Maui or Kauai? How to choose between paradise vs. heaven

Hawaii is the ultimate island getaway, perfect all year around!

No matter what island you choose: Oahu, Big Island, Maui, Kauai or Lanai, you’re sure to be by pristine beaches, sip on Mai Tais & Pina Coladas, while being serenaded by ukeleles in the background. En route to Hawaii Mojo, the question that comes up most is: which island to visit? For most first-time visitors to Hawaii, the question always boils down to: Maui or Kauai?

Here’s a quick reference guide on how to choose between these 2 equally amazing & mind blowing islands:

1.If you like…. Outdoor adventures, hiking, wilderness & want to disconnect completely.

Photo Credit: Kamlen Emsley

Kauai. Only 20% of the island is accessible by road, which means to see the rest of the island, you need to hike, explore by boat or air. What this also means, is most of the hikes & scenery are raw, rugged wilderness which is ethereal. You’ll need to exercise caution on some trails though, as not all are marked.

2. If you like… plenty of amenities & enjoy a resort-y feel

Photo Credit: Jake Kokot

Maui. It’s the more commercialized of the 2 islands, and definitely feels more like a resort across the island. But sometimes, that’s the most relaxing thing! Check out the Grand Wailea hotel & spa, they offer day passes for use of spa facilities, which just so happen to be a 5 mineral bath soaks and multiple hot tubs.

3. Diversity in scenery

Photo Credit: Luca Bravo

Tie. This is hard to compare: Kauai has the Waimea canyon (dubbed “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” by Mark Twain), Napali coast, Kalalau trail, secret beaches, coves.

Maui’s Road to Hana offers several waterfalls, a bamboo forest, beautiful beaches & drylands. Haleakala crater alone has a ridiculous amount of diversity in scenery, with lush views downhill or views of the sand dunes & desert-like landscape via the Sliding Sands Trail.

4. Wildlife & Ocean

Photo credit: Abigail Lynn

Kauai. The water is colder & rougher in Kauai, especially in winter. Although Maui has it’s fair share of fantastic spots for snorkeling, like the Molokini crater, the wildlife by the Napali coast in Kauai is spectacular. Snorkeling here in summer is like peering down clear glass. It’s also a terrific spot to go whale watching & watch them breach.

5. Variety in Beaches

Photo Credit: Ry Van

Maui. Both islands have beautiful beaches, but Maui gets the edge here for it’s unique red sand beach and black sand beach on the Road to Hana.

You can’t go wrong with either choice! If a first-time visitor to Hawaii or traveling with family, I recommend Maui, as it will meet your expectations of a Hawaiian holiday. If you’re looking to get disconnected, deal with fewer crowds & be immersed in tropical wilderness, I recommend Kauai. Here’s a helpful guide to help you plan your trip.

One thing is for sure, you won’t be asking, “Dude, Where’s My Mojo?” once you’re in Hawaii!

Also published on Medium.

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Life with Larissa July 14, 2017 at 9:22 PM

This past April, my sister and I had the opportunity to visit Oahu. I think my next island of choice would be Maui for sure! I’ve heard great things of this island, and I’d love to experience the Road to Hana, and the different colored sand beaches!

francesca July 15, 2017 at 3:02 AM

Thanks for this post! You’ve answered some of the questions I had in my mind for our trip there 🙂

Jhilmil July 16, 2017 at 2:14 AM

Kauai – Wow, what a beautiful place it poses to.. 80% exploration by hiking , awesome.. It ought to be seen by me for sure then! Thanks for letting us know about these beautiful island!

Emily Lauren July 16, 2017 at 9:11 AM

I would love to visit either, so beautiful!


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