What is the Best Island to Visit in Hawaii for First Timers?

While each of the 50 states that make up the United States have their own virtues, it is said that the State of Hawaii stands alone in her beauty. Planning a visit to Hawaii for first timers can become overwhelming.

Travelers to the state will have a hard time deciding which of the Hawaiian Islands to visit first. Each of the islands of Hawaii has many beautiful beaches, historical sites, luxurious hotels and exciting dining options.

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Making last-minute plans for your Hawaii itinerary. We’ve got you covered. Our recommended hotels and tours for a getaway are listed below.

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Indulging in the World’s Scenic Riches on an Ocean Cruise

The Islands of Hawaii 


This small island holds the excitement of a big city. So much so, that three quarters of the state’s population resides within its shores and the city of Honolulu. You’ll find city buses and busy streets, along with popular beaches and lush parks.

First time travelers should a point of visiting its historical monuments and cultural museums. While visiting, do not miss a chance to pay your respects at the Pearl Harbor Memorial and Museum, or check out the top things to do and see in Honolulu.

Cuisine is king here with restaurants catering to every budget, nationality and taste. For this reason, many people feel that O’ahu is the best island to visit in Hawaii for first time.

Hawai’i – the Big Island

This island is definitely a place for nature lovers. Here you’ll find the state’s most active volcano, Kilauea. There are valleys so lush that they task the imagination.

Hikers will also find waterfalls, natural pools filled with clear water and lush green mountains to climb. Beach goers need only glance behind the waves to see dolphins, sea turtles and whales who visit during the winter months.


Maui is know for a gentle lifestyle that combines sun, surfing and discovery. It’s sandy beaches hold everything from surfing competitions to moonlit weddings. Outdoor enthusiasts will want to try snorkeling into hidden coves right off the coast.

This island is also one of the best places to visit in Hawaii if you enjoy hiking. Trails extend through forest filled with bamboo and along waterfalls. When in Maui, make a point of visiting Volcanic National Park.


This island is known for its remote beaches and sub-tropical environment. While you’re never really far from civilization, you’ll feel like you’re light years away. If you enjoy the shore, spend time on the sands of Hulopo’e Beach.

Lana’i is primarily known for its production of pineapples. On this island, the fruit was originally grown, processed and shipped around the world. While visiting the island, make sure to visit the historic remnants of Lana’i City and tour its vintage plantations.


Natives of Hawaii will tell you that the island of Moloka’i feels the most “Hawaiian” of all. While some of the other islands are filled with a melting pot of nationalities, this island has a population that is filled with citizens that can trace their ancestry back to the beginnings of Hawaii.

Perhaps this explains the warmth and grace, as they meet visitors and newcomers.

First time travelers to this island should make a trip to the Kalaupapa Peninsula. Here you’ll see the grounds, hospital and home of Father Damien, regarded as “Saint Damien” for his work with those who suffered from leprosy.

It is now a national park and well worth your time to learn more about his valiant efforts with those less fortunate.


This sunny island is said to be the most fun of all the islands for its laid-back lifestyle. It’s South Shore is known for its long days and picturesque sunset vistas. This island is also a wonderful place for those who wish to hike.

Visit its cliffs and abundant natural green coasts. If you enjoy boating, the “Garden Isle” is additionally the place to be. Don’t forget to kayak the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” in Kaua’i, the only river in the state that is navigable.

The Choice is Yours

For those travelers with limited time, it may be best to spend time on one island exclusively. However, island hopping is guaranteed to make your Hawaiian adventure even more unique. There is no one answer as to where to stay in Hawaii, where to eat or where to find unlimited amounts of fun.

Sample the cosmopolitan fever of O’ahu. There’s surfing action on Maui and long hikes along sea cliffs in Kaua’i. Then there are the resorts of Lana’i, mountains of the Big Island of Hawai’i and rural roads to travel on Moloka’i.

Ultimately, you may find that the best island to visit in Hawaii is the one you find yourself on for any length of time.

Take your time and make your choices carefully. Each island holds its own joys. Be sure to include something for everyone in the family and you won’t go wrong. As they say, there is never just one visit to Hawaii in a lifetime.


  • Samantha King

    Sam, a seasoned traveler across four continents and 49 countries, is a leading authority in travel planning. Her website, Travelling King, offers tailored itineraries and expert guides for seamless trips. Sam's expertise in luxury travel, fast travel, and destination guides keeps her at the forefront of the travel community.

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