Maui or Oahu? First Time in Hawaii

by Denis Dore

Maui or Oahu?

I get this question a lot.

Here is a piece of advice I shared recently with a young couple asking for help.

First, you just can't go wrong with either Maui or Oahu.
Both islands are amazing.
Both have great weather, beaches, mountains, sunsets, etc.
So the choice is not black or white. It all depends on what you are truly looking for.

Each of the islands have some specificities. Knowing those specificities will help you make a better choice between Maui and Oahu.

Here are some questions you should ask yourself (and here are some hints to help you decide).

How long is your trip?
Very short? Choose Oahu. You will save a connection from Honolulu Airport on Oahu to Kahului Airport on Maui (unless you live on the West Coast and are ok to pay for a direct flight to Kahului Airport).
See Air Travel section for more details on direct flights and shuttles.

Are you on a budget?
All and all, Oahu is a little bit cheaper than Maui. Easier to find vacation packages due to higher competition, more resorts, more shops, groceries and so on. You also save on the flight (it's usually cheaper to fly to Honolulu then to fly direct to Maui).

Are you looking for a beach-only vacation experience?
If so, stick with Oahu. The beaches are amazing. They are great on Maui too but you got all you need on Oahu, beginning with the stunning Waikiki Beach. It's awesome and you will find everything you need just outside the airport.
That said, Maui's Kihei and Ka'anapali areas have great resorts as well.

Are you looking for nightlife and some city action?
If your answer is yes, then again, choose Honolulu-Waikiki. Lots of stores, bars and restaurants. Great Nightlife, right on the beach.
Lahaina-Ka'anapali area is not bad either on Maui, but it's nothing compared to Waikiki-Honolulu's crazy vibe.

Are you looking for a remote romantic spot away from the crowd?
You can find this on both islands but if you choose Oahu you should think about renting a car to get out of Honolulu-Waikiki and discover the island (this is also true for Maui). See Oahu/Honolulu Attractions Page for more details.
I would favor Maui on this one. Maui has plenty of peaceful hideaways and the famous Road to Hana must be the most incredible remote and romantic place on earth.

Are you a fan of great hikes?
Both islands offer superb opportunities, but Maui must be crowned champion here with its one-of-a-kind Haleakala volcano crater network of trails and some wonderful waterfalls walks.

Have a look at some Maui Pictures here.

I could go on forever like this... The reasons to visit one island or another are countless. Take time to visit this site. I am trying to add as much tips and advices that I can to help you make the best decision.

As far as Maui and Oahu are concerned, we could say that:

It's easier and cheaper to choose Honolulu but more crowded and it feels a little less exotic.

You need a bit more time and money to choose Maui but you get a more 'remote' and authentic feel.

Again... You can't go wrong with either islands. They are both just amazing.

Really. Just pick one and make sure to spend some time driving around, discovering some hidden beauties along the way. It's truly paradise out there.

You get two weeks or more? Why not visit both islands!!!

Denis :)

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Both Islands Are Great!
by: Anonymous

Both are awesome. You can't go wrong with either island!
Love it there!

Maui or Oahu
by: Tori

If you can stay in Hawaii for more than a week, I would recommend doing both.

Assuming you can stay for 7-14 days I would spend 2 to 5 days on Oahu (Honolulu) and then move on to Maui for 5-9 days.

In Honolulu you can see the Arizona Memorial, the Missouri and the Bowfin and check out the urban attractions and nightlife. Be sure to rent a car and spend at least one day driving around the island of Oahu to see the north shore and the rest of the island.

Then go to Maui to relax, see beautiful uncrowded beaches, watch a sunrise at Haleakala, hike around the volcano, go snorkeling, take a whale watching cruise, check out the quaint, historic town of Lahaina and drive around the island to Hana. If you can, I also highly recommend seeing the show at Warren and Annabelle's in Lahaina.

Of course, it depends on what you like to do, but I quickly get tired of the crowds and urban hustle of Honolulu. The hotels are expensive and it is sometimes hard to find parking at the places you want to go.

There are some interesting things to see if you've never been there, but after a few days if you want to relax and see the paradise most of us imagine when we think of Hawaii, I would definitely recommend Maui.

If you want to minimize your costs, I would suggest renting a resort condo in Maui rather than staying a hotel. Condos are usually less expensive, more spacious and you have the convenience of a kitchen to make snacks, beverages, keep and reheat leftovers from restaurant meals or maybe even prepare a meal or two if you don't feel like going out for every meal.

I also recommend Oahu Revealed and Maui Revealed books - they are excellent!


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