What to Know Before You Visit the Island of Hawai’i

Updated July 2, 2021.

If you’ve been following the blog, you know that Hawaii has been on my mind since we visited earlier this month! We had an incredible time, and we highly recommend it for your next vacation or celebratory getaway! There are a few things, however, that are good to know if you’ve never been before. Many of these apply to the Hawaiian Islands in general, but many are specific to the Island of Hawai’i. Read on, my friend!

 The Hawaiian language has only 13 letters.

They use all 5 vowels, and to an American used to having more letters may find that many of the words look the same at a passing glance. Take a closer look, and pronounce every letter–even all the vowels, even when it’s two of the same vowel side by side. You’ll find lots of Hawaiian words sprinkled in with the English you recognize. You’ll get the hang of it in no time!

Try it out!
More here: What to Know Before You Visit the Hawaiian Islands

You will be required to fill out an agriculture form. 

Hawaii is very particular about what agricultural products go in and out of their state. So eat that apple and those nuts in your carry-on before you land, and leave your animals at home. The flight attendants will give you the form on the plane, then they will take it from you on the plane after you fill it out as well, so you don’t have to worry about who to give it to. Oh, and on your way home, all fruits and veggies have to be consumed before you get on the plane!

USDA says so.

Consider bringing a dry bag.

I found a 10 liter dry bag a few days before we left, and I thought it might come in handy since we planned on hiking to some beaches and being on a boat at least once. It also rains a little bit every day, and depending on what side of the island you’re on, it might rain a lot! SO having a bag that keeps everything dry is really nice. When you hike to a beach and want to go snorkeling, it’s nice to have a bag that can float around with you instead of having to keep an eye on your stuff up on shore. Did it get dirty? Rinse it off in the bathtub. No big deal. Glad I had one, and I think you will be, too!

Sak Gear. I did not get paid for this, I just liked the product!
More here: 5 Things You Forgot to Pack for Hawaii

Don’t leave valuables in your car at the Green Sand Beach. 

Crime is not a huge problem on the Island of Hawai’i, but we did have a friend who lives there advise us to take our valuables with us if we decided to hike the three miles to the Green Sand Beach because break-ins have been reported there. We actually left a bag with our laptops and a few other items we didn’t want to take a chance on with our hotel in Kona, where we had spent the first two nights and where we would be returning after our road trip for the last few days of our trip. We did not have a problem, but we also didn’t want to take the chance!

Green Sand Beach (6 miles round-trip)
More here: Hiking the Island of Hawai’i

 The airport is open-air. 

This one might shock you! All the airports we’ve been to in Hawaii so far have been open air, and on the smaller side as well. It’s refreshing, breezy, and you instantly know that you are in a different world where you can relax and take it slow. The feel of an open-air airport is definitely tropical and exotic. Or is it just me? Don’t worry, you’ll still be going through security.

Speaking of security, you’ll have to re-scan your luggage at the gate. 

Since they sell fresh fruits and veggies at the airport and require you to consume them before you get on the plane, you’ll have to scan them again. Don’t be irritated, just be prepared. You can have pre-packaged goods like macadamia nuts and coffee, which you can also buy in the airport, but the fresh stuff has to stay in your belly or on the island.

Read next: Should You Watch Someone’s Luggage at the Airport?

It’s really big!

The correct name of this island is the Island of Hawai’i. However, it’s nicknamed “the Big Island” for just that reason–it’s BIG! For one, it differentiates Hawaii the island from Hawaii the state, but it is also a true statement: it’s The Big Island! You will want to plan accordingly with any road tripping you want to do, and maybe you’ll want to plan on staying on each side of the island for a night or two.

Easy to spot!
More here: How to Road Trip the Island of Hawai’i

 Sorry, the coffee and fresh fruit are kind of expensive. 

You’d think it would be cheaper here since Kona coffee and tropical fruits are actually grown here, but island prices are notoriously expensive. Don’t be shocked, and don’t let it stop you from enjoying it! Just be prepared for that. A 16 oz iced coffee from a local chain was over $6.00.

Honu (sea turtle) Iced coffee with caramel, chocolate, and macadamia flavors!
Hungry for more? What to Eat on the Island of Hawai’i

The waterfall trail in the Waipi’o Valley is closed because it’s on private property. 

Well, maybe. We decided not to chance it, but we had multiple people and guidebooks tell us that if we walk like we know what we’re doing and flash a lazy “hang loose” hand signal we’d be fine. You can still see the waterfall from the main road, but don’t have your heart set on hiking to it unless you’re gutsier than we are!

Read on: Books to Read Before Your Trip to Hawaii

Volcanoes are more difficult to see than you think. 

They are not all mountains with millions of gallons of lava flowing out of the tippy-top. It smells, it steams, it smokes, it bursts through existing lava rock, and it’s unpredictable! We learned so much both at Volcanoes National Park and our lava boat tour. The Island of Hawai’i is a perfect place to learn more than you knew you needed to know about volcanoes, lava, and and more!

Bursting into the sea!
Just started boiling up inside the crater that morning!
Epic experience: Our Unforgettable Lava Boat Tour

Are there more things you want to know about the Island of Hawai’i or any of the Hawaiian islands? Let me know if the Comments section! And don’t forget to check out my Hawaiian Islands Page for all my Hawaii posts!

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10 responses to “What to Know Before You Visit the Island of Hawai’i”

  1. You’ve got me wanting to go to Hawaii.

    1. I highly recommend it!

  2. […] Also check out: What I Wish I Knew: Hawaii’s Big Island […]

  3. […] Also check out: What I Wish I Knew: Hawaii’s Big Island […]

  4. You did the right thing by not going to the waterfall in waipi’o…it is on private property and the locals love and respect the land, the aina, and expect everyone to do the same. Without permission, a lot of travelers venture to the falls and post pictures. If they hashtag #hialawe, the locals will find it and not be too nice. That land goes back many many generations, thanks for honoring the aina!

    1. quickwhittravel Avatar

      I always want to be respectful, and Hawaii is too full of beautiful, acceptable places to hike to want to risk disrespect to the Hawaiians! I didn’t know about the hashtag—so smart on the part of the Hawaiians!

  5. […] Keep reading: What to Know Before You Visit Hawaii’s Big Island […]

  6. […] Keep reading: What to Know Before You Visit Hawaii’s Big Island […]

  7. […] More here: What to Know Before You Visit the Big Island […]

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