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The eight largest Hawaiian islands, from north to south, are:
Kauai, with its neighbor island Niihau
Maui, with its neighbor islands Molokai, Lanai, and Kahoolawe
•Hawaii, also called the Big Island

Let's visit each island going from roughly north to south.


Kauai is the northernmost of the 4 largest islands. It typically receives more rainfall than any other Hawaiian island; in fact, the wettest place in the world is located in west-central Kauai. Kauai is somewhat smaller than Oahu, Maui, or the Big Island, and gives more of a "small town" vacation feel as a result. It is home to many top vacation destinations, including Waimea Canyon (called "the Grand Canyon of the Pacific") and the famous Na Pali coastline. Niihau, to the west of Kauai, is a small, privately-owned island where the 200 or so residents speak Hawaiian. Because it is not open to visitors, it has been called "the forbidden isle."

Explore Kauai vacation destinations on our Kauai vacation page.


Oahu is the home of Honolulu, the capital and largest city of Hawaii. It is also the home of Waikiki Beach, the most famous beach in Hawaii, and perhaps all the world. Culture and night life abound on Oahu, but despite its reputation as a "tourist trap" in some quarters, Oahu may surprise you with its diversity of experiences. There are plenty of places on Oahu where you may find yourself quite alone if you know where to look. There are even spots of stunning natural beauty and places for isolated reflection. You can have a great vacation on Oahu, and many people choose this as their ultimate vacation destination.

Explore Oahu vacation destinations on our Oahu vacation page.


Maui is called the "Valley Isle" because of the large valley between its two main volcanoes. It is home to the famous vacation destinations of Haleakala National Park and the famous "road to Hana." Maui is also a great destination for a beach vacation. Molokai is just north of Maui, and has some of the tallest sea cliffs in the world. In the 1800s, a colony for Hansen's disease sufferers (leprosy) was founded in the north-central area of the island. Lanai, to the west of Maui, is a small, dry island with a great vacation resort, snorkeling, and beaches. Kahoolawe was used for many years by the U.S. military as a practice bombing site, but is now undergoing a long, slow process of restoration. It is not open to the public.

Explore Maui vacations on our Maui vacation page.
Explore Molokai vacations on our Molokai vacation page.
Explore Lanai vacations on our Lanai vacation page.


The Big Island called Hawaii is an outstanding adventure vacation destination. The Big Island is truly big. It takes about two days to drive all the way around it. The island is dominated by two enormous volcanoes: Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. The Big Island is the youngest of the Hawaiian islands, and as a result there is still a lot of volcanic activity going on here. Much of the geologic activity is in the southern part of the island near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The two main cities on this island are Kailua-Kona (or just Kona) on the west-central shore and Hilo on the east-central shore.

Explore Big Island vacations on our Big Island vacation page.

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