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With over 6 million visitors every year, Hawaii is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Its stunning beaches, laidback lifestyle and aloha spirit draw travelers from across the globe. But with 6 major islands and dozens of smaller ones across 1,500 miles, it can be confusing to navigate for first-timers. A common question that arises is: Is Honolulu on Maui? In short, no it is not.

In this comprehensive guide, we will provide a detailed look at the relationship between Honolulu and Maui. We will explore where Honolulu is located, provide an overview of Maui and its main attractions, and explain why the two destinations are completely separate islands.

Where Exactly is Honolulu Located?

Many people often wonder about the exact location of Honolulu, especially in relation to other popular Hawaiian islands like Maui. So, let’s clear up any confusion and get to the bottom of it!

Part of Oahu Island

Honolulu is not located on Maui; it is actually the capital and largest city of the state of Hawaii, situated on the island of Oahu. Oahu is the third largest island in Hawaii and is known for its stunning beaches, vibrant culture, and historical landmarks.

Oahu, where Honolulu is located, offers a unique mix of urban and natural attractions. In the heart of Honolulu, you’ll find the bustling Waikiki Beach, with its high-rise hotels, shopping centers, and lively nightlife. But venture just a short distance outside the city, and you’ll discover breathtaking mountains, lush rainforests, and secluded beaches.

While Maui is a separate island, it is relatively close to Oahu. Many visitors to Hawaii choose to explore both islands during their trip, taking advantage of the short flight or ferry ride between them.

Capital and Largest City in Hawaii

Honolulu holds the distinction of being the capital and largest city of the state of Hawaii. It serves as the political, economic, and cultural hub of the archipelago. As the capital, it is home to the government offices, including the Governor’s office and the State Legislature.

Additionally, Honolulu is a major tourist destination, attracting millions of visitors each year. Its beautiful beaches, world-class shopping, and vibrant dining scene make it a popular choice for vacationers from around the globe.

Moreover, Honolulu is known for its rich history and cultural landmarks. One iconic attraction is Pearl Harbor, the site of the infamous attack during World War II. The USS Arizona Memorial and the USS Missouri Battleship are just a couple of the must-visit historical sites in the area.

So, while Honolulu is not located on Maui, it is a remarkable city in its own right, offering a unique blend of natural beauty, urban attractions, and cultural richness.

Introducing the Island of Maui

Maui, often referred to as the “Valley Isle,” is one of the most popular destinations in Hawaii. Located in the central Pacific Ocean, Maui is the second largest Hawaiian island, spanning approximately 727 square miles. Its diverse landscapes, pristine beaches, and vibrant culture make it a favorite among travelers from around the world.

The Second Largest Hawaiian Island

While many people may think that Honolulu is on Maui, it is actually located on the island of Oahu. Maui, on the other hand, is known for its stunning natural beauty and is home to famous attractions such as Haleakala National Park and the Road to Hana. With its lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and breathtaking sunrises, Maui offers a unique and unforgettable experience for visitors.

Famed for its Beaches and Resorts

Maui is renowned for its world-class beaches and luxurious resorts. From the golden sands of Kaanapali Beach to the secluded coves of Makena, there is a beach for every type of traveler. Whether you prefer to relax under the shade of a palm tree or try your hand at snorkeling in crystal-clear waters, Maui’s beaches offer a little slice of paradise.

In addition to its stunning beaches, Maui is also home to some of the finest resorts in the Hawaiian Islands. From the lavish resorts of Wailea to the charming boutique hotels of Lahaina, there is an accommodation option to suit every taste and budget.

Divided into 4 Main Areas

Maui is divided into four main areas, each offering its own unique charm and attractions. The West Maui Mountains dominate the landscape of West Maui, where you’ll find popular tourist destinations such as Lahaina and Kaanapali. Central Maui is home to the island’s largest city, Kahului, as well as the scenic Iao Valley State Park. The eastern part of the island is known as Hana, famous for its remote beauty and the iconic Road to Hana. Lastly, Upcountry Maui offers a cooler climate, rolling hills, and panoramic views of the island.

With its stunning landscapes, world-class beaches, and vibrant culture, Maui is truly a tropical paradise. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a little bit of both, this enchanting island has something for everyone to enjoy.

Key Differences Between Honolulu and Maui

Population and Development

When it comes to population and development, there is a significant difference between Honolulu and Maui. Honolulu is the capital city of Hawaii and is located on the island of Oahu. It is the most populous city in the state, with a population of over 350,000 people. The city is a major hub for commerce, tourism, and government activities. In contrast, Maui is a separate island, known for its natural beauty and laid-back lifestyle. It has a smaller population, with around 167,000 residents. Maui is less developed compared to Honolulu, with a focus on preserving its pristine landscapes and promoting sustainable tourism.

Geography and Climate

The geography and climate of Honolulu and Maui also differ significantly. Honolulu is located on the island of Oahu, which is known for its urban areas, beautiful beaches, and iconic landmarks such as Diamond Head. The climate in Honolulu is tropical, with warm temperatures year-round and occasional rainfall. On the other hand, Maui boasts diverse landscapes, including lush rainforests, volcanic mountains, and stunning coastal areas. The climate in Maui varies depending on the region, with some areas experiencing more rainfall and cooler temperatures than others.

Culture and Economy

Both Honolulu and Maui have their unique cultural identities and economies. In Honolulu, you’ll find a mix of cultures, including Hawaiian, Asian, and Western influences. The city is home to a vibrant arts scene, with numerous museums, galleries, and theaters. The economy of Honolulu is driven by tourism, military presence, and various industries such as finance and healthcare. Maui, on the other hand, has a strong connection to its Hawaiian roots and is known for its aloha spirit. The island’s economy relies heavily on tourism, agriculture, and small businesses.


Tourism plays a significant role in both Honolulu and Maui. Honolulu, being the capital city, attracts a large number of tourists who come to explore its famous Waikiki Beach, Pearl Harbor, and various cultural attractions. The city offers a wide range of accommodation options, restaurants, and shopping centers. Maui, on the other hand, is renowned for its stunning beaches, such as Kaanapali and Wailea, and outdoor activities like snorkeling, hiking, and whale watching. The island offers a more relaxed and tranquil atmosphere compared to the bustling city life of Honolulu.

How to Travel Between the Islands

One of the most common questions for travelers planning a trip to Hawaii is how to travel between the islands. With its stunning beaches, lush landscapes, and unique culture, each island offers its own distinct charm. Whether you want to explore the cosmopolitan city of Honolulu on Oahu or discover the majestic beauty of Maui, understanding the transportation options is key to making the most of your island-hopping adventure.

By Air

The fastest and most convenient way to travel between the Hawaiian Islands is by air. Several airlines offer frequent inter-island flights, making it easy to hop from one island to another. The main airports for inter-island travel are Honolulu International Airport on Oahu and Kahului Airport on Maui. These airports have numerous daily flights to other major islands like Kauai, Big Island, and Molokai.

When booking your inter-island flights, it’s best to compare prices and schedules to find the most convenient options. Airlines like Hawaiian Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Mokulele Airlines offer competitive prices and regular flights between the islands. Booking in advance and being flexible with your travel dates can help you secure the best deals.

By Cruise Ship

Another popular way to travel between the islands is by cruise ship. Hawaii is a popular destination for cruise lines, and many offer itineraries that include multiple islands. Cruising allows you to relax and enjoy the journey while experiencing the beauty of the open ocean.

Most Hawaiian cruises depart from Honolulu or Lahaina, Maui, and visit various ports on different islands. These cruises typically last for several days or a week, giving you ample time to explore each island’s unique attractions. Some cruise lines even offer overnight stays on certain islands, allowing you to immerse yourself in the local culture and enjoy the nightlife.

It’s important to note that while cruising provides a convenient way to visit multiple islands, it may not allow for as much time on each island compared to flying. However, it offers a different experience and the opportunity to enjoy onboard amenities and entertainment.

Before booking your cruise, research different cruise lines and itineraries to find the one that best suits your preferences. Websites like Cruise Critic provide reviews and information about various cruise options, helping you make an informed decision.

Whichever method of transportation you choose, traveling between the islands of Hawaii is an adventure in itself. Each island has its own unique attractions and landscapes, so don’t limit yourself to just one. Explore the diverse beauty of the Hawaiian Islands and create memories that will last a lifetime.


To summarize, Honolulu and Maui are two completely distinct major islands that make up the Hawaiian archipelago. Honolulu is the capital and largest city of Hawaii located on the island of Oahu. Maui is a world-famous tropical island known for its beaches, lush rainforests and dramatic landscapes. While both offer amazing Hawaiian experiences, they are unique destinations separated by roughly 100 miles of ocean and are not connected in any way. With this guide, you now have a clear understanding of the differences between the two islands and how to travel between them.

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