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A lot of thought and care needs to be put into planning a trip to Hawaii. There are some things to keep in mind as you go into the planning process as well as during the trip. If you’re planning on visiting Hawaii, this is for you!
Staying on One Island vs. Island Hopping
As you’d imagine there are pros for each of these options. Single island itineraries are easier to plan and can be less hectic. Since all of your time will be spent in one place, it will allow for full immersion into all the island has to offer. Plus, you won’t have to deal with inter-island flights and packing up and moving during your stay. On the flip side, hopping can help if you’d like to experience as much of the state as possible in one trip. You’ll be able to compare the offerings and vibes on each island.
Figure Out Which Island Fits Your Style
There are eight major islands that make up Hawaii. The most frequented are Oahu, Maui, Big Island of Hawaii, and Kauai. Each island has a unique culture, history, landscape, vibe, and variety of things to do and see. Choose Oahu if you are looking for an island with a city vibe that’s near a beach – Honolulu, Waikiki, etc. Think lively bars, nightlife, shopping, and dining. Maui is for those who want a tropical paradise with a little of everything – beaches, hikes, volcanoes, rainforests, resorts, and nightlife. The Big Island is known for its multiple climates and abundance of natural attractions, including Volcanoes National Park. Kauai is known as “the Garden Isle” and for good reason. Its lush landscapes make it a perfect escape for those looking for a more outdoor and active vibe.
Have a Budget
Your trip will likely have several components – air, hotel, transportation, activities, and food. Keep in mind that Hawaii isn’t exactly cheap. Try to come into the planning process with a number in mind and do your best to stick to it. A solid budget will help in the recommendation process and final creation of an itinerary that meets your specific needs.
Book in Advance
The most critical components of a trip to Hawaii (or anywhere, actually) are your flights and hotel. Pricing for both is subject to change at any time and is usually based on supply and demand. Typically, the earlier you book the better. Once your dates are solidified and options selected, place a deposit, or complete the booking! If you’re considering travel during a peak time, this is even MORE important.
Plan Activities Ahead of Time
Do NOT wait until you’ve arrived at your destination to book tours and excursions. Put together your must-do list and purchase your tickets ahead of time. Some of the most popular attractions sell out ahead of time. This will also help you with sticking to your budget.
Know What to Pack
Think about your trip and what it involves. It can help in determining what to pack. For the most part, the vibe in Hawaii is relaxed, but if you have more active things planned (hikes, biking, etc.) you want to make sure to pack for that. I am sure that if you have a hike planned, you don’t want to forget your boots. Sandals for most other times are perfect.
A light jacket is recommended for wind and rain. This is especially important if you will be spending lengthy amounts of time on the summits of Haleakala on Maui or Maunakea on the island of Hawaii, or camping in higher elevations like Upcountry Maui or Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
If you want that golden glow while in Hawaii, tan slowly with a high SPF sunscreen. Make sure you are using reef-safe sunscreen to help prevent bleaching of coral and other damage to the islands’ ocean habitat. Also, protect yourself with a brimmed hat and sunglasses.
Prepare for the Weather
Weather in The Hawaiian Islands is pretty consistent, with only minor changes in temperature throughout the year. There are really only two seasons in Hawaii: summer (kau) from May to October and winter (hooilo) from November to April. The average daytime summer temperature at sea level is 85° F (29.4° C), while the average daytime winter temperature is 78° F (25.6° C). Temperatures at night are approximately 10° F lower than during the daytime.
Getting There and Other Transportation
For the most part, your options are pretty limited on how you get to Hawaii. You can come by boat or by air, and that’s about it. Either method of transportation is fine, but we personally prefer to arrive by air- and that’s an understatement! A long cruise can spoil the joys of arriving on Hawaii’s shores, as the journey simply takes too long. There is something to be said about that built-up anticipation of just waiting to step foot on the island, and a flight is the best way to do just that. Although, traveling from the east coast is still quite the trek.
I would recommend a rental car, but at the end of the day, that is your call. If the thought of driving in an unknown place with heavy traffic (especially on Oahu) and sometimes expensive parking (even at hotels) doesn’t appeal to you, there are also transfers and ride share options. I personally prefer the freedom of having your own transportation while exploring the islands and not having to rely on someone else or follow their schedule.
EACH ISLAND HAS AN AIRPORT:
Oahu (HNL), Maui (OGG), Kauai (LIH), Kona on the Big Island (KOA), Hilo on the Big Island (ITO).
Top Excursion Ideas for Visiting Hawaii
- Hike Diamond Head on Oahu
- Visit Pearl Harbor on Oahu
- Travel the Road to Hana on Maui
- Spend the day at Haleakala National Park on Maui
- Whale Watching on Maui (November through May)
- Sail and Snorkel at the Na Pali Coast on Kauai
- See Waimea Canyon on Kauai
- Visit Volcanos National Park on the Big Island
- See the Maunakea Volcano on the Big Island
- Attend a Luau on any island
- Take a Helicopter Tour on any island
Hopefully these tidbits were helpful as you consider travel to Hawaii. If you keep these things top of mind as you go into the planning process, and certainly as you’re getting ready for the most exciting part – the trip itself – you are sure to have a great time!