How Many Islands are in Hawaii?

When people think of Hawaii, they usually imagine a couple chunks of an island isolated from the rest of the countries. Well, that is partially true but there are more than a couple chunks on the island.

The Hawaiian Islands is a chain of 137 islands located in the North Pacific Ocean about 1,860 miles away from the nearest continent.

Hawaii is best known for its eight main islands and out of these islands, only seven are inhabited.

Check out these nine most visited islands in Hawaii that will surely tick off everything on your ultimate bucket lists!

#1 – The Big Island

Technically, this island is called Hawaii, but locals refer to it as the Big Island or Island of Hawaii to distinguish it from the state.

The Big Island is the largest of all Hawaiian Islands. It is home to many volcanoes including the Kilauea volcano which is also one of the most active volcanoes in the world.

The Big Island is a true paradise for anyone who loves nature vacations.

From lava viewing to snorkeling and island hopping, here are some of the things that you can do while you’re in the Big Island:

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

You can never go wrong with a trip to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park when you land on the island.

This National Park is pretty big with tons of different things to do. It’s open to the public 24 hours a day which is amazing if you want to see lava bubbling at night at Kalpana Viewing Area.

If you want to see lava up close, lava hiking is allowed.

You can also explore the Thurston Lava Tubes which is essentially a cave naturally created by molten lava rocks.

Visit the park’s website here for more information and safety guidelines.

Punalu’u Black Sand Beach

After you explore the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, head down to the most famous black sand beach of Hawaii.

Punalu’u beach is pretty much accessible to anyone who wants to go for a quick swim, snorkel, and even coastal hiking.

You’ll also get to see lots of green sea turtles and even the rare Hawksbill Turtle!

#2 – Maui Island

Head up north of the Big Island and you’ll see Maui.

Maui Island is nicknamed as The Valley Isle because of the narrow pathway called isthmus connecting the northwestern and southeastern parts of the island across the ocean.

Locals often describe Maui as Hawaii’s “whale soup” because more than 10,000 humpbacks migrate to Hawaii from November to April (but they don’t eat it!).

Whales often wander the coasts of Maui and you really can’t get that experience anywhere.

Aside from whale watching, here are some other things that you can do while in Maui Island:

Indulge in a Helicopter Tour

You’re already in Hawaii and surrounded by the best of what Mother Nature can offer — this is definitely the right time to ride a helicopter and take all of it in a bird’s eye view!

You can soar over valleys and hidden waterfalls that are inaccessible by land.

An exclusive  60-minute helicopter tour can cost you around $255 per person but this is definitely a bucket lister and an unforgettable moment worth splurging on.

Molokini Crater

According to Hawaiian mythology, Molokini was a beautiful woman fighting the goddess Pele for the same man. In a fierce battle, Pele cuts her in two and transformed her into a stone statue!

But today, Molokini is now known as one of the best diving and snorkeling destinations in Hawaii.

The Molokini Crater is partially submerged which forms a crescent-shaped islet perfect for all waterside activities.

Skip the larger boats packed with tourists and choose a local catamaran instead.

You can book a morning tour to make sure that the sea is calm and the water is clear.

Rates can start at $80 for a half-day tour with accommodations, breakfast and lunch, and use of snorkeling equipment. Check out local Molokini Crater tours here.

#3 – Oahu Island

Oahu island is the third largest Hawaiian island located north of Maui. Hawaii’s state capital, Honolulu, is on this island.

Like any other islands in Hawaii, Oahu boasts great nature experience as well as cultural and historical sites.

Once you finished wandering on Maui Island, head up in Oahu and you can visit some of the iconic and historical sites in Hawaii.

Here are some places that you can go to in Oahu:

Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor is the most visited place in Hawaii because it holds such importance in world history.

Go first to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center where you can buy tickets to several attractions in the area including the USS Arizona Memorial program. USS Arizona Memorial is an enclosed walkway directly above the sunken battleship.

Tickets are free but they only give out 1,300 walk-up tickets per day so make sure to arrive early.

If you want to skip the lines and make sure that you’re getting a great historical tour experience, Pearl Harbor has authorized tours with different packages.

All authorized tours have transportation inclusions to get you from an island in Hawaii to the Pearl Harbor.

You will also get to ride a US Navy boat, completing your whole Pearl Harbor experience!

To book your tour, go the Pearl Harbor’s official site here.

Diamond Head

This 300,000-year old mountain is one of the hits for tourists must-do in Oahu.

There really is no better way to appreciate the beautiful island than from the summit of Diamond Head.

The hike is relatively short (only 1.4 miles!) but because it’s a bit steeper than other mountains, reaching the summit takes nearly an hour and a half.

At the top, you’ll get incredible views of the leeward side of Oahu, the Diamond Head Lighthouse, and the sparkling waters of the Pacific Ocean.

What’s more, is that you only have to pay a small fee of $1 per person!

#4 – Kauai Island

Also called The Garden Island, Kauai is the oldest main Hawaiian Islands.

The Garden Island is known for its exceptional beauty and aerial jungle parks which makes it the perfect playground for adventurers.

Kauai is definitely a hiking island since 90% of it is inaccessible by car.

So lace up your hiking boots and explore these wonderful places at Kauai:

Kokee State Park

Kokee State Park is 4,345 acres of lush forest on top of a plateau.

This giant park offers more than 45 miles of Hawaii’s finest hiking trails that lead to views of Waimea Canyon, wet forests, and valleys of the North Shore.

Before you begin your trail around the park, visit the Kokee Natural History Museum first for one-stop-shop information about the different trails in the area.

However, if you recently went on a scuba-diving trip, make sure to wait for at least 24 hours to visit the park due to its high elevation.

Kilohana Plantation

If you want to slow things down for a bit, do yourself a favor and visit the Kilohana plantation.

Take a ride on the Kauai Plantation Railway as you go around the 105 acres of the plantation.

You can also treat yourself to a nice VIP Dining and Theatrical Experience at the Manor House.

Imagine flower leis, historical and cultural dances with a fire show, and a sumptuous Hawaiian feast!

The plantation also offers tours in Koloa Rum Company and Luau Kalamuku.

Who said a chill afternoon can’t be fun?

#5 – Molokai Island

Molokai Island is unlike any other island in Hawaii.

It’s not at all touristic with fancy hotels and bustling nightlife that caters to almost every visitor in the world.

Molokai is for people who wanted to experience culture and tradition without it being subjected to tourist whims. It’s slow, original, and historic.

“Aloha, Slow Down, This is Molokai” is one of the many signages you’ll see around the island.

There’s only one hotel on the island which is Hotel Molokai.

On this island, you’ll understand that traveling is not all about tourist spots or fulfilling your bucket list but all about the connection to the community and nature.

Halawa Valley Falls

Halawa Valley Falls is a “family-friendly three-mile hike and cultural presentation”.

In this hike, you’ll get to witness, experience, and learn about the tradition and the life of Native Hawaiians.

You’ll also witness a traditional Hawaiian protocol to get a better understanding of the sacred place in Molokai.

If you want a trip that is beyond touristy spots, definitely check out the tours of Halawa Valley Falls exclusively guided by the Natives.

#6 – Lanai Island

Lanai is the smallest inhabited island in Hawaii home to many luxurious resorts with world-class amenities and even a game of championship-level golf.

If you’re craving for remote luxury, then Lanai is definitely the place to go.

Here are some of the island’s best natural wonders:

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods, unlike its name, is deprived of any lush vegetation.

It’s a barren site with strangely shaped boulders and dust.

At sunset, the sunlight turns the rocks into shades of fiery red and bright purple.

The Garden of the Gods is an adventurous drive with surreal views.

Plus, did you know that the terrain of this place is the closest you’ll ever get to Mars?

Polihua Beach

Polihua beach is a 30-minute drive away from the Garden of the Gods.

The shore stretches up to two miles of remote nesting ground of sea turtles.

Visit the beach from December to April and you’ll see a lot of migrating humpback whales from the shore!

#7- Niihau Island

Niihau Island is Hawaii’s Forbidden Island that seems to be a land back in time.

On this remote island, modern conveniences are mostly nonexistent.

There is no indoor plumbing, internet, paved roads, cars, or even stores.

But this island is home to several endangered species like the Hawaiian monk seal which is considered to be the most endangered out of all world seals.

You can get a glimpse of the mysterious island by participating in an exclusive excursion to Niihau.

Half-day tours start at $465 inclusive of a helicopter ride in and out of the island. You can book your tours here.

#8 – Kahoolawe Island

Kahoolawe Island is the smallest of the main Hawaiian Islands.

This island is off-limits to the public and the only way that you can go there is through volunteer work opportunities offered throughout the year.

There is a long waitlist for volunteer work trips to Kahoolawe because the government only takes 20 to 25 volunteers to the island each week.

A volunteer fee of $100 is collected for transportation from Maui to Kahoolawe, food, and boarding costs.

If ever you managed to squeeze yourself in the waiting list during your vacation, you will be required to complete orientation about safety tips, environmental hazards, and cultural background of the area.

To volunteer, you can visit their site here but try to keep in mind that a trip to Kahoolawe Island isn’t a casual trip.

#9 – Mokumanamana Island

Mokumanamana Island, also known as the Necker Island, is home to numerous religious sites and artifacts.

According to Hawaiian archaeologists, the island is too small and dry for living, with poor soil for farming so they believe that the island is a religious site where Hawaiians can visit from the nearby island.

Because the island is inhabited, marine life thrives in this area where gray reef sharks and manta rays frequent the shores.

Visiting Necker Island is only permitted for scientific, education, and cultural purposes.

Related questions:

How big is Hawaii?

  • The state of Hawaii’s landmass is 28 311 km².
  • The population is 1,416 million.

Why is the forbidden island in Hawaii forbidden?

In 1952 there was a polio epidemic and Niihau was commonly referred to as “Forbidden Island”, due to the fact that you needed a doctor’s note to be able to visit. This was an action to stop polio from spreading.

What is the major source of income for Hawaii?

The biggest source of income for the state of Hawaii is tourism and it’s been like that since the end of the 20th century. Tourism then pushed down agriculture as the top source of income in Hawaii.

What are the major imports and exports of Hawaii?

Here are the top 10-export products of Hawaii:

  • Light petroleum oils: US$71 million (15.9% of Hawaii’s total exports)
  • Miscellaneous petroleum oils: $57 million (12.7%)
  • Aircraft including engines, parts: $50 million (11.3%)
  • Iron or steel scrap: $33 million (7.5%)
  • Cold-water shrimps, prawns: $21 million (4.8%)
  • Unsweetened and non-flavored waters: $14 million (3.1%)
  • Macadamia nuts: $12 million (2.8%)
  • Aluminum waste, scrap: $11 million (2.4%)
  • Specially designed instruments, apparatus: $11 million (2.4%)
  • Petroleum bitumen: $9 million (2%)

And here are the top 10-import products of Hawaii:

  • Crude petroleum oils: $1.6 billion (41.5% of Hawaii’s total imports)
  • Miscellaneous petroleum oils: $462 million (12.2%)
  • Light petroleum oils: $287 million (7.6%)
  • Large aircraft: $162 million (4.3%)
  • Mid-sized automobiles (piston engine): $143 million (3.8%)
  • Large automobiles (piston engine): $93 million (2.5%)
  • Liquified propane: $40 million (1.1%)
  • Tuna, skipjack: $30 million (0.8%)
  • Passenger vehicles (with internal combustion/electrical engine): $30 million (0.8%)
  • Jewelry articles clad in precious metal: $25 million (0.7%)
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