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As someone who is still learning and exploring the islands of Hawaii, it got me thinking about what is the best island to visit in Hawaii?
In researching this topic and from personal experience, when it comes to choosing the “best” island it is a matter of personal preference and your vacation goals. If you’re traveling as a family the “best” island for you may be different than if you’re a solo traveler. The best way to decide which is the best island for you is to visit each one. However, I realize that that may not be possible for most. So, I want to help provide you with this guide when it comes time to choose which island to visit.
The Hawaiian Islands are a chain of eight major islands. However, the total number of islands recognized is 137. All of the Hawaiian Islands are special and beautiful in their own way. The eight major Hawaiian Islands are Hawai’i (The Big Island), Maui (The Valley Isle), Oahu (The Gathering Place), Kauai (The Garden Isle), Molokai (The Friendly Isle), Lanai (The Pineapple Isle), Nihau (The Forbidden Isle), and Kahoolawe (The Target Isle).In is this guide we’ll take a closer look at the islands as well as some personal recommendations. Let this be a guide in your decision, not the final say. Hawaii is meant to be explored and discovered. I simply wanted to provide an overview for you as you plan your next visit to Hawaii. Below you will find an overview of the most visited Hawaiian islands (Kauai, Oahu, Maui, and Hawai’i) along with Pros and Cons for each.



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Bryan 0:00
On this episode of Hawaii's Best we're talking about the best Island visit on your next Hawaiian vacation. So stay tuned. You don't want to miss this one. Let's go.

Hawaii's Best 0:11
Hello, ha Welcome to Hawaii's Best podcast, learn the story behind Hawaii's Best experiences, influencers and businesses. Discover everything that makes Hawaii the Aloha state. And now your host, Brian Murphy. Hello and welcome to Hawaii's Best where we explore Hawaii's Best experiences, businesses and influencers. And we get to hear the story behind them. Hey, I am your host, Brian Murphy. And I just want to say thank you so much for your time and for joining me today. Your time is very valuable and precious. And I just want to say I don't take that for granted. And I just I'm so glad that you're here and that you're tuning in. To stay up to date on future episodes, hit that subscribe button, and it'd be so kinda reviewed to just drop a rating below.

Bryan 1:00
just takes one click and that just helps other people who love Hawaii just like you be able to find this conversation. You know, I want to try something new on this episode. This is a solo episode, we're talking all about the best island to visit on your next vacation. And on these solo episodes, I want to give a chance for you to hear some of the reviews from other people who have found this podcast to be helpful for them. So this podcast review of the week comes from Leanne Jr. She writes awesome highlights of Hawaii. I love this podcast. I was born on Oahu and now visit one to two times a year with my husband and friends. We love to support local businesses and I really enjoyed the deep dive into how these businesses and owners help Hawaii thrive. There's a special focus on protecting the environment recycling and sustainable energy. There are great tips for visitors woven through

The episodes as well Mahalo for an awesome podcast. Leann Jr. on Apple podcast, I just want to say thank you so much for that review. That means the world to me, that is exactly why we do these episodes and you you hit it on the head. We tell the stories behind some Hawaii's Best influencers and businesses. But more than that, we have a heart for ecotourism and sustainable energy, and protecting our islands. And really, no matter where you're at in the world, in a sense, we are all living on an island and I hope you get that impression as you listen to and through these episodes, that Yeah, Hawaii is isolated, the most isolated landmass entire world. So it's pretty obvious that the sustainable efforts in Hawaii need to be at the forefront of a lot of our minds. But however, whether you live on the mainland or wherever you live in the world We all utilize resources that are limited. And it's important to recognize that and how we can reuse those those resources. And it's important to recognize what are some of those things that we put in our body on our body, some of the episodes coming up and some of the blog posts that we'll be talking about, our gonna reference some of those thoughts. So from sunscreen to what you put on your body, all of it really matters. And I think all of it correlates with how we experience Hawaii to its full. And probably when you tune in today, you weren't thinking you were going to get like a lecture on about health and sustainability. But really, Hawaii is so much more than a beautiful place. It really is a state of mind and how we protect the natural resources that we've been blessed with this podcast is a podcast that yes, it highlights the amazing things about Hawaii but it also goes in a little bit more in depth about how we can can sustain and protect what's been given to us. But like I mentioned, today we are talking about what is the best island to visit in Hawaii? And this is a question that I get a lot on our Instagram page at Hawaii's Best. And although this question may be simple to answer, it's a very personal question. And we're going to unpack today, the four major islands of Hawaii and some questions you may want to consider and choosing the right next island for you and your next vacation to Hawaii. So with that, let's go in and talk sorry about the best island to visit on your next Hawaiian vacation.

Now, as someone who is still learning and exploring the islands of Hawaii, it got me thinking about what is the best island to visit in Hawaii and in researching this topic, I wanted to give you some of my own personal expression But I also want to bring together some other collective minds who have, who have a lot of knowledge on all the islands more so than I do. And when choosing the next best Island, it really is, like I mentioned a matter of personal preference, and your vacation goals you know, if you're traveling as a family, the best island for you may be different than if you're a solo traveler. So that's something to consider as you're listening to this list and we put together a blog post that corresponds with this episode. So you can just go to the show notes and there's a link to that blog posts go to live Hawaii's Best comm slash episode zero to seven, you have a direct link to the blog post on this episode. So really, the best way to decide which is the best island for you is to visit each one personally and however, I realized that that may not be possible for most and that is totally fine. I want to Be able to provide you this guide, and helping you to decide which island to consider in your next visit. Now, the Hawaiian Islands are a chain of eight major islands. However, the total number of islands recognized is 137. All the Hawaiian Islands are special and beautiful in their own way to say which one is best, is hard to put into words which one is really best because really the one that is best for you, and it's best for your family or whomever you're traveling with. I really think it depends on the stage of life that you're in as deep as that sounds. Like if you're single, or if you're married, or if you're married with kids or you're married with kids and you're traveling with your extended family. more chances than not, there's gonna be certain islands that may fit you better and that's the purpose of this conversation. Now, you may have heard of the eight major islands I know you probably have heard of at least the four major islands which are Hawaii, the Big Island, Maui, the valley Island, Oahu the gathering place, kawaii, the Garden Island and the other ones that don't get talked about too much but are beautiful in their own right are malakai also called the friendly aisle linna. He is the final aisle, Niihau the forbidden aisle. And that is one that you can't stay on. That's why it's called the forbidden aisle. And then you have the island of Kahala a which is the target aisle. This is an island that's a compass is within the Maui country. You have call of a you have Lynn IE and you have Molokai II and Maui with this Maui country area and this island was used as target practice by the military. It's pretty much a desolate place and unfortunately this place has just undergone so Some huge fires. And there's some effort into rebuilding this place. And you can hear more about the efforts on this island with our interview with anila Evans who was on episode 24 so you can go to live Hawaii's Best comm slash episode zero to four you can have a conversation with an elder who lives on the island of Lanai he and hear all about life on the night he. So in our conversation, we'll take a closer look at the islands as well as some of our own personal recommendations. I just want to say before we dive into this list, and we're just going to talk about the four major islands talking about Hawaii, a wahoo, Maui and Hawaii, the Big Island. I just want this to be a conversation and let this kind of be a guide, not necessarily like the final decision in your next visit. So it's going to be a personal preference. However, I want to give you some things to consider before your next visit. So With that said Hawaii really is meant to be explored and discovered. So I simply want to provide an overview for you as you plan your next visit to Hawaii. So let's go ahead and we're going to start off with the garden isle of Hawaii.

Now kui is the oldest of the Hawaiian Islands and quiet remains surprisingly untouched. And not as developed as a wahoo. And Maui now over 90% of the land on Hawaii, is used for conservation and agriculture. 70% of the island is inaccessible by foot on Hawaii. It is very lush, it is very green. When you think about Hawaii, a lot of images of kawaii come to mind beautiful beaches, lush green, it has some of the most epic heights and views out of all the islands so what it lacks in its nightlife activity, which is pretty much none Quiet delivers with its stunning nature. So from the Pali coast and Queen's bath to Waimea, Canyon, Waimea, you can it's pretty much like the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. The views of kawaii won't disappoint. So if you're an outdoors person, Hawaii is a definite solid choice and if you like golfing or someone in your group, you're traveling with us quite he has some of the best golf courses also to offer. The two resort areas on Hawaii are typically poopoo on the south coast and princeville in the north, a few pros about choosing Hawaii. Like I mentioned, it has some of the best views in Hawaii. It's great for outdoor enthusiasts, people who love just to be outside, taking hikes and just being in nature. It's also small is quiet, it's slow. It has a really a crunchy feel to it. There is a huge chicken population on it. So if you like wildlife, if you Like just kind of being out in nature, quiet is a great choice. Now some of the cons. This is just kind of my own personal preference here. I don't feel it's as best for young families. The first time we went to Hawaii, our middle child, she was like one, and our oldest was probably four at the time, and we stay down and boy poo. And it just, it was really great when Ali and I always my wife, when we went out and we did stuff on our own, like we went to Waimea Canyon, and Northshore which is beautiful. But finding things to do for like young families was kind of hard to find. I don't think it's, it's impossible, but I think it's a little bit harder to find I would put it on the cons list. Also on the cons list. It can rain a lot. So just be prepared. Maybe that's a plus for you. Maybe that's a pro, but just be aware that the weather on kawaii can change pretty quickly, and it's important just to be prepared for that are just aware. And like I mentioned, it has limited nightlife and which means limited restaurants as compared to like a wahoo and Maui, but for for me I don't I don't mind that I'm not a huge nightlife guy or anything like that, but you might be and that's totally fine. So when it comes to kawaii I feel like it's best for honeymoons baby moons, retirement moons, if that's the thing. Couples and for solo travelers because of the hikes and because of the amazing scenery, grabbing a pic on Hawaii. Whether you're an amateur photographer, professional photographer, your images will be unreal. so quiet is a solid choice for those who love to get out into nature and just experience Hawaii to its full.

Next up is a wahoo and whenever somebody asks my opinion on what Island they should visit. They've never been to Hawaii I typically recommend going to a wahoo. First, the capital of Hawaii is Honolulu, which is located on a wahoo. And also it same as for Waikiki Beach. And However, a wahoo has so much more to offer than just the South Shore which we're, we're Honolulu and Waikiki is located on the island. And that's why I recommend a wahoo especially for first timers, especially for young families because I believe a wahoo has something for everybody was a great representation of all the islands and we're gonna walk you through just kind of the different sides of the island of Oahu. The windward side of the island or the east side is the wetter side so naturally, that side of the island is a lot greener, then the other side's that side of the island has one of the most beautiful beaches in all the world. It's called lanikai and it also has two islands off the shore. That You can continue to, if you follow us on Hawaii's Best on Instagram at Hawaii's Best. We post a lot of pictures of these two islands off this incredible beach and when you think about Hawaii, you think about why sandy beaches, calm blue turquoise waters and this is lanikai so you're going to want to get over to the east side for staying on wahoo you're going to want to get over to there because that beach is phenomenal. The sand is great. The water is always pretty much calm throughout the entire year. And it is one of those places. That is Pinterest. When you think about Hawaii, now like I mentioned the east side is very green and very lush. It has a as a country feel to it as you drive up to the North Shore on a wahoo and the more North you get on a wahoo feels more like Hawaii forget that Honolulu is like 45 minutes away but the North Shore has this great pace and this feel that you're gonna want to slow down you want to enjoy the vibe and the people in here you'll find some of the world's famous surf spots, you know talking about pipeline, Sunset Beach, these are the these are the spots that are famous for some of the the most incredible surf competitions in the entire world. during the summertime, these same areas, these same beaches are relatively calm, and during the wintertime, so talking about you know, like December through kind of March ish, the waves are are very intense, and they're very big and only experienced surfers are are encouraged to go out there. This is where they hold some of the the top competitions throughout the year. So if you're if you love the water, you want to get in the water. You're gonna want to I want to advise you to stay out of the water unless you are an experience. surfer or swimmer going on the North Shore during the wintertime, but during the summertime, it's relatively calm. If you're on a wahoo during the summertime, pretty much any of the shores are relatively calm. But if you haven't be on a wahoo during the wintertime, I would encourage you if you want to get into the water to go into the water and you know Waikiki Beach, any one of the beaches down there and a South Shore or west side can get a little choppy too. But Eastside over there, like I mentioned, lanikai is a great place to get in the water.

Now going over to the west side of Oahu, the leeward side the drier side of the island, you'll find some more resorts, you know, in the mid 80s, I believe. This area of colina was developed by Japanese investors and most recently the resorts of Disney's aulani. You've may have heard of Disney kind of getting their stake in Hawaii. They have an amazing resort over there on the west side of colina. Marriott's colina Beach Club which is amazing spa we love to get over there and relax. That's one of the places we love to wine. And within the same area of colina, which are these, these man made lagoons beautiful place. There's also a four seasons resort. Allahu colina. Those have been established and there's also plans to expand. So this west side of Oahu, which has kind of been like this hidden gem for a little while, is slowly becoming kind of the Waikiki of the west side. Also, over there, you have a city called copla. If you're familiar with like a suburban area, this area feels very normal to like there's a Costco target and all the amenities that you can think of when you think of a suburban area. So on the west side has kind of all your needs if you're vacationing. It's a great choice as an alternative to Waikiki which has Great night life scene but if you have a young family, I would encourage you to look over you know, chapala area, colina area or even on the North Shore Turtle Bay Resort. It's also another great place up there. There's also a Marriott up there to consider if you're looking to get out of Waikiki. There's not a lot of options on the east side. But I would definitely look at those few options. Out in the West it can be a little bit more pricey, but in my opinion is totally worth it. It's a little quieter. It's a little slower over there on the west side as compared to Waikiki. Now when it comes through the pros and cons for a wahoo, or like I mentioned has something to offer for everyone on their vacation list. Also, you can explore Hawaii's rich history and culture by going to the Killarney palace which is in Honolulu. That is a place I would definitely recommend if you are staying on a wahoo to go and experience The Kalani palace and here and learn more about what Hawaiian true culture is all about. Another pro about staying on Oahu is I I feel like he features some of the best weather in Hawaii. On the west side it could be a little bit drier but you still get the the rain clouds that rolling once in a while. Obviously the east side where I mentioned about lanikai Beach is a little bit wetter. You can get pretty great weather on a wahoo it's it's hard to say like which island has the best weather but I think a wahoo has some of the best stable weather at least in my opinion. A wahoo also has some incredible hikes and beaches, some hikes that are extreme. There are some hikes I won't I will not mention because they are technically illegal but they have some of the most incredible views and there's some hikes that are family friendly that are Really great to explore as a family but there's also some of those hikes if you're a little bit more adventurous you can find some of the cons about Hawaii who. Now this may be some pros, like I mentioned depends on where you're at. Right? So some of the cons I feel Honolulu is crowded and has the worst traffic and all of the islands in Hawaii. Now being from the LA area, Honolulu traffic feels very similar to LA. However, it has less aggressive drivers. If you're driving in LA in traffic, it's a definitely an intense experience. If you're driving in traffic in Honolulu, it's an experience that you just have to endure basically. But at least you don't have a lot of people honking their horns and we've been in our traffic you do have some but not like La La is crazy. Anytime we get back to lax and we get on the freeway, that first on ramp, I just like it like it hits me every time I'm like, Oh my gosh, I have to like I have to speed up like even though it's 65 I gotta go like 7580 just so I don't get hit. But at least the traffic in Honolulu is it stinks. But at least you don't have people. You know, we've been in and out as much as you do, say in LA. Also a con I feel it's, it's been harder. It kind of contradicts a pro really, it's harder to find true Hawaiian culture on Oahu and maybe even all the islands to say, but it can be found like a like you mentioned that Ilan palace. However, in my opinion, there are a lot of hotels in Waikiki. And maybe this is more on the past I think is starting to shift that a lot of these hotels and a lot of these resorts have painted this Hawaiian dream as Hawaiian culture in an inauthentic way as to attract more tourists and I think recently, it feels like it seems like at least what I've seen many times hotels and resorts are starting to do a better job of showcasing true Hawaiian culture and history. And you can go back and listen to some of those episodes like with shoreline, with the Westin on Maui. Some of these places that we featured in the podcast, you can hear how they are starting to incorporate true Hawaiian culture within their experience at their hotels. So probably goes without saying a wahoo is best for young families, Bachelor bachelorette parties, budget travelers, you can find a lot more deals traveling to Hawaii especially if you if you're considering staying in Waikiki area. A wahoo is also good for solo travelers and like I mentioned first time

visitors to the islands.

Skipping on over to Maui. Maui is the second most visited Island in Hawaii with a wahoo obviously being the first. Maui is actually the most touristy Island because not As many people live on Maui as they do on Oahu, so just be aware that there are no large cities on Maui only a few small cities such as La hyena and kihei. The bulk of the resorts can be found on kaanapali and Wailea. Both of these areas feature some of the best beaches in Hawaii. And in my opinion, the best whale watching can be done on Maui during the months from December through April. You can find charter boats who will take you out to see these incredible creatures and it's true that you can find whale watching on all the islands but there's something special about whale watching on the west side of Maui off of kaanapali some of the best whale watching in all the Hawaiian Islands. Now he country also features the islands of Lanai and Molokai II, both of which as I mentioned prior are rich in history and you can find out five star resort and a slower paced vacation when staying on the Four Seasons resort on Lanai II. So that would be a great choice for you if you're looking to kind of get away from the tourist crowds and just kind of chill. It does come at a hefty price tag. And that is something also that Maui is known for.

There's a lot of luxury resorts. Now he's probably a little bit more pricier

than the other islands. However, personally, Maui is my favorite and because it is a little slower than a wahoo I love a wahoo I love going to a wahoo as a family. I don't really need the nightlife or anything like that. And that's why I like Maui. I love its beaches. I love it slower pace. It also has some great food options in comparison to a wahoo. Now some of the pros and cons when it comes to Maui. Some of the pros are it has world class luxury resorts. So if you're looking to get that vacation, get that kind of dream vacation vibe. Maui is going to be the place for you. And like you mentioned, it also has epic whale watching has great resorts. It also has Holly Arcola, which is the world's largest dormant volcano. Here, you can catch the best sunrise in the entire world. It does require a reservation, so just be aware that you can't just go up there whenever you feel like it. So get a reservation to go catch the sunrise and Haleakala on Maui, some of the cons on Maui, it doesn't have a huge nightlife opportunity. So if that's your thing, it's going to be a little limited. Also, it's going to require renting a car and I don't think I mentioned this when talking about a wahoo. You can get around wahoo without having to rent a car, through Uber through the public transportation in all those options. Getting around wahoo is fairly easy, especially in Waikiki. Honolulu area. However on Maui and I would say on pretty much any of the other islands, renting a car is a must, because of the lack of public transportation on those islands. Another con is that it's becoming more and more crowded with tourists not saying that is a huge con, but it's just something to be aware of. And if you're looking for an authentic Hawaiian experience, you're gonna need to search for it. And I think it's worth searching for. I feel Maui is best for family vacations, honeymoons, destination weddings, luxury travelers, things like that Maui is gonna deliver for you on that. Last but certainly not least, is the Big Island of Hawaii. And the Big Island of Hawaii is the youngest most active Island and all the island change is its happens to be the biggest rivaling is called the Big Island. And it is home to one of the most active volcanoes you probably remember in 2008 18th it made news with its eruption but don't be scared by that that eruption only impacted it's a tiny section of the island. So obviously since the island is so big, it's the least crowded and it is the largest so it gives you a lot of space and a lot of freedom to really explore Hawaii. That is really what Hawaii is all about to get out to explore. The Big Island is a great choice for everyone you're traveling with because it has so much to offer for everyone. Most people that visit tend to stay on the west side of the island, which is the Kona side. And the other main city on the island is Hilo which is on the east side of the island. All the sides of the island are really worth exploring. However, staying on the Big Island of Hawaii requires renting a car and preferably a four wheel drive vehicle so you can get out and he can really explore all of the issues. easiness of the Big Island. Some of the pros on the Big Island are definitely those who are seeking a quieter vacation. Those who love to explore it's great for exploring and getting out there. Also another Pro is that the people are very friendly, and it is less commercialized than the other islands. The cons, in my opinion of the Big Island is that you can spend a lot of time driving the island because it is so big. So you're gonna want to definitely plan your vacation your visit accordingly because you don't want to spend your entire week or two weeks driving around the island. Same as Maui and same as Hawaii. Big Island doesn't have a huge nightlife scene and it's limited on restaurants and other suburban amenities are limited as well. Maybe that's a pro for you. Maybe it's a con I'm not sure. As a family traveling, it can be a con if you're looking to like just Get to the store. But you know, if you're traveling to

the Big Island, you're probably gonna be staying in Kona anyways. And there's definitely things there as far as amenities to be able to support your needs. So the big island is best for those who love the outdoors. I feel it's great for families, young and old, and people who are just looking to experience Hawaii in its raw, natural state. So wrapping up this whole conversation about what is the best Island I think it really comes down to knowing the season of life that you're in, and your family is in is probably a great indicator and how to choose the best island for you and your next Hawaiian vacation. When getting around the islands. I found that it's useful to have like a tour guide app on my smartphone. I'm not a guy who likes to get on a bus and to abide by a schedule and by everybody else's kind of whims and in once I went through Kind of just go at my own pace. So if you're like me, I would definitely encourage you to look into shaaka Guide. It's a great turn by turn app where it takes you around some of the best and can't miss spots on each island. It also guides you to some of the most hidden gems on each of the islands so you can download the app today by simply going to live Hawaii's Best comm slash Shaka and you'll be able to get a free tour on us. It's the South Shore of a wahoo tour. And it will be free because of our partnership with Shaka guide. So when choosing the island for your next visit, it is important to consider the best time also to visit Hawaii. We put together a compilation of the best time to visit Hawaii. I'll go ahead and I'll link that in the show notes as well. I'm going to end this conversation the same way I started it when it comes to the best Alan it really comes down to what the best Island is for you and The stage of life that you're in. If you're a solo traveler, pretty much any of the islands are going to be great. If you're a young family, I would definitely look into the options of Oahu and Big Island. If you're an older family, meaning that your kids are maybe in upper middle grade, definitely any of the islands are great, but Maui, and a wahoo are probably going to be good to look into. If you're looking for a family vacation. Everybody's come in, I would definitely look into the Big Island or a wahoo. And if you're honeymooning, you're you're coming to the islands. You're going to get married. Definitely check out Maui, Oahu or Hawaii. Those are going to give you some of the best kind of backdrops for that destination wedding. You really can't go wrong in choosing an island in Hawaii for your next vacation. I hope that this helped you in considering what is the best next island for you to visit. If you You found value in this please hit subscribe. leave a rating below that really helps me that helps the show and helps other people be able to find this conversation but until next time friends, I just want to say be well, Aloha.

Hawaii's Best 32:18
Thanks for listening to Hawaii's Best podcast. Stay up to date on future episodes be sure to hit the subscribe button and find us at live Hawaii's best.com

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Bryan Murphy
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.