Honolulu and Big Island in Hawaii are two stunning destinations, so you may have difficulty deciding which one you should visit. Ideally, there would be endless amounts of time to visit every island in Hawaii. Having loads of time to explore is not a reality for most travelers, but you can make a choice based on your favorite activities and each location’s unique pros and cons.
Honolulu is the capital of Hawaii and is located on the island of Oahu. It is more cosmopolitan, can be crowded but has the most famous surf spots. The Big Island is larger but far less populated than Honolulu and has a greater variety of natural wonders to appeal to more adventurous travelers.
Choosing where to go on vacation requires a lot of planning and forethought. Getting to know each location and deciding based on your unique interests is vital. If you have a budget, you may want to consider which place would offer the most experiences while also being affordable.
The main difference between Honolulu and Big Island is that Honolulu is a city on the island of Oahu, while Big Island is, as its name suggests, the largest of the eight islands in Hawaii. Big Island is a nickname for Hawaii Island, but everyone, including the locals, will refer to it as Big Island.
Honolulu is the state capital of Hawaii. It is a bustling, diverse city with all the attractions of an island paradise combined with the appeal of a city center. Here you will find award-winning restaurants, cultural events, and places of historical interest. It is also home to some iconic white sandy beaches and the world-class surfing.
Big Island is full of natural wonder, with endless adventure activities. There are some beautiful, luxurious resorts, but the towns are small and low-key. It would be best if you had more than a day to explore this island; you need time, patience, and a good dose of adventure lust.
Honolulu, Hawaii’s state capital, is a fantastic place to start exploring the islands. Even if you only have one day to spend here, you can get a lot of quality experiences because everything is so close. This list is a summary of the attractions:
- The restaurants and eateries are out of this world! Food lovers can delight in various incredible, award-winning dishes from dawn till dusk; there is something for everybody.
- Honolulu is rich in culture and history. You can go to museums, attend the theatre or visit some poignant historical sites.
- You can find beautiful botanical gardens all over Oahu. Foster Botanical Garden is a mere two-minute drive from Honolulu city center.
- Hawaii is famous for its gorgeous beaches and world-class surfing, and Honolulu does not disappoint in this arena. The world’s most famous surfers can be seen catching waves on Honolulu’s beaches, and there are some more accessible waves for beginner surfers too.
- If you tire of the white sandy beaches, you can head inland to enjoy one of the beautiful hiking trails. Many of these walks can be difficult and require a lot of endurance, but the views and experience are well worth the effort.
Honolulu is a fantastic place, but every positive has a negative, and some aspects of Honolulu are less than appealing. Here are some of the downsides to vacationing in Honolulu:
- The crowds are the biggest problem with Honolulu; it is so popular that it simply attracts too many people.
- Traffic can be awful here, which is not very appealing when you’re on vacation.
- It’s expensive; those dinners and entry fees could add up and burn a hole in your wallet.
Big Island’s actual name is Hawaii Island, which can confuse people since it shares its name with the state of Hawaii. Everyone knows it as Big Island because it is the largest of all the islands in Hawaii. It’s helpful to know its actual name, just in case.
One of the best things about Big Island is that you can experience so many different landscapes. There are dense rainforests, breathtaking waterfalls, lava rocks, active volcanoes, a wild ocean, and pristine beaches. Here are some of the attractions you would find here:
- Big Island is definitely for the more outdoorsy traveler. Still, there are also some luxurious resorts and expansive golf courses if you want to have a more comfortable base to explore from.
- Volcanoes can be terrifying forces of nature, and Big Island has six of them! Don’t worry; they are not erupting anymore, except for one. Kilauea is Big Island’s only active volcano and a huge drawcard. You can watch it explode from a safe distance and witness the lava flowing harmlessly into the ocean.
- The hiking and horseback trails on Big Island are out of this world. Waterfalls, tropical forests, and breathtaking views abound.
- Most ocean sports and activities are par for the course on Big Island. There is surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, whale watching, and ocean safaris to enjoy.
- The towns on Big Island are humble but attractive and full of surprises. There is not a lot of advertising, so you need to speak to the locals to find out where the best spots are. It’s a great way to make friends!
- Big Island also has some fascinating museums and cultural education sites that are well worth a visit on days when you need some rest after lots of active adventuring.
Some aspects of vacationing on Big Island can be problematic to some travelers. Here are a few downsides that you may want to consider:
- It’s big. So big that you may not have time to enjoy every part of it, which can be frustrating.
- It rains a lot in many parts of Big Island, so you must pack rain gear and bring it along when exploring.
- The volcano is not always performing, leaving visitors disappointed after traveling so far to witness it.
You will find more affordable activities to do on Big Island than in Honolulu. Honolulu’s appeal lies in its restaurants and cultural attractions, which cost money. You may often pay a fee to access snorkeling or hiking spots.
The trick with Big Island is remembering its size; pick your activities and areas to explore beforehand. You won’t be bored if you keep your focus on one portion of the island. The cost of living is also less expensive than in Honolulu, especially if you embrace the local farmers’ markets for your groceries.
Honolulu and Big Island are excellent destinations with their unique attractions and downsides. Honolulu is for you if you are interested in a more cosmopolitan experience, don’t mind crowds too much, and have a big enough budget. Big Island is your go-to if you have wanderlust, enjoy adventure activities, and want something off the beaten track.