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Our Readers’ Favorite Islands in Hawaii of 2024

Our Readers’ Favorite Islands in Hawaii of 2024

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Is it possible to have a less-than-incredible vacation in Hawaii? Our readers certainly don’t think so, with voters finding something glowing to report about nearly every corner of this South Pacific archipelago. Still, each year Travel + Leisure readers consistently choose five standout islands as the best, and though the rankings may have shuffled, this year’s winners are all familiar to regular World’s Best Awards voters. 

How Voting Works

Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Over 186,000 T+L readers completed the 2024 survey. A total of more than 700,000 votes were cast across over 8,700 properties (hotels, cities, cruise lines, etc.).

Islands were specifically rated on the criteria below:

  • Natural attractions/beaches
  • Activities/sights
  • Restaurants/food
  • People/friendliness
  • Value

For each characteristic, respondents could choose a rating of excellent, above average, average, below average, or poor. The final scores are averages of these responses.

Laura La Monaca/Travel + Leisure

What Readers Loved

Each island has plenty to recommend it, but natural beauty and the dynamism of Hawaiian culture came up as selling points for all five on this year’s list. “What we like best about all of Hawaii is the people and native culture of these amazing islands,” wrote one voter. Of Lanai (No. 5), one reader called it a “remote island” that “gives off an authentic Hawaiian feel.” “It’s like visiting a different world, with a one-hour boat ride back to real life,” another said. Oahu (No. 4), naturally, got props for the big-city energy, fabulous shopping, and restaurant scene of Honolulu, while Kauai’s (No. 3) more rugged, easygoing feel drew plenty of admirers. And runner-up Maui got a lot of love from concerned travelers in the wake of the 2023 Lahaina fires, which so devastated the island: “An island in need of a lot of hugs,” wrote one voter. “We decided to shift from vacation to volunteering, which made for a rewarding trip.” Said another, “the true meaning of aloha is here.” 

The Winner 

Island of Hawaii

Laura La Monaca/Travel + Leisure

The Big Island finally reclaimed the top spot on this list after a two-year hiatus, and with all this isle has to offer, that’s no surprise. Spend your days scuba diving the reefs of the Kona coast and your nights stargazing at the Mauna Kea observatory. Visit active volcanoes and green-sand beaches. Hike lush rainforest trails or lounge under an umbrella with a steady stream of tiki drinks — the island is your proverbial oyster.

T+L readers can’t get enough of all the action: “Amazing all around, with so many different activities to take part in,” one voter wrote. “This, in my opinion, is the best island in all of Hawaii to vacation, especially for an extended period of time.” Another voter echoed that sentiment, writing “The Big Island is truly unique among the Hawaiian islands and is absolutely worth visiting. The lava fields and open spaces feel like a step back in time. Whatever you are looking to do, you’ll find it on the Big Island.” One reader says what all the rest are thinking: “This island has quickly become my favorite.”

T+L Reader

The Big Island is truly unique among the Hawaiian islands. The lava fields and open spaces feel like a step back in time. Whatever you are looking to do, you’ll find it on the Big Island.

— T+L Reader

The Full List

1. Island of Hawaii

Reader Score: 88.04

2. Maui

Reader Score: 87.81

3. Kauai

Reader Score: 87.28

4. Oahu

Reader Score: 86.36

5. Lanai

Reader Score: 85.68

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