A trip to Hawai’i is a big deal! You kind of want to do it right the first time, especially if it’s your first time in Hawai’i! Take it from someone who expected to visit O’ahu once and feel like I’d “done” Hawai’i, then proceeded to take an annual trip there, and sometimes decided to go more often! So I thought I’d come up with a quick, easy list of tips so you can travel to the islands like a pro.
Don’t Let the Rain Stop You
It will most likely rain during your trip, but probably not the whole day! Even if there’s rain in the forecast every day of your trip, don’t panic–it won’t be constant! Even if there’s no rain in the forecast and it rains or is overcast anyway–it won’t last! It will probably rain on you at some point in your trip, but that really shouldn’t stop you from any of your plans unless there are very extenuating circumstances!
Helpful info: 5 Things You Forgot to Pack for Hawaii
Plan Morning Adventures Early in Your Trip
If you’re planning to do the Road to Hana or see the sunrise at Haleakala on Mau’i, take advantage of jet lag and do that your first or second morning! Because Hawaii is two to three hours behind the West Coast and five to six hours behind the East Coast, the odds are good that you’ll be up and ready to go before the sun for the first few days of your trip.
If there’s an early morning tour, popular attraction, or epic hike you want to see or do, especially with few other people around, make sure you take advantage of your body’s natural early morning wake-up!
Also helpful: How to Use Jet Lag as Your Secret Travel Weapon
Plan Evening Events Late in Your Trip
Similarly, evening activities are best scheduled for the last few days of your trip. That 5:00pm luau start time seems perfectly reasonable… Unless your body clock says it’s 11:00pm, and you should be sleeping! So if you want to make fancy dinner reservations at Mama’s Fish House on Mau’i or take a sunset helicopter ride over Molokai, be a pro and book those for the last few days of your trip!
Bucket List Item: What It’s Like to Go to a Luau!
Rent a Car
This is absolutely essential for any island or islands you choose for your trip. O’ahu has some public transportation, but it’s limited. The most efficient use of your time will be to drive yourself, and your time on the islands is precious! The islands aren’t that big, but most of the things you’ll want to do and see won’t be within reasonable walking distance. Suck it up and pay for a rental car, but be smart about it! (Which leads me to my next point…)
…But Don’t Rent One for Your Whole Trip
This is a huge money-saving tip for you! You will need a car for your trip, but you probably won’t need it every day. If you’re staying on the beach, like in Waikiki, you’ll probably want to spend at least one day as a beach bum and not drive anywhere at all! The secret is this: Do a map search to see if there are car rental locations near your accommodation. If they’re within walking distance, only book a car for the days you need one. Pick it up in the morning, and drop it off at night to also avoid hefty hotel parking fees!
Essential info: How to Save BIG on Your Trip to Hawaii
It’s true: Not every business in the United States takes a credit card! Many smaller businesses in Hawaii accept cash only, so bring some with you and be prepared! You can certainly get cash out of an ATM when you get there, but be sure to bring some with you just in case!
More here: What to Do on Your Last Day in Hawaii
Plan at Least One Epic Event
I know, Hawaii’s expensive! I’m all for pinching pennies and saving money where you can, but remember that when it comes to once-in-a-lifetime trips, you regret the things you don’t do far more than the things you do! Choose at least one splurge event, pay for it in advance if you need to (so you can’t back out!), and then enjoy it!
Whether it’s a luau, whale watching tour, surf lessons, a fancy dinner out, a helicopter tour, or that famous hotel where you’ve always dreamt of staying, it will be worth it. Money comes and goes. You’ll have those memories forever!
Was it worth it? Staying at the Historic Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Waikiki
Bring Water Shoes
Going barefoot on a Hawaiian beach is not a good idea! There’s very little litter on the beaches, but there still may be some. However, the bigger concerns are the rocks and broken coral you may accidentally step on. My husband slashed his foot badly on some dead coral he couldn’t see under the water, which can often lead to a fast infection! The solution? Water shoes. These light, easy-to-pack shoes are great for the beach, on a boating excursion, or even just for walking around! Click the link below to get yours, and to support my small business at no additional cost to you!
Read on: The Ultimate Beach Trip Packing List
Take a Hike
There are hikes on every island for all fitness (and anti-fitness!) levels. You’ll find everything from flat, paved paths of a half a mile to muddy, root-ridden paths on a cliff, so you can choose your danger zone! Hiking is truly the best way to experience Hawaii. Some favorites are the Pipiwai Trail through the Bamboo Forest on Mau’i, the Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail on O’ahu, and the Halawa Valley hike on Moloka’i. Hiking just about anywhere in Hawaii will bless you with rainbows, so as an example of point #1 on this list, don’t let the rain keep you away!
More here: The Ultimate List of Hiking Tips
Try the Local Food
What’s the best way to experience any culture? Their food! Hawaiian food is heavily influenced by Asian cultures, so you’ll find variations on Japanese sushi, Korean BBQ, Filipino sweets, and more. But then you’ve got Portuguese masalada doughnuts, Brazilian acai for acai bowls, and macadamia nuts from Australia!
It’s all served up island style with Hawaiian flare, and you’ll find it alongside Hawaiian lilikoi, pineapple, taro, and kahlua pork! So grab your shave ice (no “d”), enjoy yucca instead of French fries, and wash it all down with freshly-macheted coconut water to enjoy a taste of the islands. You’ll love it!
Essential info: The Best Foods to Try on Each Hawaiian Island
Want more about Hawaii? You can find all my most helpful tips, hacks, packing lists, bucket list items, and more on my Hawaiian Islands Page!
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