Largest Islands of Hawaii You Need to Explore

In the northern Pacific Ocean lies Hawaii, an archipelago made up of 137 islets and islands. Despite the numerous smaller islands within the area, Hawaii is mainly considered to be comprised of only eight main islands.

The chain of islands has one of the most diverse environments, climates and ecosystems of the whole United States. From volcanic mountains to sweeping canyons, to lush waterfalls and stunning beaches, it’s easy to understand the reason why Hawaii is among the most stunning gems of the planet. While most people are aware of a few of the more populated Hawaiian Islands, there are many more worth exploring.


In all of islands in the Hawaiian Islands, Kahoolawe is one of the smallest, and possibly least known. With only 11 miles in length and 9.7 miles across, this small island is not accessible to the general public. Only way for visitors to get there is via volunteer opportunities.

Because of this, Kahoolawe is also home to relatively few residents. There is a belief that only a handful of inhabitants live on the shores. The island is now the home of an organization called the Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC) an effort to conserve the island.


Just 17 miles from the shores of Kauai lies Hawaii’s most mysterious island. Niihau is owned privately through members of the Sinclair family from 1864. The only option to visit is to be invited to the island by one of the owners. On the western part of Niihau, it is also home to an isolated group of 200 people who live in a traditional rural and minimalist lifestyle.

The Sinclair family initially purchased Niihau directly from Kamehameha with a price of $10,000 gold. In exchange for this deal, the king requested the owners to protect the ancient Hawaiian customs and traditions of the island. The owners of the island are dedicated to taking care of the island’s inhabitants and the natural environment and landscape.


Even though Lanai is the third tiniest of islands in Hawaii, it’s with natural wonders and stunning views are wonderful. In addition to white-sand beaches and stunning rock formations and cliffs, Lanai hosts the 3,366-foot active Mount Lanaihale volcano.

The majority of this island’s ownership is by its Oracle founder Larry Ellison, while the remaining 2% is owned by Hawaii. Lanai is still an ideal vacation spot for tourists, offering luxurious hotels, fine-dining restaurants and several world-class golf courses.


The island is dominated by the imposing coastal cliffs that rise above the sea. Sprawling plantations and volcanic mountains, Molokai is Hawaii’s fifth-largest Island in terms of population and size. It’s located centrally within the Hawaiian archipelago, and is observed from the beaches of Oahu, Lanai, and Maui.

In contrast to other islands in Hawaii which rely on the booming tourist sector, Molokai drives most of its revenue through farming and agriculture. In the islands are pineapple plantations, cattle ranches as well as sugar cane farm. Presently, Molokai and its waters are protected by the Kalaupapa National Historical Park.


Also known by the name of Garden Isle, Kauai is the most lush and tropical island. Also, it is the longest-running Hawaiian Island, dating back 5.1 million years. In terms of conditions, the rainfall of Kauai is between 20 and 100 inches per each year with higher mountains that are higher elevations receiving the most rain. The result is that Kauai’s landscape is a varied mixture of lush forests with cascading waterfalls and high seaside cliffs.

While it’s a large island but the majority of the island is still undeveloped. Its total population is just a bit over 70,000 with the majority of inhabitants living around Lihue, Kapa’a, Hanalei and Princeville.


Two-thirds of Hawaii’s residents live on Oahu which makes the island with the highest population (even though it’s third largest in terms of size). The largest city is Honolulu and is the capital of the state. Although it is the largest city in Hawaii, Oahu is also teeming with sun-soaked beaches and massive mountains and lush forests.

The most prominent of the islands’ mountains is Ka’ala located around 4000 feet over sea-level. Many millions of years ago, Oahu was created by two volcanoes – Wai’anae to the west, along with Ko’olau to the east. Both ranges of volcanic activity are now believed to be dead and unactive.


Maui is Hawaii’s second-largest Island. However, it’s actually the biggest island within Maui County, which is also made up from Molokai, Lanai, and Kahoolawe. The rough coastline is sharply contrasted by the lush beaches and palm trees that sway and makes it among the most popular destinations in Hawaii.

With more than 150,000 people living on Maui, the economy is also made up of agriculture, tourism, and business. The principal exports of Maui include pineapple and sugar however nuts, papaya, flowers, and coffee also contribute to significant portions of the export sector.


Often referred to as the “Big Island,” Hawaii isn’t just the biggest island of the archipelago. It’s also the most populous island in the whole United States. Despite its dimensions, it’s one-third of Hawaii’s inhabitants.

A few of Hawaii’s recognizable iconic landmarks are Mauna Kea. From the sea’s base, it’s the planet’s highest mountain (although the total height of Mauna Kea is only 13,803 feet higher than sea-level). There are also numerous beaches and 14 state parks as well as 4 parks that are national that are located on the island. Because of the size of the island, Hawaii also experiences eight distinct climate zones.

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