Aloha! As promised, I have put together tips and tricks to consider when planning a trip to the islands. Let’s dive right in!
- Common Sense & Realistic Expectations
Practice common sense when booking a trip to the islands. Let me give you some examples. You don’t need a passport to visit Hawaii, because it’s part of the United States. They have cars, internet, and everything else we have here on the mainland. It’s an island, not a cave. Set realistic expectations regarding the weather, scenery, beaches, and costs. The island are formed from volcanoes, so many of the beaches are rocky. Some items (gas) are more expensive and others (fruit) are less expensive than the mainland. When in doubt, look it up.
- Determine Island Based on Likes
Each island offers its own vibe and activities. If your looking to enjoy nature, Kauai is a great choice. If shopping is your bliss, I recommend Oahu. If seclusion and beauty are your thing, Lanai is fantastic. Maui is the perfect combination of country and everyday conveniences. The Big Island is perfect for adventure seekers, whether you want to hike the volcano or snorkel with manta rays. Neither of us has had the opportunity to visit Molokai yet, so I can’t tell you much about that beautiful island.
- Pace Yourself
I don’t recommend trying to see more than two islands at a time. You really need a full week on each island to fully experience everything that the island has to offer. Ryan and I now only pick one or two activities per day to prevent exhaustion. Always consider drive time! While the islands may be small, roads can be narrow, curvy, one-lane, and unpaved on the more rural roads.
- Dine at Local Spots
We always try to eat at places we cannot enjoy at home. While it is okay to have the occasional Starbucks fix, try to experience more of what the islands have to offer. Hawaii is known for excellent seafood. You’ve also got to try Loco Moco (rice, eggs, burger, & gravy). Another favorite is Hawaiian Shave Ice, which is the perfect afternoon treat. I have found that Hawaii offers some of the best breakfast items I’ve ever had. We recommend looking up some restaurants ahead of up time, that way you have a few options you know you’ll enjoy.
Another important factor in determining when you’ll go, where you’ll stay and the activities you’ll choose to do is the weather. Hawaii isn’t called The Rainbow State for nothing. You should expect that it will rain for a short period of time each day. Also, knowing the rainy spots and dry spots of an island are helpful as every island has a windward and leeward side. The windward side generally receives more rainfall than the leeward side. In addition, while Hawaii is known for warm weather, as you climb in altitude to the top of a mountain the temperature will drop and you will need to have a jacket handy.
- Book Early
If you want to save money, book everything earlier. We typically start planning 7-12 months prior to our trip. Rooms and airfare are much cheaper this way in general. If you’re on a budget, avoid holidays. Hawaiian Airlines is fantastic, and we highly recommend flying with them (especially if it’s your first time).
- Support Local
When looking for souvenirs and trinkets, shop local. There are so many talented artisans on the islands. Whether you’re looking for a piece of pottery or an extra tee, you’ll find just about everything. There are general stores for everyday items too, like toothpaste & stuff. The same ideas applies to restaurants too! Oh my goodness, they’ve got some wonderful bakeries.
I can’t stress it enough, planning makes everything easier. Some activities require reservations weeks or months in advance. Hours may also change seasonally. There are so many different types of activities: horseback riding, spa treatments, kayaking, hiking, snorkeling, surfing, stargazing, museums, crafts, luaus, and more.
- Be Respectful
Be respectful of the land and animals. Don’t try to touch wildlife, especially sea turtles. Be aware of sacred land and historical sites. Remember what I said about researching and planning? One of my favorite things about Hawaii is how much slower the pace is. It’s amazing! Don’t be in a rush! If you can’t unplug, please don’t go to Hawaii. Why spend the money if you’re going to check work emails the entire time? Enjoy paradise. I also recommend speaking with locals and asking questions. I really enjoy hearing their stories and learning about Hawaiian culture.
Ryan and I could literally write for days on the topic of Hawaii. I hope the information above helps you plan your trip. Hawaii doesn’t have to be expensive, but you’ll have to plan. Honestly, if you can go to Disney…you can go to Hawaii. It’s honestly the most beautiful place I’ve visited.
Have you visited Hawaii? Share your tips in the comments below. Mahalo.