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When first planning a trip to Hawaii, understanding the differences between all the islands can be confusing. And yes, they are very different. Each island has something unique and it can be difficult to understand which one is best to visit, especially if it is your first trip.
Most Beautiful Island In Hawaii To Visit
In our opinion, Maui is the best island if you are visiting Hawaii for the first time. You can get a little bit of everything on Maui: hiking, great snorkeling, great hiking, beautiful forest experiences, beautiful beaches, great food, and great places to stay. Not only that, it usually has the best weather and there are plenty of things to keep you busy for the entire holiday.
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It’s not just because we love Maui (although we do), we have a long list of reasons why Maui is perfect for your first trip.
There are many reasons why we think Maui is the best for beginners, but the top nine are:
I know what you’re thinking: don’t all the Hawaiian Islands have oceans? Yes, but Maui has accessible beaches, some amazing harbors, and plenty of opportunities for non-ocean swimmers.
You don’t have to drive far to find a beautiful beach for swimming, as there are many hotels and resorts nearby.
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Since we have a small child, we always look for an easy beach where we can swim as a family. Maui truly offers the most kid-friendly beaches, all within easy reach of many vacation rentals.
One of our favorite activities is diving in Maui which offers the best diving and amazing fish and marine life. Here you have calm bays, (mostly) calm seas, crystal clear waters and offer some of the best diving opportunities with sea turtles.
Not only that, you can also go on a boat trip to snorkel in the crater of the volcano, or go on a full day snorkeling trip to the island of Lanai. And if you are here during whale season, you must hear the whales singing underwater or see them on a kayaking trip.
According to Hawaii Tourism Authority Visitor Statistics, Maui is the second most visited island (behind Oahu). With so many visitors to Maui, the lodging options are great and growing all the time.
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If you want to stay in a luxury hotel, Maui has many of them. If you like to stay in a cheap beach hotel, you will find it here. Do you want a vacation home with a private pool? Maui is enough. Do you like camping or glamping? Maui has a great selection.
We think Maui has lodging options for all types of travelers. Whatever you’re looking for, you can find it in Maui.
Glamping (luxury camping) is a fun, relaxing and affordable option on Maui. I was in Olowalu camp outside our tent.
The Big Island isn’t the only volcanic island you can visit. On Maui, take a day trip to Haleakala to watch the sunrise or sunset or go hiking. It’s a great way to get to know another side of Maui and learn about the island.
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Plus, a visit to Haleakala is a great starting point for exploring Maui’s interior, a place you don’t want to miss.
If you want to get out to the west and south of Maui (where most of the hotels and resorts are), you can book at Hana in East Maui. Yes, you do the Hannah Road to get there, which is definitely a trip you don’t want to miss. And yes, the road will be used by other tourists traveling to Hana. But many do not stay in Hana for long, and few even sleep. If you’re looking for a quiet place to vacation, East Maui is the place to be.
We don’t want to be biased, but we are thinking of some of the best restaurants near Maui. You can eat locally caught fish, eat delicious food from one of the many food trucks, or treat yourself to an evening of fine dining. The range of options on Maui is amazing.
And we’re not the only ones who think Maui has the best food. On TripAdvisor’s Travel Choice list of best hotels, Maui has three hotels in the top 15. There are no other Hawaiian hotels listed.
Kauai Official Travel Site: Find Vacation & Travel Information
Restaurants like Lahaina Grill and Mama’s Fish House are Trip Advisor’s top restaurants in the world.
If you’re going for the sun, go to Maui. Yes, all the islands get their fair share of both sun and rain — and here, sun is never guaranteed — but your chance for a sunny day is greatest on Maui.
The main resorts are located on the lost side of the island. On the leeward side there is less rain and more sun.
We plotted rainfall for each resort area and each island in Hawaii, Maui being the place where you get the least amount of rain. Ideal for your beach holiday:
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While we think you’ll have more than enough to keep you busy on Maui, you can take a ferry to Lanai if you want to take a short trip to another island. It’s worth noting that you have to fly if you want to fly between other islands (like Oahu and Kauai). Lanai and Molokai are only accessible by boat, and can be done on an ambitious day trip or a two- or three-day trip from Maui.
For an easy option to visit Lanai, consider a day trip on a dive boat. They will take you to the best spots, give you a stop on the lanai for lunch and a short walk, and hopefully see some dolphins while you’re there. It was a full day trip, but well worth it.
If you’re visiting Hawaii from mid-December to mid-April, you’ll be lucky to be here during whale watching. Every year, about 12,000 humpback whales migrate from Alaska to Hawaii to give birth. But Maui is one of the best islands for whale watching. The channel on the west side of Maui is shallow and the water is warm, making it a good place for whales to give birth and prepare for their journey back to Alaska.
If you are here during whale watching, you can take a boat trip (recommended) or see them easily from the shore. We often stand by the side of the road and watch whales.
Which Hawaiian Island Is The Most Beautiful? Why Kauai
Read our ultimate guide to whale watching on Maui (and save money on one of our favorite tours).
While we often think that Maui is the best choice for beginners, there are times when other islands are better choices.
Planning your first trip is difficult. That’s why we made a video with several videos from each island so you can decide which island is right for your first trip to Hawaii.
But don’t forget our tricks. It’s easy to grab and use prints to help you learn the facts about each island.
Which Island In Hawaii Should I Visit? Trip Planning Travel Guide
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We share 4 must-do activities on each island, a map of the main attractions in town, and famous local griz (food)!
My husband, Jordan, and I founded the Hawaii Vacation Guide. We have lived on Maui and Oahu and continue to travel, experience and learn about the Hawaiian Islands. We travel with our children, Henry and Edith, and sometimes with our dog Hattie. I am a scheduler! I love planning inland tours and island hopping activities, day trips and everything in between. I spend a lot of time SUPing in Hawaii and my favorite time of year in Hawaii is whale season!
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