Choosing where to stay on the Big Island can sometimes be overwhelming. After all, the island is over 4,000 square miles — larger than the state of Rhode Island — and many of the best things to do are completely spread apart. No matter how hard you try to base yourself in the middle of all the attractions, there will always be somewhere you want to visit at least a couple of hours away. So a good way to go is to determine your priorities, then base yourself in the area that best serves them. Or, if you simply can’t choose a single place to base your Big Island adventure, a practical choice is to split your time between different parts of the island, maybe flying into Hilo and departing from Kona. For added guidance, here are some considerations for where to stay on the Big Island, broken down by priorities.
When it comes to nightlife in Hawaii, nowhere can even remotely compare to Waikiki. Many will claim it’s the only nightlife Hawaii has — since bars and clubs on the outer islands are virtually non-existent. Here in Hawaii’s capital and tourist hotspot, however, bars and even places to dance abound. With nearly a million people in the Honolulu vicinity, there’s also a supply of people ready to party.
Lahaina’s history is more enchanting than anywhere else in Hawaii. After all, this town was once the ancient capital of the original Kingdom of Hawaii, and a place where missionaries battled with whalers for Hawaiians’ attention and souls. Whaling eventually gave way to sugar for 125 years — which is an era now remembered today at the Plantation Days festival.
In many ways the island of Kauai is removed from the rest of Hawaii. Geographically, it’s more isolated than any other of Hawaii’s four main islands, and locals take pride in the historical fact the island has never been conquered. It’s population is half that of Maui and nearly three times smaller than the Big Island’s, and there’s a fiercely independent edge to people you meet around town. Add to the fact it’s heavily eroded and the wettest place on Earth, and Kauai becomes the type of place you go to seek out adventure—a lonely, verdant, stream-riddled utopia of ridgelines, beaches, and green. For thrill-seekers looking to experience some of the best the island can offer, the following are seven adventures on Kauai that every traveler must do.
In this guide, we’ve handpicked the very best of what makes this chain of islands so special — both on and off the beaten path — so you can travel like an insider in Hawaii!
On my recent island-hopping trip around Hawaii, the Big Island was my favorite destination. But if I had my time back, there would be so many things I’d do differently. Here’s a list of things not to do on the Big Island, so you can make the most of your time there!
Of all the islands in the Hawaiian chain, the Big Island of Hawaii is the most enchanting, and in many ways, the most alive. Everything here is a just a little bit raw and a little bit closer to the surface, from the waterfalls thundering through fern-lined valleys with a grandiose sense of fury, to Hawaiian goddesses who make physical appearances in the everything from lava to snow. Marine life gathers off the Kona coast in spectacular pelagic abundance, and mysterious Hawaiian historical sights seem too spring up by every turn. With its wealth of activities and size, however, the number of things to do on the Big Island can sometimes feel overwhelming. It is, after all, the largest island in America, and can take the better part of a day to drive its entire perimeter. So, if you only have a week on the Big Island—or even a couple of days—here’s a list of 7 of the Big Island’s must do experiences.
Before we begin, let’s get one thing straight — there isn’t one day of the entire year that’s a bad time to visit Maui. Voted”World’s Best Island” for a stat-busting 20 years straight, it’s fair to say the Valley Isle has a yearlong ability to please. That said, some months are better in terms of weather, prices and crowds. Historically, the slowest two weeks of the year on Maui are from December 1-15 — sandwiched right between Thanksgiving and the busy Christmas holiday. October and November are similarly great months for escaping to the island. Here are some reasons why fall is the best time of year to visit Maui.
Tourism in Hawaii started right here on Oahu. Early writers, such as Twain and London, traveled on steamship from California, always stopping in Honolulu en route to islands next door. Today, even though islands such as Maui and Kauai see millions of visitors per year, Oahu remains the beating heart of Hawaii’s tourism industry. In fact, in 2014, over five million tourists from around the world spent time on Oahu’s shores, which is more visitors than all the other neighbor islands combined.
One of the reasons for the numbers, of course, is the international airport, but so are classic island experiences visitors find on Oahu. And, while some of the spots will definitely be crowded, there’s something lovely about standing in a spot you’ve dreamt about for years — living the postcard tacked on your wall or floating in your head. If you’ve never been to the island before but are starting to plan a trip, here are eight iconic Oahu experiences to place you in that magical space where tropical dreams become reality.