I am here to help make the question, what is the best Hawaiian island to visit a little easier. You will end up needing to answer many other questions first. To best answer this question it is important to evaluate many things as each island offers significantly different experiences. I personally think that the big island (Hawaii) is the best Hawaiian island, but I have only been to Kauai, Oahu, and the big island.
So the question really becomes what is important to you, and your experience. Is this a vacation trip? Business? Scouting out your future home? I will lay out several things for you to consider as you make this decision on which Island to visit.
I have always found “Hawaii” to be a confusing term. Hawaii, is the Big Island, while many people refer to Hawaii when thinking of Oahu, and the city of Honolulu, or perhaps Pearl Harbor. There are several islands that make up the Hawaiian, but the 4 main islands are, Kauai, Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island (Hawaii)
I would think most people’s primary concern/consideration would be the cost factor. Honolulu on Oahu is by far the most inexpensive island to fly to and therefore by default becomes the destination for the majority of travelers. Oahu is also the most populated and, in my opinion offers the largest number of possible activities. It is definitely “touristy”, which is both good, and bad depending on the experience you are looking for. With the touristy feel of Oahu comes more expense in everything from dining to Lodging. I personally recommend using VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner). You can read about that by following the link.
Airfare is one of the biggest expenses when considering a trip to Hawaii so it would appear Oahu with the cheapest flights would be a chief consideration, but I do feel that ends up being offset by the expense of everything else.
If outdoors is your thing, the islands should definitely be on your list, everything from biking to surfing, hiking to shopping, and volcano watching to snorkeling. Seriously there are so many opportunities to be out, and about doing stuff. It is one of the things I love the most about Hawaii, and the Big island in particular.
Honolulu on Oahu has some of the highest end shopping in the world. Kona on the Big Island is definitely not as high end but does have its share of good shopping as well.
I include the category of weather because you may not be aware that there is a dry side and a wet side, and the difference between to the two sides is vast. This isn’t really a consideration for which island to pick as they all generally have a wet side and a dry side, but it is something consider when picking your accommodations. For example on the Big Island, if you are looking for that lush jungle feel you are going to want to stay on the Puna side of the big island, or if you like the drier side, Kona is the area for you. The weather is pretty much always warm, Low 70s to low 90s whether on either side is what you can expect all year round.
Thinking of Living Here?
This point is what spurred my interest and knowledge seeking. I thought it would be too expensive to actually live in Hawaii and was subsequently looking at the Philippines and some of the typical central/south American countries, but then ran across an ad for some real estate in the Puna district of the Big island. Very inexpensive! Why?
People do fear buying and building on land that could be engulfed in lava, and it has happened twice in the last 70 or so years. I did extensive research before purchasing 2 lots in Nanwale Estates. There is of course a chance that my property could become worthless, however lava hasn’t flowed in this area in over 300 years, that’s 300 years of paradise.. I paid under 12k for both lots. I haven’t built yet, but I am working on it and that is a part of what this website is about, so check it out. As I write this post, this is a developing situation and will be for the next several years, so check back frequently for updates, and new information. I do share these on my facebook page as well.
Some Final Thoughts
As you can see the reason to visit the Islands are varied, and ultimately the best Hawaiian Island to visit will be found in your heart. This post is by no means all-encompassing in its overview of the various reasons, however it is designed to help you evaluate what you are looking for, and explore further. As my site grows, more and more links will develop in this post that will help you make your decision. Looking back at my experience I do wish I had stumbled upon a site like this one.
I would very much welcome your feedback and comments, whether you agree or disagree with the various points above, your input has value so please do comment below.