Maui vs Oahu: Planning Your Hawaiian Getaway

Planning an island getaway? Maui and Oahu are two beautiful Hawaiian Islands that rank as top travel destinations. Many people struggle to decide on where in Hawaii to travel. Both showcase breathtaking mountains, beaches and a myriad of activities that all sorts of people can engage in while they’re on vacation. And although the two islands are similar in some ways, they also have many differences. Here are a few things to consider when deciding between them.

jogger on a beach in Maui

Overall Vibes:

While both islands are home to tropical temperatures, snorkeling, and some of the most beautiful beaches, Oahu has even more to offer. If you’re a traveler in search of upbeat nightlife, high rises and shopping (all within eyesight of white sand beaches) this is the island for you.  Locals and tourists mingle throughout Honolulu to give travelers a well-rounded and exciting Hawaiian experience.

But if you’re looking for a more secluded and romantic destination, consider Maui. Maui is larger in size than Oahu with a significantly smaller population which provides travelers with the feeling of island time and life lived slower. This island serves as the perfect place to venture off the beaten path and since it’s less metropolitan and pulses at a slower pace, Maui is the ideal spot to kick back and relax at for a few chill days.

Maui vs Oahu: The Cost & Accessability

When it comes to traveling to Hawaii, time and money are things to consider. Flying to Oahu and landing in Honolulu is usually more direct, while those trying to get to Maui may have a longer flight with more stops. Once you arrive, Oahu has great public transportation, or you can Uber or Lyft from the airport. However, most people who travel to Maui should plan to rent a car. Activities and restaurants are close to the airport in Maui, but resorts are a bit further out and require about half an hour of driving to get to.

There are plenty of places to explore in Oahu and since it is a more populated area, it’s easier to find vacation packages due to higher competition, although big city prices may be something you plan for. On the other hand, since Maui is considerably less metropolitan, it is a bit more expensive.  

sunset over the ocean from a beach in Hawaii

Maui vs Oahu: The Food

Hawaii is full of great dining opportunities and Oahu and Maui are no exceptions. If you want to eat it, you can probably find it in Oahu. One great thing about Oahu’s metropolitan feel and population is that it gives travelers plenty of dinner options. This island is expansive, diverse and offers plenty of dining options. With the ever-increasing number of hotels, resorts and restaurants, one can find variety in kinds of food and price that makes dining out simple and fun, especially on a budget. Travelers can find everything from Italian, to Japanese, American, Vietnamese, French, to Hawaiian in differing price ranges.

Most Authentic Hawaiian food consists of dishes like pork, rice, sea food, and interesting sauces and Maui is famous for their authentic restaurants. But traditional Hawaiian isn’t the only thing to eat in Maui. Most resorts have restaurants on the property and offer plenty of dining options. There are also some great Maui hotels that offer all-inclusive packages with dinner options that are usually cheaper too.  

Maui vs Oahu: Things to do

Regardless of which island you choose, you can be sure there will be plenty of things to either keep you busy or help you relax. Both islands are famous for their sandy beaches, sunrises and sunsets and water activities. These two islands can offer all numbers of similar activities in totally different settings.


  • Valley Isle: Valley Isle is full of outdoor activities like gorgeous hiking trails and views
  • Views: With views that are less city and more scenery, Maui is a great spot to relax and unwind
  • Multiple unpopulated beaches: These spots in Maui are a great place for a romantic getaway


  • Nightlife: The nightlife is more fast paced and crowded in Oahu, so if you’re looking for a fun night out, this is a great city to explore.
  • Historical sites: Pearl Harbor Memorial and Polynesian culture are two great places to observe the island’s history
  • Wakiki Beach: Wakiki beach is a great spot for beginner surfers and people watching

Choosing an Island

The great thing about traveling around Hawaii is that the both islands are easy to get to. Can’t choose? Try both! But if you’re looking for something more family friendly, rural and relaxed, Maui is a great choice. If you love the big city vibe and the people watching that comes along with it, Oahu may be the move. Either way, both islands offer plenty of relaxation and fun. It’s hard to go wrong!

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