Hawaiʻi’s archipelago presents the unique opportunity to visit several islands during your visit. With six major islands in the chain, there is much to explore, and believe it or not, each island offers a noticeably different experience from the next.
But, just because there are many islands to visit doesn’t mean you should. There are logistical and time restraints to island hopping, and some folks find it more enjoyable to stay put on one island.
Table of contents
Table of Contents
- The dos and don’ts of island hopping
- Recommended minimum stay per island
- Suggested island pairings
- Day trips between islands
- Airline options + typical costs
- How to save money while island hopping
The dos and don’ts of island hopping
What’s the best plan of action for you? Below, we look at reasons for and against island hopping and offer some advice on the best way to plan your trip.
Why Should You Island Hop?
One mistake first-time travelers to Hawaiʻi make is assuming that all the Hawaiian islands are the same. This is definitely not the case! Each island carries its own unique personality and atmosphere despite the underlying similarities.
Both Kauaʻi and Maui have mountains and beaches, for example, but no one who has visited would ever get them confused. Oʻahu is the only island with a major metropolitan area, while Molokaʻi has no stoplights. Each island also has its own strengths – Maui and Oʻahu have the most white-sand beaches to offer, while the volcanic exploration on the Big Island is like no other.
In this way, a visit to a variety of islands can offer a wider perspective on Hawaiʻi as a whole, and provide the opportunity to experience variations in landscapes and lifestyles. With proper planning, you can execute a multi-island trip that showcases the varying and encompassing beauty of the individual islands.
Why Shouldn’t You Island Hop?
Island hopping, while rewarding, requires effort. You’ll need to pack up and spend a couple hours at the airport in order to take the short flight over to another island. Many people come to Hawaiʻi to relax, and find this process undesirable.
How much exploring you want to do is also a factor. If you plan to spend each and every day on the beach, staying put could be more relaxing than island hopping (though island hopping could introduce you to a variety of awesome beaches!).
Other folks prefer to spend more time on one island and get to know it really well as opposed to spreading out their time across multiple islands and only getting an overview of each. If you only spend a day or two in Honolulu, for example, you will end up with a very skewed view of Oʻahu. Spending more time on one island gives you the complete picture of that particular island.
Traveling to multiple islands is also more expensive, since you need to buy the interisland flights and will incur accessory costs along the way, such as taxis, car rentals, baggage fees, short-term accommodations, etc.
Recommended Minimum Stay on Each Island
If you’re going to island hop, make sure you give yourself enough time to enjoy it. Visiting each island for one day, for example, would not be worth the effort. Below is what we recommend for minimum stays on each island when bouncing between them.