Tropical, multicultural and isolated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii can feel like a foreign country, especially to first-time visitors. Although each of the main islands is within sight of at least one other, they’re all distinct. While each has a wet (windward) and dry (leeward) side and is blessed with gentle trade winds and dazzling beaches, they’re vastly dissimilar in geological time. As a result, the newer islands look and feel different from the older ones.
Whether planning a first visit or returning for a second or third time, visitors are often unsure which island to choose for a vacation. That decision depends largely on what you’re looking for in an island experience. Here are some of the qualities that make each of the four main islands unique. It’s these differences that entice visitors back year after year.