The islands of Hawai'i
The allure of Hawai'i lies in its diversity. Learn about 4 of the main islands—O'ahu, Hawai'i Island, Kaua'i, and Maui—to find out information and tips before you explore the Aloha State.
Hawai'i (The Big Island)
The youngest and biggest in the Hawaiian archipelago, the ‘‘Big Island’’ of Hawai‘i has it all. A gorgeous beach all to yourself, a surprise sea turtle sighting, or that flawless cup of Kona coffee, it all can be found here. The first question a Hawai‘i Island novice usually asks is, ‘‘Where should I stay?’’ A vast majority of visitors choose hotels and condos on the Kona coast, known for its sunny weather, beaches, restaurants and shops of the Kailua-Kona area.
AAA Travel Guides:
Information and tips on what to do and see in top cities on the Big Island to help you make the most of your visit.
The Big Island scenic drives:
O‘ahu is aptly nicknamed ‘‘The Gathering Place,’ as a million visitors a year land on O‘ahu, then proceed to explore the other islands. O‘ahu offers more than just a booming metropolis. Other aspects of the island—wide-open spaces, spectacular vistas and uncrowded beaches—are found ‘‘over the pali,’’ which encompasses the windward coast, along the deserted stretches of wild-surf beach on the north coast and among the quiet fields of the central plateau.
Each Hawaiian island has its specialties, but people who know Maui know ‘‘The Valley Isle’’ has it all. Beaches that are often ranked among the best on the planet, rain forests, waterfalls, and watching the sunrise from atop 10,023-foot Haleakala¯ is an experience you won’t soon forget. Sunsets are best viewed from Maui’s leeward shore, where you’ll find the bulk of the island’s lodgings. Sea life teems beneath the surface of Honolua Bay, a snorkeling favorite and a magnet for surfers. West Maui also claims Ka¯‘anapali Beach, a resort-backed strand that caters to sun-and-fun seekers with lively restaurants, bars, and shops.
AAA Travel Guides:
Information and tips on what to do and see in top cities on Maui to help you make the most of your visit.
Maui scenic drives:
The popular name for Kaua‘i is ‘‘The Garden Isle’’ due to its lush vegetation and agricultural bounty. Fourth-largest and northernmost of the major Hawaiian Islands, Kaua‘i was the first to be free of volcanic activity. Kaua‘i is the oldest of the inhabited Hawaiian islands. Those looking for natural beauty can visit sites like the Nā Pali cliffs, accessible only by foot or boat, or the Fern Grotto, a lava rock amphitheater along the 20-mile Wailua River.
On Moloka‘i’s north shore, green sea cliffs plunge into the Pacific. On the island’s lush east side, a 1-lane road climbs past sweeping coastal vistas, then snakes through misty rain forest on its way to the waterfall-laced Ha¯lawa Valley. Moloka‘i’s western region is rife with picture-perfect beaches. Moloka‘i, clearly visible from Maui, has failed to register on most tourists’ radar but ″The Friendly Isle″ is just that—a place where everyone seemingly knows everyone and greets one another with hugs and a hearty ‘‘Aloha."
Lana‘i's reef-fringed north coast lies 9 miles south of Moloka‘i, and 8 miles of water separate its eastern shore from Maui. Abandoned pineapple fields and dry grassland occupy the mostly rolling and open western region. While it is the least visited of the major islands, La¯na‘i’s breathtaking views of Moloka‘i and Maui and its highland ridges covered with patches of wild thimbleberries and Hawaiian gardenias beckon visitors who want to glimpse a untainted paradise.
AAA has travel guides with information and tips on what to do and see in Lanai City to help you make the most of your visit.