If you’re planning a honeymoon to Hawaii, know that you can’t pick a bad place to go. Hawaii as a whole is magical but each of the islands offers something just a little different. 

When you’re weighing the decisions of Maui or Kauai for your honeymoon, there isn’t going to be one clear winner. Maui is great for the sun-seeking beach goers that love luxury resorts. Kauai is best for honeymooners who want a quiet stay with better hiking and kayaking options.

Why you should choose Maui for your honeymoon:

  • More sunny days and less rain
  • More accommodation options, including an adults-only resort
  • Calmer water for snorkeling
  • More sandy beaches
  • Maui has the most diverse activity options

Why you should choose Kauai for your honeymoon:

  • Quieter, less commercialized island with fewer visitors
  • Dramatic landscape
  • Better hiking and kayaking

Want to know more? Let’s dive into the details of the Maui vs. Kauai for your ideal honeymoon. 


Maui vs. Kauai honeymoon: what are the differences between the two islands?

While you may have a picture in your mind of every Hawaiian island looking exactly the same, that’s not what you’ll find when you get here. Yes, all of the islands have beautiful beaches, palm trees, and sparkling blue water. 

But there are some big differences that can affect what island you should choose for your trip. 

Maui is the second most visited island in Hawaii (behind Oahu) so you have plenty of options for the best accommodations, whether you’re staying in a hotel or a vacation rental. It sprawling, which is great because you have plenty of gorgeous beaches and activities galore, but it also means you may spend a little more time in the car getting where you want to go. 

Kauai is the oldest of the well known Hawaiian islands, which is a fun fact, but it also makes the scenery substantially different. It’s old age (over 5 million years old) means you’ll find jagged cliffs, dense vegetation, deep valleys, and rivers, but fewer white sandy beaches. If you love the landscape of Jurassic Park, you’ll love Kauai. 

Maui vs Kauai honeymoon

Why you should choose Maui for your honeymoon

It’s no secret that we love Maui. We chose to live here because we think it’s a truly special place. But there are some specific reasons why it’s the perfect choice for your honeymoon. 

Maui gets more sun and less rain than Kauai

The chances are Hawaii will have better weather than anywhere you are traveling from. It’s the only U.S. state in the tropics and has great weather pretty much year-round. But, it’s not always sunny and 80 degrees. 

Kauai is also known as the Garden Isle, because of its lush, tropical landscape. But beautiful gardens need their rain. If you want the best chance of having sunny, dry weather, head to Maui. 

According to BestPlaces.net, Maui county gets 35 inches of rain per year and has 276 sunny days. Kauai gets 41 inches of rain per year and has 240 sunny days. On average, Maui gets sunnier, dryer weather. 

Adding to that, many Maui resorts are on the leeward side of the island, which is the dryer, hotter side. Princeville, one of Kauai’s resort areas is on the North Shore, which can have slightly wetter weather. 


Maui has better accommodations

If you are dreaming of a luxurious resort and you want to have the largest selection of choices available, Maui is your island. Kauai has some great resorts, but since Maui gets more visitors, it has more options. Plus, Maui has the only adults-only resort, Hotel Wailea, so if you really want a kid-free vacation, that’s your best option. 

You’ll also find more options for vacation rentals on Maui, from small and affordable to ocean-view villas. 


Maui has calm water for snorkeling

Both islands have amazing sea life — if you don’t get into the water during your trip you’re missing out! But on Maui you’ll have an easier time finding plenty of snorkeling spots for people less comfortable in the water. There are a number of spots all over the island that offer calm seas, few waves, and plenty of fish and turtles.

Kauai doesn’t have bad snorkeling. There are spots where the water is calm and you can see plenty of sea life. But Maui offers the most options that are comfortable for swimmers and snorkelers of all abilities. 

Another plus for Maui snorkeling is you’re not restricted to just Maui. Hop on a half-day snorkeling trip to Kauai or take a full day snorkeling trip to Lanai. There’s a lot to explore on and nearby Maui. 

Don’t miss: the 10 best snorkeling spots on Maui


Maui has better beaches

If you’re looking for an amazing number of white sandy beaches, Maui is the best pick. This is a bold statement, but Maui has the best beaches in Hawaii, hands down. While Kauai has a number of beautiful beaches, they can be more challenging to find, and more difficult for swimming. 

Maui’s popular beaches may get more crowded (Ka anapali in the summer can look a little like Waikiki), but they are just better. Hands down. If you want a little more solitude on the beach, hop in your rental car and go exploring. There are plenty of quiet beaches on Maui.


Maui has the most diverse activity options

You’re coming to Hawaii for the beach, the sun, and the sand. But you may also want to jump in your car and explore these islands sitting in the middle of the pacific ocean because they are truly unique.

You can watch the sunrise or sunset from the top of a volcano (Haleakala), drive the road to Hana with waterfalls, red sand, and black sand beaches, explore the hillside area of upcountry, and hike in the jungle of Iao Valley. 

Truly, Maui has something for everyone. 

Maui vs Kauai honeymoon

Why you should choose Kauai for your honeymoon

I’ve just spent the last section talking up Maui because I think it is a fantastic choice for a honeymoon (or any vacation, really). But Kauai is a stunning island and there are some reasons this should be the island you pick for your honeymoon.


Kauai has a dramatic landscape

My first time visiting Kauai I was struck with one thought: I am in the middle of Jurassic Park. The landscape of Kauai is truly awe-inspiring. The lush, jagged cliffs are best seen from a boat or helicopter, but you’ll still be stunned by the beauty just driving or walking around. 

Take a boat ride up the unbelievable Napali Coast and see coastline that none of the other Hawaiian islands have. Hike or take a helicopter ride over Waimea Canyon, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Or kayak to the many waterfalls you’ll find on the island. 


Kauai has better hiking and kayaking

If outdoor adventures are your aim, Kauai delivers. Maui has great hikes. Kauai has more of them with more dramatic landscapes. If you’d prefer to take to a river, Kauai has plenty of kayaking opportunities. And if you’re itching to see waterfalls on your hikes, you can’t go wrong with Kauai. 

Yes, Maui has all of these things. Kauai just does them better. 


Kauai is quieter and less commercialized

Sure, both Maui and Kauai have big box stores and both are quieter than bustling Oahu, but Kauai is significantly quieter and less commercialized than Maui. Kauai receives fewer visitors annually. According to data from the Hawaii Tourism Authority, in January 2020, Maui welcomed 275,969 visitors and Kauai welcomed 124,486 visitors (by air)

I like to tell people on a spectrum of busiest to quietest, you have Oahu, Maui, Big Island, Kauai, Lanai, and Molokai. So if you are in search of a quiet spot, Kauai wins hands down over Maui.  


Is it cheaper to go to Maui or Kauai?

It’s likely that you don’t have an unlimited budget for your honeymoon. Unfortunately, Kauai and Maui are the most expensive islands to visit. But which one is cheaper? 

Kauai is cheaper than Maui. In our article outlining the cheapest Hawaiian island to visit, we calculated that a seven day trip for two from Los Angeles would cost $2,999 on Kauai and $3,600 on Maui (airfare, lodging, and rental car only). So if you’re hoping to stretch your honeymoon dollars as far as they can possibly go, Kauai is the better option. 


Maui or Kauai: Our suggestion

If after reading this you still can’t make up your mind about a Maui or Kauai honeymoon, we have a great suggestion. Use our eight-day Maui honeymoon itinerary and add on a few extra days in Kauai. That way you get it all: the lush scenery, the beautiful beaches, and a honeymoon you won’t forget. 

Read next: The 7 Best Maui Honeymoon Hotels Suites and Villas



Erica Gellerman

Erica Gellerman

I'm the co-founder, with my husband Jordan, of The Hawaii Vacation Guide. We live on Maui with our toddler Henry and our sweet but quirky dog Hattie. I am a planner! I love to plan island-hopping adventures, days out on Maui, and everything in-between. I spend a lot of my time on our SUP and my favorite time of year in Hawai'i is whale season!

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