Hawaii is one of the best travel destinations when you are holidaying with your teen. But Hawaii, though considered a state in the USA, is not just one island.
There are mainly 8 islands the biggest of which gives the state its name.
You have probably been told that it doesn’t matter which Hawaiian island you pick, because all of them are splendid.
While the second part may be true, the fact is, there may be islands that suit you more when you are traveling with your teenager.
Taking into consideration the obvious energy of teenagers in general, our choices here in this article has been guided by the level of activity that you can find on the island.
We have zeroed in on 3 highly activity-oriented islands–The Big Island, Oahu, and Kauai.
Before going deeper into them, here are some fun facts about the Hawaiian islands:
- They are tropical.
- Only 7 of the islands are permanently inhabited.
- State of Hawaii is the 4th longest coastline in all of USA.
Now let’s look at the three islands we think are best suited for teenagers.
01. Hawaii/The Big Island: For the Most Diverse Terrain and Activities
- Ka Lae, the southernmost point of the entire USA, is in Hawaii
- Mauna Kea, the tallest mountain measured from the seafloor, is also in Hawaii
- Has 63% of the total landmass of the Hawaiian archipelago, but only 13% of its population
- Kilauea and Mouna Loa are active volcanoes in Hawaii, causing the island to grow
There are many, many things to see on The Big Island. Firstly, there are volcanoes. The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park houses two of them that are active.
You can go gawk at the craters and the lava beds, while you consider how awesome it is that one of them had been erupting continuously since the 1980s up until 2 years ago.
The Puna-Ka’u Historic Site is famous for housing the ruins of the last great Hawaiian Temple.
There are also the waterfalls (like the Rainbow Falls and Umauma Falls), the Sadie Seymour Botanical Gardens (which include another archaeological site, Heiau), the Waipio Valley (with its black sand beach for surfing) and so on.
Snorkeling is available in Kahalu’u Bay.
Amenities Inside the Island: Since it is the biggest tourist area in the state, the Hawaii Island has a large number of grocery stores and health care facilities. Easy transportation takes you from luxury family hotels in Hawaii to the tourist destinations.
What You Should Remember: The travel time from one place to another, even if in motor vehicles, can take up a lot of time. While teenagers are perfectly suited for the travel, kids are not. Also, there are a lot of hiking opportunities, so come prepared to walk a lot.
02. Oahu/The Gathering Place: For a Quick Taste of Surfing and Polynesian Culture
- Roughly diamond-shaped island on which locals use separate names for its directions
- Consists of the two shield volcanoes of Waianae and Koolau Ranges
- Police vehicles are unmarked except for blue lights on their roofs, like in The Big Island
- Contains Honolulu, Waikiki, Pearl Harbour and Diamond Head
The biggest city and capital of Hawaii, Honolulu, is found in Oahu. It is through Honolulu that you can get to the other islands, so if you just want to enjoy the “heart of Hawaii”, you just need to take the flight out to the capital.
Nearby Honolulu is one of the best surfing destinations in the world, the Waikiki Beach. You don’t have to be a surfer or even learning to surf to enjoy the magnificence of this place: you could even chill out in the beach and watch the star surfers of the day take to the waves.
Or you could wade in the Kahanamoku Lagoon, which is adjacent to Waikiki.
There is also Pearl Harbour to see. As every teen knows from history, it was the Pearl Harbour attack by Japan that propelled the USA into World War II. Visiting Pearl Harbour, you can pay your respects at the USS Arizona Memorial for all those precious lives lost in the surprise attack.
Other destinations include the Diamond Head (most prominent of Oahu’s terrain–a volcanic tuff cone), Kailua (where former president Obama rented residence for winter, hence known as Winter White House) as well as Hanauma and Kaneohe Bays.
And before I forget, the North Shore of Oahu contains the famous surfing destinations, Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach!
Amenities Inside the Island: Since it is the most populated of all Hawaiian islands, the huge resorts and awesome restaurants will be several. Not a lot of out-of-the-way camping areas here, like in the Big Island. It is an island for surfers and beach-lovers.
What You Should Remember: Is to get the most out of your time at Oahu, by making sure you visit the Polynesian Cultural Center and having the luau. It is a special feast with mouthwatering Polynesian cuisine, accompanied with music and a lot of dancing.
03. Kauai/The Garden Isle: Dream Island for the Backpacker, With a Dose of History and Culture
- Geographically the second oldest and the 4th largest Hawaiian island
- Holds a record in yearly as well as hourly rainfall
- Home to Waimea Canyon, featured in Jurassic World
- Mountainous isle, with volcanic origins
The features of Kauai begin with its Heritage Center, that teaches the Hawaiian language and culture. They also take the travellers to heritage sites, and there are several of those on this island.
For example, the Bell stone features a pillar that used to ring (and can still ring) over Wailua Valley when struck, announcing royal births. The Makauwahi Cave is the largest limestone cave to be found in Hawaii, and a very rich fossil site.
The Sleeping Giant is supposed to be just what the name indicates, and is shaped like a human figure. The Queen’s Bath is a tide pool and a sinkhole containing ghostfish, with magmatic rock surrounding it.
There are also a number of Botanical Gardens, housing a wide variety of Polynesian plant species. A huge backpacking and camping potential awaits you on its many mountainous trails, like the Kokee Road in the Waimea Canyon or the Alakai Swamp Trail.
Sea kayaking is another way to get moving in Kauai.
Amenities Inside the Island: This island is more sparsely populated, which means more camping and getaway opportunities. The road is more adventurous, mostly like that of Jurassic Park without the monsters. This island is for the backpacker.
What You Should Remember: Pack your shoes and your backpack right, and get ready to get moving. This is one island where you should not expect to be inside or on the beach idly sipping your beverage. You will get tired, but it will be very rewarding. The island is aptly named “Garden”, for it is just another word for Paradise.
Since we are on the topic of what would make teenagers happy, here’s an awesome guide to the best pets to consider for your teens.
The Hawaiian islands are probably on every teen’s bucket list, and we know that choosing the right one for your trip is extremely important. Why we provided only 3 of them is because we know how active teenagers are.
It is only right to focus on everything that your island of choice has to offer, than to go island hopping.
These 3 islands we listed here are the ones with the most activities packed in them. You will not get bored, and you won’t regret choosing one of them for your first trip. Or your second. Or your third.
Something that many people miss about Hawaii is the cultural significance of the place. We focused on that, primarily, because if you miss that while holidaying in Hawaii, you miss the biggest treat that the islands hold.
Polynesian, North American and indigenous Hawaiian cultures mix and create something unique here.
Hope you feel it from the moment you land! Have a great time!