KauaiTailor-made for active types and nature lovers, Kauai is every bit as beautiful as it is onscreen in Jurassic Park. Kayak down the fabled Hanalei River, hike the verdant Na Pali coast, or bike into the massive Waimea Canyon. Honeymooners and soul-searchers appreciate the secluded beaches and the wild coastline, where blissful daydreaming and beachcombing are rewarding pastimes alike. See our Kauai Travel Guide
OahuAffordable, cosmopolitan, and convenient, Oahu (the “Gathering Place") is the island most of Hawaii’s population calls home. The North Shore is a major surfing mecca, and pedestrian-friendly Waikiki offers world-class shopping, great nightlife, and palm-fringed, pastel-colored sunsets. Lanikai Beach on the east side is perennially ranked among the world’s best beaches – it’s also President Obama’s vacation destination. See our Oahu Travel Guide and Honolulu Travel Guide.
MauiHawaii’s second largest isle, Maui offers a quiet blend of ecotourism (its waters are humpback whale central) and outstanding resorts. Discover the island’s singular landscape at every elevation, from the summit of Haleakala to the Eden-like forests of Hana, the sea arches along the Kanaio Coast to the fascinating marine life at Molokini Crater. See our Maui Travel Guide
The Big IslandTwice the size of the other islands combined, Hawaii (The Big Island) is also the most diverse, with snow-capped mountains on Mauna Kea, lush rainforests, arid deserts, bustling towns, and the world’s most active volcano. Hawaiian mythology comes to life as you wander through a lava tube or explore the ruins of ancient heiau (temples). See our Big Island Travel Guide
MolokaiHome to the highest percentage of native Hawaiians in the state, Molokai is said to be the birthplace of hula. The island also harbors the world’s highest sea cliffs, a stunning stretch of sinuous folds with drops of as much as 3,600 feet. With a population of about 7,000, Molokai is the kind of place where everyone knows everyone, and people don’t just leave flowers at the tombstones of departed loved ones – they leave cans of beer. There are no traffic lights, and no luxury resorts. Visit for the day from Lahaina in Maui via a 1.5-hour ferry ride or fly in from Honolulu. Or better yet, stay a while: Rent a car with four-wheel drive to explore some of Hawaii’s widest, longest beaches, like Papohaku, on the island’s dry west side. Then drive to the lush Halawa Valley on the east side, and hike to a waterfall.
LanaiTwo exclusive Four Seasons resorts dominate this dusty, former pineapple-producing island, where the most popular activities are snorkeling, diving, and golfing. Quaint Lanai City is anchored by a town square lined with tall pine trees, delightful eateries, and tiny, family-run shops. The red-dirt roads are navigable by 4-wheel-drive, available for rent at Adventure Lanai Ecocentre or Dollar Rent-A-Car.
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On an open-seating flight, head for the back of the airplane. If the flight's not full, it'll likely be emptier back there.
Karen Dion Freelance Editor
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