Visit Hawaii: Which Hawaiian Island should you go to?

Hawaii is unique. Especially for a malihini (newcomer) it can be hard to determine which island to visit.

The first thing to do is asking yourself: What do I imagine my Hawaiian vacation to be like? What kind of pictures do I see in my mind?

  • Have you always wanted to see a live volcano?
  • Do you picture hula dancers on the beach?
  • Have you always wanted to play on one of the many phenomenal golf courses?
  • Or, are you a history buff and Pearl Harbor is a must?big island hawaii, kohala coast, dining, oceanfront, beach, hawaii Image credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

Once you have a good idea of what it is you are looking for, check out the grid we created. This check-list allows you to determine what experiences are available on which island. Check the ones you are looking for, see on which island/s they are available. The island that offers the highest amount of experiences you are looking for should be your top pick.
aavtravel, hawaii, which island to go to, where to travel toYou should leave enough time to properly experience an island. The Island of Hawaii for example does not only have a lot to offer but is also quite big. Travel times are longer and you need a couple of days, if you want to experience most of what the island has to offer. If you only have a week, I would suggest sticking to one island. If you have 10 days or more, a combination of 2 islands is a great option. If you have limited time but want to see them all, you might be interested in one of the cruises.

hana, waterfall, maui, hawaii, hikingImage credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

Every island is distinct in what it offers (from urban to rural and private), which makes choosing the right one a little difficult. Hopefully our grid makes finding the one that suits you best a little easier. No matter which moku (island) you decide to visit (or if you choose to island hop!) you will have an experience of a lifetime.

Written by AAV Travel’s Hawaii Expert

stefanie pichonnat aavtravel
Stefanie Pichonnat is the Hawaii Specialist at AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating and customizing personalized travel itineraries. Having personally travelled to Hawaii she can help you create a wonderful experience. You can contact her at

Kauai: The Garden Isle — Napali Coast, Waimea Canyon & Poipu Beach

plumeria, kauai, hawaii, aavtravelKauai is the oldest and northernmost of the six islands. It is full of natural, dramatic beauty that you wouldn’t believe until you saw it for yourself. Some parts of the islands are only accessible by sea or air–which makes for views beyond your wildest imagination!

Kauai Attractions: 

Napali Coast – 17 miles of panoramic views of the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean. Picture this: velvet green cliffs and cascading waterfalls. Does it get any better?

napali, north coast, kauai, hawaii, aavtravelWaimea Canyon – Called the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” it stretches for 14 miles, one mile wide and over 3,600 feet deep! The lookouts provide panoramic views of deep valleys, gorges and vistas that for on for miles.

Waimea Canyon, Hawaii, Kauai, aavtravel

Kauai’s North Shore – Home to the small town of Hanalei which is filled with colorful shops, restaurants and art galleries. Hanalei is also famous for the beautiful taro fields which you will see at the foot of Hanalei’s green mountains.

hanalai, kauai, taro, hawaii, aavtravelKauai’s West Side – At the end of Waimea Canyon you will find the Kalalau Valley Lookout. From there you can see the majestic Napali Coast rise from the sea. It is a beautiful spot to observe light changes which make your view look different from moment to moment.

kalakau, kauai, napali, aavtravel, hawaiiLihue – known for its many beaches, e.g. Kalapaki, this area is great for windsurfing and body boarding. The Lihue area also has numerous historical spots like for example Alekoko, a roughly 1000 year old aquaculture reservoir or Kilohana, a historic plantation.

Lihue BeachesWailua Falls – Not far from Lihue you will find the Wailua Falls. These falls are best know from the tv series “Fantasy Island”. They can be seen from the roadside and are easily accessible. Morning visits are best as you might be treated to a rainbow over the fall.

wailua, waterfalls, kauai, aavtravelPoipu beach – located on Kauai’s South side, Poipu is known for it sunny weather and beautiful beaches. It is a great place for all things vacation. Whether you want to lounge on the beach, snorkel, go shopping or try one of the many excellent restaurants. During the months of December to May it is not uncommon to see humpback whales spouting offshore.

poipu beach, palmtree, kauai, aavtravelKauai Surfing – Poipu Beach, Nawili Harbor in Lihue, Hanalei Bay on the North Shore and Makua “Tunnels” Beach are Kauai’s surfing hot spots. You can watch surfers hit a wave or try it out yourself. November through February waves are particularly massive and surfing is best left to experienced wave riders.

poipu, nawiliwili, makua, hanalei, surfing, kauai, aavtravel

stefanie pichonnat aavtravel
Stefanie Pichonnat is the Hawaiian Travel Specialist at AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating and customizing personalized travel itineraries. You can contact her at


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Stephanie Jellett is interning as a travel writer and social media manager at AAV Travel. You can contact her at






The Island of Hawaii – The Big Island: Island of Adventure – Kailua-Kona, Hilo & Volcanoes National Park

big island, black sand, beach, hawaii, aavtravelThe Island of Hawai’i is the largest and youngest of the main six islands. “Big” Island indeed, as it doubles the size of all of them combined. This is definitely one of the most unique islands because it has 11 of the world’s 13 climate zones. You’ll see white sandy beaches, snow capped mountains, waterfalls, botanical gardens, rainforests and active volcanoes. You will find traditional heiau (temples), rich culture and timeless beauty. Can you name another place where you can experience all that?

Hawai’i, The Big Island Attractions:

Hawaii Volcano National Park – Home to Kilauea volcano. It’s one of the world’s most active volcanoes. This extraordinary place is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s one like no other.

kilauea, volcano national park, hawaii, aavtraveKailua Village – This seaside little town is in the heart of the Kona Coast. Rich with history, it used to be a fishing village and an escape for Hawaiian royalty, but today it’s a popular destination for great shopping, dining and learning about the Hawaiian culture.

kailua, hawaii, kona, surfing, aavtravelHilo – The islands capital city. The region is filled with dramatic waterfalls, rainforests and blooming gardens. It’s the complete opposite of the volcanic Kohala coast! Here you can visit the nations only rainforest zoo–you can see lots of exotic plants and animals, including Namaste, a white Bengal tiger.

akaka falls, hawaii, waterfall, aavtravelAncient Hawaiian History and Culture – Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Park provides a look into early Hawaiian culture. Many archeological sites await and it is the perfect place to take a glimpse into Hawaii’s past. Pu’uhonua o Honauau looks particularly beautiful at sunset.

puuhonua, tiki, hawaii, culture, aavtravelKona Coffee Plantations – The Big Island of Hawai’i is home to some of the world’s best coffee. Make sure to stop by a plantation, learn what makes a good coffee, how the beans are harvested and roasted. You’ll have a whole new appreciation for the world’s favorite wake up drink afterwards.

coffee, kona, beans, big island, hawaii, aavtravelActivities abound – Kayaking, helicopter tours, hiking, horseback riding, there are so many opportunities to experience this beautiful island. Take your time, soak it in. Allow the Aloha spirit to enchant you.

Snorkeling, Diving & Sports Fishing – Rich in marine life the Big Island is one of the best places to discover Hawaii’s extraordinary underwater world. The protected waters of Kealakaekua Bay for instance are wonderful to snorkel, or you can find one of the island’s many dive shops if you would like to dive deeper. Keep in mind that marine mammals are protected and should not be approached by boat or swimmers.

beach, big island, island of hawaii, aav travel

stefanie pichonnat aavtravel
Stefanie Pichonnat is the Hawaiian Travel Specialist at AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating and customizing personalized travel itineraries. You can contact her at


in conjunstephanie jellett aavtravelction with


Stephanie Jellett is interning as a travel writer and social media manager at AAV Travel. You can contact her at


Maui: The Magic Isle – Ka’anapali, Lahaina & Hana

kapalua, maui, sunset, hawaii, aavtravel The second largest island and likely the most popular one. Maui is known as the paradise of endless sunshine and glorious beaches. It will surprise you to know that it has a smaller population than you would imagine! Small towns and resorts spread throughout the island. Maui’s beaches have repeatedly been voted as some of the best in the world. If not the beach you can always explore the majestic peaks of the West Maui Mountains or venture into the lush green rainforest of Waihe’e Valley. No visit to Maui is complete without a drive along the road to Hana. Take your time to truly enjoy this magical experience!

Maui Attractions:

‘Iao Valley State Park – This peaceful and lush area centers around Kukaemoku, a towering rock that soars 1,200-feet high and is best seen in the early morning. The State Park offers plenty of hikes that will take you through rich foliage, natural pools and mountain views.

iao valley, iao needle, kukaemoku, maui, aavtravel, hawaiiiao valley, maui, aavtravel, hawaiiWhale Watching:  – During the wintertime (December – April) on the Auau Channel (between Maui, Lanai and Molokai) is one of the absolute best places in the whole world to go whale watching. If that’s one of the main activities you want to do on your vacation, this is your place.

Maui Beaches – There are over 80 beaches to choose from on the island, with a total of 120 miles of shoreline. Makena State Park is one of Maui’s largest beaches. Lazing in the sun, swimming, surfing, beach-combing, how amazing is that?

maui, beach, kapalua, aavtravelHaleakala National Park – Maui’s highest peak on the island. Can you imagine watching a sunrise with your loved one at 9, 740 ft atop the Haleakala crater?

haleakala, volacno, sunrise, maui, hawaii, aavtravelhaleakala, volcano, maui, hawaii, aavtravelHistoric Lahaina Town – This former whaling village has been transformed into more than 40 art galleries and restaurants. If you are on Maui during whale watching season you will likely join an excursion departing from Lahaina Harbor.

Road to Hana – Over 600 turns and 54 bridges will take you along the world-famous Road to Hana. It is an unforgettable experience! Make sure you take the time to slow down and enjoy the ride – you will find picture opportunities around every corner. At the end of the journey you will find the town of Hana. Make sure to stop by the charming Hasegawa General Store, a local institution since 1910.

maui, black sand, beach, hawaii, aavtravel

maui, hana, aavtravel, hawaiiHonolua Bay – is famous for its Big Wave surfing during the winter time

Tedeschi Winery/Maui Winery – Ever wonder what Hawaiian wine tastes like? This is your opportunity!

Snorkeling at Black Rock – Kaanapali Beach is one of Maui’s finest and Black Rock provides some great fish watching.

maui, coastal, hawaii, aavtravelWritten by STEFANIE PICHONNAT
stefanie pichonnat aavtravel
Stefanie Pichonnat is the Hawaiian Travel Specialist at AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating and customizing personalized travel itineraries. You can contact her at


in conjunstephanie jellett aavtravelction with


Stephanie Jellett is interning as a travel writer and social media manager at AAV Travel. You can contact her at

O’ahu: The Gathering Place – Honolulu, Waikiki & the North Shore

honlulu, aerial, oahu, waikiki, aavtravelHome of the state capital, Honolulu, Oahu is the third largest of the six islands. Known as the “Heart of Hawaii,” it is home to most of Hawaii’s population, and also a popular tourist destination. It is where you find the perfect blend of city and island experience, and one of the most famous beaches in the world – Waikiki Beach. It is the most urban of all the islands, with electric nightlife, endless shopping and contemporary dining. However, people oftentimes forget that they can also experience the rustic charm of old Hawai’i by venturing inland or with a trip to one of many quaint surf towns of the North Shore.

This is the best island if you want an energetic and activity-filled getaway!

O’ahu Attractions:

Waikiki – Once was a playground for Hawaiian royalty, but now serves as the island’s main hotel/resort area. It is famous for it’s beaches and is perfect for surfing! Here you can also find the Waikiki Aquarium.
oahu, waikiki, diamond head, beach, surfing, aavtravel‘Iolani Palace – The United States’ only royal palace.
iolani palace, honolulu, royal palace, hawaii, aavtravelNorth Shore – This surfing mecca’s winter waves attracts the best surfers from around the world. Though the waves in the summer are much smaller and more gentle, making it a great place to learn how to catch a wave for the first time. Here you will also find the Polynesian Cultural Center.

north shore, turtle bay, oahu, hawaii, aavtravelHaunama Bay – Famous for its spectacular snorkeling
Haunama bay, oahu, snorkeling, hawaii, aavtravelThe Pali Lookout
pali lookout, oahu, hawaii, aavtravel
Kualoa Ranch – home to many movies and shows like Jurassic Park, Lost, Hawaii 5-O. Many different adventure tour options await.
jurassic park, oahu, kualoa ranch, hawaii, aavtravelkualoa ranch, atv, hawaii, aavtravel, oahuWaimanalo Beach – stunning stretch of white sand beach with turquoise blue water. Perfect for that romantic pic-nic or a day of family swimming.
waimolo beach, oahu, hawaii, aavtravelThe Bishop Museum – A beautiful historical and cultural museum

and of course

Pearl HarborThis National Historical Landmark features five different sites that memorialises the December 7, 1941 attack. You don’t have to be a history buff to enjoy this!

stefanie pichonnat aavtravel
Stefanie Pichonnat is an O’ahu Master Agent and Hawaiian Travel Specialist at AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating and customizing personalized travel itineraries. You can contact her at


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Stephanie Jellett is interning as a travel writer and social media manager at AAV Travel. You can contact her at

Turtle Bay Resort — O’ahu North Shore, Hawaii

Five miles of sandy beaches, natural authentic beauty, and completely remote, Turtle Bay Resort is the only hotel and resort located on the North Shore. Situated an hour north of the bustling cities of Honolulu with its busy Waikiki beachfront, you’ll get to experience what it feels like to escape from the world and immerse yourself in the laid back island lifestyle.

Imagine sitting on a beach chair, enjoying the sun and a fresh breeze, sipping a Kona Big Wave, overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean whilesurfers are trying to catch a wave. This is one of the many experiences you can have at Turtle Bay. Talk to the staff and you will quickly understand the magic of the place. Many have left their high-paying careers in big cities to come here to find the perfect work/life balance.


Turtle Bay

Aloha! Is likely the first greeting you will hear arriving on O’ahu. Hawaiian’s are proud of their native language and they love it when visitors know a little bit about it. The most challenging part for English speaking people is the pronunciation. This Hawaii language guide can help with it.
Aloha and mahalo are very important. Whether you’re passing a local on the street and say aloha, or paying for dinner and thank your waiter by saying mahalo, having those two words in your vocabulary will go a long way.

Here are a few other common Hawaiian words to help you out:

  • Pehea ‘oe — How are you?
  • Maika’i no au — I am fine
  • ‘Ono — Delicious or tasty
  • Malihini — Newcomer or visitor
  • KOkua — Help or need of assistance
  • Kala mai ai’u — Excuse me
  • Aloha au ia ‘oe — I love you

Experience Turtle Bay Resort

Under new management since 2010, millions have been invested into upgrading this unique property.Today you can expect sleek, sophisticated rooms and an overall modern, luxurious, casual surfer vibe. The resort has 452 up-scale, oceanfront accommodations. Choose from either beachfront cottages and villas or pick a guest room or suite–majority of the rooms at Turtle Bay have a stunning ocean views as well. What’s really spectacular is going to sleep to the sounds of the waves crashing on the shore–and it’s not from a sound machine that’s on repeat, you’re really listening to the soothing sounds on your front door.

Oahu Hawaii Turtle Bay aavtravel travel Not only do you get five miles of pure beachfront beauty to walk along, the resort also has endless activities that you can keep yourself busy with, such as: horseback riding, hiking and mountain biking and tennis. You can even go to surf school and learn how to catch a wave. Water sports include: snorkeling, paddle boarding, kite surfing, kayaking and fishing. There’s also a 36-hole championship golf course designed by pro golfers George Fazio and Arnold Palmer near by. You can also learn some of the traditional Hawaiian culture by trying hula and ukulele lessons and lei making.

The Nalu Kinetic Spa will give you a multi-sensory experience: hearing waves crashing on the shore, beautiful views of the swells, and the new Wave Therapy will gently rock you back and forth as if you were floating in the ocean. It’s a great way to experience the ultimate relaxation. The spa was also named one of the nation’s top 10 Organic Spa’s in 2013–and there’s good reason for it! There are various kinds of treatments that you can choose from, whether you want a private seaside massage, body wraps, reflexology, or couples massages, you’ll be guaranteed to find something you’ll love and the treatments are reasonably priced.

Oahu Hawaii aavtravel travel Have you ever dreamed of having a private beach wedding? At Turtle Bay, you’ll be guaranteed to get just that. Ranked in the top 10 of Hawaii’s best honeymoon destinations, tying the knot beachside or at the oceanfront chapel will feel like a dream come true; it’s the perfect romantic couples escape. After ‘I Do:’ Imagine yourself, just recently pronounced man and wife. You get ready for a private dinner on your lanai with your own personal butler as you watch the sunset. Afterwards, you walk hand in hand down the beach, feeling the soft sand between your toes and listening to the soothing sounds of the waves coming on shore. You come back to your cottage and it’s decorated with rose petals leading to your own personal exotic spa….where you relax and toast to your new life together as a married couple.

Oahu Hawaii Turtle Bay aavtravel travel Haleiwa
Just a short drive from Turtle Bay Resort, Haleiwa (pronounced hah-lay-EE-wah) is a small community and is also known as the surfing capital of the world. Though this town may be little, it definitely brings its A game! Don’t expect to find Waikiki here, expect a laid back surfer town instead. There’s no shortage of shopping in downtown Haleiwa, whether you’re looking for high-end shops or affordable authentic Hawaiian-made gifts to bring back home, you’ll be sure to find something! Surf shops, art galleries featuring local artists, and specialty shops are also located downtown. If you are into photography and want to take home a authentic North Shore souvenir stop by Clark Little’s gallery. His images are amazing!

Oahu Hawaii aavtravel travel Turtle Bay’s Webcam is a great place to catch a glimpse of the waves (heads up: the link first runs an ad before connecting with the webcam).

Or, if you like videos, check out this clip about a typical day at Turtle Bay Resort:

Have you ever stayed at Turtle Bay or visited the North Shore? Share your experiences with us, leave a comment, we’d love to hear from you! Dreamed of planning a vacation to O’ahu and its magical North Shore? We can help! E-mail us at or visit our website at        

Hawaii- How to Pick The Right Island for you

2009 is a great year for Hawaii! After a big decline in tourism to Hawaii in 2008 the islands and resorts have come up with some great value packages to attract visitors to the islands in 2009. Hawaii is even listed number seven on New York Times’ list of “Top 44 Places to Go in 2009”. This is probably the first time ever in Hawaii’s history that resorts offer free nights, add-on values, airfare credits and even free car rentals.

So let’s say you’ve decided to travel to Hawaii in 2009. Whether it be for a honeymoon, a destination wedding, a family vacation or a business trip. How do you pick the right island or island combination for you and your party? The Hawaii Guide has come up with a simple “Which Hawaii Island to Visit?” grid system that will help you choose the right islands for your visit.

Especially during this time of discounts and savings it is a very good idea to work with a travel agent when it comes to your Hawaii vacation. Not only will they be able to help you with sort through the available deals but they will also be able to save you a lot of time when it comes to efficiently connect between islands, make sure you are staying on the right side of the island to avoid rainy days, help you pick the best luau and also arrange those very special events such as a destination wedding for you.