Which Hawaii Island to Visit for First Timers?

29th March 2023

It’s a rare and beautiful thing for a place to have so much to offer in the way of paradise that it leaves the majority of people staggeringly indecisive about what to do and see there. On the plus side, it’s practically non-negotiable that you have to go back – and who’s going to complain about that right?

Hawaii happens to fall into this category of paradise. With so much to experience spread out over hundreds of islands and a dizzying amount of Hawaii luxurious beach homes to rent, it can be a panic-inducing task to decide where to go if it’s your first time. Read on for a handy, honest guide about which Hawaii island to visit when popping your proverbial Hawaiian cherry.

When to Go

Hawaii which island to visit

Whilst some of you may agonise over which months are best to check Hawaii out, it’s important to remember that it’s a fairly spectacular place all year round. However, it’s normal to feel short-changed if you arrive in paradise only to be met by heaving crowds or relentless rain. Hawaii’s rainy season takes place between September and November, though it is still warm enough to attract visitors.

The majority of visitors, however, arrive in peak season (December to April) in search of sun while the rest of the states dig in for winter. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, the best time to visit Hawaii is between May and June, during the sleepy dry season when the pace of life is truly laidback and the days are long, hot and sun-kissed.

Which Hawaii Island to Visit

This is a somewhat sensitive choice that’ll need to be made eventually – obviously if you have all the time in the world and cash bursting from the seams of your suitcase, then island hopping might be the way to go. However, we can only strongly recommend that if like the majority of people, you’re more time and money conscious – you’re better off picking an island and really getting to know it. You can always come back!


Hawaii which island to visit oahu

Oahu is the one-size-fits-all Island when it comes to offering a varied taste of classic Hawaii. It’s got the beaches, the luau dinners and the convenient accessibility of a well-developed tourist destination. People are sometimes taken aback by the size of the city and the hustle and bustle of daily life – but alongside this come the advantages of a developed city.

There’s world class food, easily navigable public transport and the city makes for a comfortable base from which to plan excursions. Oahu is a strong contender for a first-time visit as it’ll have something for everyone. Steer clear of the densely populated areas and enjoy hiking before sleeping in moderately priced hotels, or embrace the vibrant city life of Hawaii’s most popular island. 

Big Island (Hawai’i)

Hawaii which island to visit big island

Aptly named for its size, the biggest island in Hawaii is a playground for nature lovers in search of paradise. Home to the world’s most active volcano (Kilauea), the sheer scale of the natural beauty on Big Island is astounding. From emerald jungle for as far as the eye can see in Hilo to lava flows in the south, the island of Hawaii is a popular spot for hikers and adventure tourists when deciding which Hawaii island to visit. 

Expect moderately priced accommodation and authentic meals and think about hiring a rental car if you want to get around as easily as possible.


Hawaii which island to visit Maui

If you’re looking for sand and sea while searching for which Hawaii island to visit, Maui is synonymous with jaw-droppingly pristine beaches of all shapes and sizes. Coral and lava make for ideal snorkelling conditions (be sure to check out Molokini Crater), whilst the Western Shore beaches attract surfers from all over the world to ride perfect waves. 

The beach lover’s paradise, Maui is one of those places where words struggle to do it justice. Accommodation can range from simple yet comfortable beach huts to extravagant seafront hotels with a range of varyingly-priced options in between. 


Hawaii which island to visit Kauai

Owing to its comparatively small size, Kauai is a firm favourite among those who want the chance to experience the island in its entirety. What Kauai lacks for in size, however, it more than compensates for in the quality and variety of its natural attractions.

The laidback atmosphere of beach communities on the South Shore is complimented by the adventurous pace of life in the canyon-strewn and jungle-carpeted central belt. A regularly recommended trek is the Grand Canyon of the Pacific – not one to miss if you’re looking for unforgettable tropical wildlife and scenery.


Hawaii which island to visit Molokai

Taking a step back from the highly sought-out natural paradises that people eagerly search for in Hawaii, another option for a first trip is the heavily indigenously populated Molokai. Sacrificing none of the natural beauty (check out the Kalaupapa Peninsula) while being comparatively rich in traditional Hawaiian culture, Molokai offers ancient sites and refreshingly authentic food, all available at reasonable prices.

Many travellers have been lured to the island by the warm demeanour of its people and the selfless preservation of culture.


Hawaii which island to visit Lanai

Arguably the quietest of the Hawaiian Islands, Lanai is the place you go if you’re not looking for the typical Hawaii experience. A world away from the luaus of Oahu or even the mountainous adventure treks found on Big Island, Lanai instead offers tranquil days on isolated beaches surrounded by calm instead of crowds.

With accommodation ranging from resorts to hostels, you’ll find a range of visitors here including everyone from families to travellers, but all sharing a mutual love of nature and tranquillity.


As we previously mentioned, there’s no point in darting between islands if you don’t have the time or resources to enjoy each properly. There’s nothing worse than heading home after a trip you feel you could’ve got more out of. However, flights are usually cheaper into Honolulu on Oahu owing to the volume of people passing through – so using this as a start point when looking into which Hawaii island to visit and hopping over elsewhere isn’t out of the question.

The rest is up to you! You’ll enjoy your time on each Hawaiian Island depending on what you enjoy doing most – you may even find that this changes the more time you spend there! One thing that you can be certain of is that the turquoise waters, volcanic jungles and sense of discovery will have you coming back for more before very long.

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