Hawaii’s Islands – All You Need To Know

Here’s a brief guide to Hawaii’s islands and what you can find on each one…

There are 19 islands in the Hawaii Archipelago, but only 6 of the main 8 islands are open to tourism. These are Hawaii, Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Molokai and Lanai.

Hawaii’s Islands – Hawai’i (The Big Island)
Called ‘The Big Island’ to differentiate from the name of the State, Hawaii Island is the biggest of the islands, comprising of over 50% of the total area. It is a volcanic island with Mauna Loa being the biggest and most active Volcano on Earth which is located near Mauna Kea which is the world’s largest mountain (taller than Mount Everest if you include the part that is underwater). These volcanoes are found within the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, were you will also find the Kilauea Visitor Center and a number of hiking trails.

The main city on this island is Hilo which is the 2nd largest city of Hawaii State after Honolulu. This city is a perfect base for exploring the eastern side of the island but before heading out you might save some time to visit such attractions as the Pacific Tsunami Museum, the Lili’uokalani Gardens, or any of the other museums. In addition to visiting the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park; you could visit Akaka Falls State Park and the Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo.

Hawaii’s Islands – O’ahu (The Gathering Place)
Oahu is the 3rd largest island and it is where you will find the state capital Honolulu. It is also home 85% of the state population, and forms the only really metropolitan area on these islands. This is the most likely place you will be flying into as Honolulu International Airport is the main airport for the state.

One important historical area to visit would be Pearl Harbour, site of the surprise attack that brought the USA into WWII in December 1941. The main attraction here is the USS Arizona National Memorial. Other attractions of Oahu include the Polynesian Cultural Center, the Bishop Museum, and perhaps visit one of the 30 and 40 great tourist beaches.

Hawaii’s Islands – Maui (The Valley Isle)
The 2nd largest island, and has regularly been voted the best of the islands over the last few years. There are a number of great places to visit on this island including the Haleakala National Park, one must-do activity is getting up early and watching a sunrise over Haleakala volcano; the Road to Hana, is one of the most beautiful drives, through lush rainforest, in the world; and a number of other parks.

Hawaii’s Islands – Kaua’i (The Garden Isle)
This is the oldest of the islands and it is covered in lush flora and tropical species of plants. Some of the main attractions of the island include the Waimea Canyon and the Na Pali Coast, which have been formed by erosion. Other attractions include the Lydgate State Park and the Huleia National Wildlife Refuge. This is definitely the most relaxing of the islands so this is where you will come if you want to get away from it all.

Hawaii’s Islands – Moloka’i (The Friendly Isle)
The least developed island and formerly a site for a Leper Colony. You can visit the Kalaupapa National Historical Park which details the history of the Leper Colony.

Hawaii’s Islands – Lana’i (The Pineapple Isle)
The smallest of these islands and formerly a privately owned island which was used for the worlds largest pineapple plantation. Today the island is home to a number of exclusive resorts, mainly the Manele Bay and the Lodge at Koele

Getting around any given island is most easily done by renting a car, however these can be in high demand so it is best to book your car as early as possible. Luckily there is a ferry connecting Oahu and Maui; with a planned route to Kauai in the future so you only need to hire one car during your trip. If you want to get a rental car you can see all our options on our Hawaii car rental page.

So if you have any questions why not leave your message in the comment box below.