The best island in Hawaii for your vacation depends on your interests and the type of vacation you want to take. Each island is unique and has activites and amenities that are different then the other islands. We think Hawaii Island is best for a fun family vacation, but look below to see why you might be happier on another island depending upon the type of vacation you want or need.
What Hawaii Island has to offer for your vacation?
Hawaii Island has the highest mountain in the world, the southern most point in the US, an active volcano, and is larger than all the other islands in Hawaii put together. It has the most affordable places to stay and an incredible array of weather zones, land zones, activities, and fun outdoor adventures. If you want to have an active and outdoor based vacation then Hawaii island is the most fun place to go.
Hawaii Island Affordability
The Island of Hawaii is the most affordable of all the islands. Great deals are available in luxury and budget hotels in Kona, Waikoloa, Volcano, and Hilo. Renting a condo or house can save even more money for a family and allows you to save by home cooking with local beef, chicken, lamb, fruits and vegetables. Fresh fish can be purchased at the docks in Kona and Hilo. Farmer's markets around the island sell local produce and home cooked foods. A Costco and Target store in Kona offer reduced prices for mainland products helping out the vacation budget. Adventure and water activities are generally less expensive on Hawaii then the other islands and hiking, snorkeling, and sitting on the beach are free.
Hawaii Island Variety
The size of the Big Island offers more variety in places to visit and things to do on a vacation. To maximize the variety and fun, renting a vehicle is the best way to go. But there are island tours and an island-wide bus system that provides service around the island. The rainy east side offers tropical gardens, waterfalls, black lava beaches, history museums, the world's only 3-D planetarium, and festivals to experience hula and old Hawaii. The dry west side has the upscale hotels and resorts with white sandy beaches, snorkeling, fishing, and whale watching. In between, the Volcanoes National park offers views of the active volcano and incredible hikes in the higher altitude forests and lava tubes. Mauna Kea has Telescopes to explore and Waimea has huge ranches and offers a Hawaiian cowboy experience and rodeo. Remote beaches and valleys are accessible on adventure tours and by renting 4-wheel drive jeeps and trucks. The activities and variety make Hawaii Island an endless opportunity for discovery.
Family Oriented Fun
The Hawaiian and Asian culture, the endless outdoor activities, and the museums on the Big Island favor families, kids and those that are kids at heart. Most kids love hiking up to waterfalls, through lava tube caves, and 4 wheel driving to remote beaches to see sunning turtles. Adventure tours, museums and most activities on the Big Island are family friendly and fun. The island has lowest population density in the State and the trails and attractions are not overrun with locals or visitors.
Why to consider other islands for your vacation
If being outdoors and nature are not your thing, then you should consider a Hawaiian vacation offered on other islands.
If you want to just Relax by a Pool
We think the hotels on Maui have the best pools, many adorned with incredible lagoons, slides, decorations, waterfalls and wonderful places to lie around and relax in the sun.
On the Big Island the best pools are at the big hotels in Waikoloa like the Hilton and Marriott. You can get a day pass at the Hilton Waikoloa if you want to try out their pools. Some condos and time shares in Kona and Waikoloa have great pools, but call in advance to verify that the pool is open and hopefully heated.
If you want Serious Shopping
Oahu has the best shopping in the State of Hawaii. Though Waikiki's upscale shopping area is small compared to Paris or Rome, only Milan, Italy sells more designer clothes and jewelry than Honolulu. At night the stores are crowded with buyers carrying so many packages they can hardly walk down the street. We've seen limos unload hundreds of packages and piles of duty free goods being loaded on planes leaving for Tokyo. Maui is another place with nice malls with upscale shopping.
On the Big Island there is basic shopping at strip malls in Kona and malls in Hilo. Waikoloa has two shopping centers with the most upscale shops on the island. There are small malls around the island, but nothing special. If shopping is an important part of your vacation, the Big Island will disappoint.
If you want Night Life
Waikiki on Oahu has the best and most night clubs, bars, restaurants and wild party places of any of the islands. It is a place where locals, visitors, and soldiers on leave party hard. Maui also has night clubs and bars in the big hotels in Ka'anapali and in Lahaina.
On the Big Island, Kona has some bars along Ali'i drive and Waikoloa has evening entertainment, but the island is not known for its nightlife.
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