it’s been a while since I’ve been there, but I guess there have been no significant changes… ;-)
We found it very hard to choose just one of the islands for our trip as the landscapes differ a lot – so we went for Kauai, Big Island and a bit of Oahu (in four weeks).
I was equally impressed by the flora on Kauai and the volcanic sights on Big Island.
Most interesting places? Too many, but I’ll pick two highlights: Na’Pali Coast State Park, Volcanoes National Park.
Hope that helps – have a nice trip!
thanks for the reply and yes any information helps, but the idea was to go to one of the islands, rent a car and make a road trip along the entire coast line, all round.
So the main issue is which island has the nicest coast line to drive around, with the widest array of activities and panorama’s to encounter while you’re at it. Such as national parks, cliffs, valleys, gorges along the coasts, beaches, snorkeling and diving spots, surfing possibilities, cities, traditional native villages, archaeological sites, etc..
Of course it’s hard to combine all of those, especially if one doesn’t want to drive too far inland, but surely some islands are bound to have a wider variety of sights and activities along the coast, have better road quality or are more impressive to see.
I see – in that case I’d choose Big Island. Basically we did what you described (drive mostly along the coast with only the occasional short trip inland) and we covered a lot of the things you listed.
But still: we did the same (drive along the coast always staying at camp grounds) on Kauai and a little on Oahu in four weeks time (without particular hurry). So, if you have the time, I recommend picking at least a second (Kauai?) island to see the full bandwidth of Hawaiis attractions.
I went on a cruise around the islands in 2006 and we spent time on Kauai, Maui, Oahu, and Hawaii. Honestly, you can circumnavigate each island by car in a single day. You can obviously make it take longer by doing things along the way, but the islands – even the ‘big island’ of Hawaii – aren’t really that big.
Oahu and Maui seemed to me the most tourist oriented as far as beaches, luaus, night life, etc. Maui also is home to Haleakala National Park – the view from the top is awesome.
I thought Kauai was the most breathtaking as far as waterfalls and scenery and the Na’Pali Coast is amazing – see it from the sea or air.
The Big Island, of course, is where the volcano activity is and Volcanoes National Park.
But all the islands have a bit of everything. I also think Hawaii (The Big Island) would probably fill a good bit of your interests the best, but second the suggestion to check out another island – for instance, if you fly in to Honolulu, why not stay a day or two on Oahu before hopping a puddle-jumper to Hawaii?
The big island has a road that goes nearly all the way round. I drove it last July. It goes through pastureland, along the rainy NE coast with its lush landscape and waterfalls, through Volcano National Park, and then through a dramatic moonscape of lava fields before ending up back on the Kona coast. Highly recommended. The best book to take you through it is: http://www.wizardpub.com/bigisland/bigisland.html
Every island has its special uniqueness. I could drive around and across Oahu, Maui, Kauai and The Big island. From Vulcanoes, to canyons, beaches….
Na Pali coast in Kauai is a must , although not to drive a carYou must see it from a boat, a kayak, (from the water).
The descent by bicycle of the Haleakala vulcano in Maui is unforgettable.
I have been to the four main Hawaiian Islands – all have their high points but the Big Island is by far my favorite. It is the ONLY place where you can see an active volcano and hike around on lava beds. There are lots of beautiful beaches and lots of scuba/snorkeling places. It has all but 2 of the world’s climate zones on the island so the landscape is quite varied. Make sure you check out Hilo and Puna – this area of the island is very undiscovered and there are some amazing sites here. Get the book Big Island Revealed – it is the best guide book and covers off the beaten path places. I would move there in a heartbeat if I could find a job that paid well!
we drove around maui and kauai and that was alot of fun. Get a convertible , and a jeep or jeep-like vehicle if possible. I know it’s extra bucks, but what fun!
I’ve been to the Big Island, Oahu, and Maui. Maui has some great driving, and they have the famous Road To Hana- with some treacherous parts but i believe most of it is safely doable. They have T shirts that say “I survived the Road To Hana”.
The Big Island was gorgeous to drive around as well, the lava fields and then all the messages people randomly put using the white rocks that stand out over the black of the lava fields.
On Oahu, we rented a Shelby Mustang but we drove through Honolulu which is mostly just a city and not very great things to see. Didn’t spend much time there, it was just a day trip to see Pearl Harbor… so I’m not sure about the rest of the island.
But i recommend Maui.
I have been to Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island. If you are looking for a nice, scenic drive, then I’d go with the Big Island. On the northeast side of the island, you essentially drive along the side of a cliff, seeing the ocean on one side of the road and waterfalls on the other. Very stunning. Kauai didnt really have any roads along the coast, and you cant drive all the way around the island either. The scenery is nice, but traffic can be a problem. Oahu I think has the same situation in terms of not being able to drive all the way around and traffic, but only in Honolulu (you can make a loop of the central and eastern parts of the island). Oahu had great scenery too. Keep in mind, you may be able to make a drive like this in a few hours; it probably wont take a whole day, unless you make a lot of stops. If you’ve never been there and are like me, you probably will make a lot of stops.
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