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Waikiki Beach in Hawaii
© John

Waikiki Beach is a popular family beach in Honolulu. Its water is shallow with nice long, rolling waves for beginner surfers.

Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii is made up of six islands, each with its own distinct characteristics and local flavor. It's smart to learn about each island before you go, selecting one or several that appeal to you. Beloved by honeymooners, families and experienced travelers, there's much to see and do on these lovely islands. When planning a Hawaii vacation, look for Hawaii vacation packages that offer both accommodation and activities for one price.

Oahu has excitement and action

If you want plenty of recreational and entertainment opportunities with the night life of the big city, then visit Oahu! The most popular tourist sights on Oahu are Waikiki beach, the USS Arizona Memorial, and the Polynesian Cultural Center. Waikiki beach is the safest and most popular family swimming location. You can rent surf boards and outrigger canoes there. The north shore of Oahu is famous as the surfing capital of the world. During winter months, the waves there can exceed 30 feet (10 meters) and offer some of the most exciting and dangerous surfing anywhere.

Many day tours of the island are available and can easily be arranged from your hotel or motel. Use the free coupons available at the airport to get the best deals. For more flexibility, you can rent a car for the day and drive around the island stopping at all of the beautiful vistas and attractions. If you prefer shopping, the Ala Moana Center is the largest mall and is conveniently located.

Since Oahu is always a very popular tourist destination, the hotels and motels on this island are rather expensive, but other things are relatively reasonable.

O'ahu guarded beach directory has information about the beaches with safety tips.

Kahakuloa Head and Kahakuloa Bay in Hawaii © Mike Garrison
Kahakuloa Head rises from the waters of Kahakuloa Bay. Kahakuloa is an area on the north side of west Maui.

Maui is more relaxed

Maui has a more relaxed atmosphere, and has the most water sport opportunities of all the islands. Many local tours specialize in scuba diving and snorkeling experiences. Be sure to take a boat tour that includes Turtle Island and Molokini Crater. Even if you don't swim, the boat rides are great fun, and you will visit places that are only accessible by water. If you visit Maui between December and May, you can take a whale-watching excursion, and possibly have a close encounter with a giant whale.

You can rent a car and tour the parts of the island that are seldom seen by tourists. You can hike to some of the spectacular waterfalls. Helicopter tours are great, but they can be expensive.

Pride of Maui offers snorkeling charters to Molokini Island and afternoon whale watching cruises during Maui whale watch season December - March.

MauiMapp.com has travel information about just Maui.

VisitMaui.com has everything you need to plan your Maui vacation.

Hawaii is "The Big Island"

The "big island" is very big. It is over 100 miles (165 km) long. The island of Hawaii has a wide diversity of climate and geography that ranges from lush tropical rain forests and fertile farmlands to active volcanoes, desolate lava fields and even snow covered mountain peaks. Kilauea is the most active volcano in the world with a continuous lava flow that has lasted more than 16 years. You can drive and hike to many vantage points where you can watch the eruptions and the lava flow. It creates a spectacular display every night.

This island has many good beaches and some nightlife in the tourist areas. You can take a spectacular helicopter ride over the crater and lava flows of the volcano. You may want to rent a car for more than one day to tour the big island.

BigIsland.com has information about many of the most popular areas of the island.

BigIsland.org is a fantastic site with comprehensive information about travel, culture and history.

Kauai is a quiet place

Kauai is a peaceful refuge from the busy tourist attractions on other islands. It has gorgeous scenery and some beautiful beaches. If you prefer a quiet vacation away from the tourist crowds, go to Kauai. Unfortunately, many of the spectacular beaches are unsafe for swimming because of powerful undertows. Always check with the local residents before swimming.

Molokai is the hidden island

Molokai is the quietest and least commercial of the Hawaiian Islands. You can get far away from the usual tourist crowds on this island. Solitary beaches, fishing, and hiking are the main attraction.

VisitMolokai.com is a great site for information about activities, events, maps, and photos of the island.

Lanai is very exclusive

The Lanai Company privately owns the island of Lanai. Accommodations are limited to a few resorts and townhouses operated by the company. Prices are expensive. You can take day trips to the island via boat or ferry and you may be able to camp overnight if you obtain a permit from the company.

Written by: Joane
Top Photo Credit: © Scshute / Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0
Photo Description: Panoramic view of the Kalalau Valley from Kalalau Lookout, Kauai, HI.