The Top Islands in Hawaii
It turns out you can have it all, and at one time — at least when you spend time at one of the best islands in Hawaii. Visitors can hike up volcanoes and through jungles, surf and snorkel, or simply lounge beachside while whale-watching at the many five-star resorts.
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, Travel + Leisure 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.
Related: The World's Best Awards 2019
T+L readers are fervent in their love of Hawaii, and when it comes to finding “the one,” each island has its outspoken champions. Kauai (No. 2), known colloquially as the Garden Island for its tropical rain forests, is praised for its slow-paced life, uncrowded beaches, and top-notch restaurants. No. 4 Oahu, meanwhile, offers up the excitement of Honolulu and world-class surfing. Wrote one T+L reader, “Best family holiday ever!”
Related: The Top 15 Resort Hotels in Hawaii
On the Big Island (No. 3), visitors can wander through barren lava fields one day and stand underneath waterfalls in the rain forest the next, while No. 5 Lanai — the site of Melinda and Bill Gates’ wedding in 1994 and Hawaii’s smallest inhabited island — boasts two Four Seasons resorts, rugged trails, secluded beaches, and not a single traffic light or shopping mall.
Whatever your perfect vacation entails — culture, luxury, or getting-back-to-nature — you’ll find it among the Hawaiian islands. Figured out which island is No. 1? Keep reading to find out if you’re right.
3. Big Island
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 85.93
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 87.25
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 88.32
Maui continues to shine in the top spot for the eighth year running. It also makes it onto this year’s list of the top 15 islands in the world, thanks in part to its natural beauty, with state parks, a dormant volcano, lush rain forests, and more than 30 miles of breathtaking beaches. The Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, which claims some of the island’s best coastline, offers amenities and activities for families, while Hotel Wailea, a 72-suite property on 15 acres, is reserved for adults. “Climate, people, and beautiful scenery make us want to go back ASAP,” wrote one reader. Another summarized, ““Maui has something for everyone.”
See all of our readers' favorite hotels, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2019.