One of the 50 states of the USA, Hawaii is a group of islands that were created by volcanic eruptions caused by Pacific Plate movement over many years. Famous for its tropical climate and amazing landscapes, the Hawaiian islands are home to a rare Polynesian culture and some of the most popular holiday destinations in the world. Attracting thousands of tourists each year is Honolulu’s famous Waikiki Beach, the lush iconic beauty of Kauai, the hot lava of the active volcano on the Big Island and the breathtaking sunsets of Maui.
Hawaii’s six islands offer an incredible range of holiday experiences. The Hawaiian Islands offer something for everyone, from relaxation, amazing beaches and soft adventure to incredible shopping, delicious cuisine and lively entertainment. Each island offers its own distinct charm and attractions but choosing which one is right for you can be difficult, especially when they all look so good! We help you decide which Hawaiian island best suits you and your holiday plans.
Home to the capital city of Honolulu and the world-famous Waikiki Beach, Oahu is also known as the ‘heart of Hawaii’ and offers a unique mix of town and country experiences. Soak up some history at the Pearl Harbour and USS Arizona Memorial, get active and explore the volcanic cone of Diamond Head or test your movie knowledge at famous filming locations at Kualoa Ranch.
For surfing and nature experiences, head to the North Shore which hugs the Pacific coastline. Here you’ll famous surf beaches including Waimea Bay, Sunset Beach and Bonzai Pipeline. Explore the barefoot town of Haleiwa whose main street is lined with food trucks hawking the local specialty – butter-laden golden fried shrimp. Cool off with the famous local delicacy at Matsumoto Shave Ice.
Nothing can prepare you for the immense natural beauty that is packed into this little island. Known as Hawaii’s ‘island of discovery’, Kauai is the oldest of the Hawaiian islands and is green, tropical and wild. A world of cascading waterfalls, hidden caves, rainforest covered cliffs, remote beaches and ancient myth, Kauai is an island of primeval beauty unlike anywhere else in the world.
A helicopter tour is a must, with sweeping views of the incredible gaping chasm of Waimea Canyon. Considered the ‘Grand Canyon of the Pacific, yawning crater is punctuated with crags and gorges formed from rust red lave rock and offset by a cloak of jade and emerald green. At more than 1.5km wide, 1km deep and 22 km long, the silvery waterfalls, ever-changing colours and eye-popping views of Waimea Canyon from the air will leave you speechless.
The Na Pali Coast is another breathtaking must-see on the island’s north-west. Only accessible by air or boat, you’ll discover remote beaches, pristine waterholes, hidden caves, secret valleys and fluted cliffs that rise more than 1200m above the sapphire blue waters. Born of ancient myth and legend, the Na Pali Coast and Hawaii’s ‘Garden Island’, Kauai must truly be seen to be believed.
The Big Island, also known as Hawaii Island, is an island of adventure where you can discover all but two of the world’s climactic zones. An unrivalled expression of nature’s power, the Big Island is home to the only active volcano in Hawaii and is the ultimate combination of nature, history and the irresistible Hawaiian laidback lifestyle.
Pele, Hawaii’s goddess of fire, is busy on the Big Island. Kilauea is her home and also one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Since 1983 it has been oozing molten lava, destroying 181 houses and creating over 200 hectares of new land. Creating a surreal almost lunar landscape, the silver sheen and pitch black lava features liquid rock, patches of red and burning trees trapped in the flow. After sunset, the sky is lit by the glow of volcanic gas plumes emitting from Halema‘uma‘u crater. If you’re lucky enough to visit during active lava flow, you can witness the hissing act of creation as fiery lava spills into the ocean.
For more volcanic action, the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park allows visitors to drive the almost 18km Crater Rim Drive, through misty fern rainforest and past steam vents and volcanic desert, pit craters and sulphur vents. A unique and spectacular prehistoric experience, visitors can also see Mauna Loa, the largest active volcano in the world – don’t worry, the last time it erupted was 1984.
Maui, Hawaii’s ‘Valley Isle’, is the perfect place to escape the tourist crowds. With quite a small population, Maui has consistently been voted the best island in the world by both magazines and travellers. The second-largest island in Hawaii, Maui boasts volcanic landscapes, lush green scenery and pristine beaches…and that’s just the beginning.
Hana is the main, tranquil township in Maui where traditional ways are still strong and are reflected in a deep respect for ohana (family) and aina (the land). The highway to Hana is a route that snakes its way through lush jungle, tumbling waterfalls and spectacular seascapes. Taro is still cultivated, as are vast bamboo stands, avocados, mangoes and guava. Church spires pop up out of the tulip trees, ferns and greenery. In total there are 620 curves, 46 one-lane bridges, a few two-lane bridges and countless local stalls offering mountain apples, fresh-baked banana cake or shave ice. It’s paradise on earth and it’s here in Maui.
So, which island appeals to you?