Hawaii vs Bahamas is a decision between two of the world’s most iconic island getaways. Although they sit on opposite sides of the USA, in different oceans and seas, they both offer gorgeous white-sand beaches and tropical vibes, meaning it can be hard to pick the one that’s right for your next holiday.
But there are some key differences between the two destinations. The Bahamas is very much a Caribbean place with soft, sugar sands and laid-back islander vibes. Hawaii, meanwhile, has roaring Pacific Ocean surf and wild volcanoes inland. It’s also a golfing mecca and home to the lively city of Honolulu.
This guide will focus on a number of things that set these two popular escapes apart from each other. It will try to help you decide where to travel next by showing where offers the best coastline, which has the top things to do, and where’s got the tastiest food.
Table of Contents
Hawaii vs Bahamas: Ease of travel
Hawaii, the USA’s 50th state, is an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. It’s over 2,000 miles west from the mainland of America, though, so even if you’re traveling domestically, you will probably need to fly there. The biggest international airport is Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport on Oahu. Aside from plenty of domestic routes to most major US destinations, there are flights to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and East Asia arriving there.
Just like getting into the state, you will usually need to fly to travel between Hawaii’s seven inhabited islands. The rough ocean currents make it difficult to cross by the sea. But if you stick to the most popular island, Oahu, you can make use of the frequent and efficient public transport that loop all the major towns and resorts.
The Bahamas, on the other hand, consist of over 700 islands, only 30 of which are inhabited. Despite the common belief that the Bahamas are in the Caribbean, this paradisal archipelago actually lies within the Atlantic Ocean, stretching over 500 miles southeast of Florida’s southern tip.
Most people get into the Bahamas via one of the two largest airports. They are in Nassau on the New Providence Island and in Freeport on Grand Bahama. From there you can then get smaller planes to smaller airports scattered across the country. You can also get from one island to another by water taxis and ferries provided they are close enough.
Winner: Hawaii, mainly for all the air links from the mainland USA.
Hawaii vs Bahamas: Beaches
Hawaii and the Bahamas are both, quite rightly, famed for their incredible beaches. The Aloha State has all sorts, from black-sand volcanic beaches like Kaimu and Punaluu to gold-tinged runs of perfect vacation shoreline. The most famous beaches in the region include Waimea Bay on the Oahu North Shore, Hanalei Bay in Kauai, and Poipu Beach, a holidaymaker’s favorite. Hawaii is also home to the urban Waikiki Beach, which is a buzzing run of surf breaks and big hotels that offers energy that you simply don’t get in the Bahamas.
Then there’s the Bahamas. This country is a beach mecca like no other place on Earth. No matter what island you choose to visit, you can rest assured there will be a bit of sand to make you say “wow”. We think the best of the selection are Cable Beach on New Providence (a lively resort beach with casinos on site) and Gold Rock Beach (a national park beach framed by mangroves). There’s also the incredible island of Eleuthera, which is one long paradise run of white sand and turquoise water.
Winner: The Bahamas.
Hawaii vs Bahamas: Nightlife
Hawaii hasn’t got the wild nightlife scene of the likes of Ibiza or Cancun, but that doesn’t mean nothing is going on at night. You will see plenty of laid-back bars and cafes offering cocktails and music. It’s not rare to stumble upon a karaoke place, live music, or just locals playing tunes on their ukulele in a surf shack.
Oahu is the most developed of the islands, so that’s the place to go if you want to hit the dancefloor. Honolulu is the center of the action. Whether you are after Tiki bars, cocktail venues, or nightclubs, you will find them in the state’s capital. The best areas include downtown Honolulu, Chinatown, and Waikiki.
If you want to experience Bahamian nightlife, Nassau is the place to go. The country’s capital boasts vibrant entertainment at night with no shortage of bars, nightclubs, and casinos. They stay open long after the sun goes down.
Most places are concentrated around the downtown waterfront and Paradise Island. You could have some cocktails in Tiki Bikini Hut before dancing all night in Aura or Xscape Lounge & Nightclub. Ah yes, and make sure to dress up for the clubs – there’s usually a flip flops and shorts policy in place.
Winner: The Bahamas.
Hawaii vs Bahamas: Climate
Hawaii has a tropical climate, which means there are only really two seasons: Dry and stormy. But, even though the seasons change, it never gets cold in the Aloha State, with temperatures only altering a couple of degrees up and down (they basically always stay close to 80 F). That means you will never have to pack your winter clothes, no matter what time of the year you decide to visit.
The months that see the most rain are between November and March, but most of it falls in the mountains and valleys. That means you should never be short of sunshine if you stick to the coast. The overall best time to visit Hawaii is from March to September, when you will get the best weather to enjoy the stunning sands.
The Bahamas climate is also tropical, with plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures throughout the year. You can expect the Fahrenheit to oscillate between 75 and 84 both in summer and winter. So just like in Hawaii, pack your shorts and T-shirts.
The best time to visit the Bahamas is from December to April, because the islands can potentially be affected by hurricanes between June and November. On the flip side, you can usually get the best rates on hotels if you decide to risk travel to the Bahamas in the low season.
Winner: Hawaii. But both have lovely climates.
Hawaii vs Bahamas: Things to do
Hawaii is known as the birthplace of surfing and one of the best places in the world to practice the sport. Whether you’re a beginner or pro, you would’ve likely heard of the iconic Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu, where you can often see some of the greatest surfers of the moment. Beginners, meanwhile, should try out Thousand Peaks on the southwest coast of Maui, Pops on Oahu’s Waikiki beach, or Breakwall on the west coast of Maui. Intermediates will enjoy Laniakea on Oahu or La Perouse Bay on Maui.
But Hawaii isn’t all about surfing…There are oodles of amazing hiking trails with stunning mountain vistas. From the coastal Kalalau Trail on Kauai to the volcanic Diamond Head Trail that leaves from Honolulu, there are plenty of great places for walking. Ah, and head to Manoa Falls for some great Instagram snaps too!
When in the Bahamas simply relax and enjoy some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. There is no shortage of white-sand bays with swaying palms and turquoise waters. The best way to explore the islands is by boat, so why not sign up for an island-hopping tour to reach even more beaches. You can even swim with pigs in the shallow waters by the stunning and well-named Pig beach.
But if lazing in the sun isn’t for you, the Bahamas is a great place for diving and snorkeling. On top of that, these islands are famous for swimming with sharks. From tiger sharks to great hammerheads and bull sharks, these frightening creatures can be spotted around Exuma Cays, Bimini Island, and Grand Bahama. But there are also plenty of coral reefs to explore from Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park to Rose Island Reef.
Winner: Hawaii probably, just.
Hawaii vs Bahamas: Food
The cuisine of the Aloha State is a mix of Pacific seafood and tropical flavors, Polynesian traditions, and influences from the American mainland. Poke is one of the main things to try – a mix of raw fish topped with mixed veg, fruits, spices, and seasonings. There’s also the slow-roasted pork shredding of kalua pua’a, and the loco moco, a hamburger doused in gravy sauce. In addition, Honolulu hosts one of the biggest Chinatowns in the US, so there’s fantastic East Asian dining to be done.
The local cuisine of the Bahamas is a meeting of Europe and Latin America that’s made tasty thanks to the presence of all that fresh fish in the Caribbean. As such, the main dishes to sample are conch salad and lobster, baked crab, and BBQ fish. Be sure to seek out a weekend fish fry if you’re a seafood lover – they are often big cooking parties with music and dancing. The Bahamas also offers lots of international dining, but that’s mainly in Nassau and the hotel resorts.
Hawaii vs Bahamas: Prices
The Bahamian dollar closely follows the USD with almost the same value, so it’s easy to navigate the prices in this country. That means you won’t have much trouble noticing that the Bahamas is a rather expensive destination catered for visitors with higher budgets. The average traveler spends around $200 a day here, but that budget won’t cover the most luxurious stays. Beachfront accommodation will cost you between $200-$500 a night. Unfortunately, the Bahamas are not the most backpacker-friendly, since it’s hard to find any hotels below $70 a night.
But Hawaii is the most expensive state in the USA, which means it’s even pricier than the Bahamas. The average traveler needs to budget over $270 a day, and that only includes basic accommodation, food, and transport. That doesn’t even come close to covering the most luxurious beachfront stays that often cost way beyond the $1,000/night mark. Nothing comes cheap in the Aloha State. Even a pint in a bar costs around $6, and a meal for two rarely comes in below $50.
Winner: The Bahamas. But both are expensive.
Hawaii vs Bahamas: The conclusion
Hawaii vs Bahamas is a tricky choice. Not only are these pretty different destinations, one in the Pacific the other in the Caribbean, but they are also both very beautiful. They each have world-famous beaches and clear seas that are great for snorkelers and swimmers. We would recommend that surfers and golfers, and adventure seekers go for Hawaii. It’s got more mountains, famous courses, and epic wave breaks on the North Shore. The Bahamas are better for honeymooners and those looking to relax, as it has that taste of white-sand paradise the Caribbean is all about.