Hawaii’s Islands: Top Things to Know [Updated 2024]

hawaii islands

If you’re thinking about planning a vacation to Hawaii, you’re in for a treat.

The Hawaiian Islands are some of the most beautiful places in the world, and each one has its own unique personality. They are perfect for either a quiet and secluded getaway or an action-packed adventure.

Let’s talk about the top things you should know before visiting Hawaii’s islands . Whether you’re looking for information on transportation, food, or activities, we’ve got you covered.


Brief overview of the most popular islands in Hawaii

hawaiian islands

Oahu is the most populated island and home to Honolulu, the state capital. This island is great for city lovers who want to experience all that Hawaii has to offer.

Maui is renowned for its beaches and lush vegetation, making it a popular destination for nature lovers.

The Big Island is perfect for those looking for an adventure, with activities like volcano trekking and swimming with dolphins available.

Kauai is known as the “Garden Isle” due to its lush jungles and waterfalls, while Lanai is a smaller, more secluded island perfect for those looking for some peace and quiet.

Things to know before you go to Hawaii’s islands

1. How many Hawaiian islands are there?

Hawaii Map
Source: GISGeography.com

Hawaii is made up of 8 main islands – Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, Maui, Hawaii (the Big Island), and Niihau.

2. Is it safe?

Hawaii’s islands are definitely safe to visit. In fact, Hawaii is one of the most isolated places on Earth, and is therefore considered one of the safest places to live.

The only potential danger on Hawaii’s islands comes from the occasional theft, volcano activities, hurricanes, or tsunamis, but these natural disasters and crimes are rare and easily avoidable.

So if you’re looking for a beautiful, tropical destination that’s safe and secluded, Hawaii’s islands are perfect for you.

3. The weather in Hawaii vs. the mainland USA

The weather in Hawaii is significantly different from that of the continental United States for several reasons.

First and foremost, Hawaii is located in the tropical zone, while the mainland US is located in the temperate zone. This means that the average temperatures in Hawaii are much higher than they are in most of the US – typically around 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius) during the day, with evening temperatures only cooling off to around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius).

Additionally, because Hawaii is an island chain, there is very little variation in temperature from one location to another – unlike on the mainland, where you can experience significant differences depending on whether you’re in Maine or Florida.

Another major difference between Hawaiian and mainland weather patterns is the amount of rainfall. Hawaii experiences a lot of rain because of the constant trade winds that blow in from the Pacific Ocean. This can lead to occasional flash flooding, so it’s important to be prepared for wet weather when visiting Hawaii’s islands.

The good news is that, even during the rainy season (November through March), there is usually still plenty of sunshine to enjoy!

4. What is there to do there?

Kalalau Trail

There is so much to do in Hawaii! Here are just a few ideas:

1) Visit one of the many beautiful beaches and stay in one of the amazing Wailea Elua rentals. Whether you want to body-board, snorkel, surf, sunbathe, or just build sandcastles, there’s a perfect beach for you.

2) Go hiking and see some of the stunning landscapes Hawaii has to offer. There are lush rainforests, active volcanoes, black sand beaches – the list goes on!

3) Take a tour of a pineapple or coffee plantation and learn about how these tropical crops are grown.

4) Attend a luau and learn about Hawaiian culture and cuisine. You’ll get to watch traditional dances, listen to live music, and taste some delicious local food.

There’s something for everyone in Hawaii, so be sure to plan your trip accordingly.

5. What should I pack for a week in Hawaii?

For a week in Hawaii, you’ll want to pack clothes for warm weather and the beach, as well as swimwear, hiking boots, and sandals.

You’ll also want to pack sunblock, insect repellent, sunglasses, hats, and other sunscreen items. You might also want to pack snorkeling gear if you plan on doing any snorkeling.

And don’t forget your passport and other important documents.

6. Where can I stay on Oahu and what does it cost?


If you’re looking for somewhere to stay on Oahu, there are plenty of options available to suit all budgets.

For those on a tight budget, hostels start at around $20 per night, while mid-range hotels can be found for around $100 per night. For those wanting a more luxurious stay, there are plenty of high-end hotels and resorts that will set you back a few hundred dollars per night.

When it comes to choosing where to stay on Oahu, it really depends on what you want to do and see while you’re here.

If you’re looking to spend most of your time in the water, then staying in Waikiki might be the best option for you as it’s right on the beach. If you’re more interested in hiking and exploring the island, then consider staying somewhere in the Ko’Olina or North Shore areas.

7. How long do I need for a trip like this?

islands of hawaii

If you want to enjoy your trip to Hawaii to the fullest, you should plan on staying for at least a week. This will give you enough time to explore all of the different islands and find the activities that suit your interests.

Of course, if you have more time, you can always stay longer! There is no shortage of things to do in Hawaii.

8. What about food? Should I pack snacks or get them when I’m out there?

Dole whip Oahu

It depends on what you are looking for. If you are looking for healthy and affordable snacks, then it is best to pack your own. However, if you are looking for local but expensive snacks, then it is best to get them in Hawaii.

Packing your own snacks is a great way to save money and ensure that you have healthy options available. Some good ideas for healthy snacks include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grain crackers, trail mix, and yogurt.

By packing your own snacks, you can avoid the high prices and unhealthy options typically found in airports and on planes.

9. How much money will this trip cost me all together including flights, rental car, activities?

A trip to Hawaii will generally cost you between $1,500 and $3,000 depending on the time of year you go, how many people are in your party, and whether you’re staying on the island or on one of the outer islands.

Flights from the mainland US typically cost between $400 and $1,200 per person round-trip, depending on the time of year.

Rental cars in Hawaii tend to be expensive–between $50 and $70 per day–so it may be more economical to take a taxi or Uber around if you’re only visiting for a few days.

Activities like snorkeling and hiking can also add up quickly, so be sure to budget for those as well.

If you’re worried about cost, there are plenty of ways to save money while on vacation in Hawaii. You can find affordable accommodations by avoiding peak season travel times and researching lodging options that fit your budget.

Many visitors also take advantage of package deals that include airfare and rental car rates. When it comes to food, Hawaii has a wide variety of dining options to choose from, so you can find something to fit your budget.

Of course, don’t forget to take advantage of the many free activities that are available on the islands.

Top things to know about Hawaii’s islands

1. Kauai is the oldest and most lush of Hawaii’s islands

Kauai is an island in Hawaii that is full of attractions for visitors. While popular activities include hiking, biking, and beach days, there are also plenty of cultural and historical sites to explore on Kauai. Popular attractions include:

• The Moloa’a Bay Beach Park features a beautiful stretch of sand and coral reefs perfect for snorkeling.

• The Kalalau lookout point offers stunning views of the Kalalau valley.

• The aptly named Wailua Falls offers a majestic way to cool off on a hot day.

• The Kilohana Plantation House which is a historic plantation house that has been turned into a museum.

• The Spouting Horn blowhole is a natural phenomenon caused by the crashing of waves against a lava shelf.

Kauai is also home to some of the best hiking in Hawaii. One popular hike is the Kuilau Ridge Trail which offers incredible views of the Na Pali Coast.

2. Oahu is home to the state’s capital, Honolulu, as well as world-famous Waikiki Beach

There are plenty of attractions in Oahu that will keep you entertained throughout your stay. Honolulu, the state capital, is home to Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head State Monument, and the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

If you’re looking for something with a little more history, visit the Pearl Harbor National Historic Site or the Bishop Museum.

Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy hiking up to Manoa Falls or exploring one of the many scenic beaches.

And don’t forget to sample the local cuisine – from organic farmers markets to food trucks serving up delicious Hawaiian fusion dishes, there’s something for everyone to enjoy on this beautiful island.

3. Maui is known for its dramatic landscapes, Haleakala National Park, and whale watching season

The attractions in Maui are endless, but some of the most popular include the following:

Haleakala National Park – a 10,023-foot dormant volcano with jaw-dropping landscapes and hiking trails.

Wailea Beach – known for its crystal-clear waters and lush green surroundings.

Lahaina Town – a historic town filled with charming shops and restaurants.

Iao Valley State Monument – a natural wonder with stunning waterfalls and greenery.

4. The Big Island is the largest of the Hawaiian Islands and has diverse terrain, from rainforests to snow-capped mountains

The Big Island, also known as Hawaii Island, is the largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago. With an area of 4,028 square miles (10,431 km2), it is larger than all of the other islands in the Hawaiian Islands combined and is the largest island in the United States.

It is a place of natural beauty and there are plenty of cool places to see while you’re visiting. Here are just a handful of the places you can go to appreciate the stunning scenery:

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – This park is home to two active volcanoes, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa, as well as over 150 miles of hiking trails. You can also take part in educational ranger-led programs or explore the lava tubes.

Hawai’i Tropical Botanical Garden – Founded in 1984, this 40-acre garden is full of rare tropical plants from all over the world. Make sure to take a walk through the rainforest trail where you might spot sloths, exotic birds, and more.

Waipi’o Valley – This valley is known for its black sand beaches, waterfalls, and lush greenery. It’s a popular spot for hiking, horseback riding, and ATVing.

Mauna Kea – the tallest mountain in the world from base to summit. At 13,796 feet (4220 meters), it’s a challenging hike but the views are absolutely worth it.

There are also plenty of things to do on the Big Island that aren’t hiking or sightseeing.

You can go whale watching during the winter months, go golfing at one of the many championship courses or explore the many farmers markets.

And no trip to Hawaii is complete without trying some of the local cuisines – from lau lau to poke, you’re sure to find something delicious to eat on this island.

5. Lanai is a small island with just over 3,000 residents

Lanai is a small Hawaiian island that’s often referred to as the “Pineapple Island.” Although it’s only 13 miles long and 18 miles wide, Lanai is home to a number of interesting attractions.

One of the most popular tourist destinations on Lanai is Hulopoe Beach, which is located on the island’s southern coast. This beautiful beach is known for its white sandy shores and clear blue waters, which make it perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and surfing. Hulopoe Beach is also a popular spot for whale watching since it’s located in Hawaii’s Whale Sanctuary.

Other popular beaches on Lanai include Manele Bay (located on the island’s east coast) and Kaiolohia (aka Shipwreck Beach, located on the island’s north coast).

Lanai is also home to two championship golf courses, a few small museums, and a few restaurants. For tourists looking for some peace and quiet, Lanai is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of Hawaii.

6. Molokai is the least developed of Hawaii’s major islands

The island of Molokai is often called one of the most beautiful and unspoiled islands in Hawaii. With its clear turquoise waters, white sand beaches, steep sea cliffs, and green tropical foliage, Molokai truly is a snorkeler’s paradise.

There are several ways to experience the island’s natural wonders. One popular activity is to take a mule ride down the historic Kalaupapa Trail. This trail descends nearly 3,000 feet from the top of sea cliffs to the coastal area where Father Damien lived and worked with leprosy patients in the late 1800s.

Another popular activity is swimming with dolphins in Haleiwa Bay. Visitors can also explore Molokai’s many waterfalls, rain forests, and coastal trails.

Molokai is also home to a few small villages, a couple of churches, and a few bed and breakfasts.

Unlike the other major Hawaiian islands, Molokai has not been developed for tourism and remains relatively untouched by commercialism. This makes Molokai an ideal destination for those who are looking for an authentic Hawaiian experience.

7. Kahoolawe is also called Forbidden island

Since 1995, Kahoolawe has been off-limits to the public due to its dangerous environmental conditions. The island is littered with centuries-old Hawaiian artifacts and remains, wartime debris, and unexploded ordinance, making it an extremely hazardous place to be.

In addition, the island is plagued by drought and erosion, which has led to several fires in recent years. For these reasons, the State of Hawaii has deemed Kahoolawe unsafe for human habitation or visitation.

8. The best time to visit Hawaii depends on which island you want to go to

The best time to visit Hawaii depends on your individual preferences. Some people prefer to visit when the weather is warm and sunny, while others enjoy visiting during the cooler months when there are fewer crowds. There is no right or wrong answer, it all comes down to what you personally want out of your trip.

That said, certain times of year tend to be more popular than others. For example, many people visit Hawaii during wintertime to escape the cold weather back home. Christmas and New Year’s Eve are also popular times to visit, although airfare and accommodations tend to be more expensive around those holidays.

If you’re looking for the best deals, aim to travel during the shoulder season (March-May and September-October). However, keep in mind that the weather can be unpredictable during those months, so pack accordingly.

For surfers and water enthusiasts, the winter months offer some of the best waves on the island.

So really, it all comes down to what you’re looking to get out of your Hawaii trip. No matter when you visit, though, you’re sure to have an amazing time!

9. You can get around the islands by bus, car or bike – or you can explore them on foot or even by horseback

There are a number of ways to travel inside Hawaii, including by bus, car, bike and even on horseback or by foot. Depending on your destination and preference, each mode of transport has its own advantages.

Buses in Hawaii are generally reliable and affordable, making them a great option for those looking to get around on a budget.

Cars offer more flexibility and freedom but can be more expensive to hire or buy outright.

Biking is a great way to see Hawaii’s many scenic bicycle trails, while horseback riding can be a fun way to explore the island’s interior.

Finally, hiking is perhaps the best way to truly immerse yourself in Hawaii’s natural beauty. No matter how you choose to travel around, you’re sure to have a great time.

10. Accommodations vary from camping grounds and hostels to luxury resorts – there’s something for everyone

Hawaii Hotels Lagoon

Hawaii offers a variety of accommodations, from camping grounds and hostels to luxury resorts.

For those looking for a more rustic experience, there are campgrounds located all over the state with access to hiking trails, beaches, and fishing spots.

There are also a number of hostels that offer shared rooms and private rooms with ensuite bathrooms.

And for those who want to enjoy the best Hawaii has to offer, luxury resorts can be found on almost every island. Most resorts offer amenities such as spas, golf courses, restaurants, and bars.

So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your Hawaiian vacation today. With our guide to the best islands in Hawaii, finding the right island of Aloha is easy – now all that’s left is deciding which activities and attractions to enjoy while you’re there. Mahalo for reading!


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