The only American state made up entirely of islands, Hawaii is an iconic sun and surf destination. Each of Hawaii’s individual islands are unique but they are united by the state’s warm climate and world class beaches. From active volcanoes to cascading waterfalls, championship golf courses to black sand beaches, each of Hawaii’s islands are worth exploring. To make the most of your next Hawaiian getaway, we’ve put together our guide on island hopping through Hawaii’s top five tropical islands.
The largest of the Hawaiian Islands, Hawaii or The Big Island is a land of great natural beauty. Home to the giant twin volcanoes Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, Hawaii’s mountainous terrain is truly captivating. Take time to explore the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where you will find Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes on earth.
Inside the park there is 240 kilometres of hiking trails that wind through volcanic craters, vast deserts and tropical rainforests. There’s also a walk-in lava tube for the adventurous. The Big Island also boasts stunning beaches including the unusual Punaluu Beach with its jet black shores, surrounded by coconut palms. Be sure to visit the leaping waters at Akaka Falls and stop at the Waipio Valley Lookout for magnificent views across the spectacular coast.
Oahu is the most populous island of Hawaii and is home to the state’s largest city and capital Honolulu. The famous Waikiki Beach is a popular tourist destination with many attempting to learn to surf at one of the local surf schools, while experts tackle the giant waves on the North Shore of Oahu. The vibrant Beach Walk esplanade is home to a plethora of shopping, dining and entertainment.
Also nearby are plenty of attractions for the whole family including the Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Aquarium. Commemorate the island’s history with a visit to the Pearl Harbour Historic Sites including the USS Arizona Memorial. For breathtaking mountain views across the sheer Koolau cliffs and Windward Coast, visit the Nuuanu Pali Lookout or enjoy a guided tour of the opulent Iolani Palace.
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Affectionately nicknamed the Magic Isle, the pretty island of Maui is the second largest island in Hawaii. The peaceful waters just off West Maui and South Maui are ideal for humpback whale spotting with tours departing regularly from the Lahaina Harbor. Those keen to explore these remarkable waters further, can snorkel or dive at the Molokini Crater, a partially submerged volcano housing a rainbow of coral reefs and more than 250 species of tropical fish.
Maui’s highest peak can be found in the Haleakala National Park, with many gathering to the summit of Haleakala to watch the beautiful sunrise. Kaanapali is the most popular beach on the island, with Puu Kekaa, the perfect spot for snorkelling. For one of the most scenic coastal drives in the world, tour Maui’s legendary Hana Highway to the quiet seaside town of Hana. This coastal road will take you through flourishing rainforests, magical waterfalls and dramatic seascapes.
Also known as the Garden Isle, Kauai Island is blessed with several natural wonders including the Wailua River, Waimea Canyon and the Na Pali Coast. The scenery of Kauai is made up of lush tropical rainforests, meandering rivers, beautiful waterfalls, jagged cliffs and majestic mountain ranges.
The island’s breathtaking surrounds have even featured in many films and television series. Hike the trails of Koee State Park or zipline above the lush valleys. Kayak along the Wailua River or snorkel in the emerald waters of Poipu Beach. For a unique experience, enjoy a traditional luau at the Smith Family Garden, home to 30 acres of tropical paradise.
Lanai Island is a peaceful oasis, attracting many couples or honeymooners seeking a romantic escape. The smallest inhabited island in Hawaii, Lanai is the perfect spot to relax and rejuvenate in the tranquil surrounds. Kayak through the picturesque Hulopoe Bay and watch the wild dolphins play in the turquoises waters.
See the iconic Puu Pehe or Sweetheart Rock that rises from the sea in-between Hulopoe Bay and Manele Bay. Two world renowned golf courses can be found on Lanai including the prestigious course designed by golfing legends Greg Norman and Ted Robinson. Lanai is also home to several exclusive luxury resorts.
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