stay in luxurious resorts with world-class amenities fronting the beautiful and secluded Hulopoʻe Beach , a designated marine preserve filled with colorful fish and sometimes spinner dolphins. Or explore the rest of the island – the wild and windswept 8-mile Shipwreck Beach (complete with an actual shipwreck), the ancient fishing village of Kaunolū , or visit the strange landscape of Keahikawelo (Garden of the Gods).

Planning tip : If you want to venture outside the resorts of Lanaʻi City, you'll need to rent a four-wheel drive vehicle. There's no public transportation or ride-sharing on the island.

This article was first published Jun 18, 2021 and updated Mar 5, 2024.

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Two Roaming Souls

Hawaii Island Hopping (How To Travel Between Islands)

By Author Emily Junda

Posted on Last updated: December 28, 2023

Categories Hawaii

Hawaii Island Hopping by Airplane, a view out the plane window over Oahu

Island hopping around Hawaii is one of the best ways to experience different Hawaiian cultures and aloha vibes on each island. But if you want to include more than one island, you need to know the logistics of Hawaii island hopping. In this guide, we will teach you the best ways for how to travel between islands.

There are multiple ways to travel between the different islands, but some are more efficient and cost-effective. And the bigger islands have more options than the smaller, less touristy islands. It can get a little confusing between all the options. Therefore, in this Hawaii island hopping guide, we will go over everything you need to know. From airplanes, ferries, private charters, and more. 

This post may contain affiliate links. Disclosure policy .

How Many Islands Does Hawaii Have?

There are technically 137 islands that make up the state of Hawaii. But there are really only 8 islands that sustain life. And out of those 8, there are 4 “main islands” that attract tourists. 

Oahu (The Gathering Place)

Oahu has the highest populated area of all the Hawaiian Islands. Most well known for the city of Honolulu, Waikiki Beach, Pearl Harbor, dormant volcanic craters, etc. Oahu is also famous for being the backdrop of many famous Hollywood movie sets.  

Kauai (The Garden Isle)

Kauai is one of the best islands if you are a nature lover. Best known for its lush jagged cliffs that line the coastal shore (aka the Napali Coast). It’s the best island for a helicopter tour to experience its vast untouched land and immense beauty from the sky. 

Maui (The Valley Isle)

Maui has two major mountain ranges, Haleakalā and the West Maui Mountains, with a large valley connecting the two. Popular destinations here are the Road to Hana , Haleakala National Park, sightings of Humpback Whales, and world-famous beaches.

The Big Island (AKA Hawaii)

The Big Island of Hawaii is the largest island. Known for its active volcanoes (currently as of Nov 2023 Mauna Kea & Mauna Loa), slower pace of living, and abundance of golf courses. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a must-visit stop on the Big Island. 

Aerial view of Lanai from an airplane

Less Touristy Hawaiian Islands

Lanai (the pineapple isle).

A mostly remote and rugged island with a few luxury resorts. Usually not a first choice for tourists. 

Molokai (The Friendly Isle)

The highest population of native Hawaiians. The island residents are strongly resistant to mass tourism. There’s only a single hotel, some vacation rentals, and camping. You won’t receive special treatment if you come to Molokai like what the Major Hawaiian Islands offer. But many will offer aloha if you respect the area as much as they do.

Islands Closed To Tourists

Kahoolawe (the target isle).

Kakoolawe is a small island off the coast of Maui, that is closed to tourists. It served as a training ground for the U.S. Army during WWII. 

Niihau (The forbidden Isle)

Only inhabited by a few native Hawaiians, and is closed to tourists.

How To Travel Between Islands In Hawaii

There are a few different ways to get around to the different islands of Hawaii: airplane, helicopter, cruise ship, ferry boat, and private charters. 

Airplane: 

Airplane travel is the fastest and cheapest way for Hawaii island hopping. Plus it is now the only way to make it to all the islands, since some of the other modes of transportation have been discontinued. 

There are now only 3 airlines offering inter-island flights: Mokulele Airlines (aka Southern Airways Express), Hawaiian Airlines, and Southwest Airlines.

Mokulele Airlines

Mokulele Airlines has been around since 1994 offering the best options for inter-island flights. They are now operated under Southern Airways Express, but you can still book through their webpage. Also in 2020 Makani Kai Air merged with Mokulele Airlines, so Makani Kai Air is no longer an individual airline. 

So if you see Mokulele Airlines, Southern Airways Express, or Makani Kai Air, they are all technically one and the same. 

Mokulele Airlines offers the most inter-island flight options, as it is the only airline offering flights to and from Lanai and Molokai.

Flights with Mokulele Airlines are much smaller planes and more like a private charter. There are only 8 seats on each plane, driving the price much higher than commercial airlines. But ultimately, it can offer a more scenic and personable route to island hopping in Hawaii.

Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines is one of the two commercial airlines that fly between the major airports of Hawaii. Prices for Hawaii Island hopping on Hawaiian Airlines can be as low as $29 one way. 

Hawaiian Airlines offers flights to and from Kauai, Oahu, Maui, and The Big Island. They offer no flight services to Lanai or Molokai.

what other islands to visit in hawaii

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines is the second commercial airline to offer inter-island flights in Hawaii. But they have the least amount of flights to offer. They only offer direct flights to the neighboring island. With the exception of The Big Island offering direct flights to and from Honolulu from both Hilo and Kona.

They do not offer any flights in or out of Lanai or Molokai.

Main Differences Between Hawaiian Airlines & Southwest Airlines

One major difference to choosing Southwest Airlines over Hawaiian Airlines is the 2 free checked bags + 2 free carry ons. Hawaiian Airlines charges $30 for one checked bag ($15 for members) but still offers 2 free carry-on items. 

Plus Southwest Airlines offers no change or cancellation fees, which can be a huge added bonus when you encounter unexpected changes to your Hawaii island hopping plans.

Airport Names For Each Hawaiian Island & Their Location

Oahu – 

Daniel K. Inouye Airport in Honolulu (HNL) – Located on the south shore

Kauai – 

Lihue Airport (LIH) – located on the east side

Maui –

Kahului Airport (OGG) – located on the north shore

Kapalua Airport (JHM) – located on the north-west side

Big Island – 

Hilo International Airport (ITO) – located on the east side

Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport (KOA) – located on the west side

Waimea-Kohala Airport (MUE) – located in the north 

Lanai – 

Lana’i Aiport (LNY) – located middle of the southwest side of the island

Molokai – 

Molokai Airport (MKK) – located in the middle of the northwest side of the island

Final Notes on How to Travel Between Islands on an Airplane

Oahu has the most direct flights as Honolulu International Airport is the biggest airport hub in Hawaii.

Flights generally take 25 – 50 minutes to island hop depending on which island you are transferring to or from.

Don’t forget to consider the time it takes to get to and from the airport. Plus the TSA security checkpoint and waiting time before boarding. It is always suggested to arrive 2 hours ahead of departure time. 

Therefore, you can expect airplane travel for Hawaii island hopping to take around 3+ hours to get to and from each island. 

Mokolele Airlines might offer a shorter wait time, since the planes are much smaller than the commercial airlines.

Tips for Finding Cheap Flights for Hawaii Island Hopping

Book in advance, but not too far in advance. I love to plan far in advance to find the cheapest flights, but sometimes I’m not patient enough.

What I learned about inter-island Hawaii flights is that many tickets only become available 3 months in advance. It’s a little scary to wait until 3 months before your trip.

But at least in this case, it pays to wait. Suddenly there is a plethora of $39-$45 flights on either Hawaiian Airlines or Southwest Airlines.

Use Websites That Can Help You Find the Best Deals: 

Going (Formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights) – This is a great website for snagging awesome deals on air travel.

Kayak – Kayak is our go-to website for comparing different brands for the best deals on airline tickets.

Hopper – Personally we love Hopper because you can watch a flight for months in advance. It will notify you if there is a big change in the ticket price. They will also give you advice on whether or not they think the ticket price will go down or up over the months and when the best time to purchase the ticket is!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is another great website or app for finding some killer deals on airline tickets.

Cruise Ship

back of cruise ship at sunset, which is a way for Hawaii island hopping

Cruise Ships are another option for Hawaii island hopping. Major cruise lines leave from the west coast of North America, and you will be at sea for 3+ days before you hit your first Hawaiian Island.

Once you make it to the cruise ports, you can get off the boat and partake in a fun excursion on the islands. You usually only stay at each port for 1 day.

We feel island hopping via cruise ship is the least interactive way to get immersed in Hawaiian Culture. There just simply isn’t enough time at each location to truly enjoy the islands to the fullest. But it can be a great way to island hop around Hawaii nonetheless. 

Norwegian Cruise Line (Pride of America) is the only large cruise line that offers a 7-day inter-island itinerary.

Cruise Lines That Offer Island Hopping Around Hawaii:

  • Royal Caribbean
  • Princess Cruises
  • Celebrity X Cruises
  • Norwegian Cruise Lines
  • Holland America Line

Cruise Port Locations:

  • Lihue, Kauai
  • Honolulu, Oahu
  • Lahaina, Maui
  • Kahului, Maui
  • Hilo, Big Island
  • Kailua-Kona, Big Island

Do note, none of the major cruise lines will offer a stop at Lanai or Molokai. 

Ferry boats used to be a mode of transportation for Hawaii island hopping, but there is only 1 ferry operation left. Which is from Lāhainā, Maui to Mānele, Lāna’i by Expeditions ferry service. 

The cost is $30 one way. The Expedition ferry runs 4 times a day starting from Maui to Lanai and ending with the last operation leaving from Lanai to Maui. 

Ferry transportation between Hawaiian Islands was primarily put out of operation by airplane travel. But it was more than just that. Ferries were a big harm to the local ocean ecosystem. And the cost to run a ferry to and from the island is nearly 15 times the amount of an airplane. 

Do note, there used to be the Molokai Ferry that traveled between Lahaina, Maui, and Kaunakakai, Molokai, but this ferry is no longer in operation as of 2016.

A helicopter tour over Kauai.

If you want a more personalized route in the air, then a helicopter transfer can be just what you’re looking for. 

Paradise helicopters is a company that offers transfer services between Kailua-Kona, Honolulu, Kahului, and Lana’i. You can also add a landing stop on your route over. So if you really wanted to see an area on a certain island, be sure to reach out and ask if it is possible to land at that location.

Private charter on a helicopter transfer is definitely not the cheapest option but can offer one of the most unique routes to Hawaii island hopping.

Private Charter Boat

aerial view of private charter yacht, which is a way for Hawaii island hopping

One of the best ways to Hawaii island hop is by private charter boat. So if you like cruising but want to adventure the islands on a smaller boat or with a smaller crowd, then a private charter is your best option. 

There are many different companies offering private charters with different overnight options. You can choose a 1-night cruise around an island or a multi-day trip around to many different Hawaiian Islands. 

Do note, a private charter will be thousands of dollars, and not a cheap way to island hop around Hawaii.  But it is a unique experience in itself, beyond just transportation.

Tradewind charters offer many different options for private charters around the inter islands of Hawaii. You can choose just an overnight trip or multi-day trips either starting from Oahu or Maui. 

Hawaii Catamaran Charters also offers an overnight cruise or a 7-day cruise to Oahu, Maui, Molokai, and Lanai.

Boat Affair offers a 7-day, 6-night cruise between Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai & The Big Island.

Some other yachting/private charters are Hawaii Yachts , Noelani Yacht Charters , Yacht Charters Hawaii , Hawaii Sailing Adventures , Sail Blue Hawaii , and more.  

Deciding Which Islands to Visit:

Waikiki Beach in Honolulu is the reason Oahu is the best island in Hawaii for city lovers.

Now that you know it is possible to island hop around Hawaii, you might be curious what islands to visit.

Well obviously if you have time, we suggest traveling to all the major Hawaiian Islands that allow tourism. But if you are just in Hawaii for a short time, it might be a good idea to just pick 2-3 different islands to explore.

Here is a guide for what each island is best for:

  • Maui – Best for families and wildlife viewing
  • Oahu – Best for city lovers and surfers
  • Kauai – Best for nature lovers, hiking, and lush mountains.
  • Big Island – Slower pace, active volcanoes, and best for golf nuts
  • Molokai – Highest population of native Hawaiians. Known for its massive cliffs and untouched landscapes. 
  • Lanai – Mostly remote and rugged island. Known for pineapple production. 

Check out our full guide for What is the Best Island in Hawaii To Visit for an in-depth guide to each island. 

Is it worth Renting A Car while Island Hopping Hawaii:

Now that you made it to the island, it’s time to explore. While you can get a taxi, ride-share, or public transportation, we found a rental car to be very helpful for getting around the islands. But that is because we ventured out and explored each island to the fullest. 

So if you plan to just enjoy your time at a luxury resort, then it probably doesn’t make sense to get a rental car. 

But if you are like us and want to go hiking , camping , snorkeling, visiting restaurants, etc, then a rental car will get you to everywhere you need around the island. 

We suggest using Kayak to find the best deals or rent a car from a local on Turo. 

what other islands to visit in hawaii

Takeaway | Hawaii Island Hopping (How To Travel Between Islands):

Overall, airplane travel is by far the best method for Hawaii island hopping because it is the easiest and cheapest. You are almost guaranteed to find an available flight to get you over to another island. 

If money isn’t an issue, there are definitely some more unique methods for Hawaii island hopping. Such as a private charter yacht to take you around to the different Hawaiian Islands. Or a private helicopter ride that offers unique stops in between. 

Cruise Ships can be a fun way to island hop, but will likely leave you craving more time on each island. 

Commercial airlines are your answer to cheap travel for Hawaii island hopping. You can find flights as low as $30 to island hop around Hawaii.

A private airline charter is probably the fastest way, since you avoid the 2+ hour early arrival time. And get to skip the TSA security line. But prices run $100-$200+ per ticket. 

And for the most scenic route for Hawaii island hopping, a helicopter is probably the best option. 

We hope this guide helps to decide if Hawaii island hopping is for you, and the best route for getting around to each Hawaiian Island. Mahalo!

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Which Hawaiian Island Is Best To Visit? A Complete Guide

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With lush green landscapes, breathtaking beaches, and rich Hawaiian culture, the Hawaiian Islands offer something for every type of traveler. But with 6 major islands to choose from, deciding which one to visit can be overwhelming.

If you’re looking for world-famous beaches and raging nightlife, Oahu is your top pick. Maui combines natural wonders with resort comforts. Kauai boasts uncrowded beaches and stunning Napali Coast views. The Big Island wows with active volcanoes and black sand beaches.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to decide which Hawaiian island is the best fit for your ideal vacation, including key highlights, geography, weather, top attractions, and accommodation options for Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island Hawaii.

Oahu, Hawaii – The Gathering Place

Famous waikiki beach.

Waikiki Beach is undoubtedly Oahu’s most famous stretch of coastline. Its golden sands and turquoise waters attract over 4 million visitors each year. Once the playground of Hawaiian royalty in the 1800s, Waikiki encompasses around 3 miles of beachfront filled with resorts, shops, restaurants and lively nightlife .

It’s an incredibly vibrant and energetic area. Numerous events happen throughout the year too, such as surf competitions, outrigger canoe races and Hawaiian music/hula performances.

Top Oahu Attractions

Beyond its world-famous beaches, Oahu offers an array of historical, cultural and natural attractions. The USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor provides a poignant tribute to the lives lost in the 1941 attack . The Polynesian Cultural Center highlights various Pacific Islander customs and traditions.

For outdoor pursuits, you can snorkel at Hanauma Bay or admire views while hiking the popular Diamond Head crater trail. Those wanting to avoid crowds should visit the peaceful North Shore region – especially in winter to see huge waves!

Luxury Accommodations

Oahu has no shortage of luxury hotel options. The Royal Hawaiian in Waikiki is a historic beachfront property known as the ‘Pink Palace of the Pacific’. Four Seasons Resort at Ko Olina and Kahala Hotel & Resort also offer lavish amenities alongside stunning settings.

For ultimate exclusivity, private vacation rentals at Turtle Bay or Sunset Beach on the North Shore provide seclusion amid a remote natural landscape . You can also charter private yachts to explore Oahu’s coastline in true VIP style.

From butler services to infinity pools, Oahu’s premier lodgings provide elite pampering.

Maui, Hawaii – The Magic Isle

Road to hana scenic drive.

The famous Road to Hana on Maui is an unforgettable 64 mile scenic drive along the northeast coast filled with jaw-dropping waterfalls, lush rainforests, scenic outlooks, and fun stops along the way like the Garden of Eden Arboretum and Botanical Garden.

This all-day adventure drive is a must for any nature lover visiting Maui with its 600 hairpin turns and 59 bridges. Just take it slow and watch for oncoming traffic on the narrow, winding road. We highly recommend stopping at the peaceful Waianapanapa State Park black sand beach framed by volcanic cliffs and taking a short hike to 400-foot Waimoku Falls in the magical Pipiwai Trail for one of the most rewarding waterfall payoffs on the island.

Haleakala Volcano Views

For a change of pace from Maui’s famous beaches, head up to the summit of the dormant Haleakala volcano which tops out at 10,023 feet. Brave souls can get up at 3am to catch a sunrise view over the clouds and witness a paint palette of colors glow over the volcanic landscape.

Or visit during the day to gaze down into the crater and take a short hike around the alien-like terrain. Just remember to pack layers as the temperature can easily be 30 degrees cooler than at sea level.

For the less adventurous, stop by the visitor center to learn about the volcano’s history and geological significance. An interesting fact is that astronauts even used to train here before space missions!

Family-Friendly Resorts

Maui has no shortage of amazing family-friendly resorts, many situated right on the beach allowing for maximum relaxation. For example, the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas located on pristine Ka’anapali Beach has spacious villas with full kitchens and washer/dryers plus three pools, six restaurants, and fun activities like lei making and hula dancing.

Or check out the Honua Kai Resort & Spa known for its large suites and on-site restaurant serving locally sourced ingredients. Adults can indulge in a spa treatment while the keiki (children) participate in interactive Hawaiian cultural programs and splash around in the fun water features.

With the average year-round temperature hovering at a comfortable 80 degrees, there is always time for families to relax at one of Maui’s world-class resorts after a day filled with island adventures!

Kauai, Hawaii – The Garden Isle

Napali coast state park.

The stunning Napali Coast State Park on Kauai’s north shore features towering sea cliffs lined with narrow beaches tucked between tropical valleys. The 11-mile hike along the Kalalau Trail offers amazing views of this incredibly picturesque landscape.

Just getting to Napali Coast is an adventure, whether by hiking, kayaking, or taking a boat cruise along the coast. No wonder Napali Coast is often called the most beautiful stretch of coastline in Hawaii!

Waimea Canyon Views

Known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” Waimea Canyon is a must-see on any trip to Kauai. This massive gorge features rivers and waterfalls set against colorful volcanic rock cliffs streaked with red, orange, brown and green.

There are several lookout points along Waimea Canyon Drive where you can stop and take in the magnificent views. For one of the best vantage points, head to Kalalau Lookout , perched 3,600 feet above the canyon floor.

North Shore Beaches

Kauai’s north shore boasts over 30 miles of sparkling beaches with golden sand, swaying palm trees, and turquoise water perfect for swimming and snorkeling. Some of the most popular beaches include Hanalei Bay , a gorgeous half-moon beach with epic views of waterfalls and Bali Hai Mountain that was featured in films like South Pacific .

Just down the coast lies Tunnels Beach , named for the underwater lava tubes favored by snorkelers. No matter which beach you choose, prepare to be awed by Kauai’s incredible natural beauty!

The Big Island, Hawaii – Island of Adventure

Hawaii volcanoes national park.

The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is home to two active volcanoes – Kilauea and Mauna Loa. This park offers once-in-a-lifetime adventures from hiking across volcanic craters to witnessing molten lava entering the ocean.

In 2018, Kilauea erupted in a spectacular display of nature’s power, drawing visitors from all over the world. The park encompasses 333,000 acres of otherworldly volcanic landscapes like craters, lava tubes, steam vents, and rainforests. This is a must-visit for adventure seekers and nature lovers!

Black Sand Beaches

The Big Island has some of Hawaii’s most famous black sand beaches, like Punaluʻu Beach. The black sand comes from lava flowing into the ocean, then cooling and turning into basalt crystals. These beaches often have sea turtles basking on them!

Some of the best are Richardson’s Beach near Hilo, Punalu’u Beach near Volcanoes National Park, and Kaimū Beach near Kalapana. Going to a black sand beach in Hawaii is an iconic experience not to miss!

Historic Kona Village

The Historic Kona Village Resort redesigned and reopened in 2022 after being closed for over a decade. This oceanside resort has an authentic Hawaiian vibe with thatched roof hale cottages, nightly talk story sessions around the fire pit, and fun cultural activities like net fishing, lei making, coconut husking, and hula lessons.

Guests can also book personalized adventures like volcano excursions, outrigger canoeing, stand up paddleboarding, sport fishing, surf lessons, cliff diving, and more! This is a one-of-a-kind way to experience old Hawaii.

With so many amazing islands to pick from, deciding where to go in Hawaii can be tough. Ultimately the right Hawaiian island for your vacation depends on your interests and the experience you’re looking for.

Oahu blends world-famous Waikiki with natural wonders for a quintessential Hawaiian getaway. Maui provides a perfect mix of activities and luxury. Kauai lets you unplug surrounded by lush tropical beauty. And the Big Island impresses adventure seekers with its variety of landscapes.

Use this guide to hone in on which Hawaiian island best matches the vacation of your dreams. The aloha spirit, stunning scenery and welcoming culture await you across all the enchanting Hawaiian Islands.

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Jane Smith is a Hawaii resident and author born and raised on the island of Oahu. Her Hawaiian heritage shines through in her writing, infusing it with the Aloha spirit and local flavor.

Jane draws inspiration from the tropical island lifestyle - outrigger canoeing at sunrise, beach picnics, hiking to hidden waterfalls. Her works immerse readers in the beauty and culture of Hawaii.

An avid surfer since childhood, Jane often wakes early to catch waves along the North Shore. She also enjoys practicing Hawaiian crafts like lei-making, lauhala weaving, and kapa cloth printing.

When not writing or adventuring outdoors, you can find Jane sipping mai tais at the local tiki bar, listening to ukulele music at the night market, or cooking up a big pot of stew at home.

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The Planet D: Adventure Travel Blog

Best Island to Visit in Hawaii In 2024: How To Choose

Written By: ThePlanetD Team

United States

Updated On: February 8, 2024

The islands in Hawaii are dream-worthy. The diversity of each isle is fascinating, from pristine beaches to snow-capped mountains and even active volcanoes. Hawaii has six major islands – Kauai, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, the Big Island, and Oahu. This can make it really difficult to choose just one.

Best Hawaiian Island to Visit Map

Each Hawaiian island has a distinct character and different reasons to visit. For instance, Big Island is home to Volcanoes National Park, so if you want to hike an active volcano, choose this island. Others are better known for luxury beach resorts (Maui has particularly luxurious resorts). When selecting the best island to visit in Hawaii, you need to consider what kind of trip you want.

Table of Contents

Hawaiian Islands to Visit

This guide will help you choose the best island to visit in Hawaii. All the islands in Hawaii are beautiful, but in a world that usually leaves us short on time and budget, chances are you need to narrow things down. Let’s find your match made in heaven.

Regenerative Tourism

Best Island to Visit in Hawaii Regenerative Tourism

One thing that has changed recently is the implementation of Regerative Tourism which went into effect in May of 2022. The idea behind this initiative is two-fold; to give back to the communities on the Hawaiian islands and to manage traffic and over-tourism challenges facing the state. What this means for foreign visitors is that you will now have to make reservations in advance when it comes to some of the most popular locations.

For example, if you want to visit The Diamond Head Monument for the amazing views over Waikiki Beach you will have to make a reservation for a 2-hour time slot. Or if you want to watch the sunrise at Haleakala National Park, you will also need a reservation which you can make up to 60 days in advance at  recreation.gov . The cost for the reservation is $1 and is in addition to the per-vehicle fee of $30. But, other than the sunrise viewing period from 3-7 AM, reservations are not required. S

This just makes planning your trip to the Hawaiian islands a little more tedious but it also helps preserve these beautiful locations for future generations. So, make sure you check all of the main attractions to see if you need reservations so you don’t miss out. ee the Division of State Parks for openings and closures.

1. Big Island

Best Hawaiian Island to Visit Hawaii Island

The Big Island (or Hawaii Island) is the largest in the archipelago of Hawaiian islands. Many consider it the best Hawaii Island to visit for first-timers, and it is home to a host of beautiful natural spots. Despite being the youngest island in the Hawaiian archipelago, Big Island is a hub of action in Hawaii. And at twice the size of all the other islands in Hawaii combined, it’s easy to see how it got its nickname.

Big Island is known for its volcanoes and beautiful beaches. The island is home to Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park and two active volcanoes. If you are lucky, there’s even the chance to spot running lava. Furthermore, there are numerous green and black sand beaches to explore. Big Island has a generous sprinkle of everything that makes Hawaii famous, conveniently slotted into a single island. If you want somewhere with a ‘have it all’ vibe, this Island ticks many boxes. Plus, it is the most accessible island to get to, with plenty of direct flights from all over the world.

Things to do on The Big Island

Best Island to Visit in Hawaii Big Island Star Gazing

At a quick glance:

  • Go hiking in the Volcanoes National Park
  • Walk through lava tunnels at the Kula Kai Caverns
  • Go stargazing at Mauna Kea , the world’s largest observatory
  • Snorkeling With the Manta Rays at Night

There are so many amazing things to do on the Big Island. As we said, this Hawaiian Island has a collection of all the best things to do across the archipelago, making it a great sightseeing and activity holiday. The first must-do on the Island is to visit the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. You can embark on amazing hikes in the park, see running lava (keep your fingers crossed), and attend educational event programs. It is worth mentioning that the hiking trails in this national park are some of the most beautiful in Hawaii, and some received a mention in our  best hikes in Hawaii guide .

Best Island in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Big Island

Next up, you should visit the Kula Kai Caverns. The caverns are a network of old lava caves where past eruptions have carved tunnels and passages through the rock. The caverns are an insight into the island’s geological history and cultural history – as indigenous people used to use the caverns for shelter and early survival. For a similar experience on the island’s east side, head to Kaumana Caves or Kilauea Caverns of Fire.

Finally, Mauna Kea is an excellent attraction on Big Island. Mauna Kea is the world’s largest observatory and has 13 different telescopes. There are many beautiful places on the ground, but don’t miss out on looking to the skies. Stargazing is a beautiful thing to do when visiting Big Island.

Intrigued by the Big Island? Our article has tons more activity ideas on the  best things to do on Hawaii Island . Take a look for some more inspiration. Otherwise, let’s head straight onto your next big decision – where to stay on Big Island.

Where to stay on Big Island

Island of Hawaii Accommodation

It goes without saying that you are spoiled for choice when picking accommodation on this island. The Big Island is packed with different accommodation choices – from hostels to hotels and luxury resorts. These are our top suggestions.

Speaking of volcanoes,  Volcano Inn is a fascinating spot to spend your time on Big Island. The four-star property offers cozy yet luxurious quarters on the outskirts of the Volcanoes National Park. The tiny property is entirely self-contained, guaranteeing you privacy and peacefulness. With all its wooden features, it blends prettily into its rainforest surroundings and even offers a hot tub outside.

Pele’s Hana ‘Ana Hostel is relatively new on the scene, but it has been blessed with glowing reviews. The interior is bright and comfortable, and prices are incredibly reasonable. The hostel is ideal for anyone wanting a budget-friendly place to stay on Big Island. The property is right next door to a cafe, so you can quickly treat yourself to a few meals. It is also ideally located on the east side of the island, just a twenty-minute drive from the volcanoes and the most beautiful hikes.

Best Island to visit in Hawaii Maui

As the second largest island in Hawaii, Maui is a popular choice for its lively tourist scene and exciting attractions. The island is nicknamed ‘The Valley Isle’. It has been voted the ‘best island in Hawaii’ by the luxury travel magazine  Conde Nast Traveler  for over 20 years. Maui is widely hailed as a fantastic place to visit – a reliable indicator that you’ll have a dreamy experience visiting Hawaii if you choose Maui.

Maui has some spectacular attractions on land and excellent hiking trails. It is home to Hawaii’s tallest mountain, Haleakala, the Hana Highway, and a selection of serene waterfall hikes. However, its real beauty is in its beautiful beaches, wildlife-filled oceans, and idyllic coastal views. Maui has some of the best beaches in Hawaii and is a whale-watching hotspot. Maui is the place to be if you are interested in whale-watching tours. The island’s surrounding waters contain the world’s densest humpback whale population. Each year sees over 10,000 whales migrate to the island’s waters. You’ll also see false killer and pilot whales if you are lucky.

Things to do on The Valley Isle

  • Go whale watching
  • Witness sunrise at Haleakala National Park
  • Drive the Road to Hana Highway

Best Hawaiian Island to visit Maui

It goes without saying that one of the top things to do in Maui is to go whale watching. You should visit between November and May to catch a glimpse of whales. And in this period, January to March is the optimal window. Most whale-watching tours embark from West Maui, dotted along the west coast in areas like Kaanapali. Make sure to bring a camera, as spotting a humpback whale is truly spectacular and a moment you’ll want to cherish forever.

Next up is hiking in Haleakala National Park. Haleakala National Park is located in South Maui and is famed for Haleakala. This 10,023-foot dormant volcano marks the highest point in Hawaii. From this volcano summit, the most ambitious hikers can enjoy sunrise views. It is one of those things you will not forget and this tour is a great way to do it. It even includes breakfast.

Best Hawaiian Island to VisitMaui Road to Hana

Driving the Road to Hana Highway is another amazing suggestion from our list of things to do on Maui. The highway takes around 10 to 12 hours to drive. We suggest renting a car with multiple drivers on the insurance so that you can rotate drivers as you go. Alternatively, choose to drive one way and spend the night in Hana before returning the next day. The Hana Maui Resort is a good option  Check rates and availability .

The Road to Hana is the most famous drive in Hawaii and one of the best road trips in the world . The route cuts along Maui’s north coast, hugging a coastal highway that twists and turns through jungles, bamboo forests, and past waterfalls. All the while treating you to stunning ocean views. Many stop-off points along the way include botanical gardens called the Garden of Eden Arboretum, Waikani Falls, Hana Lave Tube, and a zipline. We have written a complete guide on driving the Road to Hana Highway, so feel free to  get more inspiration  from there.

Where to stay on Maui

Maui is known for its luxury accommodation and classic resort, so those with an expensive taste have come to the right place.  Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea doesn’t disappoint and boasts three outdoor swimming pools, three restaurants, tennis courts, and a spa and wellness center. The rooms are decorated with sublime taste and plenty of natural features like wood paneling and stone worktops. For a deluxe experience of staying in Maui, we think the Four Seasons is your best bet.

There are many options for those wanting mid-range to budget accommodation. The island has two main hostels – Howzit Hostels and Tiki Beach Hostel .  Howzit Hostels is slightly cheaper but located out of the city center, while Tiki Beach Hostel is more expensive but located in the center of Lahaina.

Check out our complete guide on Where to Stay in Maui: The Best Areas and Hotels

Best island to visit in Hawaii Kauai West Coast

While not as large as the other Hawaiian islands, Kauai makes up in natural beauty what it lacks in size. Kauai is like the supermodel of the islands in Hawaii, and this island has been featured in countless Hollywood movies – mainly thanks to its stunning Na Pali Coast. Apart from amazing beaches perfectly suited to relaxing beach days, Kauai has characteristic dramatic cliffs and coastal scenery. The crinkled cliffs of north shore Kauai are world-famous and iconic in their cloaked layer of green vegetation.

Kauai is nicknamed ‘the Garden Isle’, and judging by the stunning natural views, it is clear to see why. Kauai has jaw-dropping natural scenery for those who want a real wow factor when visiting Hawaii. It suits visitors wishing to spend time outdoors and explore the most beautiful hiking trails.

Things to do in Kauai

  • Hike the Kalalau Trail
  • Visit Waimea Canyon State Park
  • Cross the Hanapepe Swinging Bridge

Best Hawaiian Island to visit Kauai Queens Bath North Shore

You can’t visit Kauai and not see the Na Pali Coast. There are multiple viewpoints along this coastline; you can even take a helicopter tour if you want an exciting experience and aerial view. However, the Kalalau Trail is a perfect way to see the Na Pali Coast for outdoor lovers who like staying active. The trail is approximately 11 miles long and is rated as a challenging hike, best suited to experienced hikers. Because of the terrain, allowing a whole day to complete the Kalalau Trail is recommended. You won’t mind, trust us. The views are so good you could stop for breaks every 30 seconds.

The Kalalau Trail is one of our top recommendations in our guide to the  16 beautiful and best hikes in Kauai – which you can check out for more inspiration.

Top Hawaiian Island to visit for outdoors Kauai North Shore

Waimea Canyon State Park is the next must-do attraction on Kauai. The park is home to the ‘ Grand Canyon of the Pacific,’ and the word Waimea means ‘reddish water’. The colossal canyon is made up of red rock and patches of lush rainforests, stretching over ten miles and dropping 3,000 feet in depth. There is a network of trails around Waimea Canyon, so you can take your pick from numerous hikes and experience it on foot. If you prefer to drive, there are also many drive-up lookouts to enjoy the scenery.

Finally, crossing Hanapepe Swinging Bridge should be on your itinerary when visiting Kauai. The bridge was constructed back in the early 1900s as a functional solution to allow residents to easily cross the river. However, the rickety suspension bridge has become an iconic landmark on Kauai. You can immerse yourself in nostalgia by crossing the narrow bridge and snapping pictures as you go.

Where to stay on Kauai

Kauai is best suited to those on a mid-range to luxury budget. There are a couple of hostels, like the  Kauai Beach House Hostel ,  but mainly three to four-star hotels with rates of around $200 per night. We suggest booking in advance for accommodation on Kauai, as it can quickly sell out and leave you stuck if you are reliant on snagging bargains.

For those wanting luxury accommodation, though, there’s no rush. Kauai has plenty of five-star properties to choose from, including Koloa Landing Resort at Po’ipu , by the Autograph Collection. Koloa Landing Resort at Po’ipu is situated on Kauai’s south shore and features two huge swimming pools with gorgeous views. The resort is laid out beautifully with torch-lit stone walkways and landscaped gardens with ponds. And the interior is just as stunning, with floor-to-ceiling windows in most rooms. Kauai is definitely a beautiful corner of the world, o it makes sense to book accommodation that maximizes the good views and fits in with the natural beauty.

Best Place to visit in Hawaii for Beautiful Beaches North Shore Oahu

Oahu is a metropolis; there are no two ways about it. The island’s capital city is Honolulu (on the South Shore), which is suitably nicknamed ‘the Gathering Place’. Oahu is the most populated island in the Hawaiian archipelago, with a residential, more citified atmosphere. Oahu is an action-packed and built-up choice for those interested in politics, history, and modern-day Hawaii. It is also home to the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport the first point of contact for many visitors to Hawaii.

Despite being Hawaii’s’ boss’, Oahu also has time for downtime. There are plenty of sandy beaches and beautiful scenery dotted around the island. And while the south shore is largely citified, Oahu’s north shore is much more tranquil – consisting of a few coastal towns and Turtle Bay. Oahu is home to lots of historical and political attractions. Plus, if you want to escape for a few days of tranquility, the north coast provides a refuge from the metropolis of Honolulu.

Things to do on Oahu

  • Pay your respects at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial
  • Relax on Waikiki Beach
  • Learn about Hawaii’s monarchy at Iolani Palace

Best Islands to visit in Hawaii Oahu Waikiki Beach

As we said, Oahu is packed with political and historical things to do. One of the island’s major attractions is visiting the Pearl Harbor memorial. The site commemorates the Pearl Harbor attack of 1941 when Japanese planes rained bullets and bombs down on the ships docked below. The result was catastrophic. Over 2,403 U.S. personnel died during the strike on Pearl Harbor, and around 21 U.S. warships were sunk or damaged. Now at Oahu, you can visit a museum and learn more about the tragedy. It is a must-visit in Oahu, and it speaks to Hawaii’s involvement in WWII. Definitely plan to visit Pearl Harboor when you visit Oahu.

As a bit more of a light-hearted attraction, Waikiki Beach is a definite for your itinerary when visiting Hawaii. The iconic beach is backed by rows of palm trees and glitzy high-rise hotels and resorts. It is a revered surf spot in Hawaii, and you can spot the massive statue of Duke Paoa Kahanamoku along the beachfront. It is a great spot to sit and watch the surfers or get involved yourself by renting a board or booking a surf lesson. If you are more of an advanced surfer then we suggest the North Shore.

Speaking of political history in Hawaii, Iolani Palace is an important tourist attraction. The 19th-century palace was home to Hawaii’s last monarch. In 1893, U.S. troops overthrew Her Majesty Queen Lili’uokalani and brought an end to Hawaii’s royal line. You can learn more about the country’s rightful monarchy at her old palace, which has been transformed into a museum for educational purposes.

Would you like some bonus recommendations? We have an entire article on Oahu’s best things to do  here . Jot some down, and you’ll have a full itinerary in no time.

Where to stay on Oahu

Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani is a fantastic hotel if you are chasing luxury. The four-star property is partnered with the Honolulu Museum of Art and displays beautiful artwork throughout the property. The hotel further features an infinity lap pool, hot tub, pool bar, and even a garden with a reflexology path. Fitness enthusiasts will love the on-site gym and weekly classes. At the same time, spa lovers can rejuvenate at SpaHalekulani, just across the street.

Polynesian Hostel Beach Club  is a good option for more budget-conscious guests. This hostel offers dormitory rooms for competitive prices and is ideal for solo travelers wanting to make new friends. Guests can enjoy a common room, barbecue, and laundry facilities. While a little dated in sections, the hostel is a great ‘what you see is what you get’ place to stay on Big Island. The location is fantastic, too – you are just minutes from Kuhio Beach.

Top Island in Hawaii to Visit Lanai

Lanai is one of the smallest Hawaiian islands. Nicknamed the ‘Pineapple Island’ after its plantation history, Lanai once produced 75% of the world’s pineapples. The island is 98% privately owned by Larry Ellison – making it largely a private area of Hawaii. Visitors can still plan trips to Lanai, though. The island has a handful of luxurious resorts with world-class facilities, including a championship-level golf course. It is ideal for those wanting a quiet but luxurious resort atmosphere.

Apart from being an almost entirely privately owned resort island, Lanai has a beautiful selection of wildlife. You can spot spinner dolphins and turtles along its shores. Of course, this is helped by the island’s limited population and capped number of visitors. Lanai is just a short journey from Maui (the islands are nine miles apart), so it is easily accessible. Additionally, you can book excursions with your resort, so there are always activities and things to do and see. Read more: Best Things to do in Lanai

Things to do on Lanai

  • Be wowed at the Garden of the Gods
  • Go snorkeling at Hulopoe Beach
  • Take a helicopter tour

Best Things to do in Lanai Garden of the Gods

Lanai might be  almost  privately owned , but that doesn’t mean there aren’t loads of things to do on the island for tourists. In fact, resorts go out of their way to provide special tours and experiences – so you won’t miss out. You’ll probably have to stop in Maui or Oahu on the way to Lanai anyway, so think of staying on Lanai as a bonus adventure.

The most impressive landscape on Lanai is the Garden of the Gods. This tiny desert area is like something out of Monument National Park or Death Valley; you’ll find red rocks and sand everywhere. The Garden of the Gods is based near Lanai’s north shore and is best explored by 4WD. Just check out if your resort excursions include this trip.

For a more classic Hawaiian experience, Hulopoe Beach offers that tropical paradise vibe. The calm beach has a quiet atmosphere and serene waters that are perfect for snorkeling or swimming. As a protected marine reserve, it is also a hotspot for spotting wildlife – including green turtles if you are lucky. Hulopoe Beach is where to go and relax on Lanai.

Finally, for the ultimate splurge, book a helicopter tour. You can sightsee the landscapes of Lanai and its neighboring islands, enjoying an unrivaled view from the skies. You can check out a range of different tours here . While for more inspiration about things to do in Lanai, check out  this guide .

Where to stay on Lanai

Best Island for luxury Lanai Accommodations

So, where should you stay in Lanai? Your main option is the Four Seasons Resort Lanai . This is for visitors that don’t shy away from splurging on luxury accommodation, and it is a top-tier, five-star accommodation choice.

Four Seasons rarely lets you down when it comes to high-quality resorts, and the Lanai chain is no different. The property has two outdoor pools with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean (keep your eyes out for whales) and private tropical gardens.

The resort also features a championship golf course, three tennis courts, and a private observatory for stargazing. The thoughtfulness even begins before arrival, as Four Seasons has a private lounge for its guests at Honolulu Airport. You can enjoy food, beverages, wifi, and concierge services while you wait for your connecting flight.

Would you prefer a more mid-range stay? Tucked away in the center of Lanai is Hotel Lanai – a simplistic but pretty, reasonably priced accommodation choice. The hotel has plantation-style rooms and a continental breakfast to enjoy each morning. It is a humble retreat with a peaceful atmosphere, unlike the giant resorts nearby.

Best island to visit in Hawaii Molokai

Molokai is one of the main Hawaiian islands if you want to invest in volunteering and helping in conservation. If you are looking to get involved with Hawaii’s sustainability programs, not just visit for a holiday, Molokai is a perfect choice. The island is mainly uninhabited and has some of the most remote, isolated areas of nature in Hawaii. It takes its conservation extremely seriously and has designated ‘tourist-friendly’ areas to limit the damage of over-tourism. We experienced how  fragile the Hawaiian ecosystems are , and it is hugely impactful learning more about the islands’ battle for conservation. Environmental awareness is essential to sustainable tourism in Hawaii, and Molokai is a great place to embrace that.

Molokai has an interesting, if upsetting, history. The island was once a place of isolation for those suffering from leprosy disease. And in 1966, a formal leprosarium was established for affected residents in Hawaii. Nowadays, you can learn more about Hawaiian history, culture, and sustainability initiatives on Molokai. It’s perfect for those wanting a more ethical experience of the Hawaiian island chain.

Things to do on Molokai

  • Go hiking in the Molokai Forest Reserve
  • Learn at the Molokai Museum and Cultural Center
  • Go for a beach walk at Papohaku Beach Park

Best Things to do in Molokai

Molokai is packed with things to do. While it is primarily a countryside island, it has some cultural and natural attractions. Molokai Museum and Cultural Center is a fantastic place to get more cultural insight into the island. The small museum offers a history of Hansen’s disease and the tragedy of leprosy on Molokai. It additionally details the history of the sugar industry on the island, with preserved machinery and industrial areas for you to explore. The Molokai Museum is budget-friendly, too, costing just $5 per adult and $1 per student.

Of course, you don’t go to Molokai if you don’t want to immerse yourself in nature. Molokai Forest Reserve is the large jungle expanse on the island’s east side. Visitors can go hiking, take a guided tour, and admire protected flora and fauna. Molokai Forest Reserve is a really special piece of protected land. It holds many of Hawaii’s cherished species of plants and animals.

Papohaku Beach Park is located far away on the opposite side of Molokai. While it is still isolated and peaceful, this park has several more facilities. You’ll find picnic tables, campsites, and a comfort station. The area is just over 10 acres in size. While it is usually too windy for swimming, it is perfect for long beach walks. If you are lucky, you can also spot whales from the shore.

Where to stay on Molokai

Molokai is a little limited in accommodation options. This is primarily because the island is not designed to cater to tourism. In fact, it takes a more sustainable stance towards avoiding over-tourism. Therefore, the island offers a selection of mid-range hotels, not large five-star resorts.

Hotel Molokai is a traditional accommodation choice well-suited to a mid-range budget. The hotel sits on Kamiloloa Beach with oceanfront rooms – be prepared to be blown away by the views. While if you want to spend time outside, the property has a large outdoor swimming pool. Or alternatively, you can rent scuba diving and snorkeling gear and head to the beach.

Another option in Molokai is Castle Molokai Shores . Castle Molokai Shores offers a selection of oceanfront apartments. It is ideal for those wanting self-catered accommodation. Each apartment has a fully equipped kitchen with all the utensils you need. Outside are additional dining facilities, barbecues, and scenic picnic tables. Each apartment comes with a balcony or patio with ocean views as well.

Best Hawaiian Island: FAQs

Beautiful Hawaiian island Black Sand Beaches

Now that you’ve found your best island to visit in Hawaii let’s look at some common FAQs. This section will provide answers to your most burning questions.

What is considered the best Hawaiian island to visit?

Kauai is considered the best Hawaiian Island to visit usually. The island has tons of natural beauty and even has the nickname the ‘garden isle’.

Where should I go for the first time in Hawaii?

You should visit Big Island for the first time in Hawaii. The island has the most variety of things to do and see, like the Volcanoes National Park. Alternatively, visit Oahu, which is home to Hawaii’s capital city and Kona International Airport.

Which Hawaiian island is the most beautiful?

Kauai is the most beautiful Hawaiian Island. It is full of dramatic green cliffs, valleys, and stunning hiking trails.

Which is better, Oahu or Maui?

Oahu is best if you want a busier atmosphere, while Maui is best if you want a quiet, peaceful experience.

To Conclude

We hope that you’ve found the best island to visit in Hawaii. You could visit Pearl Harbor, swim with Hawaiian green sea turtles, or sunbathe on the famous Waikiki Beach – Hawaii is your oyster. The Hawaiian islands make a fantastic holiday destination.

Even though you’ve chosen the best island to visit in Hawaii, it doesn’t mean you can’t see other Hawaiian islands. Check out day trips from your island of choice if you feel extra adventurous. For more inspiration about where to stay on your island of choice, you can also take a look at our detailed guide to  the best accommodation in Hawaii .

Plan Your Next Trip to Hawaii With These Resources

  • Where to stay in Hawaii: Best Places For You By Island
  • 17 Best Hikes in Hawaii You Have to Try Once in Your Life
  • The Most Amazing Facts About Hawaii
  • 44 Best Things to do on Maui
  • Big Island Of Hawaii: 15 Best Things To Do
  • The Best Things to do in Oahu, Hawaii

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO . 

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • Allianz - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

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1 thought on “Best Island to Visit in Hawaii In 2024: How To Choose”

A home is four walls and a ceiling. A lanai is one or two walls, a ceiling, and usually some screening.

Everything you need to know about inter-island travel in Hawaii

Summer Hull

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here .

With just eight miles separating some of the closest major Hawaiian Islands (such as Lanai and Maui), this Pacific archipelago is a tempting destination for island hopping. And it can be quick and easy to explore multiple Hawaiian islands — but you have to be strategic. Furthermore, to really enjoy Hawaii you don't want to constantly be on the move, so you need to stay on each island long enough to soak it all in before continuing onto the next.

To get around the islands of Hawaii, you can fly by helicopter, travel by ferry or hop on a boat. But while there are options, in most cases, you are probably boarding a flight before saying aloha to your next Hawaiian island destination.

To help you plan a seamless Hawaiian vacation , we're breaking down all the ways you can get around the islands that make up the Aloha State.

what other islands to visit in hawaii

Oahu is the hub

Oahu is the hub of Hawaii and its inter-island travel. This is where international flights into Hawaii will likely land, as well as where the majority of the U.S. mainland flights operate. You can catch a flight from Honolulu International (HNL) to almost all of the major neighboring islands. If you're not sure which islands you might want to hop to on your Hawaiian vacation, it's still a pretty safe bet to book your main flights in and out of HNL. That said, don't get too comfortable and only stay on Waikiki the whole time as Hawaii gets much, much better the more you explore.

what other islands to visit in hawaii

From HNL, it should only take about 30 to 45 minutes of flight time to get to the other major Hawaiian island on a nonstop flight. If you can lock your main flights into or out of Honolulu, you can trust that the rest of the logistics can be worked out later.

Related: Best ways to get to Hawaii using miles and points

Flying between the islands

Traditionally, Hawaiian Airlines has been the dominant airline operating inter-island travel, and it still is a very common choice with multiple daily flights between the islands. However, Southwest Airlines is now a very formidable competitor in Hawaii, which is great for travelers looking for the best deal to fly to the Big Island , Maui or Kauai .

what other islands to visit in hawaii

Southwest operates flights from HNL to Kauai (LIH), Maui (OGG), Hilo (ITO) and Kona (KOA). However, know that you will be going through Honolulu on those flights, so if you wanted to fly nonstop from Kona to Kauai, your best bet is probably Hawaiian Airlines for that type of route.

There's also Mokulele Airlines which has 120 daily flights with some unique Hawaiian destinations including Lanai and Hana.

Another option is Makani Kai Air, which is a charter company with a small fleet of small planes that will fly travelers between the islands to places like Princeville on Kauai, Molokai or the Kalaupapa Peninsula , a national historic park that requires a permit for entry.

Lanai Air is a turbo-prop option for those heading from Honolulu right to the small island of Lanai to stay at the Four Seasons or similar.

Take the Ferry to Lanai

Prefer to spend some time at sea to heading back to the airport? It is possible to take a ferry between Maui and Lanai with the Expeditions Lanai Passenger Ferry . The hour-long journey will cost you about $30 one-way (kids $20), but there are only five departures and returns each day, so you have to plan day trips carefully.

what other islands to visit in hawaii

Fly to Molokai 

The island of Molokai is not accessible directly from the U.S. mainland. In order to get to this island, you'll need to take a connecting flight from HNL, OGG or JHM. You can book flights via Hawaiian Airlines, Makani Kai Air or Mokulele Airlines to Molokai from these three airports, and the flights only take about 25 minutes.

Book a cruise between the islands

If you really want to get the most out of your Hawaiian vacation and have the time and budget to do so, consider taking a cruise. Cruise lines such as Disney Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line offers a variety of itineraries that take you to the four major islands — some even include overnight stays. You'll see Oahu, Kauai, Maui and the Big Island without worrying about how to get around other than getting on and off the ship. With Norwegian, you can also combine a cruise around Hawaii with a trip to French Polynesia , which sounds most excellent to us.

In the case of Disney, the cruises around Hawaii are actually 10-night cruises that start or ends in Vancouver with stops on multiple Hawaiian Islands.

Related: How we used points and miles for a family Hawaiian vacation

Photo by Isabel Thottam.

(Photo by Isabel Thottam)

Helicopter to remote areas

If you want to get dropped into a really remote Hawaiian area, the only way to do so is by helicopter. Blue Hawaiian is a charter company and will take hikers and travelers to less-touristed areas and far-flung trailheads.

Unless you are invited by the owners, a helicopter tour is the only way you'll land on the pristine so-called Forbidden Island of Niihau. This lightly inhabited island is 70-square miles in size and can (sometimes) be seen from Kauai's Waimea Canyon. Half-day excursions to Niihau start at $465 per person.

Unfortunately, helicopter tours don't allow you to bring your suitcase and simply get dropped off to start a new island life — you'll have to return with the pilot to the island you departed from.

Use airline miles for intra-Hawaii travel

You can use a variety of airline miles to island-hop around Hawaii, but most of them bring you right back to the same Hawaiian Airlines operated flights. However, not every airline charges the same number of miles for inter-islands flights on Hawaiian, so it pays to shop around with the miles you have available. And, of course, if you are flying on an inter-island route operated by Southwest, then you have yet another set of choices. Here's a rundown of some popular options, prices listed as one-way except where noted.

what other islands to visit in hawaii

(Here's what it is like to island-hop on Hawaiian Airlines and what it is like on Southwest Airlines .)

American miles to fly Hawaiian: 7,500 miles in economy, 15,000 in first

Delta miles to fly Hawaiian: 7,500 miles in economy

Hawaiian Airlines: 7,500 miles in economy, 15,000 in first

JetBlue points to fly Hawaiian: 6,000 miles in economy, 12,000 in first

You can transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards to JetBlue at a 1:1 ratio if you have cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Citi ThankYou has a 1:1 transfer ratio to JetBlue . Those with the JetBlue Plus Card get 10% of their redeemed points back .

Note that JetBlue awards on Hawaiian Airlines must be booked over the phone with JetBlue, but in our test call, availability lined up roughly with what United displayed as available.

United miles to fly Hawaiian: 7,000 miles in economy (10.5k miles if travel is within next 30 days)

Virgin Atlantic miles to fly Hawaiian: 7,500 miles in economy, 15,000 in first (infants 2,000 miles in economy/10,000 in first)

A benefit of using Virgin Atlantic miles is that they are easy to earn , as you can transfer from Amex Membership Rewards , Chase Ultimate Rewards , Citi ThankYou Rewards and even Marriott Rewards. We've also seen periodic transfer bonuses from both Amex and Citi in the past, so your award rates could be discounted even further by transferring during these promotions.

Southwest Airlines: Many inter-island fights on Southwest are currently available for 2,000 to 4,000 Rapid Rewards points each direction. You can earn Rapid Rewards points from Southwest credit cards , such as the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card . You can also transfer your points in on a 1:1 ratio from Chase Ultimate Rewards and cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. On Southwest, you'll get two free checked bags and access to in-flight streaming entertainment at no charge (on your own device). You can also put that Southwest Companion Pass to good use to score a 2-for-1 deal!

what other islands to visit in hawaii

Free island-hop via the United Excursionist Perk

If you want to get a Hawaii island-hop in your larger booking "for free," book your trip to Hawaii using United miles. For example, you could fly Houston – Honolulu (stop) – Lihue (stop) – Houston for the same number of miles as just Houston to Honolulu and back (45,000 in saver economy). Since Hawaii is in a different award chart region than the Lower 48, it works for a free stopover using the United Excursionist Perk on a round-trip booked with United miles.

what other islands to visit in hawaii

Here are the best credit cards for flying with United miles . If you do book your island hop with United, you'll need to get your Hawaiian Airlines confirmation code to select your seat directly with Hawaiian.

Bottom line

Most of your Hawaiian island-hopping is likely to be done via commercial aircraft, though there are some exceptions to that general rule. You may not need to use airline miles for an inter-island trip in Hawaii if cash prices are low enough. We always recommend doing the math to make sure you are getting a decent value for your points. But if you are flying Southwest (fixed-value points), or when prices cross that $100 threshold, using miles become a deal worth considering.

what other islands to visit in hawaii

To help you on your Hawaii-planning journey:

  • Best Ways to Redeem Miles on Hawaiian Airlines
  • Best Ways to Get to Hawaii Using Points and Miles
  • Best Time to Take Your Dream Hawaii Vacation
  • How to Fly to Hawaii With Kids
  • Thing to Do on the Big Island With Kids
  • Review of Disney's Aulani Resort
  • Reasons to Fly Hawaiian Airlines to Hawaii
  • How to Fly Lie-Flat Seats to Hawaii for 40,000 Miles

Additional reporting by Isabel Thottam

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The Best Island to Visit in Hawaii for the First Time

June Casagrande

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Table of Contents

Which Hawaiian island to visit? Check your must-haves

Big island at a glance, maui at a glance, kauai at a glance, oahu at a glance, if it's your first trip to hawaii.

First-timers to Hawaii struggle to pick the perfect island. So how, in this Pacific archipelago of more than 130 islands and islets, do you find one with beautiful beaches, stunning emerald mountains, surreal volcanic landscapes, authentic Polynesian culture, great golf courses, fantastic snorkeling, breathtaking waterfalls and foodie experiences galore?

Easy. Just head for any of the four islands accessible nonstop from the U.S. mainland — Oahu, Maui, Kauai or the Big Island of Hawaii — and you'll have it all. But how do you pick from these four finalists? If it's your first time in Hawaii, your ideal island will depend on your travel style and to-do list.

For most travelers visiting Hawaii for the first time, the Big Island of Hawaii is an appealing option because it offers the most diverse experiences. But before you book a flight here, make sure this is really the best island for you.

Here's our guide to Hawaii travel for beginners.

Most of the things you'll want to do and see in Hawaii — from luaus to waterfall hikes to horseback riding and ziplining — are available on all four major islands.

But if one of the following activities in this Hawaii travel guide is on your must-do list, the choice is clear for your best island to visit in Hawaii for the first time.

Traversing an active volcano: Every island has dormant volcanoes to explore, but the Big Island is the only place you'll have a chance to see lava flowing. Check this National Park Service web page for Kilauea eruption updates (or try to time your visit with Free Days ).

Driving the Road to Hana: This world-famous trek, with stops at waterfalls, a eucalyptus grove, roadside eats and more, is on Maui.

Touring the Napali Coast: Kauai is home to this breathtaking stretch of seaside cliffs dropping down to turquoise blue waters, which you can tour by catamaran, helicopter or kayak or hiking trail.

Paying respects at Pearl Harbor: For WWII history buffs, Oahu is the place to go.

» Learn more: Should I island hop in Hawaii?

what other islands to visit in hawaii

With over 4,000 square miles, Big Island (also known as Hawaii Island) has a lot to offer travelers who don't mind a lot of driving. Snow-capped mountains (yes, snow in Hawaii), stunning beaches, lava fields that make you feel like you're on the moon's surface — they're all here.

Big Island highlights

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has more than 520 square miles of volcanic landscapes to explore, including lava tubes, steam vents, petroglyphs, rainforest trails and, if Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes and fire, cooperates, flowing lava.

Has the only green- and black-sand beaches in Hawaii.

Offers night snorkeling with manta rays.

Mauna Kea's observatory is a must-visit for stargazers.

Light pollution is kept to a minimum on the Big Island, which helps the astronomers on Mauna Kea and makes for a surreal nighttime experience when driving around.

Big Island drawbacks

It requires a lot of driving to see it all.

Resorts on the beach can be pricey.

During dry seasons, the Kona Coast area can seem parched and arid.

Big Island tips

Fly into Kona International Airport to land on the sunny, beachy side of the island. Fly into rainy Hilo International Airport if you want to make a beeline for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

You will certainly want to rent a car here since the island's best offerings are spread out.

The Kona Inn Shopping Village is fun for dining and strolling, but it's not the best area to stay because it's touristy and lacks a good beach.

Where to earn or redeem points on the Big Island

For Marriott Bonvoy members , the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort is located on Hapuna Beach, which is regularly considered one of the nicest beaches in the world. Based on a recent search, the property has rooms starting at 71,000 points per night.

IHG Rewards members can stay at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Kailua-Kona at 40,000 points per night.

» Learn more: The best times to visit Hawaii, broken down by travel style

what other islands to visit in hawaii

Waves lap at the shoreline in this Maui beach scene. (Getty Images)

Maui is the second largest island in Hawaii and offers many beaches, hiking trails, historical sites and scenic views. It has a mix of resort towns where you can hang out at the beach, and undeveloped areas with rainforests and coastal dunes to explore. If you’re interested in biology and conservation, learn about the many plants and animals that are unique to Maui.

Maui highlights

Haleakala, a dormant volcano, offers a once-in-a-lifetime sunrise experience, plus great hikes and cycling.

The Road to Hana can be a slow drive through a tropical paradise.

Excellent whale-watching November through February — often without leaving dry land.

Black Rock in the Kaanapali area, between the Sheraton Maui and the Royal Lahaina Resort, has accessible snorkeling right off the beach.

Maui drawbacks

Resort areas can feel like one big, manicured golf course.

Activities are fewer and farther between.

Beach resorts can be pricey, especially in Wailea.

Maui's two main resort areas, Kaanapali and Wailea, offer some of the best accommodations for visitors who want a relaxing resort vacation on the beach with all the conveniences and amenities.

Road conditions on the Hana Highway can be tricky — or even treacherous. Consider taking a tour or renting a vehicle that can handle challenging terrain.

Rental car insurance may not cover you on some roads around Hana. Learn your rental car company's terms and credit card insurance coverage before you head out.

Mama's Fish House , a favorite destination for Maui-bound foodies, can book up three to six months in advance.

Old Lahaina has a wealth of museums and historical sites for history buffs, offering a glimpse into Maui's fascinating past.

Where to earn or redeem points on Maui

World of Hyatt members can stay at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa , which is located at Ka’anapali Beach. The hotel has a half-acre pool, an on-site luau, oceanside golf course and more. The property is a Hyatt Category 7 hotel and award nights start at 25,000 points per night.

Travelers rich in Hilton Honors points can find rooms at the luxurious Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort starting around 110,000 points per night for a standard room reward. Based on a scan of the hotel’s calendar, it seems as though the property requires a minimum booking of at least two nights.

» Learn more: Maui trip planning — Kaanapali or Wailea?

what other islands to visit in hawaii

Backpacker on the Kalalau Trail on Kauai's Napali Coast. (Getty Images)

Home to just about 74,000 residents — a tiny number compared to Oahu's population of nearly 1 million — Kauai is the place for travelers looking to spend less time around humans and more around spinner dolphins, sunbathing monk seals, sea turtles, free-roaming chickens and abundant natural beauty.

Kauai highlights

Home to the breathtaking Napali Coast, which can be explored by catamaran, kayak, helicopter or hiking the 11-mile trail Kalalau Trail.

Queen's Bath, near Princeville on the island's northern side, is a stunning natural tide pool you can explore or swim in when the ocean waters are calm.

Explore Waimea Canyon, the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific," on a hike or with easy stops along a driving tour.

Kauai drawbacks

Sandy beaches, convenient for visitors, are fewer and smaller than on other islands.

Bugs and big spiders may make for unwelcome guests in hotel rooms and condos.

A limited number of restaurants in resort areas.

In the winter, ocean waters turn treacherous on the island's north side. Stick with safer southern swimming spots like Poipu Beach in these colder months.

Read up on the safety of Kauai helicopter tours, as there have been several fatal crashes.

Apply early for a permit to hike the Kalalau Trail, as they sometimes sell out.

Where to earn or redeem points on Kauai

The Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa , which is located on Poipu Beach, is an eco-friendly property with a golf course and spa. This is a Category 7 hotel and rooms start at 25,000 points per night at the off-peak rate.

Hilton loyalists will find rooms at the Hilton Garden Inn Kauai Wailua Bay starting at 60,000 Honors points per night for a standard room reward.

» Learn more: The cheapest ways to fly to Hawaii using points and miles

what other islands to visit in hawaii

Hotels and resorts dominate the skyline along Waikiki Beach. (Getty Images)

Oahu, home to the state capital Honolulu and its bustling Waikiki district, is two vacation destinations in one. First, it's a place where you can lounge on the sand steps from literally hundreds of restaurants. Or jump in a car for a short drive to some of the most beautiful unspoiled beaches, botanical gardens and snorkeling spots in the world.

Oahu highlights

It's considered to have the best beaches in Hawaii.

A shopaholic's heaven, especially for luxury brands like Hermes, Saint Laurent, Harry Winston, Chanel, Dior, Jimmy Choo and many more.

Several budget-friendly accommodations, with hotels steps from the beach starting around $100 per night and some condo properties even lower.

Pearl Harbor National Memorial has four attractions, but the must-see is the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial.

An easy stop off Kamehameha Highway on the North Shore, Laniakea Beach, better known as Turtle Beach, attracts grazing sea turtles you can see right from the sand.

Byodo-In Temple offers a serene escape in a mountainous rainforest setting.

Reservations for world-famous snorkeling spot Hanauma Bay open up two days in advance and can get snapped up in minutes. Visit the Hanauma Bay booking site at 7 a.m. on the nose two days before you plan to visit to grab your spot.

Waikiki is the only place in Hawaii where you don't really need a rental car , but get one for at least a day so you can explore some of the beautiful, unspoiled parts of Oahu.

An umbrella and beach lounger set can cost up to $85 but may be worthwhile since it gives you a shady Waikiki home base for a whole day.

Aspiring surfers can get lessons on the gentle waves just steps from any Waikiki hotel.

Oahu drawbacks

Waikiki is very crowded and dense.

There's lots of traffic around the island, especially during rush hour. Hotel rooms on lower floors can get a lot of street noise.

Parking and resort fees combined can eat up $100 per day of your travel budget. You can save money by explicitly booking Oahu hotels without resort fees .

Where to earn and redeem points on Oahu

Wyndham Rewards members can stay just steps from the beach at the Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Waikiki , starting at 30,000 points per night.

The Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa , right across the street from the beach, has rooms starting at 20,000 World of Hyatt points per night.

» Learn more: How to travel to Honolulu on points and miles

Chances are, the Big Island of Hawaii has everything you're looking for. But depending on what you want to do, one of the other islands accessible from the mainland — Maui, Oahu or Kauai — could be a better fit.

Now that you know where to go in Hawaii for your first trip, take this final tip to heart:

Pick just one island for visits of eight days or less. Otherwise, you'll spend too much of your precious vacation time in long lines at airports, hotel check-in desks and car rental agencies.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2024 , including those best for:

Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express

Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

1x-5x 5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.

75,000 Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's over $900 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

1.5%-5% Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Up to $300 Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

2x-5x Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.

75,000 Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

what other islands to visit in hawaii

Hawaii's Best Travel: Top Blog and Podcast to Travel to Hawaii

  • The Ultimate Guide to Island Hopping in Hawaii: How to Travel Between Islands in Hawaii

by Bryan Murphy | Oct 6, 2023

How to Travel Between Islands in Hawaii

  • How to Travel Between Islands in Hawaii?

The most common method to travel between islands in Hawaii is boarding a flight. While there are alternatives such as helicopters, ferries, and boats, flights remain the predominant choice for inter-island journeys, ensuring a swift transition from one Hawaiian island to the next.

Planning Your Trip? Use Our Favorite Resources!

Key takeaways of how to travel between islands in hawaii, options to travel between the hawaiian islands, flying between islands, taking a ferry, cruising between islands, guided day trips, tips for traveling between hawaiian islands, cost considerations, time considerations, benefits of using airline miles, taking advantage of travel rewards programs, planning your island-hopping adventure, choosing which islands to visit, must-see attractions on each island, getting around on each island, faqs for how to travel between islands in hawaii, 1. what is island hopping in hawaii, 2. how can i travel between the hawaiian islands, 3. which airlines offer interisland flights in hawaii, 4. can i take a ferry between the islands in hawaii, 5. how much does it cost to island hop in hawaii, 6. is it necessary to rent a car to island hop in hawaii, 7. how much time should i spend on each island while island hopping in hawaii, 8. what are the major islands in hawaii that i can visit, 9. are there smaller airports on the islands for inter-island travel, 10. what is the cheapest option for island hopping in hawaii, wrap-up for how to travel between islands in hawaii, related posts.

Affiliate Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may earn a small commission if you use the provided link.

Information Disclaimer: This website gives general info and isn’t legal or official advice. It helps travelers with tips but can’t replace personal abilities, fitness, experience, or local knowledge, which you are fully liable for. All activities have risks; assess current conditions and follow local laws and signage.

🏨 Accommodations: We recommend Expedia

✈️ Flights: For the cheapest flights, we use Skyscanner

🚗 Rental Car: We recommend Discount Hawaii Car Rental

🌋 Hawaii Tours & Attractions: We recommend Get Your Guide

📱 Mobile Tour App: Our favorite is Shaka Guide

Travel between islands in Hawaii (island hopping) sounds idyllic, but you might wonder about the logistics of navigating paradise. With each Hawaiian island boasting its unique charm and attractions, knowing how to travel between them is crucial.

This blog post about travel between islands in Hawaii is your ultimate guide, detailing various transport options like inter-island flights, ferries, cruises or guided day trips that will make your journey smooth and memorable.

Ready for an epic Hawaiian adventure? Read on!

  • Flying, taking a ferry, going on a cruise, or joining guided day trips are options for traveling between Hawaiian islands.
  • Inter-island flights are the cheapest way to travel, with prices starting at just $39 each way.
  • Flight times between islands are short , ranging from 30 to 45 minutes for a direct flight.
  • Using airline miles and travel rewards programs can help save money on inter-island flights.

You can choose to fly between the Hawaiian islands, take a ferry, go on a cruise, or join guided day trips.

You can fly to get from one island to another in Hawaii. Hawaiian Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Mokulele Airlines let you do this. The big airlines are Hawaiian and Southwest. They go to Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island.

If you want a cheap trip, pick Southwest. Want to visit Molokai or Lanai? Your only choice is Mokulele, the only airline that flies there.

Find the Cheapest Tickets Here!

You can  ride a ferry  if you want to see Maui and Lanai. This is a fun way to travel between these two islands in Hawaii. But you cannot ride a ferry from Maui to Molokai because there is no service.

Take note of this as it’s essential for your trip plans.

Being on the ferry lets you  check out big blue waves  up close! You will love seeing the water and feeling the fresh sea air. It’s also cool being able to look at both islands at once! As soon as the boat docks, you’re all set to  explore another beautiful Hawaiian island .

Cruising is a  fun way to travel  between islands in Hawaii. One good bet for this is the  Norwegian Cruise Line . This cruise line leaves from Oahu, and you can see many different islands on your trip.

It’s like a moving hotel that takes you from island to island without needing to pack and unpack every time! You get great food, fun activities, and new views each day. Plus, you don’t have to handle any tricky travel plans – everything gets done for you! The boat has  stops on multiple major Hawaiian Islands .

So get ready to explore Hawaii using an easy mode of transportation!

Guided day trips are an excellent option for those who want to explore multiple Hawaiian islands conveniently and stress-free. One popular guided day trip is  visiting Pearl Harbor , which allows visitors to learn about the area’s history without worrying about transportation or planning.

The flights for these guided day trips are short, usually lasting between 30 and 45 minutes, making it easy to hop from one island to another. While there is no ferry option for traveling between Maui and Molokai on guided day trips, Norwegian Cruise Line offers inter-island cruises departing from Oahu that allow travelers to visit  multiple islands .

So, if you’re looking for an  efficient and hassle-free  way to experience different parts of Hawaii, consider taking a guided day trip!

Save money and time by considering cost and time considerations, using  airline miles and travel rewards programs . Read on to learn more about how to make the most of your island- hopping adventure in Hawaii .

travel between islands in Hawaii - maui

Traveling between islands in Hawaii can be an affordable option for visitors. Inter-island flights are the  cheapest way to travel , with prices starting at just $39 each way. This means you can easily hop from one island to another without breaking the bank.

It’s important to note that prices may vary depending on factors such as availability and time of year, so it’s always a good idea to  book in advance and compare prices  from different airlines.

By considering these cost factors and planning ahead, you can enjoy your island-hopping adventure without worrying about spending too much money.

When planning your island-hopping adventure in Hawaii, it’s important to consider the time it takes to travel between islands. The good news is that  flight times are short , ranging from just 30 to 45 minutes for a direct flight. However, you’ll want to make sure you plan for enough time at the airport.

This means you can easily hop from one island to another without spending too much time in transit. Whether you choose to fly, take a ferry, or go on guided day trips, you’ll have plenty of time to explore each island and make the most of your Hawaiian vacation.

So pack your bags and get ready for an exciting adventure through the beautiful Hawaiian islands!

Using airline miles can bring several benefits when traveling between the Hawaiian islands. First and foremost, it can help  save money on inter-island flights . By redeeming your accumulated airline miles, you may be able to obtain  discounted or even free flights , which can significantly reduce your travel expenses.

Additionally, accumulating airline miles through frequent travel can lead to additional perks such as  upgrades and priority boarding . This means you’ll have a more comfortable and convenient journey between islands.

Moreover, using airline miles provides flexibility in your travel plans since they can be used to book flights on multiple airlines, giving you more options to choose from.

Lastly, it’s worth noting that airline miles are not limited to just flights; they can also be utilized for other travel-related expenses like hotel stays and car rentals, making your entire vacation experience more affordable.

If you want to save money while travel between islands in Hawaii, consider taking advantage of travel rewards programs. Many airlines and credit card companies offer these programs, allowing you to earn points or miles for your purchases.

These points can be redeemed for discounted or free flights between the islands. By being strategic with your spending and choosing the right program, you can minimize travel expenses and maximize your Hawaiian vacation.

RELATED POST: How Many Islands Are There in Hawaii?

When planning to travel between islands in Hawaii, you’ll need to choose which islands to visit, explore the must-see attractions on each island, and figure out the best ways to get around.

Here are some tips for choosing which islands to visit in Hawaii:

  • Consider your interests : Each island offers a unique experience, so think about what you want to see and do. Are you interested in hiking, snorkeling, or exploring volcanoes? Different islands have different attractions.
  • Research the attractions : Look into the must-see attractions on each island. For example, Maui is known for its beautiful beaches and the Road to Hana, while the Big Island is famous for its active volcano.
  • Consider   accessibility : Some islands have larger airports with more flight options, while others may require smaller inter-island flights. Consider how easy it is to travel between the islands you want to visit.
  • Plan your itinerary : Determine how much time you want to spend on each island. Keep in mind that traveling between islands takes time, so factor that into your schedule.

To make the most of your island-hopping adventure in Hawaii, be sure to visit these must-see attractions on each island:

  • Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial
  • Waikiki Beach
  • Diamond Head State Monument
  • Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
  • Road to Hana
  • Haleakala National Park
  • Iao Valley State Park
  • Maui Ocean Center

Big Island (Hawai’i)

  • Volcanoes National Park
  • Mauna Kea Summit and Observatory
  • Akaka Falls State Park
  • Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park
  • Napali Coast State Wilderness Park
  • Waimea Canyon State Park
  • Hanalei Bay
  • Wailua Falls

Getting around on each island in Hawaii is convenient and easy. Here are some options for transportation:

  • Rental Car:  Renting a car is popular among visitors as it provides flexibility and the freedom to explore at your own pace. There are rental car agencies available at major airports on each island.
  • Public Transportation:  Some islands, like Oahu, have a reliable public bus system called “TheBus,” which can take you to popular attractions and towns. However, public transportation might be limited on other islands.
  • Shuttle Services:  Many hotels and resorts offer shuttle services to nearby attractions and beaches. This can be a convenient option if you don’t want to drive or rent a car.
  • Taxis and Rideshares:  Taxis are available at airports and in busy tourist areas. Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft are available on most Hawaiian islands.
  • Bike Rentals:  On islands like Maui and Kauai, renting a bike can be a fun way to explore scenic areas.
  • Walking : If you’re staying in a central location with access to shops, restaurants, and beaches, walking can be a great way to get around, especially for short distances.

How to Travel Between Islands in Hawaii - cruise

Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Cameron Brooks

Island hopping in Hawaii refers to the practice of traveling between the Hawaiian Islands during a vacation. It allows travelers to explore multiple islands and experience the unique attractions and beauty of each.

There are several options for travel between islands in Hawaii. You can fly on interisland flights, take a ferry, or rent a car and drive between islands.

Hawaiian Airlines is the main airline that offers interisland flights in Hawaii. They provide daily flights between the islands, making it convenient for travelers to hop from one island to another.

While there used to be a ferry that operated between some of the islands, it is no longer in service. Currently, the only ferry option available is the ferry between Maui and Lanai or Maui and Molokai.

The cost to travel between islands in Hawaii depends on various factors such as the airline, time of travel, and the number of islands you plan to visit. Generally, interisland flights can range from $75 to $200 per person, while the ferry between Maui and Lanai or Molokai costs around $30 to $40 per trip.

Renting a car is not necessary for island hopping in Hawaii, especially if you plan to use interisland flights. However, if you prefer to have more flexibility and explore the islands at your own pace, renting a car can be a convenient option.

The amount of time you spend on each island while island hopping in Hawaii depends on your preferences and the number of islands you plan to visit. It is recommended to spend at least 3-4 days on each major island to fully appreciate its attractions and experiences.

The four major islands in Hawaii that are popular for tourism are Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii Island (also known as the Big Island). Each island offers its own unique landscapes, activities, and attractions.

Yes, besides the major airports, there are smaller airports on the islands that cater to inter-island flights. These airports provide convenient access to different parts of each island and can be used for island hopping purposes.

Interisland flights are generally the most affordable option for island hopping in Hawaii. They offer frequent flights between the islands and often have competitive pricing compared to other modes of transportation.

travel between islands in hawaii - helicopter

Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Ben Ono

To wrap things up for how to travel between islands in Hawaii, there are several options for traveling  between the Hawaiian islands. Flying is the most popular and affordable choice, with  short flight times . Taking a ferry or going on a cruise are other ways to island hop.

Remember to  consider cost and time when planning  your adventure. So get ready to  explore and enjoy the beauty of each unique island !

Oahu vs Kauai: Which Hawaiian Island Should You Visit?

  • Oahu vs Kauai: Which Hawaiian Island Should You Visit?

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How Long Does it Take to Drive Around Oahu? Plan Your Ultimate Oahu Road Trip

  • How Long Does it Take to Drive Around Oahu? Plan Your Ultimate Oahu Road Trip

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Best Time to Visit Oahu and Waikiki: Crowds, Costs, and Weather in Hawaii (2024)

Best Time to Visit Oahu and Waikiki: Crowds, Costs, and Weather in Hawaii (2024)

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Bryan Murphy

Bryan Murphy, owner of Hawaii’s Best Travel, is a certified Hawaii destination expert from the Hawaii Visitors Bureau. He actively participates in the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau as a member and has a strong educational background focused on local culture and sustainability. As the host of “Hawaii’s Best Travel,” a top-30 US travel podcast, Bryan combines his years of experience with valuable insights. He connects with a broad online community, reaching nearly half a million people, and offers a richer, more responsible way to experience Hawaii.

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what other islands to visit in hawaii

Aloha, we're Bryan Murphy and Ali Murphy, a family of five that loves exploring Hawaii. Through Hawaii's Best, we share our top places to visit, stay, and responsible travel. Learn Hawaiian culture and how to support local. With years of experience, we're known experts in responsible Hawaii travel. Listen to our top-rated podcast, " Hawaii’s Best Travel ," and join our free online community of Hawaii lovers. Learn More ->

what other islands to visit in hawaii

Recent Posts

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  • Episode 122: Turo Hawaii Adventures: Family Travel Tips from Jena Carvalho for Mother’s Day
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what other islands to visit in hawaii

Hawaii Vacation Guide Logo 6

Island Hopping in Hawaii: How to Do It Right

Hawaiian Island Hopping

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase through my links we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Read about our affiliate policies here .

When you’re making the big trip to Hawaii, you might plan on island hopping. But what’s the easiest way to get around? And is it worth the trip?

Hawaii island hopping is absolutely worth it. The islands are all incredibly different and it’s easy to get from island to island. But it’s important to know that island hopping can be time-consuming so you want to make sure your trip is long enough for these extra travel days. 

To help you plan your trip, let’s get into the details. 

Now that you’re about to know how to go inter-island like a pro, make sure you have the other parts of your trip figured out: 1. We use Discount Hawaii Car Rental 95% of the time and it has saved us thousands 2. If you haven’t booked your stay, check out our Where to Stay database 3. We’ve searched high and low for the absolute best tours & activities on each island 4. Don’t leave home without our itineraries . Really.

Options for Hawaii Island Hopping:

If you’re looking to island-hop in Hawaii, you have a few options. Depending on what islands you’re traveling between, you can get there by airplane or ferry. You can also book an inter-island cruise or a guided tour to island hop for a day. 

Let’s look at these options more in-depth:

1. Flying between Hawaiian islands

Flying between the Hawaiian islands is the most popular and least expensive way to island hop. 

Hawaii island hopping inter-island flights

Commercial Airlines offering inter-island flights: 

There are three commercial airlines that offer inter-island flights in Hawaii:

1. Hawaiian Airlines : The largest operator of flights to and from Hawaii, Hawaiian Airlines has the inter-island routes covered. On Hawaiian Airlines, you can find direct flights between Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island. Hawaiian Airlines flies into the major airports on each island: Honolulu, Oahu (HNL), Kahului, Maui (OGG), Lihue, Kauai (LIH), Kona, Hawaii (KOA), and Hilo, Hawaii (ITO). 

2. Southwest Airlines : The newest entrant to inter-island travel, Southwest Airlines operates on similar routes to Hawaiian Airlines. You’ll get direct flights between the four major islands. Known for their low-cost fares, they’re generally your cheapest option for inter-island flying (though Hawaiian Airlines has extremely competitive fares). 

3. Mokulele Airlines : Mokulele Airlines operates small, turbo-prop planes that fly from the main airports as well as smaller airports on the islands. It is the only airline to fly to both Molokai and Lanai. On the Big Island, it flies out of Hilo (ITO) and Kona (KOA) as well as Waimea-Kohala Airport (MUE). And on Maui, it flies out of both Kahului (OGG) as well as Kapalua (JHM). Just like the other airlines, it also flies out of Honolulu (HNL) and Lihue (LIH). 

Things to Consider When Between Southwest and Hawaiian Flying Interisland:

  • Southwest offers free checked bags, a big savings unless you qualify for free bags on Hawaiian.
  • Hawaiian Airlines provides an island vibe with colorful decor and serves juice (passion orange nectar or something similar).
  • Hawaiian Airlines offers better options for seat assignments. If you book early, you can reserve a free seat. They also offer reasonably priced extra legroom upgrades.
  • Hawaiian Airlines has premium options like first-class and extended legroom in economy.
  • If you want USB charging at your seat, choose Southwest (pending fleet-wide installation).
  • Southwest makes canceling and rebooking simpler. Hawaiian does not offer the ability to re-deposit and use funds as easily as Southwest.

Airports on Each Island (+ map):

Each Hawaiian island that you can visit has at least one airport, which makes island hopping a breeze. The airport codes for each airport are:

Oahu: Daniel K. Inouye Airport in Honolulu (HNL)

Maui: Kahului Airport (OGG) Kapalua Airport (JHM)

Hawai’i (Big Island): Hilo International Airport (ITO) Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport (KOA) Waimea-Kohala Airport (MUE)

Kauai: Lihue Airport (LIH)

Lana’i: Lana’i Aiport (LNY)

Molokai: Molokai Airport (MKK)

Flight times between Hawaiian islands:

To give you an idea of just how quick these flights are, these are some sample times from Southwest Airlines:

what other islands to visit in hawaii

Maui Wayfinder Itinerary

what other islands to visit in hawaii

Kauai Wayfinder Itinerary

what other islands to visit in hawaii

Big Island Wayfinder Itinerary

what other islands to visit in hawaii

Oahu Wayfinder Itinerary

2. taking a ferry between the hawaiian islands.

If you’re traveling between Maui and Lanai, you have the option of taking a ferry. Expeditions Lanai operates a ferry service for the 45-minute trip between the two islands. 

Here’s a video of our day trip to Lanai using Expeditions Lanai to island hop:

If you’re looking to take a ferry to Molokai, you’re out of luck. Unfortunately, while a ferry used to operate between Maui and Molokai , that service stopped in 2016. 

Related read: Is Lanai Worth a Day Trip? Yes…and here’s why. 

3. Cruising between the Hawaiian Islands

If you’re set on seeing multiple islands in a short period of time and you don’t want to fly, taking an inter-island cruise is an option. Norwegian Cruise Line offers options that depart from and return to Oahu, making stops on the neighbor islands. 

If a Hawaiian cruise is up your alley, we have more resources for you! We cover all the cruise ports and what to know , the best time to cruise Hawaii , shore excursions on each island: Maui , the Big Island , Kauai , and Oahu . Plus you can grab a comprehensive Cruising Hawaii Guide with everything you need to know, all in one place.

4. Guided day trips

If you’re looking to island-hop just to make a day trip to Pearl Harbor, your best bet might be to go with a guide. Why? Guided tours offer an efficient and stress-free way to see as much as possible in a short day trip. Rather than needing to make reservations, book and pick up a rental car, and navigate a new spot, a guided trip can take care of the headache for you. 

Read more about our favorite experience island-hopping for our Pearl Harbor day trip . 

Is it easy to travel between the Hawaiian Islands?

Traveling between the Hawaiian islands is easy. The flights are short — 30 to 45 minutes in the air. Just enough time to get a glass of water or POG (Passion Orange Guava juice) if flying Hawaiian Airlines. 

Related read: What to Pack for Your Hawaii Vacation (plus a list for each island)

Hawaii island hopping - Edith and Henry

How much does it cost to travel between the Hawaiian Islands?

Depending on when you want to travel and how far in advance you book your tickets, travel between the Hawaiian islands can be very reasonable. Flights can be found as cheap as $39 each way on Hawaiian and Southwest Airlines. $39 is the best we’ve seen. Expect to pay between $50 to $100 for a one-way ticket.

How long does it take to travel between the Hawaiian islands?

Flights between each Hawaiian island are short: expect them to last anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes for a direct flight. But even though the flight itself is short, when you’re island hopping in Hawaii, the entire process can easily take 4 to 5 hours (door to door). You’ll need to drive to the airport, return your rental car, go through security, fly to the next island, pick up a new rental car, and check into your hotel.

Expect your travel day to take even longer if you aren’t able to get a direct flight. Many of the inter-island flight options require a stop in Honolulu before heading onto your final destination. 

Hawaii Island Hopping -Kauai airport

Island-hopping in Hawaii: Fast Faqs

Are there ferries between the hawaiian islands.

There is only one ferry between Hawaiian islands and that is the ferry from Maui to Lanai. There used to be a ferry between Maui and Molokai, but that ferry service was discontinued in 2016 . 

Cheapest way to travel between Hawaiian islands

The cheapest way to travel between Hawaiian islands is to fly. You can find inter-island flights for as little as $39 each way, depending on when you want to travel and how far in advance you book. 

Easiest way to travel between Hawaiian islands

For most people, flying is the easiest way to travel between the Hawaiian islands. Southwest, Hawaiian Airlines, and Mokulele Airlines all operate plenty of flights each day that will take you between all of the islands. 

If you’d prefer to have all of the island-hopping details taken care of for you, then the easiest way to travel between the islands is on a cruise ship. 

If you’re finding this article helpful, Pin it for fellow readers and follow for more !

what other islands to visit in hawaii

Should you visit multiple islands on your trip to Hawaii?

If you have the time, you should consider visiting multiple islands on your trip to Hawaii. Each island offers something very unique and different. But make sure you’re giving yourself enough time on each island before moving to the next.

We generally recommend that you spend at least 5 days on each island that you visit. Ideally, you’ll be able to spend a little more time on each island to fully experience it as well as relax.  One ambitious newsletter reading couple visited all 4 of the major Hawaiian island in just 13 days, and while we don’t recommend it, we let them write all about it and share their itinerary .

Related read: What Hawaiian Island Should You Visit? We can help you decide. 

Yes, you can spend less time on an island but your trip will likely feel rushed and you’ll miss out on some of the features that make each island so unique and spectacular. 

Related read: Get the perfect first time to Hawaii itinerary (island hopping included!)

Get a good deal on a rental car while island hopping

When you get to a new island, you’ll probably need another rental car. Don’t spend more than you need to. We love using Discount Hawaii Car Rental when we island hop. By using them, we’ve saved thousands of dollars over the last two years (seriously). They work with national carriers and you don’t need to pay anything in advance to secure your reservation. 

Trust us, Discount Hawaii Car Rental is really that good.

Hawaiian Islands’ Cheat Sheets

As you continue your Hawaii vacation trip planning, take the easy way out with our cheat sheets. Download free cheat sheets for each of the four major Hawaiian Islands to help you get familiar with the islands.

what other islands to visit in hawaii

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I'm the co-founder, with my husband Jordan, of The Hawaii Vacation Guide. We have lived on Maui and Oahu and continue to travel, experience, and learn about the Hawaiian Islands. We travel with our kids, Henry and Edith. I am a planner! I love to plan trips from the mainland and island-hopping adventures, excursion days, and everything in-between. I spend a lot of my time in Hawai'i on a SUP and my favorite time of year in Hawai'i is whale season!

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What to do in Hawaii? Locals weigh in on if these popular spots are worth the hype

what other islands to visit in hawaii

There’s one road going east from Honolulu to popular Oahu beaches like Makapuu and Waimanalo, and on a sunny Saturday morning between Christmas and New Year’s, it was jam-packed. 

One particular slowdown happens right before Hanauma Bay. The entrance to the popular snorkeling spot is blocked with a sign that says the parking lot is full. Workers turn the cars of hopeful snorkelers around and people are walking up the hill in the hot sun with their beach chairs strapped to their backs after parking in the nearby neighborhood. 

Although the holiday week drew more crowds than typical, it’s not an unusual sight for the well-known tourist attraction. 

Hanauma Bay continues to top Hawaii travel activity lists for its calm waters and easily spotted marine life, like sea turtles and tropical fish. But for some travelers, it can seem like a headache to wake up early before the parking lot is full, often by 9 a.m. 

Even past the bay, the scenic road’s multiple lookout points are overflowing with rental cars and people snapping photos. 

Learn more: Best travel insurance

For most, a Hawaiian vacation itinerary feels incomplete without a few must-dos: Witness the islands’ natural beauty; go to a luau; snorkel with marine life; and, obviously, soak up the sun at the beach as much as possible. 

Unfortunately, there’s a big chance travelers won’t even experience the real Hawaii on their trip if they do this. 

“People love Hawaii, but they just don’t know Hawaii,” Evan Mokuahi Hayes, a Native Hawaiian who owns Hoomau Oahu Tours, which seeks to give visitors deeper and more history-driven tours of Oahu, told USA TODAY. “They love this place, but they don’t know our history.”

In Spring 2023, 67% of 1,960 Hawaii residents agreed an “authentic presentation of Hawaiian language and culture is important.” Although the industry is heading in that direction, it’s still challenging for visitors to distinguish what's overrated and just seeking out tourist dollars, and what’s actually going to teach them more about Hawaiian history and culture. 

While travelers can research what to do, sometimes inside knowledge is the right guide. USA TODAY spoke with Native Hawaiians who work in the tourism industry on whether or not the most popular tourist attractions in the island chain are worth the hype and how to get the most out of their Hawaiian visit. 

1. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park 

Definitely go for its sacred history and cultural significance.

As one of the most popular national parks in the U.S., Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is worth facing crowds for – and not just for marveling at the dramatic, ever-changing landscape (or the chance to see fiery lava.) 

“It’s a sacred treasure trove of history, culture and adventure, and it’s the place I go to pay homage to Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire and volcanoes,” Kaiulani Blankenfeld, Director of Hawaiian Culture at Hawaii Island’s Fairmont Orchid, told USA TODAY.

For Hawaiians, the over 355,000-acre park is home to Pele, making it an incredibly sacred place, from the lava fields themselves to high-elevation forests. 

The Oahu-born and raised kumu hula (hula master teacher) has danced and chanted at Halemaumau, located inside Kilauea’s caldera, and “felt my thoughts, spirit and body shift into another realm.” Travelers shouldn’t rush their visit; they should take it all in and be respectful of any signage. 

2. Diamond Head State Monument

Go for the sacred history, but there are other hikes with great views too. 

Diamond Head, or Leahi as it is known in Hawaiian, is arguably the most iconic Honolulu tourist attraction. The 0.8-mile-long hike up to the top of the crater is well-maintained, and the top offers a panoramic view of the southern shoreline. Before the park’s reservation system in May 2022 ($5 per person over 5 years old to enter and $10 per car), it wasn’t unusual to be hiking the popular trail in a slow, single-file line. 

Even now, it’s not exactly the most tranquil hike on the island.

Travelers who do go, shouldn’t just admire the views but research how sacred the 300,000-year-old crater is to Hawaiians, Hayes said, which Hoomau focuses on during its tours. Before its use as a military bunk, it was a place of worship to Native Hawaiians, and where Maui – who people may know from Disney’s “Moana” – caught the sun. 

For fewer crowds, Blankenfeld recommends the Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail on the island's eastern side. “It offers stunning views of Oahu's southeastern coastline, including Koko Head and Koko Crater.” It’s free and also a great place to spot humpback whales during winter.

3. Hanauma Bay

Worth making a reservation for a safe snorkeling experience.

Tucked into a volcanic cove on Oahu so the waters are always calm, Hanauma Bay has been the island’s most popular snorkeling destination for decades. During the pandemic, the bay closed so marine life could rest from human traffic and restore itself. After a few months, the water was clearer, and more fish and coral growth was recorded. 

Although nonresidents have to book and pay for a timeslot ($25 per person plus service fees and $3 per car) to enter, Hayes said it’s still the best place for tourists to snorkel safely, especially for those with kids (who, if 12 and under are free to enter.)

“I think Hanauma Bay is perfectly set up for tourists,” he said. “They have people there who close the parking lot down, and there’s restrooms and trash cans.” 

He added that tourists who aren’t familiar with the ocean can often be reckless and jump in the water anywhere without realizing the almighty power of tides, swells and currents, which can end dangerously . 

To avoid the hectic parking situation, there’s a shuttle service to and from Waikiki for $49 per person, which covers snorkel gear but not the entrance fee. 

4. Polynesian Cultural Center

Entertaining and informative, but expensive and far from Honolulu . 

Located in the laidback Laie town on Oahu’s North Shore, the Polynesian Cultural Center is considered a Polynesian Disneyland for its six immersive villages representing the island cultures of Hawaii, Fiji, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Samoa, Tahiti and Tonga. 

While Hayes attests to PCC’s ability to show people about Polynesia, it’s a long drive from Honolulu and will cost at least $89.95 and up to $289.95 per person , depending on whether you want to experience the two shows. 

A much cheaper and closer alternative is Bishop Museum ($28.95 per adult, cheaper for seniors and kids), which has “the largest collection of Hawaiian and Pacific cultural artifacts and natural history specimens in the world.” There’s also a Planetarium for people to learn more about the ancient navigational practice of wayfinding.

5. Iolani Palace

Definitely go, and keep exploring downtown Honolulu.

As the only official royal residence in the nation, ‘Iolani Palace is a must-do for immersing visitors in the late 1800s. “‘Iolani Palace is a great place to visit and learn the history of the Hawaiian Monarch and especially about King Kalakaua, who was really a monarch ahead of his time,” Blankenfeld said. They’ll also be educated on the tragic overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom, a necessity when learning about Hawaiian history. 

Hayes recommends people go beyond the palace and visit other parts of downtown Honolulu with historical significance, all within walking distance of each other.

A few minutes away is Kawaiaha’o Church, the oldest church on Oahu, built in 1820 where many ali’i , or Hawaiian royalty spent their time. The church has a free self-guided audio tour that people can follow by scanning QR codes. View the royal pews, Princess Kai‘iulani’s bench and plantings and King Lunalilo’s tomb. 

Hayes also suggests visitors stop by the nearby Hawaiian Mission Houses ($20 per person for a guided tour, $10 for a self-guided tour) to learn more about the massive impact Christian missionaries had on Hawaii and see Hawaii’s oldest Western-style house. 

6. Road to Hana

Overhyped and there are better ways to experience Hawaii’s natural beauty.

The 52-mile-long Road to Hana drive is Maui’s most iconic activity for its stunning natural wonders. Think rainforests, waterfalls and sea cliffs. If travelers don’t leave first thing in the morning, they’ll face traffic jams and crowded waterfalls, taking away from the natural escape they were looking for. Many tourists also park their cars illegally and residents trying to commute have complained of the chaos. 

A better way for people to immerse themselves in Hawaii’s natural environments that's also more unique is by volunteering with a nonprofit like Hawaii Land Trust (they also offer beach cleanups and other types of volunteer days) and Maui Cultural Lands to help care for the land by replanting native trees. Technically, you could do this on any island, and you’ll get a deeper understanding of Hawaii’s forests. 

Usually a tourist trap, but you should still try to experience hula. 

A quintessential Hawaiian vacation experience is going to a luau. With countless luaus across the state, it’s tough for people to know they’re not wasting their money on something made just for tourists.

Unfortunately, this can be a tricky one to navigate. “It’s harder to define authenticity in a luau today because it’s been so touristy it’s essentially like every show is almost the same everywhere,” Hayes said. “Some things you look out for are really shiny, shimmery skirts, really bright colors, all those things are a dead giveaway.” 

Hayes said the Ali‘i Lu‘au ‘Onipa‘a , which shares the last Hawaiian monarch Queen Lili‘uokalani’s story, and the following “HA: Breath of Life” show at PCC are solid choices. “Hands down, that’s the best dinner show; the storyline is absolutely amazing and you’re still getting all of the cultures,” he said. “You’re sitting in an amphitheater, so the seats are better and the people are actually from Tahiti or Tonga or Samoa.”

If your hotel hosts a luau experience, which tends to be pricey, try to meet with the cultural director beforehand and learn more about what’s behind their specific show. 

To experience the most authentic hula, seek out a hula competition . Contestants practice a song or two for months on end, striving to represent the art form in their highest regard. This is where dancers, musicians and halau (hula schools) are putting their best foot forward, literally. 

Kathleen Wong is a travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Hawaii. You can reach her at [email protected] .

what other islands to visit in hawaii

7 Islands In The US That Feel Like Hawaii, But Are Cheaper

  • Discover cheaper yet equally stunning island alternatives to Hawaii: Captiva Island, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.
  • Enjoy beautiful beaches and a laid-back atmosphere like Hawaii at more affordable prices in these alternative destinations.
  • Channel Islands National Park in California offers a tropical paradise and breathtaking views comparable to Hawaii for budget travelers.

The US is brimming with beautiful destinations , from the Grand Canyon, one of the most beautiful national parks in the country, to Colorado Springs, which is famous for the Garden of the Gods, a sacred part with unique rock formations. However, when it comes to island vacations, Hawaii is perceived to be the most breathtaking, and places like Maui attract millions of beach bums.

However, the Aloha State is one of the most expensive states in the US to visit , and on average, one can spend $2,391 for a one-week trip . There are amazing island alternatives to Hawaii that offer plenty of similarities at affordable prices. From Captiva Island in Florida to California's Santa Cruz, here are the islands in the US that feel like Hawaii, but are cheaper.

7 Beach Towns In The U.S. That Look Like Europe

Captiva island, florida, the average cost of a one-week trip: $2,090.

Located off the Gulf Coast of Florida, Captiva Island boasts more than 250 types of shells, some of the most stunning sunsets, and playful dolphins that travelers can see on tours. A beach vacation on Captiva island feels like Waikiki, America's top beaching destination , which has similar white stretches of sand.

Both Honolulu and Captiva boast spectacular sunsets and a laid-back atmosphere, which make them perfect destinations to relax and unwind. So, instead of traveling to Honolulu, whose travel costs average at $2,306 for a one-week solo trip , head to Captiva Island and enjoy a similar atmosphere for almost $300 less.

  • The best beaches on Captiva Island: Alison Hangerup Beach Park, Andy Rosse Lane Park, and Turner Beach Park
  • Where to see the sunset on Captiva Island: Mucky Duck

Captiva and its neighbor, Sanibel Island (find out the difference between the two islands ), offer some of the best Florida beaches for hunting seashells .

U.S. Virgin Islands

The average cost of a one-week trip: $1,743.

The major difference between the U.S. Virgin Islands and Hawaii is that it's a portion of the Caribbean, while the latter is in the Pacific Ocean. The atmosphere is almost similar, and tourists will find that the U.S. Virgin Islands' beaches are some of the most beautiful (some people believe they are prettier than Hawaii's).

Swimming, snorkeling, and lots of greenery are characteristic of both destinations. Both archipelagos also offer a wonderful culinary scene with unique flavors that will satisfy anyone's platter.

Since both archipelagos share so many similarities, why not head to the U.S. Virgin Islands, which is cheaper, and can only be visited for around $1,743 for one whole week, which is lower than Hawaai's $2,391?

  • Best beaches in the U.S. Virgin Islands: Magens Bay Beach, Trunk Bay Beach, and Cinnamon Bay Beach
  • Common dishes in the U.S. Virgin Islands: Fish, fungi, Johnny cake, cow heel soup, callaloo, and pot fish

Find out how you can easily island-hop through the Virgin Islands .

Puerto Rico

The average cost of a one-week trip: $1,524.

Puerto Rico and Hawaii are both popular destinations in the U.S. that offer similar island vibes. Like Hawaii, vacationers will enjoy beach activities, like sunbathing and snorkeling. Both places boast diverse cultures, with Hawaii having Polynesian and Asian influences. Puerto Rico, on the other hand, has African, Spanish, and indigenous Taino cultural influences.

One major difference between them is that Hawaii's natural landscapes are more abundant and diverse than Puerto Rico's. But if you are looking for a similar island atmosphere and you are on a budget, then Puerto Rico is the best option. It only costs $1,524 for a one-week vacation, as opposed to Hawaii, which costs $2,391 for a seven-day getaway.

  • The best beaches in Puerto Rico: Flamenco Beach, La Playuela, and Crash Boat

10 US Mountain Towns That Look Like Europe's Alps

Key largo, florida, the average cost of a one-week trip: $1,483.

The Florida Keys, known for being the diving capital of the world , is one of the most underrated island destinations in the US. The archipelago is made up of three main islands; Key West, Islamorada, and Key Largo.

All the Keys offer a perfect Hawaiian feel, thanks to their sandy beaches and warm waters. However, Key Largo is the most affordable alternative. It is also the best choice for unforgettable diving adventures.

A one-week trip to Key Largo only costs around $1,483, which is much cheaper than the average cost of visiting Hawaiian islands, which is about $2,391. This makes it one of the islands in the US that look like Hawaii but are cheaper.

  • The best beaches in Key Largo: Cannon Beach, Far Beach, and Calusa Beach
  • Where to dive in Key Largo: John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

6 Affordable Islands To Visit In Hawaii

South padre island, texas, the average cost of a one-week trip: $1,421.

South Padre Island, one of the sunny US beach destinations for less than $1,000 a week , is one of the cheaper alternatives to Hawaii. The island might lack Hawaii's mountains and waterfalls, but it has the pleasant weather that vacationers can enjoy throughout the year, some of the top-rated beaches in Texas , and incredible wildlife, such as dolphins, plenty of bird species, jaguarundi, and more.

A trip to South Padre Island only costs $1,421 on average for a one-week getaway, and one can visit for as low as $676 for seven days. On the other hand, mid-range tourists will need $2,391.

  • The best beaches on South Padre Island: South Padre Island Beach, South Padre Bayside Beach, and Isla Blanca Park.
  • Where to see wildlife on South Padre Island: Sea Turtle, Inc ., South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center , and Laguna Madre Nature Trail .

While this island in Texas is a popular spring break destination, there are plenty of reasons to visit South Padre Island in winter , including opportunities for eating delicious food, holiday celebrations, and winter bird migration.

Galveston Island, Texas

The average cost of a one-week trip: $1,282.

Galveston Island is within the city limits of the City of Galveston and is similar to Honolulu, which offers many free things to do but it is still expensive to explore the islands. Both destinations boast beaches, museums, historical sites, and a vibrant nightlife scene. They are also both family-friendly and tourists will find amazing things to do with their kids.

Overall, there is more to explore in Honolulu, but since there are plenty of similarities between the two islands, Galveston makes a perfect alternative for budget tourists. It costs $183 per day, on average, to visit Galveston, and $284 per day to vacation in Honolulu .

  • The best beaches in Galveston: Stewart Beach, East Beach, and Galveston Island State Park Beach.

Sun, Sand, And Sea: Discover The 14 Most Beautiful Beaches In Galveston For Your Next Getaway

Channel islands national park, california, the average cost of a one-week trip: $589.

A portion of the Southern California Bight in the Pacific Ocean, Channel Islands National Park, which is California's most exotic off-shore destination , has always been compared to Hawaii. Just like The Aloha State, the national park is a tropical paradise with plenty of white beaches that offer multiple fun activities, including swimming, whale watching, kayaking, and more.

Moreover, the lushness of many of the islands' grassy hills makes them perfect dupes for Hawaii. The islands, which include Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel, also come with breathtaking coastal views, and incredible wildlife, and are sometimes referred to as "the Galápagos of North America." Despite the park's location near Los Angeles, it is one of the most underrated national parks in California.

The park's similarities to Hawaii make it a great alternative and a perfect option for budget travelers who can't afford a one-week trip to the Aloha State. The park entry is free, so one needs to only budget for transport, food, and accommodation. A ferry/boat is the most affordable way of getting to the islands. Most of these boats depart from Ventura, taking about one hour 53 minutes, and cost $32 . So, a round-trip costs $64. Primitive camping costs $15 per night at the park , so a seven-day vacation would be $105 for camping.

For food, there are many options for those cruising with Island Parkers . One can order online from Harbor Cové Cafe in Ventura Harbor. A lunch box costs around $20. One can spend around $60 per day on meals when in Channel Islands National Park. So, in total, a one-week trip might cost about $589.

Those who want to live near the park can only do so on Santa Catalina Island, either Avalon or Two Harbors. Here is what living in Avalon is like:

  • The best beaches in Channel Islands National Park: Shell Beach, St. Helier Beach, and St. Brelade's Bay Beach.

If you are visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park for its beautiful trails, the Channel Islands offers plenty of trails that are suitable for hikers of all levels. Potato Harbor , Cavern Point Loop , and Smugglers Cove are some of the best trails one can explore in the park.

7 Islands In The US That Feel Like Hawaii, But Are Cheaper

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what other islands to visit in hawaii

3 replies to this topic

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Kauai is lush and green with mountains and valley overlook you can drive to.

There won't be whales that time of year but dolphins are year round.

IMO the Big Island is too big and arduous and hot then. Maui is very expensive due in part tonthe impact of the fire.

Oahu is lovely and does have mountains and waterfalls but more driving. You could stop in Waikiki for a couple of nights to see iconic Diamond Head and Waikiki but it adds an interisland flight . Oahu does have the best healthcare facilities in the state if that's a desire.

I hope you have a lovely trip.

what other islands to visit in hawaii

My thoughts to you both.

One thing you should know is that both August and September are very, very hot and humid. They are also the months we often have tropical storms or hurricanes nearby--which can wreak havoc.

I would make sure you have full CFAR insurance. Since your husband's condition is pre-existing, medical per se won't work. CFAR (Cancel For Any Reason) will protect your investment if you need to cancel for any reason.

I suggest looking at the quote on Squaremouth. It's reliable and easier than plowing through lots of individual sites.

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what other islands to visit in hawaii

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    Kaua'i. #2 in Which Hawaiian Island is the Best to Visit? Our 2024 Ranking. With a more easygoing environment than other islands like Oahu and the Big Island, the Garden Isle lets its wild ...

  2. Island Hopping: How To Travel Between Islands in Hawaii

    Here it is below: Day 1 "Active" - Hike to get the blood flowing. Day 2 "Semi-active" - Take a guided tour to see part of the island that would otherwise be inaccessible. Day 3 "Rest" - Spend the day at the beach, in the spa or by the pool to recuperate. Let's say that you land at 10:00 a.m.

  3. These are the best islands in Hawaii, according to frequent visitors

    Oahu is Hawaii's most bustling and urban island. It's home to the state's largest city and commercial center, Honolulu, which is known for an epic rush hour that sometimes rivals the one in Los Angeles. Within city limits, Waikiki Beach is the place to see and be seen — shop, dine and enjoy the amenities of huge high-rise resorts.

  4. The Best Hawaiian Island to Visit

    The Hana Highway is one of the world's premier driving attractions and Haleakala, one of Hawaii's National Parks, is an incredible place to visit. And everyone from golfers to windsurfers will find plenty of adventure on Maui. Maui's nickname is the "Valley Isle," and when you arrive, you'll see why. Haleakala to the east and the West Maui ...

  5. Best Hawaiian Islands to Visit: World's Best in 2021

    Hawaiian islands are known for their beaches, hikes, and surfing, among other things. A dream vacation destination, here's how Maui, Oahu, Kauai, the Big Island, and Lanai stack up with Travel ...

  6. Discover the Best Hawaii Island to Visit & Why

    Larger than all of the other islands combined, the island of Hawaii, also known as Big Island, encompasses most of the world's climate zones - from white sand beaches to snow-capped mountains. ... That being said, there's really no bad time to visit Hawaii. The islands enjoy warm, sunny weather year-round, with average temperatures ranging from ...

  7. How to choose the right Hawaiian island for you

    Best for city life, surf competitions, and historic landmarks. As the most popular Hawaiian Island - to visit and to live - O'ahu is bustling! In Honolulu and Waikiki, you'll find skyscrapers and luxury hotels, traffic and nightlife, all of the hallmarks of a big city. But beyond that, O'ahu has verdant hikes in the East, sunny beaches in ...

  8. Top Things To See & Do on Each of the Hawaiian Islands

    Fly over Haleakala and see what makes the "House of the Sun" so enchanting. Snorkel and kayak with Hawaiian green sea turtles and other fascinating creatures. Enjoy a beautiful luau or rock along with "Elvis" as he sings some groundbreaking tunes. All this and more can be had on these exciting Maui adventures. Road to Hana Tour→.

  9. What is the Best Island to Visit in Hawaii? A Complete Guide

    Make sure you know the Hawaii travel restrictions during COVID-19. In this post. Choosing the Best Island in Hawaii to Visit. Oahu: "The Gathering Place". Maui: "The Valley Isle". Kauai: Hawaii's "The Garden Isle". Hawai'i: "The Big Island". Molokai: Hawaii's "The Friendly Isle". Lanai: "The Pineapple Island".

  10. A Guide to the Best Islands in Hawaii to Visit

    You can also visit four different islands in seven days with Norwegian Cruise Line, allowing you to sample the best of Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island. Below is a rundown of Hawaii's six ...

  11. How to Plan the Perfect Multi-island Trip to Hawaii

    Ideally, you should spend at least one week on each of the four islands. But if you don't have a full month, plan for four to five days per island, then choose one or two regions within each ...

  12. 19 of the best places to visit in Hawaii

    5. Nāpali Coast, Kauaʻi. The towering green cliffs of the fabled Nāpali Coast rise 2000ft from the ocean and stretch 15 miles along Kauaʻi's rugged northern coastline. You can experience these verdant valleys and razor-edged cliffs aboard a catamaran, on a kayak, from a helicopter or along the 11-mile Kalalau Trail.

  13. Hawaii Island Hopping (How To Travel Between Islands)

    Hawaiian Airlines. Hawaiian Airlines is one of the two commercial airlines that fly between the major airports of Hawaii. Prices for Hawaii Island hopping on Hawaiian Airlines can be as low as $29 one way. Hawaiian Airlines offers flights to and from Kauai, Oahu, Maui, and The Big Island.

  14. Which Hawaiian Island Is Best To Visit? A Complete Guide

    The park encompasses 333,000 acres of otherworldly volcanic landscapes like craters, lava tubes, steam vents, and rainforests. This is a must-visit for adventure seekers and nature lovers! Black Sand Beaches. The Big Island has some of Hawaii's most famous black sand beaches, like Punaluʻu Beach.

  15. Best Island to Visit in Hawaii In 2024: How To Choose

    United States. Updated On: February 8, 2024. The islands in Hawaii are dream-worthy. The diversity of each isle is fascinating, from pristine beaches to snow-capped mountains and even active volcanoes. Hawaii has six major islands - Kauai, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, the Big Island, and Oahu. This can make it really difficult to choose just one.

  16. Everything you need to know about inter-island travel in Hawaii

    Oahu is the hub. Oahu is the hub of Hawaii and its inter-island travel. This is where international flights into Hawaii will likely land, as well as where the majority of the U.S. mainland flights operate. You can catch a flight from Honolulu International (HNL) to almost all of the major neighboring islands.

  17. Exploring the Hawaiian Islands

    Once you're in Hawaiʻi, it's simple and fast to get to and explore the other Hawaiian Islands.Multiple carriers (including Hawaiian Airlines and Mokulele Airlines) offer short flights between islands; in some cases, you may need to connect through Oʻahu to reach neighbor islands. When traveling interisland, it is recommended that you arrive at least 90 minutes prior to your flight.

  18. The Best Hawaiian Island to Visit: Don't Get It Wrong

    There are 137 islands in Hawaii, although only eight (seven of which are inhabited) are recognized as major islands. But when it comes to tourism, there are four islands that are at the top of everyone's mind. For this reason, this article will focus on the following islands: Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island.

  19. The Best Hawaiian Island for First-Timers

    Big Island at a glance. With over 4,000 square miles, Big Island (also known as Hawaii Island) has a lot to offer travelers who don't mind a lot of driving. Snow-capped mountains (yes, snow in ...

  20. The Ultimate Guide To Island Hopping In Hawaii: How To Travel Between

    The cost to travel between islands in Hawaii depends on various factors such as the airline, time of travel, and the number of islands you plan to visit. Generally, interisland flights can range from $75 to $200 per person, while the ferry between Maui and Lanai or Molokai costs around $30 to $40 per trip.

  21. The 59 Best Things to Do in Hawaii: Your Ultimate Bucket List (2024)

    Currently, the ferry to Lanai is the only operating ferry between Hawaiian islands. See our Hawaii Island-Hopping Guide for tips on exploring more islands during your trip. 14. Go whale watching. Each winter, upwards of 10,000 humpback whales migrate from the waters of Alaska to Hawaii to mate, birth, and nurture their young.

  22. Island Hopping in Hawaii: How to Do It Right

    If you're looking to island-hop in Hawaii, you have a few options. Depending on what islands you're traveling between, you can get there by airplane or ferry. You can also book an inter-island cruise or a guided tour to island hop for a day. Let's look at these options more in-depth: 1. Flying between Hawaiian islands.

  23. Planning Your First Trip to Hawaii

    Your First Trip. Planning Your First Trip to Hawaiʻi. Discover why the six Islands of Aloha are home to treasures unlike any other on earth: The dramatic cliffs of the Nāpali Coast on Kauaʻi. The vibrant shores of Waikīkī Beach on Oʻahu. The miles of white sands of Pāpōhaku Beach on Molokaʻi. The dolphin-friendly waters of Hulopoʻe ...

  24. Things to do in Hawaii: Are these popular spots worth the hype?

    "People love Hawaii, but they just don't know Hawaii," Evan Mokuahi Hayes, a Native Hawaiian who owns Hoomau Oahu Tours, which seeks to give visitors deeper and more history-driven tours of ...

  25. 7 Islands In The US That Feel Like Hawaii, But Are Cheaper

    6 Affordable Islands To Visit In Hawaii ... On the other hand, mid-range tourists will need $2,391. Item . South Padre Island . Hawaii . Cost of living . 25.1% lower than the U.S. median.

  26. Best place to visit in August or September

    My husband has stage IV colorectal cancer and we were just told prognosis is 1 year. We've been married 27years and kept thinking we'd have plenty of time to go to Hawaii and other travel. What would be best Island to visit with breathtaking views, maybe easy access to see wayerfalls and maybe dolphin or whale watching tours?