Lonely Planet's latest guide to the Hawaiian Islands was just published in late 2011. The format has been updated to be more user-friendly, with more color photographs, more maps, and more concise info bites. For those making their first trip to Hawaii, the guide kindly opens with an overview of the islands and a recommended top 25 experiences, just to get the visitor's appetite worked up.
The guide offers lots of need-to-know information and systematic coverage of all the islands, including the small atolls far and away to the northwest of the main islands. Oahu gets especially good coverage as the most popular tourist destination, but much deserved attention is also paid to the charms of Hawaii and Maui. There are descriptions of the best beaches, restaurants, and places to stay, along with recommended/suggested activities such as surfing, diving, and golf, not to mention hiking in the surprising number of remote valleys and mountain ridges in the islands.
Lonely Planet guides are known for being opinionated, and this guide is no exception. The narrative includes recognition of the impact that tourism is having on the Hawaiian Islands, with its burden on resources. It includes a hard-eyed look at the crime problem, especially on Oahu, and on frictions with native Hawaiians over prime beaches, surfing spots, and culturally sacred locations. The imbedded commentary, including the political opinions, will be of interest to some readers, and perhaps off-putting to others. Lonely Planet doesn't do bland, and the its guide to Hawaii is recommended as a planning and touristing resource.