Stretching over 1,500 miles across the Pacific, the Hawaiian Islands offer incredible diversity and natural wonders for visitors to explore. Comprised of 137 islands, this archipelago contains eight main islands, each with its own unique landscapes, activities, and culture. From the volcanic peaks of Hawaii Island to the lush valleys of Kauai, you’ll find endless adventures across the islands. Read on to learn more about the highlights and attractions of each major Hawaiian island.

Oahu

Oahu Hawaii

Oahu is the most populated Hawaiian island and home to the state’s capital, Honolulu. Locals and tourists flock to the famous Waikiki Beach for its legendary surf breaks and lively dining and shopping scene. Just west is Pearl Harbor, where you can visit the historic USS Arizona Memorial and Battleship Missouri. Outside the bustling city, visitors can hike tropical Manoa Falls or explore the North Shore’s laidback surf towns and world-renowned beaches like Ehukai (Banzai Pipeline) and Sunset Beach. Cultural highlights include the Polynesian Cultural Center and Dole Plantation.

Maui

Maui entices visitors with its mix of stunning coastline, lush rainforests, and the famous Road to Hana drive skirting 600 foot seaside cliffs. Sunrise views from atop Haleakala Crater are a must. The old whaling town of Lahaina offers shopping, art galleries, and restaurants in historic buildings. Be sure to watch for humpback whales off the coast from December to May. Snorkel or scuba dive at Molokini Crater and Reef. Hike through soaring bamboo groves or to thundering waterfalls in the interior valleys. With its variety of microclimates and adventures, Maui has something for everyone.

The Big Island

The Big Island of Hawaii

The largest Hawaiian island, Hawaii Island is also called the Big Island. It’s known for its diverse landscapes, from tropical rainforests to barren lava fields dotted with ohelo berries. Volcanoes National Park is a top attraction with active Kilauea Volcano and craters you can hike into. The Big Island also boasts beautiful beaches like Hapuna with white sand, black sand PunaluΚ»u perfect for sea turtle spotting, and excellent snorkeling at Kealakekua Bay. The historic cowboy town of Waimea offers lodging and dining amongst rolling ranch hills. Don’t miss Akaka Falls State Park and the nighttime lava glow of the volcano.

Kauai

Kauai Hawaii

Lush, green Kauai is nicknamed the Garden Isle for its abundant tropical flora and landscapes like the breathtaking Na Pali Coast. Hike deep into the towering Waimea Canyon, kayak the peaceful Wailua River, or take in panoramic views from Koke’e State Park’s cliffside vistas. The island offers over 50 miles of pristine beaches as well like picturesque Hanalei Bay and family-friendly Poipu. Visit the Fern Grotto or Wailua Falls and try tubing through old sugarcane irrigation channels. With more adventures than it has stoplights, Kauai envelops you in the beauty of the natural world.

Molokai

Molokai Hawaii

Molokai provides a quieter, more remote Hawaiian experience with its small population and unhurried pace of life. It offers stunning sea cliffs, secluded beaches, and volcanic craters to hike in its nature reserves. Visit the historic Kalaupapa Peninsula to learn about the island’s history. The island’s longest white sand beach, Papohaku, offers swimming, surfing, and sunset walks. Check out the island’s longest waterfall, Moaula Falls, or ancient fishponds that showcase early Hawaiian aquaculture. Molokai is perfect for a relaxed, back-to-nature trip.

Lanai

Lanai Hawaii

Once a pineapples plantation, tiny Lanai has charming, low-key vibes. It’s known for its luxury resorts and golf courses but also offers decent beaches and attractions like the historic Lanai City or otherworldly Garden of the Gods rock formations. You can rent a four wheel drive vehicle and head up the Munro Trail for sweeping overlooks. Hike the Koloiki Ridge Trail through misty forests or explore sea caves at Cathedrals Beach. Watch for spinner dolphins and whales off the coast. With fewer crowds, Lanai allows you to soak up Hawaii’s beauty in tranquility.

Explore the Hawaiian Islands

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