Destinations / North America

Which Hawaii Islands to Visit? A Guide to Paradise

Hawaii is a nature lover’s paradise with cascading waterfalls, towering volcanoes and some of the most stunning coastal scenery in the world. Planning what Hawaii islands to visit can be overwhelming, but fear not – every single one of the Hawaii islands is completely captivating. Whether you visit the family-friendly beaches in Oahu or explore unspoilt landscapes on Lanai, this tropical paradise has a destination for everyone.

Rainbow Falls, Hawaii
Photo| Rainbow Falls in Hawaii | GETTYIMAGES – IMAGE BY NONAC_DIGI FOR THE GREEN MAN

With over 400 million visitors to HotelsCombined, we’ve created a helpful guide to help you narrow down which Hawaii islands to visit. We’ve highlighted some of the biggest bucket-list-worthy activities on each island and Hawaii’s top hotels nearby. Say “Aloha” to a vacation of a lifetime!

Why Oahu is One of the Best Hawaii Islands to Visit

Waikiki Beach at dusk, Oahu, Hawaii Islands to visit
Photo| Waikiki Beach Hawaii | GETTYIMAGES – M SWIET PRODUCTIONS

Oahu is one of the best Hawaii islands to visit for travellers on a budget, or for city lovers that want to mix a bit of shopping into their vacation getaway. Home to the capital city Honolulu, Oahu has a bit of everything. Hike lush rainforests, surf world-class breaks or relax on a white-sand beach, then visit historic sites or enjoy the nightlife scene.

Scenic View Of Sea And Mountains, Hawaii Islands to visit
Photo| Scenic View in Hawaii | GETTYIMAGES – TIMUR ALEXANDROV – EYEEM

Best Experiences on Oahu

  • Stroll the shoreline of Waikiki Beach or dive in the waters on a snorkelling excursion at Hanauma Bay.
  • Marvel at pro surfers in North Shore, the legendary birthplace of big wave surfing.
  • Visit Pearl Harbor to explore the historic sites recounting the Pearl Harbor attack.

Best Hotels on Oahu

The Kahala Hotel & Resort

The Kahala Hotel & Resort
Photo| The Kahala Hotel & Resort | Provided by LEONARDO

You’ll be given an “Aloha” lei greeting at The Kahala Hotel & Resort, which is backed by a private white sandy beach with complimentary loungers. Relax by the oceanfront pool or enjoy a massage at the spa, then choose from multiple on-site restaurants, including Hoku with its upscale Hawaiian dishes and ocean views.

Accommodation here offers a range of scenic views, from the Beach Front Lanais with a private patio and ocean views to Dolphin Lanais with views of dolphins playing in a private lagoon. Upgrade to an ultra-luxe Scenic Ocean View Suite for Ko’olau mountain, Pacific Ocean and Koko Head Crater views.

Nearby Attractions

  • Waiʻalae Beach Park (500 metres)
  • Kahala Mall (2 kilometres)
  • Diamond Head Beach Park (4 kilometres)

Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 395 – USD 2,555
Guest Rating: 9.1
Address: 5000 Kahala Avenue, Kahala, Honolulu, United States

The Royal Hawaiian A Luxury Collection Resort Waikiki

The Royal Hawaiian A Luxury Collection Resort Waikiki
Photo| The Royal Hawaiian A Luxury Collection Resort Waikiki | Provided by LEONARDO

One of HotelsCombined’s top Waikiki Beach hotels, The Royal Hawaiian A Luxury Collection Resort Waikiki is known as the “Pink Palace of the Pacific”. Spacious rooms feature luxury bedding and flat-screen LCD TVs, while upgraded Mailani Tower Ocean Doubles boast a private balcony with ocean views. Families can stay in the bi-level Mailani Family Loft Suite.

Bask in the sunshine at the private beach or intimate pool area. On-site dining is highlighted by fresh seafood at Azure, while Mai Tai Bar pairs creative cocktails with live music and Abhasa Spa features outdoor treatment cabanas. Don’t miss the Royal Hawaiian Luau, Waikiki’s only oceanfront luau.

Nearby Attractions

Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 296 – USD 4,768
Guest Rating: 8.8
Address: 2259 Kalakaua Avenue, Waikiki, Honolulu, United States

Hotel Location

Why Maui is One of the Best Hawaii Islands to Visit

Sliding Sands Trail, Haleakala National Park, Hawaii Islands to visit
Photo| Haleakala National Park | GETTYIMAGES – ED FREEMAN
Female Hiker in Hawaii, Hawaii islands to visit
Photo| Pipiwai Maui Bamboo Forest Hiker | GETTYIMAGES – DAREKM101

Nicknamed “The Valley Isle”, Maui is not only one of the best Hawaii islands to visit for honeymooners, but also families and first-time visitors. The figure eight-shaped island has golden beaches, lush rainforests and scenic drives as well as thriving dining, shopping and nightlife scenes. In winter months, it’s possible to see migrating humpback whales.

Humpback whale in Hawaii, Hawaii islands to visit
Photo| Humpback Whale in Hawaii | GETTYIMAGES – M SWIET PRODUCTIONS

Best Experiences on Maui

  • Drive on the Road to Hana for idyllic island views with cascading waterfalls.
  • Soak up the sunshine at picture-perfect Kaanapali Beach, one of Maui’s best surfing spots.
  • Head to Haleakala National Park to see a spectacular sunrise from the summit of a volcano.

Best Hotels on Maui

Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa

Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa
Photo| Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa | Provided by LEONARDO

Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa is a slice of paradise, set on 16 hectares of oceanfront property on Ka’anapali Beach. Stylish rooms each have their own private balcony with ocean, mountain or garden views. Deluxe Ocean Suites are at the epitome of oceanfront living with a separate living room, wet bar and multiple balconies.

The resort features a beachfront spa and multiple dining options, including a traditional Hawaiian luau and Hawaiian Shave Ice that is a hit with kids. Watch penguin feedings, sign up for hula lessons or swim up to the unique Grotto Bar for a frozen cocktail.

Nearby Attractions

  • Whalers Village (1 kilometre)
  • Kaanapali Beach (600 metres)
  • Ka’anapali Golf Courses (1.4 kilometres)

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 510 – USD 1,317
Guest Rating: 8.2
Address: 200 Nohea Kai Drive, Lahaina, Hawaii, United States

The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua

The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua
Photo| The Ritz – Carlton Kapalua | Provided by THE RITZ – CARLTON KAPALUA

HotelsCombined visitors consider The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua one of the top-rated hotels in Maui, boasting a luxury spa, lagoon-style pool and multiple dining options, including fine dining at Banyan Tree and signature burgers and milkshakes at the Burger Shack. There’s also sailing, kayaking and whale watching excursions available.

Couples looking for romance can book the Ocean View One Bedroom Residence with a kitchen, deep soaking tub, living room and ocean views. Want to save money? Book the cosy Terrace Guest Room with a private balcony, flat-screen TV and marble bathroom.

Nearby Attractions

  • Kapalua Coastal Trail (1.9 kilometres)
  • D.T. Fleming Park (1.2 kilometres)
  • Makaluapuna Point (1 kilometre)

Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 669 – USD 8,452
Guest Rating: 9.1
Address: One Ritz-Carlton Drive, Kapalua, Hawaii, United States

Hotel Location

Why The Big Island is One of the Best Hawaii Islands to Visit

Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, The Big Island
Photo| Hawaii Islands | GETTYIMAGES – WESTEND61

One of the best Hawaii islands to visit if you have a thirst for adventure, The Big Island is home to waterfalls, rainforests and an active volcano. Snap photos of Hilo’s 24-metre-tall Rainbow Falls, enjoy a scenic drive up the Hamakua Coast and bask in the sunshine at Hapuna Beach Park, the largest of the island’s white-sand beaches.

Scenic View Of Waterfall, Hawaii islands to visit
Photo| Scenic Waterfall View | GETTYIMAGES – KATE BAUMWELL – EYEEM

Best Experiences on Hawaii’s Big Island

  • Marvel at panoramic island views from the hiking trails in Waipio Valley.
  • See one of the world’s most active volcanoes at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
  • Leap off the famed overhang at South Point, the southernmost point in the United States.

Best Hotels on Hawaii’s Big Island

Four Seasons Resort Hualalai

Four Seasons Resort Hualalai
Photo| Four Seasons Resort Hualalai | Provided by LEONARDO

Surrounded by white sand beaches, Four Seasons Resort Hualalai lives up to its luxury brand name with 5-star families, including seven pools, a lavish spa, 18-hole golf course and tennis courts. Dine in the open-air dining room at Beach Tree or enjoy sushi and cocktails at Ulu Sushi Lounge. Alternatively, kids will love the outdoor adventures at Camp Manitou.

Oceanfront Rooms feature a king-size bed, flat-screen TV and balcony with ocean views, while one-story bungalow Kailani Suites add furnished patios facing the ocean. For a private plunge pool and whirlpool, stay in the palatial Makaloa Villa with three bedrooms.

Nearby Attractions

Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 840 – USD 5,262
Guest Rating: 9.9
Address: 72-100 Ka`upulehu Drive, The Big Island, Hawaii, United States

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel
Photo| Mauna Kea Beach Hotel | Provided by LEONARDO

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is set on a beautiful stretch of white sand beach and features a sparkling pool, oceanfront golf course and luxury spa with massages, aromatherapy and skincare services. Enjoy Sunday Brunch at Manta or coffee and treats at Copper Bar Cafe, then tuck into seafood favourites at the beachfront Clambake buffet.

Offering furnished balconies with ocean or golf course views, spacious rooms feature flat-screen TVs, mini fridges and coffee makers. If you enjoy morning walks or sunset strolls, the ground-floor Beachfront Wing rooms are the closest to the beach.

Nearby Attractions

  • Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site (4.7 kilometres)
  • Waimea (19.6 kilometres)
  • Hapuna Beach State Park (4.1 kilometres)

Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 587 – USD 1,356
Guest Rating: 9.1
Address: 62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Drive, Puako, Hawaii, United States

Hotel Location

Why Kauai is One of the Best Hawaii Islands to Visit

Na Pali coast, Hawaii islands to visit
Photo| Na Pali Coast in Kauai | GETTYIMAGES – PIRIYA PHOTOGRAPHY

Also known as the “Garden Island”, Kauai is the oldest of the main Hawaii Islands. Considered one of the best Hawaii islands to visit if you’re a nature lover, beach bum or simply want to escape the tourist crowds, its landscapes are mostly unspoilt. The island’s dramatic natural beauty is highlighted at Waimea Canyon, nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”.

hiking in canyon, Hawaii islands to visit
Photo| Canyon Hikers in Hawaii | GETTYIMAGES – COLIN ANDERSON PRODUCTIONS PTY LTD

Best Experiences on Kauai

  • Admire the cascading waters of Wailua Falls, Kauai’s most popular waterfall.
  • Stretch your legs while enjoying stunning coastal views on the Kalalau Trail.
  • Book a helicopter tour over the cliffs and valleys of the postcard-perfect Na Pali coast.

Best Hotels on Kauai

Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa

Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa
Photo| Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa | Provided by GRAND HYATT KAUAI RESORT & SPA

Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa is a luxury oasis with lush gardens, inviting pools and ocean-view dining as well as a championship golf course and relaxing spa. Dine on Hawaiian dishes at Tidepools, which features thatched-roof bungalows above a koi-filled lagoon, or join the Grand Hyatt Kauai Luau. For a tropical cocktail, visit the poolside Captain’s Bar or beachfront Shipwreck Bar.

Chic rooms feature private patios with garden, Pacific Ocean or mountainside views. Ocean View Suites feature a separate living room, walkout patio and Nespresso machine, while opulent Presidential Suites add a full kitchen and whirlpool tub.

Nearby Attractions

Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 499 – USD 2,646
Guest Rating: 9.1
Address: 1571 Poipu Road, Poipu, Hawaii, United States

The Villas at Poipu Kai

The Villas at Poipu Kai
Photo| The Villas at Poipu Kai | Provided by THE VILLAS AT POIPU KAI

Boasting one to five-bedroom luxury villas, The Villas at Poipu Kai is the perfect option for couples, large groups and families. Villas include gourmet kitchens, expansive patios, large living areas and mountain, ocean or pool views. Ohana House features a BBQ Grill and washer and dryer, while the Custom Penthouse can sleep up to eight.

Relax on a plush lounger at the pool, get a massage at the spa or go boogie boarding at Brennecke Beach, while the tennis courts and an exercise facility appeals to active travellers. Helicopter tours, hiking, snorkelling, kayaking and surfing excursions are also available.

Nearby Attractions

Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 329 – USD 1,499
Guest Rating: 9.3
Address: 2373 Hoohu Road, Poipu, Hawaii, United States

Hotel Location

Why Lanai is One of the Best Hawaii Islands to Visit

Lanai Sunset Resort Beach, Hawaii Islands to visit
Photo| Lanai Sunset Resort Beach | GETTYIMAGES – M SWIET PRODUCTIONS

Lanai is a hotspot for A-list celebrities, home to luxury resorts that not only provide seclusion and exclusivity but also endless pampering. It’s one of the best Hawaii islands to visit if you’re looking for a luxury vacation, where you can enjoy uncrowded beaches, follow scenic hiking trails or check out the galleries and boutiques in Lanai City.

Lanai, Garden of the Gods, Red dirt road, Hawaii islands to visit
Photo| Lanai Garden of the Gods in Hawaii | GETTYIMAGES – WALTER BIBIKOW

Best Experiences on Lanai

  • Catch a sunrise at Shipwreck Beach, then see the sunset from Puu Pehe, or “Sweetheart Rock”.
  • Rent a 4-wheel and go off-roading to one of Lanai’s secluded beaches.
  • Take a day trip to see Maui’s top attractions via the Lanai Ferry.

Best Hotels on Lanai

Four Seasons Resort Lana’i

Four Seasons Resort Lana'i
Photo| Four Seasons Resort Lana’i | Provided by FOUR SEASONS RESORT LANA’I

Four Seasons Resort Lana’i is a luxury resort with lagoon-style pools, botanical gardens, a golf course and lavish spa with poolside services. Enjoy fresh sushi at Nobu Lanai or Wagyu beef at One Forty American Steak, while Malibu Farm serves organic fare sourced from the garden. Many of the island’s most scenic spots are best reached by foot or 4X4.

Entry-level Garden-View Rooms feature a furnished balcony, Nespresso machine and king-size bed, while Ohana Prime Oceanfront Suites boast a separate living room, dining table and private lanai with ocean views. For three lanais, mid-century style and two bedrooms, upgrade to the Alii Royal Suite.

Nearby Attractions

  • Puʻu Pehe (1.4 kilometres)
  • Garden of the Gods (24 kilometres)
  • Lānaʻi Airport (16.8 kilometres)

Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 1,231 – USD 6,179
Guest Rating: 9.8
Address: 1 Manele Bay Road, Lanai City, Hawaii, United States

Hotel Lanai

Hotel Lanai, Hawaii Island to visit
Photo| Hotel Lanai| Provided by HOTEL LANAI

Hotel Lanai is a quiet plantation-inspired retreat that blends rustic modern style with vintage charm at the heart of Lanai city. Its stylish accommodations feature luxury linens and flat-screen TVs. Separate from its 11 rooms, the Cottage has a separate living room, private lanai and king-size bed.

Enjoy complimentary continental breakfast, then sign up for popular island activities such as snorkelling, sunset sailing, scuba diving or hiking. If you’re an adventure seeker, there’s also private UTV Tours, clay shooting and horseback riding trails.

Nearby Attractions

  • Lānaʻi Airport (6.3 kilometres)
  • Puʻu Pehe (13.1 kilometres)
  • Hulopoe Beach (12.7 kilometres)

Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 401 – USD 1,002
Guest Rating: 8
Address: 828 Lanai Avenue, Lanai City, Hawaii, United States

Hotel Location

Why Molokai is One of the Best Hawaii Islands to Visit

Molokai coast and mountain, Hawaii islands to visit
Photo| Molokai Coast | GETTYIMAGES – SHOBEIR ANSARI

For a secret island getaway, Molokai is one of the best Hawaii islands to visit for an authentic Hawaiian experience. With no mega-resorts or even traffic lights, this idyllic destination embraces a slower pace of life. You’ll find a true off-the-beaten-path atmosphere on Molokai, where relaxing on beautiful beaches and outdoor adventures are the top things to do.

Island of Molokai, Hawaii islands to visit
Photo| Molokai Island | GETTYIMAGES – DON WHITE

Best Experiences on Molokai

  • Only accessible via aircraft, visit Kalaupapa National Historical Park to see some of the tallest sea cliffs in the world.
  • Join a cultural hike through Halawa Valley and swim in the waters of Mo’oula Falls.
  • Sunbathe, swim or enjoy a serene walk through Papohaku Beach Park.

Best Hotels on Molokai

Hotel Molokai

Hotel Molokai
Photo| Hotel Molokai | Provided by BOOKING.COM

Located on Kamiloloa Beach and adjacent to Hawaii’s only barrier reef, Hotel Molokai is a Polynesian-style village with cosy bungalows. Admire the ocean views from the expansive pool, then visit Hiro’s Ohana Grill for sunset views and seasonal seafood dishes.

Garden View Rooms feature king-size beds, air conditioning and a private patio, while Oceanfront Deluxe Suites have wrap-around balconies with ocean and mountain views. Garden View Deluxe rooms can accommodate up to six and include a fully stocked kitchenette.

Nearby Attractions

Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 180 – USD 302
Guest Rating: 7.7
Address: P.O Box 1020 Kamehameha V Highway, Kaunakakai, Hawaii, United States

Molokai Shores

Molokai Shores is an oceanfront property with Polynesian-style condos. Spacious one and two-bedroom condos include family-friendly in-room perks such as full kitchens, complimentary Wi-Fi and cable TV, as well as private lanais to take in the beachfront views.

Take a dip in the oceanfront pool, then whip up a meal with the BBQ facilities and relax in the grassy courtyard in the picnic area. With direct access to a white-sand beach, you’re spoilt for choice with water-based activities.

Nearby Attractions

  • Paddlers Inn restaurant (2 kilometres)
  • Kiowea Beach Park (5.4 kilometres)
  • Kanemitsu’s Bakery & Coffee Shop (2.2 kilometres)

Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 133 – USD 327
Guest Rating: 6.7
Address: Kamehameha V Highway, Kaunakakai, Hawaii, United States

Hotel Location

Tropical Hawaii Islands Meet Beachfront Accommodation

Scuba diver, Hawaiin Islands to visit
Photo| Scuba Diver in Hawaiian Reef | GETTYIMAGES – COLIN ANDERSON PRODUCTIONS PTY LTD

Few places on Earth rival the natural beauty of the Hawaii islands, and there’s simply no wrong choice on where you decide to visit. Each island boasts untouched natural landscapes, idyllic coastlines and an inviting “aloha” spirit, where you can pack an itinerary with outdoor adventures or nothing at all. After you choose which Hawaii islands to visit, stay at one of these luxury resorts, which offer on-site perks such as gourmet restaurants, lavish spas and oceanfront pools.

What do you think are the best Hawaii islands to visit? Let us know in the comments below.

Author: Charity De Souza

Born and raised in Orlando, Florida, I have been travelling with my battered backpack full-time for over a decade. My favourite travel memories include skydiving in Switzerland, wine tasting in Portugal, road tripping through Iceland, snorkelling in Indonesia and watching a sunset in the Sahara Desert.

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