Sometimes called 'The Gathering Place', the third largest (and most-visited) Hawaiian island of Oahu certainly lives up to its name. Home to the majority of Hawaii's diverse population – a fusion of east and west cultures rooted in the values and traditions of the Native Hawaiian people – it's this fundamental contrast between the ancient and the modern that makes discovering Oahu so enjoyable.

While the sublime North Shore beaches are famous for epic winter surfing, they are calm come summer and much quieter than those nearer the city on the South Shore like Waikiki (the best beach for learning how to surf); while on the windward (east) side you'll find lush country landscapes and white- sand beaches of Lanikai – once rated world's number one by Condé Nast Traveller; Kailua (popular with families); and Waimanalo – a four-mile stretch of sand that's perfect for learning how to body-board or body-surf.

But most visitors come to Oahu for the big city activities of Honolulu: from the amazing shopping and nightlife, to its historic landmarks, flourishing arts and culture scene, the underground bars of the Chinatown arts district, waterparks, aquarium and of course the timeless memorials and museums of Pearl Harbor.


One of the most filmed places on Earth, and the oldest, most northern of the Hawaiian islands, Kauai is the favourite of many, in part thanks to the stunning Napali Coast, which has tall tropical cliffs, caves, waterfalls and trails and views that hikers just can't get enough of.

It's a true taste of old Hawaii, an island that's perfect for outdoor enthusiasts who love getting at one with nature. Draped in emerald valleys, sharp mountain spires and jagged cliffs, and aged by both time and the elements, the 'Garden Isle' does experience more than its fair share of precipitation, so you are likely to get a little wet at some point during your stay. But as this is what makes the island so absolutely, beautifully lush, we're going to let this one slide.

Beyond Kauai's dramatic beauty, the island is home all kinds of outdoor activities: kayaking on the Wailua River, snorkelling on Poipu Beach, hiking the trails of Kokee State Park, zip-lining above the valleys, or taking a cultural journey to discover authentic hula. Worth noting is that the ocean surrounding Kauai can get a little wild, which is why it's so popular with surfers, but it's not the best island for swimming or snorkelling due to the currents.​​

Hawaii's second largest island, known as the "Valley Isle," Maui is ideal for those who want a nice balance between mind-blowing nature and civilisation. It's here you'll find what some believe are the world's best beaches as well as awesome opportunities for whale-watching. It's also dotted with quaint towns, artist communities and local haunts that have been around for generations.

And we love that while the island is big enough to never feel like you're marooned, it's small enough that one minute you could be chilling on the best beach in the world, and the next, climbing up a jungle waterfall.

Head to Wailuku for pastries from a family bakery, or head to historic Lahaina – once capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii and keeper of centuries of history – for a taste of Maui's famed farm-to-table cuisine, good nightlife and decent beaches.

From shimmering beaches; the sacred Iao Valley; migrating humpback whales jumping out of the water and playing; to sunset on the 10,000-foot summit of Haleakala Crater; or the heritage Road to Hana (a scenic drive across East Maui filled with one-lane bridges, waterfalls, and plantations that hark back to the days of old Hawaii), it's not surprising Maui was voted the "Best Island" by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler for more than 20 years.

One of our favourite things to do is sit on the beach and peer out at the beautiful island that surround Maui: Molokai' (where you'll experience a Hawaii of days gone by, one of unspoiled countryside, untouched beaches and the chance see the traditional rural lifestyle of the people); Lana'i (home to exquisite resorts with world-class amenities, and rugged back roads with off-the-beaten-path treasures just ripe for exploring, like Keahiakawelo (Garden of the Gods) and Polihua Beach; and the unpopulated Kaho'olawe.​​

The Big Island (Hawaii)

Larger than all the other islands combined, the Big Island is vast enough to hold 11 of the world's 13 climactic zones - from sandy beaches to snow-capped mountains. And being so large, there are two very different sides to explore, so we'd definitely suggest spending more time here to enjoy the best of both.

Start by touring downtown Hilo (on the lush, breathtakingly photographic east side of the island), a vibrant town that's home to great museums, art galleries unique shops, and the Farmer's Market.

Also on this side of the island are dramatic natural wonders like Waianuenue, also known as Rainbow Falls, and Boiling Pots in Wailuku River State Park; Liliuokalani Gardens; Wailoa River State Park; plus blooming botanical gardens and orchid farms. Visit the nation's only rainforest zoo, Panaewa Rainforest Zoo then head south into the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to view Kilauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes.

On the west side of the island is Kona, where you'll find everything from coffee farms on the cooler upland slopes of towns like Holualoa (do sample the distinctive flavours of 100% Kona coffee); to a host of important historic Hawaiian landmarks. At historic Kailua Village, you can take a walking tour into history at places like Hulihee Palace, Mokuaikaua Church and the Ahuena Heiau.

Further south, is Kealakekua Bay, where Captain James Cook first set foot on the island in 1778 and where he was eventually killed, as well as calm, clear waters just perfect for snorkelling, diving and spotting dolphins or honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles). You'll also want to take a boat tour out to snorkel with manta rays, and the deep-sea fishing here is amazing.​
​Hotel Collection
 Hawaii Hotels

7 nights from £2,350pp, inc. flights


The Modern Hotel
7 nights from £1,925pp, inc, flights


The Kahala Hotel & Resort
7 nights from £2,475pp, inc. flights


Four Seasons Resort Hualalai
7 nights from £3,795pp, inc. flights


Maui Hotels
Four Seasons Resort Maui
7 nights from £3,550pp, inc. flights


Montage Kapalua Bay
3 nights from £1,850pp, inc. flights


Kauai Hotels
Kòa Kea Hotel & Resort
7 nights from £2,350pp, inc. flights


The St. Regis Princeville Resort
7 nights from £2,495pp, inc. flights


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