Aloha, fellow travel enthusiasts!
Are you dreaming of a tropical paradise with sandy beaches and lush greenery? Look no further than Hawaii, the ultimate destination for nature lovers. As someone who has been visiting these islands for years, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to choose which one to explore next. That’s why I’ve put together this guide to help you find the most beautiful island in Hawaii.
Let’s face it – picking the wrong island can lead to disappointment and wasted time. You don’t want to miss out on the breathtaking views or unique cultural experiences that each island offers. Luckily, my personal experience and extensive research have led me to discover five of the most beautiful islands in Hawaii that are sure to satisfy any traveler’s desires.
So whether you’re seeking adventure or relaxation, culture or nature, join me as we embark on a journey through Hawaii’s stunning landscapes and diverse cultures.
Warning: after reading this article, you may find yourself booking a one-way ticket!
The island of Kauai heads my list since it’s a mixture of all that Hawaii has to offer, with the widest coastline, the most stunning gardens (aptly known as the Garden Isle), deep valleys, and tons of hidden beaches. So if you want to experience a slice of tropical paradise, come to Kauai for a secluded vacation away from tourist crowds and experience being truly close to nature.
Kauai is home to the Waimea Canyon, also known as the ‘Grand Canyon of the Pacific’ for its 900 meters deep valleys surrounded by gorgeous cliffs. In addition, the Koke’e State Park is a short drive away and houses equally breathtaking hiking trails, forestry, and plant species.
Heading to the shores, the Na Pali Coast in Kauai’s North shore has towering sea cliffs, an expansive coastline, and stunning hiking trails looking onto the jewel-like waters. You can also experience terrific swimming at Ke’e Beach in its protected lagoons and snorkel alongside tropical fish, green sea turtles, and even spot sharks.
So you’re in for Mother Nature’s most spectacular display of eye candy in Kauai’s landscape, which is why it’s largely considered the most beautiful Hawaiian island. Here’s why you’ll agree:
- The lack of crowds makes it secluded and perfect for a romantic getaway.
- Adventure lovers will thrive on its tough yet scenic trails.
- The accommodations include oceanside resorts, condos, and villas in quaint towns.
Maui is a close second on the list, known as the Valley Isle, and home to Hawaii’s most gorgeous rainforest, scenic waterfalls on every corner of its East coast, and the towering Haleakala volcano. Those looking for diversity on their island itinerary should head to Maui, as it promises lively towns, luxury resorts, waterfall hikes through dense forests, and terrific snorkeling on its beaches.
Some famous attractions in Maui are the Haleakala National Park in East Maui, where you can see the most sought-after sunrise in the world at the Haleakala Crater, hike the breathtaking Pipiwai Trail, and swim in the sacred Ohe’o Gulch waterfall.
Another favorite attraction is the Road to Hana, which passes through unique spots like Honokalani black sand beach, the gushing Wailua Falls, and numerous botanical gardens.
In West and South Maui, you can beach hop from an array of golden-sanded shores, shop in local markets, take sunset cruises on the Pacific, and so much more. In addition, the North shore and Upcountry Maui have terrific small towns, Paia, Makawao, and Kula, which offer relaxed accommodations, great local eateries, and the kindest people you’ll ever meet.
Maui’s culture, sights, and landscape make it the most beautiful island in Hawaii. Here’s why you can’t miss it:
- Helicopter tours go over gorgeous parts of the island inaccessible by land.
- The island is ideal for families for its many safe beaches.
- You can stay in world-class luxury resorts.
Every tourist’s first stop in Hawaii, Oahu, is aptly called the Gathering Place, as millions of people worldwide visit it every year. The vibrant Waikiki has amazing nightlife and crowds, and the capital city, Honolulu, displays Hawaii’s rich history. These are some of the best places to visit on this island for first-time travelers, families, and larger groups who will love Oahu for its diverse activities.
You can head to the popular Waikiki Beach for swimming, surfing, lounging on the soft sands, and enjoying views of the Diamond Head volcano. There are also upscale hotels, shopping centers, great restaurants, and clubs lining Waikiki’s streets to explore.
The capital city of Honolulu hosts the historic Pearl Harbor, museums displaying the island’s history, one of the largest Chinatowns in the US, and streets crowded with tourists to rival the busiest cities in the world. You can also experience luxury like never before at Ko Olina, a resort community with oceanside hotels, artificial lagoons, and fine dining.
Oahu also offers a laid-back experience on its North shore, where you’ll find fewer roads, local favorite eateries and food trucks, and gorgeous bays. Hike in its Waimea Valley, up the trails of the Diamond Head, and swim in the stunning Sunset Beach (also stay for the sunset!)
Oahu’s unmatched sceneries and a plethora of diverse people make it one of the most beautiful Hawaiian islands. Here’s why you’ll agree:
- The range of activities makes it ideal for family trips.
- The North shore is a surfer’s paradise for its Olympic-sized waves during the winter season.
- The accommodations range from pricey hotels to comfortable and affordable ones, so you can come here on a budget.
Hawaii – the Big Island
The Big Island is Hawaii’s largest island, and its terrain has active volcanoes, black and white sand beaches, lava fields, and deep valleys. Visitors stick to its more famous Kailua-Kona islands, the Kohala Coast, and the small town of Hilo, while large parts of the island remain unoccupied. However, those seeking adventure and thrill in Hawaii must head to the Big Island, as it’s the only place you can see active lava and volcanic rocks up close.
On the Kohala Coast, you’ll find some of the most coveted golf courses and resorts in the world, all framed by lava rocks and views of the nearby shore. The Kailua-Kona side features five-star hotels, budget-friendly accommodations, terrific eateries, and local markets to wander in.
The island’s Northern part is perfect if you want to go ziplining, take ATV tours, swim in waterfalls pools, snorkel with manta rays, go scuba diving, and see historic sugar cane irrigation channels. Travel to the South to witness Mauna Kea, Hawaii’s largest mountain in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
In addition, Hilo, on the island’s Eastern side, has uncrowded streets, delicious local food, and quaint beaches. Those looking to get away from tourist hotspots shouldn’t miss Hilo for its relaxed, small-town feel and slow pace.
Here’s why the Big Island is considered one of the most beautiful islands in Hawaii:
- The Waipio Valley and Kealakekua Bay are rich in history on the island’s origins.
- It has excellent beaches like Mauna Kea Beach and Hapuna Bay.
- You can take boat tours through sea caves and snorkel in secluded marine life hotspots on Kealakekua Bay.
Moloka’i and Lanai
Far from the well-known Hawaiian islands, and with much less amenities, are Lanai and Molokai. They’re frequented by seasoned travelers who come for day trips to appreciate the beauty and serenity of these far-off places.
Molokai is a hidden gem off the South shore of Maui and accessible by boat. It spans 38 miles in length and has breathtaking natural beauty, such as the longest coral reef in Hawaii and the tallest sea cliffs in the world. However, there are no major resorts or highways, so it’s best to come here for a short visit.
Molokai is the perfect getaway with secluded beaches and hiking trails that aren’t swarming with tourists. So come here to escape the busy islands and appreciate Hawaii’s untouched beauty.
Lanai is equally small and gorgeous but has more developmental traces, such as its luxury resorts and apartments. However, Lanai’s remoteness makes it the ideal island for off-road vehicle adventures to spots like the gorgeous Shipwreck Beach and historic Kaunolu Village, a fishing spot favored by King Kamehameha I.
In addition, the Lanai Culture & Heritage Center displays exhibits on the island’s history, and the Garden of the Gods gives way to a breathtaking sunset.
These islands are a bonus, so come here after you’ve exhausted the main islands, as they’re undoubtedly one of the most beautiful islands in Hawaii.
- The Molokai Crater has a natural coral reef with the best snorkeling alongside sea turtles and dolphins.
- You can go whale watching in the waters near Molokai during winter.
- Lanai’s Munro Trail offers unmatched views of the Pacific Ocean.
Concluding the 5 Most Beautiful Islands in Hawaii
The Hawaiian islands are largely unmatched in their natural beauty by any other place. The lush vegetation, rare species of flora and fauna, tall mountains and volcanoes, and miles of sandy beaches make this state an epic one and unmissable for those who love nature.
We hope after reading this article you’ll have decided which Hawaiian island is the most beautiful, but just to recap;
Head to Kauai and the Big Island for uncrowded, rustic scenery and gorgeous beaches.
Don’t miss Maui for deep valleys, beautiful state parks, and the best beaches in Hawaii.
Visit Oahu for a fast-paced trip through a metropolitan island.
Stop by Lanai and Molokai for a day among raw tropical vistas.
The most beautiful islands in Hawaii have something for everyone!
Last Updated on March 12, 2023 by Brigitte