It’s the time of year where it’s easy to start dreaming of a Hawaiian vacation while stuck at your desk at work. The six major islands to visit in Hawaii are the islands of Hawaii, Maui, Lanai, Molokai, Oahu, and Kauai. Every island has its own personality and entertainment to offer.

You may find one island that speaks to you, or island hopping may be your vacation match. Either way, take your mind off the gray skies and snow boots or the long work to-do lists and piles of laundry and start planning your trip to this tropical paradise! While you’re browsing HomeExchange to find your ideal getaway, here are a few key points about each island to keep in mind.

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Kauai - Looking out to Napali Coast
Kauai - Looking out to Napali Coast

For the athletic vacationer

Island of Kauaʻi - The Garden Isle

If keeping still on vacation feels anything but relaxing, the island of Kauai may be right for your Hawaii vacation spot. Kauai offers excellent surfing conditions for any ability level, so whether you’re a newbie or an experienced surfer, you can hang loose in Kauai.

Kauai is also a preferred destination for those who love hiking, with the Kalalau Trail (11 miles one way) along the Napali coastline boasting 4,000-foot cliffs that rise up from the sea. It is a preferred way to take in the beauty of the island while breaking a sweat.

As you look for a place to stay in Kauai, consider Joe and Sandi's home, located next to the Huleia National Wildlife Refuge with a yard full of fresh vegetables and tropical flowers.

Maui Beach
Maui Beach

For the water lover

Island of Maui - The Valley Isle

When you think of a Hawaiian vacation, the clear blue water, tropical fish and adventures in the sea may come to mind. If that is the case, check out Maui, an island that offers a wide variety of marine life to be enjoyed while snorkeling or scuba diving. Sea turtles and diverse fish swim through the clear blue water.

Soak up the sun, splash in the water and enjoy your vacation laying in the sand in Maui’s famous beaches. If you’d rather adventure in the water, Maui is also a hot spot for kitesurfing due to high winds, making it a sublime stop for this high-speed activity.

In Maui, consider staying in an oceanfront property like Janice's home for prime access to the water, or Constantin and Julia's home in a family-friendly neighborhood overlooking the West Maui Mountains.

Big Island Tropical Fruit Stand

For the foodie

Island of Hawaii - The Big Island

Some people go on vacation to experience culture through their sense of taste. If that sounds like you, say “aloha” to Hawaii Island (aka Big Island).

Coffee snobs can sip the United States’ only home-grown coffee on Hawaii Island, while those looking for something heartier can dine on grass-fed beef, fresh seafood (of course!), satisfying pancakes and a local dish called the Loco Moco (beef patty, rice, gravy and egg).

After lunch, make sure to hit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to see one of the world’s most active volcanoes- you’ll definitely work up an appetite so you’re ready for the next course!

For your stay, consider Robin's home in a tropical rainforest close to many highly rated restaurants or Robert's Balinese-style home with a private pool on 11 acres.


For the lone ranger seeking solitude

Island of Molokaʻi - The Friendly Isle

Solo vacations are becoming increasingly popular, but if you truly crave quiet and time to yourself, the island of Molokaʻi is the most remote one you can choose. Those seeking an option with fewer tourists (and locals) and who don’t mind fewer modern amenities will truly be off the grid in Molokai.

Additionally, the island offers some of Hawaii’s highest sea cliffs and longest fringe reef.

Jacqueline and Don's condo in Molokai is located right on the ocean and close to secluded beaches and trails, plus it’s equipped with everything you’ll need as you unplug and get away.

Horse on Lanai Island
Lanai horse

For the day trip seeker

Island of Lanai - The Pineapple Isle

Lanai is a tiny island near Maui, so if you are seeking a day of adventure during your Hawaii vacation, visit it in addition to some of the other islands. This trip will give you an idea of what life on a small island is like and also provides opportunities for golfing, horseback riding, whale watching and swimming to make your day trip complete.

If you choose to spend the night in Lanai, Brian's spacious home in Hawaii’s plantation town is close to the beach and has a breathtaking view.

Waikiki Beach on Oahu
Oahu - Waikiki Beach

For the whole family

Island of O'ahu - the Gathering Place

The Hawaiian island of Oahu offers something for everyone. If you’re traveling with friends and family who have a wide variety of interests, Oahu will make sure everyone is happy. There’s no need to choose between fine dining and a local dive, or between hitting the surf and visiting a history museum because you can do it all on Oahu.

Oahu features famous tourist destinations including Pearl Harbor, Waikiki Beach, and the North Shore, and is also home to most of Hawaii’s population. Visit this island that is as diverse as your group of friends if you want a taste of everything Hawaii has to offer.

Check out Richad's home, it's located in the heart of it all, near the beach, the zoo, and the aquarium. Plus, it accommodates four, so your friends will have their own space.

Feeling inspired yet? Start your search for your next HomeExchange to experience Hawaii as a Kama’aina (a Hawaiian local)!

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