There are 132 islands that belong to the Hawaiian island chain, however just 8 of those islands make up the State of Hawaii, with only 7 of them being inhabited. Each of the islands are unique and have their own personality and culture and offer a wide variety of amazing activities to participate in. You are assured to have a great time no matter which island you choose to visit. But, here on the Big Island we have a little piece of every island. In this blog we will talk a little bit about each island and some activities offered there. If you are planning a trip to one of the Hawaiian Islands be sure to bookmark this blog.
Please note that these are all separate islands and you will need to fly to visit each island.
8 Islands of Hawaii
Of the seven inhabited islands of the State of Hawaii, Kauai is the furthest north. Kauai is about 552 square miles, making it the fourth largest island in Hawaii. Kauai is known as “The Garden Isle”, because of its lush landscape and amazing waterfalls. The highest parts of the island are known to be one of the wettest places on earth due to the abundant rainfall. The area receives over 140 inches of rain annually. Mt. Kawaikini is the highest point on Kauai at 5,242 feet above sea level. Kauai was the last island to come under the rule of King Kamehameha, King Kaumuali’i was the ruler of Kauai prior to Kamehameha becoming ruler in 1810.
Here is a list of beautiful places to visit and see on Kauai:
- Waimea Canyon (west region)
- The Furrowed Cliffs of the Na Pali coast (west & north region)
- Kalalau Lookout (west region)
- Wailua Falls (Lihue region)
- Limahuli Garden & Preserve (North region)
- Kilauea Lighthouse & Wildlife Refuge (North region)
- Puu o Kila Lookout (west region)
- Opaekaa Falls (east region)
- National Tropical Botanical Garden ( south region)
- Makawehi Lithified Cliffs (south region).
Oahu is often called “The Gathering Place” and it certainly lives up to its name. It is the third largest island in the Hawaiian Island chain, and it is the most populated island. Oahu is home to the busy capital city of Honolulu and the infamous laid back North Shore. There are many activities to do on the island of Oahu, including a variety of hikes and waterfalls that are located across the island. Oahu has some spectacular beaches for laying out, having fun in the waves, surfing and snorkeling. Here are some of my top picks for this island.
There are 3 pillbox hikes on Oahu that offer amazing views:
- Lanikai (265 Kaelepulu Dr, Kailua, HI 96734)
- Puu O Hulu also known as the pink pillbox (Kaukama Road Waianae, Hawaii 96792)
- Ehukai pillbox (59-178 Ke Nui Rd, Haleiwa, HI 96712).
(Be sure to take water with you if you go hiking. It is hot and humid here in Hawaii and you don’t want to get dehydrated.)
Ten of the best beaches to visit when visiting Oahu:
- Waimea Bay
- Sunset Beach
- Waikiki Beach (good beach for children)
- Lanikai Beach
- Hanauma Bay (great snorkeling
- Waimanalo Beach
- Kailua Beach
- Sandy’s Beach
- Makapuu Beach
- Sharks Cove (great snorkeling)
Molokai is the fifth largest of the Hawaiian Islands. Known as the “Friendly Isle”, Molokai is only 38 miles long and 10 miles wide at its largest point. Molokai is home to some of the tallest cliffs in the world that offer spectacular views of neighboring Maui, Lana’i, Kaho’olawe, and Oahu. Molokai is also home to the longest continuous fringing reef. Molokai has remained true to its roots, having the largest population of Native Hawaiians. Only about 7,000 people live on Molokai. If you aren’t afraid of a few carbs, you will love the World Famous Molokai Hot Bread at Kanemitsu Bakery, made fresh since 1935. The bakery is a local hot spot where you can buy freshly baked Hawaiian sweet bread, known to locals as “Hot Bread”, at night from the alley located behind the bakery in Kaunakakai. The Hot Bread loaves come filled with a variety of flavors like, raspberry jelly, cream cheese and cinnamon-sugar. Kalaupapa National Historical Park is a must when on Molokai. The mule ride is amazing. Beginning at the top of a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, you descend on your mule over 1,700 feet to sea level along a three mile trail of 26 switchbacks. The views along the way are magnificent, but the story of Kalaupapa National Historical Park is even more endearing. This isolated and scenic community was once home to the Belgian Missionary Saint Damien, otherwise known as Father Damien. I highly recommend watching the movie, Molokai: The Story of Father Damien, before you go.
Must dos on Moloka’i:
- Kanemitsu Bakery’s famous hot bread
- Kapuaiwa Coconut Grove
- Halawa Valley
Lana’i is the sixth largest of the Hawaiian Islands and is the smallest of the publicly accessible inhabited islands. Only 141 square miles, with a width of 18 miles, Lana’i has a population of just over 300. Lana’i is known as “ Pineapple Island”, because of being an island-wide pineapple plantation in the past. The island’s only settlement of note is Lanai City. Lanai is best known for being a destination for pampering, gourmet dining and outdoor activities. There are no traffic lights or shopping malls on Lana’i. A great way to experience Lana’i is to schedule an activity that includes a day trip to Lana’i from Maui.
Here is a list of some fun things to see and do when visiting Lana’i:
- Lana’i Culture and Heritage Center
- Hulopuo beach for snorkeling, swimming, and tide pools
- Polihua beach
- Keahiakawe (Garden Of The Gods)
- Manele Bay Road
- Pu‘Upehe Islet Seabird Sanctuary
- Lanai cat sanctuary
- Shipwreck beach
- Manele Golf Course
Maui is known as “The Valley Isle”. Maui is the second largest Hawaiian Island. Maui is best known for its beautiful beaches, the sacred Lao Valley, its amazing sunrises and sunsets atop Haleakala, and the amazing views of humpback whales that migrate to Maui’s warm waters in the winter months. There are many activities to do when visiting Maui. One of my favorites is to spend a day exploring the Road to Hana. Along the way, I like to stop and check out the spectacular waterfalls and end the day at Seven Sacred Pools. Once there you can hike up to the Bamboo Forest and then go for a swim in the freshwater pools. Be sure to check out all of the amazing activities available in Maui before you go.
Here is a list of some fun activities and sights to see when visiting Maui:
- The Road to Hana
- 7 sacred pools
- Boat ride out to Molokini Crater to snorkel and have some fun in the water
- Sunrise or sunset tours to Haleakala Summit/Crater
- Spend the day at any one of the amazing beaches and snorkeling spots on Maui
Niihau is known as the “Forbidden Island”. Visitors are not able to actually go to this privately owned island, unless you are lucky enough to be invited by the Robinson Family. The Robinson Family are direct descendants of the first owners of the island. who originally gained ownership in 1952.
Kahoolawe, also known as the “Target Isle”. The only way you can visit this island is through volunteer work. It is the smallest of the 8 islands. During World War ll the island became a bombing range for the U.S. military, in 1990 the U.S. military stopped using the island as a place for bombing and target practice. Volunteers are now able to go and help clean up the island.
8. The Island of Hawai’i “The Big Island”
The Island of Hawaii is Known as “The Big Island” it got its nickname because it is the biggest island out of all the Hawaiian Islands. The Big Island is large enough to hold all the 7 other islands of Hawaii and still have vacant land. The Island of Hawai’i has much to offer, there are multiple tours and sightseeing options available for each activity you may want to do. From nighttime manta ray diving to being able to see an active volcano. Some of my favorite things to do on the island are; Mauna Kea summit, the best time to go is just before sunset. (be sure to get there at least 30 minutes before sunset, because they close the summit road once the sunsets and you will not be able to reach the summit. Also, a 4 wheel drive car is required to go to the summit.) As the sun sets you will be treated to the most spectacular sunset view you have ever experienced. Once the sun sets you will be treated to the most amazing celestial views of the stars. It is a surreal experience that you are certain to appreciate. Volcano National Park offers the once in a lifetime experience of viewing an active volcano. There are many paths to walk around and explore within the park, including the famous Thurston Lava Tube. Once the sunsets when the lava is flowing, you will see the beautiful glow of the lava lake. Waipio Valley Lookout offers an amazing view of the valley that was once home to many of the early Hawaiian Ali’i (royalty). Unfortunately as of February 25, 2022, the Waipio Valley access road had been closed, making the black sand beach inaccessible.However, the Waipio Lookout is still a great place for taking pictures, so be sure to bring a camera. While you are on the Big Island of Hawaii, be sure to book a tour with us here at Aloha Adventure Farms. We offer an action packed tour that is educational and fun for all ages. We hope to see you soon!
Must dos on the Big Island of Hawai’i:
- Aloha Adventure Farms
- Manta ray diving
- Mauna Kea
- Waipio Valley Lookout
- Coffee Farm Tours
- Akaka Falls
- Rainbow Falls
- Green Sand Beach
- South Point (the most southern point in the United States)
- Volcano National Park
Want more information about planning a vacation in Hawaii?
We hope that this list of adventures inspires you to get out, have some fun and explore Hawaii! We look forward to seeing you here at Aloha Adventure Farms soon.
These are just some of the amazing activities here in Hawaii. There are more fun activities throughout the Big Island, and of course, no trip would be complete without a Big Island adventure — including our five-star Big Island ATV Tours and Polynesian Wood Carving Tours! Be sure to check out more of our blogs to see what other fun activities await.