Big Island vs Maui – Choosing the Right Island Can Make or Break your Hawaii Vacation

04/20/2018 | by Courtney Dennis | Big Island Local Area Local Tips Maui Vacation Planning Vacation Rentals

Hawaiian Island Showdown – Maui vs The Big Island!

Deciding between Maui and the Big Island can be a challenge, especially if it’s your first time visiting Hawaii. We suggest visiting both, but if you’re forced to choose, it comes down to your preferences on these three things: accommodations, activities, and entertainment.

Synopsis: If beaches are your calling and you want to have a drink and dance the night away, Maui is the island for you. If you want to explore national parks, see lava streams, and enjoy world-class resorts and golf courses, choose the Big Island.

Quick Tips

  • The Big Island is for the adventurous traveler yearning to explore.
  • Maui is for the resort traveler in pursuit of leisure.


Maui: It’s not often you’ll find so many charming, beautiful vacation rentals and resorts on one island. Possibilities include everything from traditional Hawaiian hideaways to ultra-luxurious villa rentals, scattered primarily along the south and west coasts. Both the Wailea/Makena and Kaanapali/Kapalua areas feature magnificent beaches, exceptional restaurants, championship golf, and world-class shopping and spas.

Big Island: Like Maui, the Big Island has a wide range of vacation rental and hotel options, from cozy plantation-style homes to extravagant estates. On the lush east side, the Hilo area is home to an abundance of magical waterfalls, rainforests, volcanic tide pools, and every tropical flower or plant imaginable. On the sunny west side, the Kailua-Kona region and Kohala Coast showcase especially beautiful beaches with calm, clear water and ideal weather year-round.

Comparing Vacation Rentals from Maui and the Big Island by Price Point

Less Than $1,000



Compare more accommodations: Maui vacation rentals vs Big Island vacation rentals

More Quick Tips

  • The Big Island is home to the only active volcano in Hawaii.
  • Maui strikes the ideal balance between family-friendly and nightlife; fun is never far away.


With golf, spas, shopping, snorkeling, and sailboat cruises, Maui is truly a vacation playground. For the more adventurous, Hana Highway, one of the most scenic stretches of road in the world, offers breathtaking opportunities to experience sea cliffs, waterfalls, bamboo forests and black sand beaches. The 10,000-foot Haleakala volcano provides otherworldly hikes on moon-like landscapes with stunning panoramic views.

Not to be outdone, the Big Island is made up of five massive volcanoes, including Kilauea, which has had an active lava flow since 1983. Visitors to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park have the extraordinary option of hiking or biking to a spot where red hot lava collides with the Pacific. Activities such as horseback ridingcoffee farm tours, and day trips to quaint towns like Waimea (Kamuela) are plentiful on this vast island, its many climate zones creating an impressive variety of scenery. The Big Island also presents excellent choices in the way of golf, snorkeling and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities like night swimming with manta rays.


Maui: The fun doesn’t have to stop when the sun goes down. Although you shouldn’t expect the same amount of nightlife you’ll find in Honolulu, Maui does offer fine dining, nightclubs, tiki lounges, and dive bars. Rumor has it that the island is home to the best Mai Tai cocktail, which is found at the two Monkeypod Kitchen locations in Wailea and Kaanapali. There are also many theatrical and live performances such as ‘Ulalena, a stunning depiction of the first Polynesian explorers who discovered the Valley Isle.

Big Island: If you’re choosing a destination based on the nightlife, the Big Island probably isn’t for you, as most of the entertainment does end early. The late hours of the night are better spent with a stroll down the beach, taking in the sounds of the gentle waves and the cool breeze. Despite there not being much of a party scene, a cold beer is easy to come by at places like Kona Brewing Company.

As one of just a handful of property management companies with offices and staff on every major island, Elite Vacation Rentals can help you find the island for your perfect Hawaii vacation. Contact Us

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