Which Hawaiian Island Is Right For You?
First Time Visitors' Guide
Hawaii is known to have some of the best beaches in the world. Each island offers a unique experience all its own. You can explore everything from rugged coastal hikes, waterfalls, volcanoes, canyons, lush tropical rainforest and more. When you need a break from the beach, there are memorials, cultural centers, shopping, botanical gardens, aerial and ground tours and a plethora of other activities to give you a bit of relief from the Hawaiian sun.
Selecting the right island that best meets your vacation goals is very important. The islands are very different when it comes to experiences, activities, sights and terrain. We recommend you visit only one or two islands for your first visit. We have had a favorite island since our first visit to Hawaii many years ago. But we'll put our bias aside for a while and objectively tell you about the beautiful islands in the Hawaiian chain so you too can pick the island that's just right for you.
Overview of each major island
The Garden Isle
Kauai is majestic with emerald mountains, tropical rainforests and cascading waterfalls. Visit Waimea Canyon “the Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” or one of the more than 60 beaches dotting the coast of “The Garden Isle.” From the moment you step off the plane and onto the sacred grounds of Kauai, you will know you have landed in paradise. E Komo Mai…(welcome). Learn more...
The Gathering Place
Oahu is home to Honolulu, Waikiki Beach and Pearl Harbor. With over 7 million visitors a year, it is truly the heart of Hawaii. Voted #2 best U.S. city for winter travel in 2015, Honolulu is filled with activity, culture and sights to see. If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city, the island of Oahu has plenty of places to visit if you as well. A great choice for first time visitors. Learn more...
The Big Island
Hawaii Island is nearly twice the size of all the other islands combined and home to all but two of the world’s climatic zones, Hawaii’s terrain spans from colored beaches (white, black and green) to a lush rainforest with beautiful waterfalls, two active volcanoes and hard lava deserts. Go horseback riding at a Hawaiian Dude Ranch, snow skiing on Mauna Kea or just relax at an extravagant beachfront resort and work on your Hawaiian tan. The Big Island has something for everyone. Learn more...
When To Visit Hawaii
Many people want to know when to visit Hawaii. In our opinion, any day of the year is just fine. With that being said, there are many factors you should consider when planning your first trip to Hawaii. In general the weather is always good in Hawaii. They do have drier and wetter times of the year but even the rainy season is not a bad time to go. Many locations in Hawaii get very little rainfall a year and those would be ideal if you want avoid rain for the most part.
Remember the rain is what brings the lush tropical vegetation to the Hawaiian Islands and you can almost always count on a rainbow afterwards. Check each island profile page for more information on weather for that island.
Crowds are also something to consider when traveling to Hawaii. The summer brings lots of families and hotel prices and airline tickets are at their peak during this time. If you are not a lover of crowds, avoid visiting the islands during any holiday period.
Weather in Hawaii
Daytime temperatures generally range from the low 80s (27°C) in "winter" to the high 80s (31°C) in "summer". Evening temperatures are generally no more than 20°F (12°C) less than daytime highs. Ocean temperatures range between 77°F (25°C) degrees in the winter to 82°F (28°C) in the summer.
Depending on where you are in Hawaii, the weather can be very different even a short distance away. At any given time, you might find sun over the beaches in Waikiki and rain only a few miles away in Manoa Valley.
The islands are more likely to get rain on the north and east sides as well as the mountain peaks and valleys. The coastal areas on the south and west side of the islands typically receive less rain.
October to March is the "wet" season in Hawaii with cooler temperatures and more rainfall. The "dry" season is from April to September with warmer temperatures and less rainfall.
Getting to Hawaii
Most major carriers serve Honolulu International Airport (HNL), on the island of Oahu, the entry point for most of Hawaii's visitors. There are also direct flights from the U.S. mainland to Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii Island, but for the most part, you may need to connect through Oahu to get to the neighbor islands.
Flight times from Honolulu International Airport (HNL), Oahu to:
Lihue Airport (LIH), Kauai: 30 minutes
Kahului Airport (OGG), Maui: 30 minutes
Kapalua-West Maui Airport (JHM), Maui: 30 minutes
Molokai Airport (MKK), Molokai: 20 minutes
Lanai Airport (LNY), Lanai: 25 minutes
Hilo International Airport (ITO), Hawaii’s Big Island: 50 minutes
Kona International Airport (KOA), Hawaii’s Big Island: 45 minutes