The 5 Best Islands in Hawaii

The best islands in Hawaii, according to Travel + Leisure readers, are packed with excellent food, luxe hotels, and a wealth of biodiversity.

There are eight major Hawaiian islands among the 1,500-mile-long archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. But if you ask Travel + Leisure readers to name the best islands in Hawaii, they'll likely cite the same five tourism heavy-hitters that consistently appear on this list.

Every year for our World's Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated islands according to their activities and sights, natural attractions and beaches, food, friendliness, and overall value.

Last year's top pick, the Island of Hawaii, earned the No. 2 spot on this year's list, along with placing among the world's best islands. Its roughly 4,000 square miles of terrain includes rain forests, volcanoes, and a snowcapped mountain. The beaches are no less diverse: visitors can choose to lay their towels on black, white, or even green sand, which was formed by crystals spewed out by a volcanic eruption some 50,000 years ago. Accommodations range from an ultra-luxurious five-bedroom villa at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai to hostels for surfers who want to roll out of bed and into the waves in Kailua-Kona.

Maui, Hawaii, United States
Waianapanapa State Park. Hana, Maui, Hawaii, United States. Getty Images

If you're after a gastronomic adventure, look no further than Oahu. At the Pearl at Leeward Community College, travelers can enjoy sophisticated dishes from up-and-coming chefs from the Culinary Arts Program honing their skills. The Beach House by Roy Yamaguchi, located at the Turtle Bay Resort, is an ideal spot to sample locally sourced ingredients. For a quick bite, the North Shore's many shrimp trucks are standing by.

But according to T+L readers, No. 1 among the best islands in Hawaii goes to Maui, which has been in the top spot for all but one of the past 10 years. Find out why travelers continue to find it so enchanting.

1. Maui

Maui, Hawaii, United States
Beach in Wailea, Maui, Hawaii, United States. Getty Images

Snorkeling, surfing, and whale-watching along the 30 miles of beaches could occupy an entire vacation, but travelers would be remiss to ignore the 30,000-plus verdant acres of Haleakala National Park. It's also home to more endangered species than any other U.S. National Park — as well as an active volcano that rises some 10,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean. "Beautiful, with great beaches, good food, and lots of things to see and do," wrote one reader. Another person seconded: "Every place is beautiful on Maui!"

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 89.55

2. Island of Hawaii

Big island Hawaii, United States
Lava surface flow front at Big island Hawaii. Getty Images

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 88.53

3. Kauai

Poipu Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
Poipu Beach, Kauai, Hawaii. Courtesy Kicka Witte/Kauai Visitors Bureau

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 86.11

4. Oahu

Oahu, Hawaii, United States
Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head resorts in Oahu, Hawaii, United States. Getty Images

Score: 85.48

5. Lanai

Lanai, Hawaii, United States
Motorcyclist on on Lanai, Hawaii, United States. Getty Images

Score: 85.27

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