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Which island should you visit? If you’re a first-time visitor planning a trip to Hawaii, the best island to visit in Hawaii depends on what you’re looking for. There are so many places to explore! The good news is: you really can’t go wrong.
Best Hawaii Island To Visit In February
About a six-hour flight from the west coast of the United States, the Hawaiian archipelago actually includes 137 volcanic islands!
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The four main islands that most tourists visit are Maui, Oahu, the Big Island (also known as Hawaii), and Kauai. All of these Hawaiian destinations are amazing.
There’s also not much to do on these two islands, so only go here if you’re looking for miles of pristine beaches.
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However, flights between Hawaii are cheap, making it easy to add a few days to these two islands.
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Lanai can be visited as a (very long) day trip from Maui, as a ferry connects them in a 50-minute journey.
No matter which Hawaiian island you choose, you can count on lush tropical greenery, snorkeling experiences, green cliffs, and rainbows galore when the tropical rains hit.
You can easily book snorkeling trips, sunset boat trips, and many great day trips to see the highlights of each island if you want to skip the ticket booking and travel to the best of Hawaii.
In February 2021, under pressure from unprecedented overtourism, the state of Hawaii implemented a reservation system for popular attractions on each island as part of a “restorative tourism” plan.
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The idea was to limit the flow of visitors to a manageable level and promote the idea of ”Malama”, which means “to protect and preserve” in Hawaiian culture…to leave a place better than you found it.
This new booking system is a great idea, but it also means that tourists have to plan more than ever before.
For example, to snorkel in Hanauma Bay near Honolulu, visitors only need to reserve their tickets 48 hours in advance of their visit. (And tickets are going fast!)
Travel sites that require a reservation are still changing, so make sure that wherever you go, you check before you go out.
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Booking a guided day tour is an easy way to leave the arrangements to someone you know!
Where is the best place to go in Hawaii? Each of the Hawaiian Islands offers something unique.
Short answer: Go to Maui if you want to pamper yourself at a resort with all the amenities. Book Oahu if you want to see Pearl Harbor and the famous Waikiki Beach.
Visit the Big Island if you want to hike through Volcanoes National Park (and maybe see some lava flows). Go to Kauai if you want to experience a wild and untamed Hawaii. This is the best island in Hawaii for outdoor activities if you like hiking and snorkeling with fewer tourists.
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Every island is stunning…with amazing beaches, great snorkeling and sunset boat rides. It’s hard to choose, so let’s explore the differences between Hawaii’s destinations…
Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands. And it is definitely one of the best places in Hawaii. It’s also the best honeymoon island in Hawaii if you’re looking for quality amenities and unique things to do.
Known as the “Valley Island”, the island is actually two volcanoes with a land bridge or valley between them. However, as the sea level rose, today Maui looks like a big island.
You’ll find Maui’s best resorts and hotels in Wailea in South Maui, as well as near Kaanapali and Kapalua in West Maui (also home to amazing golf courses).
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Between the two is family-friendly Kihei…also home to great beaches. And honestly, the beaches here up and down the coast are great choices.
As you head towards West Maui, the coastline begins to look wilder and more dramatic as huge waves crash against the volcanic rocks.
Every Maui itinerary should include at least one day trip on the famous Road to Hana. There are 64 miles of absolutely gorgeous winding road on the east side of the island. This is definitely one of the highlights of Hawaii!
The Road to Hannah is about the journey…not the destination. If you want to let someone else do the driving so you can fully enjoy these sights, you can book a guided day trip on the Road to Hana here.
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You will cross 59 bridges, you will pass black sand beaches, bamboo forests and so many waterfalls. Start early because you’ll be stopping all the time!
After just a few days on Maui, stay in Kihei, Lahaina, or one of the larger Wailea or Kapalua resorts.
If you are staying 7 days or more, spend some time on the road to Hana to explore the gorgeous waterfalls and beaches after the tourists return home.
While most visitors head to Hana on a long day trip, that doesn’t leave time to explore the area near Hana.
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If you’re more of a Maui tourist less traveled, consider booking a few nights near Hana. Once tours return, it’s all yours!
Another popular thing to do here is catch the sunrise in Haleakala National Park, but due to the popularity of this experience, you’ll need an advance ticket to gain entry. Or book a guided tour.
To be fair, it’s very foggy at this altitude anyway – I missed the sunrise on two separate occasions – so consider skipping the early run and heading in mid-morning instead.
You’ll cross the island and wind through a more rural area, then turn back to reach Haleakala National Park.
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While most visitors to Haleakala enjoy the sunrise and head back down the mountain, there are 33,000 acres of wilderness to explore.
Save a day from your Maui itinerary to snorkel Molokini Crater. You can check Molokini day trip pricing and availability here.
There are many guides who will take you on a half day tour. Most tours depart from Maalaea Harbor, north of Kihei.
For a more intimate experience, I recommend choosing a small boat for a morning ride, as the waves often pick up in the afternoon with the wind, making snorkeling conditions less than ideal.
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In the winter, Maui is a prime destination for whale watching. From December to March, more than 10,000 humpback whales make their way here to Auau Channel near Lahaina on Alaska’s west coast.
For the best experience, be sure to book an eco-guided whale watching tour that includes a naturalist.
Whale watching cruises depart from Lahaina Harbor, making Lahaina the perfect half day to relax after a whale watching excursion.
All in all, Maui is a great choice if you’re looking for luxury resorts, want to drive to Hana, see Mount Haleakala, snorkel Molokini Crater, or go whale watching.
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Kauai is the best place to visit in Hawaii if you are a nature lover…those not looking for luxury resorts, restaurants or nightlife. However, there are plenty of great things to do in Kauai.
Come to Kauai if you like the idea of driving rural two-lane roads to climb muddy slopes to sweet sandy beaches. Sometimes your steps may be the only steps you take.
Is pictured here. You can get a glimpse of some of its more scenic locations by giving it a watch.
Kauai’s biggest attraction is Na Pali Beach on the north shore of the island. Seeing it from the air during a helicopter ride is an unforgettable experience.
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If you’re summering on Kauai, split your time between the North Shore and South Shore near Poipu, which is more developed.
View from Kalepa Ridge, Kauai. Yes, that’s exactly what it looks like. I took this photo with my iPhone!
There you will find several resorts and many holiday homes, as well as excellent snorkeling on shallow and easily accessible beaches.
On the north coast, enjoy the jagged emerald Na Pali mountain range when you can. Snorkeling or a sunset boat cruise is a must here. Check price and availability for snorkeling here.
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For a week, split your stay between two bases: (1) Princeville or Hanalei on the North Shore and (2) Poipu on the South Shore.
This luxury oceanfront penthouse near Princeville is an excellent choice. Or try all the amenities at the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas.
The trail is located at the northernmost tip of the island at the Tunnels Beach parking lot, making it the perfect spot for post-hike diving and snorkeling.
Keen adventurers get their permit months in advance and do it then
Which Hawaiian Island Should You Visit?
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