The best way for a "first timer" to get a feel for the Hawaiian Islands is to take a cruise .. You get a small amount of time on each island, but, you also get to decide where you would like to come back and visit. Almost all of the larger cruise lines go to other places, along with Hawaii. Only Hawaii Nautical and Norwegian Cruise Lines offer Hawaiian Island only cruises.
Cruising is a fun way to see anything! On the ship they have legal gambling on the open seas, entertainment, and a tour guides with sign ups for fun things to do on the islands. To save money, book your own land excursions. Booking early, before you leave on your cruise, is the best way to ensure you are able to get the excursions you want! Check with the cruise lines for deals on golfing. Sometimes they can negotiate a better golf rate than you can. You do not have to go on any excursions. Simply ask the cruise director to point you to some of the best beaches or shopping. They will be happy to assist you!
You need to pick an itinerary first. Next, choose your ship. Every cruise line has its own style that appeals to different vacationers. Use an experienced travel agent to help you find the cruise line that fits you best.
Royal Caribbean offers cruises that stop in Maui, Oahu and the Big Island. Royal Caribbean is known for being all things to all people. They offer more land excursions than any other cruise line.
Holland America is known for service and elegance. Their ships go to Maui, Hawaii, Kauai and Oahu.
Princess Cruises are known for being luxurious. They also go to Maui, Hawaii, Kauai and Oahu. They might be pricier, but they are worth it!
Celebrity Cruises are more detailed. They are not as family friendly as other cruise lines. However, their service and attention to detail make them a highly desirable company. Maui, Hawaii, Kauai, and Oahu are covered on their trips.
Carnival "fun ships" have a great itinerary for families as well as adults only. They offer many activities to do onboard and off. Maui, Hawaii, Oahu, and Kauai are stopping points for these ships.
Hawaii Nautical offers cruises on their catamarans, yachts, and sailboats. Of course, you will pay more, but this is for a private cruise.
Norwegian Cruise Lines is basically the only company that offers inter-island cruises. They go to Maui, Oahu, Hawaii, and Kauai.
Once you have picked your ship and cruising adventures, go out and have a great vacation!