It can be confusing to a newcomer to Hawaii, or for someone who has not yet been to the Hawaiian Islands, just how the islands of Hawaii are divided. The state of Hawaii has eight islands; Oahu, Kauai, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Hawaii, Niihau and Kahoolawe. The island of Hawaii is also known as the “Big Island”. Although the big island is the largest island in dimension, Oahu is the largest in population.
Kahoolawe is the smallest of the islands and is primarily uninhabited. Niihau is a privately-owned island, which was purchased by Elizabeth Sinclair in 1864 from King Kamehameha V and is reserved only for Native Hawaiians. The people of Niihau speak Hawaiian as their primary language, and adhere to a more traditional Hawaiian lifestyle, as residents of Niihau do not have running water, paved roads, stores, the internet, or cars. Access to Niihau is limited. The rest of the islands are easy to travel to and have many tourist destinations.
The islands of Hawaii are divided up into counties, cities, and neighborhoods. The island of Oahu and some neighboring islands are considered Honolulu County. Honolulu County is further broken down into cities, the largest of which is the city of Honolulu, which is also the capital of Hawaii. Honolulu is even further partitioned into neighborhoods, an example of which is the popular tourist destination of Waikiki.