There are eight major islands in the Hawaiian archipelago:
Oahu or “The Gathering Place”. The most populous island and the island most visited by tourists. Oʻahu is the third largest of the Hawaiian Islands but is home to about two-thirds of the population of Hawaii. Home to Waikīkī, Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head, Hanauma Bay, Kāneʻohe Bay, and the North Shore.
Hawaii Island or”The Big Island” is the largest and most southern island. The third most visited island, it is larger than all of the other islands combined and is the largest island in the United States. Referred to as “The Big Island” to distinguish it from the state. Home to the most accessible, continuously erupting, volcano in the world–Kilauea.
Maui is nicknamed “The Valley Isle”. One of the world’s most beautiful places! Maui is the second-largest of the Hawaiian Islands at 727.2 square miles and is the 17th largest island in the United States. It is the second most frequent tourist destination in Hawaii after Oahu.
Kauai is nicknamed “The Garden Isle”. This is what paradise looks like! The oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands and the fourth largest of the main islands. Mt. Wai’ale’ale may be the wettest spot on earth with an average of 374 inches of rain per year.
“The Friendly Island”. Population 7,345. Home to Kalaupapa, located on an isolated peninsula on the northern side of Molokaʻi, the site of a leper settlement from 1866 to 1969 and the longtime residence of Father Damien.
“The Pineapple Island”. Now 98% owned by Larry Ellison. Once home to the world’s largest pineapple plantation (Dole) it is now home to two resort hotels on managed by Four Seasons Hotels: Manele Bay and the Lodge at Kōʻele.
“The Forbidden Island”. Completely owned by the Robinson family. The island is generally off-limits to all but relatives of the island’s owners, U.S. Navy personnel, government officials and invited guests. In an effort to preserve Hawaiian culture, the residents speak only the Hawaiian language and are discouraged from mingling with persons not from the island.
“The Target Island” Always sparsely populated, due to its lack of fresh water. During World War II, it was used as a training ground and bombing range by the Armed Forces of the United States. In recent years, it has been undergoing cleanup of the ordnance.
You can listen to pronunciations of the Hawaii place names below for each of the major islands. Hawai‘i Island is truly a “Big Island” and that is what it is commonly called although it is correctly referred to as Hawai‘i or the island of Hawai‘i. It is bigger than all of the other islands combined and takes an entire day to drive around it. At least 7 distinct climate zones are found here and it’s one of the few places in the world where you can play in the snow in the morning (at the top of Mauna Kea) and be surfing on a beautiful beach a couple of hours later. One of the world’s most active and accessible volcanos (Kilauea) is found here at the southern end of the island. King Kamehemeha, who unified the Hawaiian islands, was born here and lived most of the time. Waipio Valley has been called the most beautiful place in the world. We’ve tried to make the locations go in order as one drives around the islands.
|Place||Normal Speed||Slower Please!|
|Kapa‘a Beach Park|
|King Kamehameha Statue|
|Pololū Valley lookout|
|Kā‘ū District (southernmost)|
|Ho‘okena Beach Park|
|Pu‘uhonua O Hōnaunau (Place of Refuge)|
|Ka‘ūpūlehu (Four Seasons)|
|Streets and Miscellaneous:|
|Lanihau Shopping Center|
|Makalapua Shopping Center|
|Kohanaiki (Pine Trees)|
Oahu or “The Gathering Place” is home to the largest city in Hawaii (Honolulu) and the majority of it’s population even though it is one of the smaller of the islands. It is home to Waikiki Beach, the famed North Shore, Pearl Harbor, and Diamond Head. Also, it’s where Barack Obama grew up and attended school at Punahou.
|Place Name||Normal Speed||Slower Please!|
|Ala Moana Mall|
|Ala Wai canal|
These islands are very close and were felt to once be a single island that has broken up over time. The following table includes places you’ll find on your visit to Maui, Kaho‘olawe, Lana‘i, and Moloka‘i. We tried to list the names in order as you travel around each island.
|Napili Bay and Napili|
Lana‘i was once home to the largest pineapple plantation in the world owned by the Dole Corporation. About 98% of the island was recently sold to Larry Ellison, CEO and Founder of Oracle. Bill and Melinda Gates were married here at Manele Bay. If you get the chance, stay at either of the two Four Seasons Resorts here–one at Manele Bay and the other at 2000 foot elevation at Koele.
Moloka‘i is renowned as the home of Kalaupapa where the famous leper colony (Leprosy, which is also known as Hansen’s disease) was home to St. Father Damien.
Generally, special permission is required to visit the island of Kaho‘olawe. This is an uninhabited island that was used as a bombing site during World War II and there are still un-exploded ordinances here. Intensive efforts to clean up the island in recent years have been effective but the island is still dry and covered with desert conditions.
Always a very special place, Kauaʻi was the only one of the islands not conquered by Kamehameha I. The ruler of the island, Kaumualiʻi, chose instead to join the kingdom without bloodshed and ceded the island to the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi upon his death in 1824.
Kauaʻi was known for its distinct dialect of the Hawaiian language that is still spoken on the neighboring island of Niʻihau. Whereas the standard language today is based on the dialect of Hawaiʻi island, which has the sound “k” at the beginning of words, the Kauaʻi dialect was known for pronouncing this as “t”. As a result, the Kauaʻi dialect retained the old Polynesian , “t” while the remainder of the islands evolved to the “k”. Therefore, the native name for Kauaʻi was Tauaʻi, and the major settlement of Kapaʻa would have been called Tapaʻa.
In recent years, more movies have been filmed on Kauaʻi than anywhere else—charmed by it’s natural beauty and amazing vistas.