Hawaii, the big island, had two distinct flavors. Hilo sat on the dry side of this island and was not very interesting. It had a lot of commercialism but didn’t offer a real Hawaiian experience. People mostly venture there to see Volcanoes National Park, which was nice. On the other hand, Kona was a super nice destination. It sat on the dry side. Full of restaurants, stores, tours and many historic sites, it would be a good vacation stop.
Kauai, the garden island, is appropriately named. You can’t beat its beauty. The Na Pali Coast was spectacular! This is where many movies and TV shows are filmed. It has a good selection of resorts. Travel was easy. We passed numerous restaurants, malls and shopping areas. I think this is sort of a quieter, smaller version of Maui.
Oahu was definitely our least favorite island. Honolulu and Waikiki Beach are big city destinations. There were many, many people and not a lot of nature. We understand from others who rented a car that the north shore and areas outside of Honolulu are nice. It probably offers the cheapest destination for Hawaii. If you want a lot of big city things to do on a vacation, this might be for you. Pearl Harbor is also on this island.
Maui is our hands-down favorite island! It had it all… restaurants, shopping, tours, views, resorts. The list just can go on. I think a week in Maui would be wonderful. We also noticed that tours and excursions were so much cheaper on Maui.
Summing it up, here is how I would spend 10 days in Hawaii. 4 nights on Kanapali Beach on Maui, 4 nights in one the premiere resorts near Kona on the big island and 2 nights on Kauai.