Going on a Hawaiian vacation is incredibly exciting, but planning your trip means you're faced with one tough decision right out of the gate: Which island do you choose? All of Hawaii's islands are sure to impress, but each has its own personality. Depending on the kind of vacation you're looking for, you'll probably want to pick one over the other. Here's a quick overview of the kinds of things you might want out of a trip, and how Hawaii's four biggest islands can each satisfy those desires. Once you've figured out the right island for you, find the perfect Hawaiian vacation home for your visit.
Great food – Oahu
Foodies will love a trip to Hawaii's most popular island. Since Oahu holds the state capital, Honolulu, it also has some of the greatest restaurants in the entire chain. Whether you're looking for an elegant sit-down dinner or trying to find the best food truck around, you'll have plenty of options there. If you have a sweet tooth, grab a coco puff from the Liliha bakery. Looking to dive into some traditional fare? Check out Helena's Hawaiian Food for dishes like kalua pig and luau squid. And of course, it wouldn't be Hawaiian dining without Spam – head out to the iconic Rainbow Drive-In for some Spam and eggs.
Relaxation – Maui
With 81 beautiful beaches, Maui is the perfect island for kicking back and soaking up the sun. One of the most fun things you can do on Maui? Tour the historic Road to Hana. Along this scenic byway are plenty of places to pick up some decadent banana bread, gaze on gorgeous waterfalls and enjoy a quick dip in a natural swimming hole. Maui is also a great island for stargazing: You can take a tour that brings you to the top of 10,000-foot-tall Mount Haleakala, from which there is a nearly unmatched view of the night sky.
Incredible scenery – Kauai
Kauai is widely considered Hawaii's prettiest island, a reputation it has definitely earned. The island is chock full of lookout points that give you the chance to take in all of the incredible sights the landscape has to offer. From the black-sand beaches to the sprawling canyons and lush valleys, Kauai is truly stunning. In fact, it's so pretty that filmmakers have used it as a scenic backdrop for decades – "Indiana Jones," "Jurassic Park" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" are just a few of the films to feature this island.
Adventure – The Big Island
"The Big Island is perfect for active travelers."
If you're a fan of hiking, surfing, ziplining or any other outdoor activity, The Big Island is the spot for you. In addition to the plethora of trails throughout the island, this spot is also home to one of the U.S.'s most exciting places: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Here you can see real-life lava flows from a safe distance – don't let that phrase fool you, however, as you'll be plenty close to the action. Moreover, this is one of the best islands for snorkeling or scuba diving. There are plenty of guided tours that will allow you to explore the vibrant sea life in Hawaii's waters. Adventurers of all ages will be satisfied by this island's impressive options.