My personal recommendations for visiting the islands

kazman's picture

The links that Kari posted for visiting the islands are excellent and contain a wealth of information.  I won't try to be exhaustive, but will merely share some of my personal opinions on the islands.

First, every island is different and offers something special.  They will *all* offer spectacular hiking, 4-wheeling, swimming, snorkeling, fishing, whale-watching.  They will all have resorts that offer golf, spas, tennis, etc.  And, in fact, you can get all this on Oahu.

So, what is really special about each of the "outer" islands?  First off, go to Molokai or Lanai if you want to "get away".  These islands are smaller, quieter, with lower populations of locals and tourists.  Don't expect nightlife or a big variety of shopping or fine dining in either of these islands.  

For my money, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island offer the best balance of fun, beauty, and variety.  The north shore of Kauai--the Napali Coast--is spectacular (hike the Kalalau trail or see it from above by visiting Waimea Canyon State Park).  On the Big Island you must see Volcanoes National Park.  Here you can see lava flowing downhill and into the ocean, boiling the ocean when it makes contact.  It is magical by day or by night.  And on Maui Haleakala National Park is incredible.  There are tours that let you coast from the top, by bike, down the entire 36 miles (10,000 feet of descending).  You can hike into the crater of the volcano. 

I could go on and on: each island has many attractions, big and small.