Hawaii is just one of the expanding list of destinations reopening to American tourists. In October, the island state began letting in visitors without the previous 14-day quarantine that was required upon arrival. Now, travelers can forgo quarantining in lieu of presenting pre-travel COVID-19 test results taken less than 72 hours from the final leg of your departure. This means you get more time to explore, relax, and have fun—once you’ve chosen your island that is. Hawaii consists of several different islands, each with its own distinct personality. Whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, there’s an island for you. Here’s a breakdown of five of the most popular Hawaiian islands:
Oahu: The Heart of Hawaii
This third largest Hawaiian island brings you the best of Hawaii – beaches, majestic mountains, lush tropical foliage, food, and culture. It’s home to the state capital, Honolulu, and majority of Hawaii’s diverse population, who aptly call Oahu ‘the gathering place’. It’s a unique island where the bustle of an international metropolis feels right at home in a tropical paradise, and city streets effortlessly extend to sand shores.
Top things to do: Go to a traditional luau. Learn how to surf. Visit Pearl Harbor. Explore the island’s scenic North Shore. Indulge at the food trucks or enjoy the fusion menus of Hawaii’s star chefs. Relax and rejuvenate at a spa retreat. Shop at the local market or upscale stores.
Kauai: The Garden Isle
Soak in the dramatic landscape of Hawaii’s fourth largest and northernmost island. In Kauai, tropical rainforests, cascading waterfalls, emerald valleys, towering sea cliffs, deep canyons, and a 50-mile stretch of pristine beaches are a part of your everyday scenery. From the rugged Na Pali coast and breathtaking Hanalei Bay, to the stunning Wailua Falls, the island has been a backdrop of many Hollywood hits.
Top things to do: Sail along the Na Pali Coast during sunset. Take a helicopter ride over the “Jurassic Park Falls.” Make a fun stop at the Spouting Horn on the south shore to see water spray out of lava tubes. Go paddle boarding, kayaking, and swimming in Hanalei Bay. Take a snorkeling or scuba diving tour.
Maui: The Valley Isle
With its never-ending pristine beaches, stunning waterfalls, championship golf courses, and spectacular Haleakala National Park, Maui has won the hearts of honeymooners, adventurers, golf enthusiasts and families, alike. This second largest Hawaiian island is also famous for its lush green valleys, volcanic landscapes, historic villages, top-notch water sports, and stellar restaurants and resorts. As the locals say, “Maui no ka oi” or Maui is the best.
Top things to do: Take the epic Road to Hana. Catch an unforgettable Haleakala sunrise or sunset in the national park. Explore the popular Ka’anapali Beach. Go snorkeling in to the crystalline waters of Molokini Crater. Hike through the rainforest and refresh under a waterfall.
Hawaii: The Big Island
Commonly called the Big Island to clear up any confusion between Hawaii the island and Hawaii the state, this youngest Hawaiian island is still growing. Almost twice the size of all other islands combined, its unique landscape remains unrivaled. From majestic snow-covered mountains to lush rainforests, hardened lava deserts to black-sand beaches, and of course, the active, fire-spitting Kilauea volcano (that’s been pouring molten lava into the ocean since 1983), this one-of-a-kind island is guaranteed to take your breath away.
Top things to do: Make a pit stop at the island’s black, white, and green sand beaches. Hike in a rainforest or on a crater—you’ll find some of the best trails here. Go 100 feet below the surface in a submarine to see stunning coral reef and marine life off the Kona Coast. Head to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to witness the eruption in real time.
Molokai: The Friendly Isle
Thirty-eight miles long and 10 miles wide, this fifth largest island is where traditional Hawaii culture has not been interrupted by progress. Here you won’t find traffic lights or fast-food chains, just friendly natives who invite you to soak in their laid-back lifestyle. The island is home to the highest sea cliffs in the world at 3,600 to 3,900 feet, native Hawaiian fishponds and heiau (Hawaiian temples), and breathtaking natural beauty no matter where you go.
Things to do: Journey along 2,000-foot sea cliffs to one of the most remote settlements in the Hawaiian Islands. Snorkel and swim in the sparkling blue waters at Papohaku Beach, one of Hawaii’s largest white-sand beaches. Ride a mule down the 1,700-foot cliffs to Kalaupapa National Historic Park.
If you’ve chosen which island you’re heading to—or need help narrowing it down—contact your GOGO-backed travel advisor to get started.
Please note: Travel requirements and health standards are continually changing. Some islands, like Lanai, are currently only open for essential workers and residents. Also, be prepared to take new COVID-19 tests if you want to hop between the islands of Hawaii, as each is considered a new destination. Visit our parent company Flight Centre Travel Group’s COVID-19 Travel Map for up-to-date information.