Do’s and Don’ts in Hawaii – Planning A Trip to Hawaii 2023
Many people have a dream of taking a trip to Hawaii. It’s one of the most beautiful places we’ve been, but it’s also one of the most expensive, with its breathtaking beaches, dramatic volcanic landscapes, and lush green hills.
Although we believe the islands are worth the high cost, making the most of your visit requires advance planning.
Before You Arrive: Planning a trip to Hawaii
– Save up – Hawaii is pricey, and you’ll enjoy it more if you don’t stress over every dollar. As a couple, we spent $267 per person per day on everything but flights from the US mainland. By traveling during the shoulder season, selecting lodging away from the beach, and forgoing pricey excursions, you can cut costs. A lot more money could be spent if you stayed in opulent hotels and had restaurant meals every single day.
– If you want to see humpback whales, go during the winter months – We were surprised by how many we saw in Maui in February. The best months are January to March, though you might see a few from November to May. Even though winter weather can be colder and rainier than summer weather, we still had many sunny days, and the ocean is swimmable all year long.
– Spend less by going off-season – The islands are less crowded, prices are lower, and the weather is typically nice in the spring (April and May) and fall (September to mid-November). On Kauai, however, April can be a very rainy month. Due to the clearer and warmer water, we preferred snorkeling in October to February.
– Book your accommodations well in advance – If you want an ocean view, are traveling during the busy season, or are going to remote areas of Maui like Hana or Upcountry, where lodging options are scarce. On Booking and Vrbo, you can search for resorts, hotels, and vacation rentals.
– Instead of staying at a resort, think about renting a condo with a kitchen. This is a great option for families, extended stays of a week or more, and those on a tight budget. There are numerous options, some of which have resort amenities like swimming pools and beachfront locations. We prefer to stay in condos, and one of our favorites is Kiahuna Plantation on Kauai’s Poipu Beach. Condos can be found with Vrbo.
– Divide your time between a condo and a resort – If you want the traditional Hawaiian resort experience but can’t afford it for the entirety of your trip. In Oahu, we did this by spending the first four nights in a condo in Waikiki while touring the south, and the final three nights unwinding at the stunning Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore.
– If you’re on a tight budget, consider camping – It’s not for everyone, but if you don’t mind roughing it, it’s the least expensive way to see Hawaii. Despite the fact that you typically need to obtain permits in advance, there are some lovely campsites at beaches and state parks. For more advice, see this Hawaii camping guide.
– To find the best flight deals, use Kiwi or Skyscanner – To get to Hawaii, you must board a plane. Los Angeles and other West Coast US cities will offer the most affordable rates. Southwest now offers inexpensive flights to Hawaii. Honolulu flights are also available at reasonable prices from Canada and Japan.
– Fly into and out of various islands to make the most of your stay by landing on one island (like Kauai) and departing from another (such as Maui). The sheer number of reasonably priced direct flights from the US mainland to locations other than Honolulu surprised me.
– Renting a car is the best way to explore Hawaii because there are frequently no other ways to get to certain areas of the islands. Rental car availability may be affected by high demand, so reserve early. To get the best deal, we use rental cars and only reserve the cheapest economy car.
– You must board an interisland flight to travel between islands because there are no ferries between them (except from Maui to Lanai). Most are inexpensive and brief, and are run by Hawaiian Airlines (20 to 50 minutes).
– If you want to do a lot of exploring, consider splitting your time between two or three locations on each island. This will help you avoid making long drives to attractions. All four of the major islands have had this done, and it was successful.
– Haleakala sunrise reservations must be made 60 days in advance if you want to catch Maui’s most well-known sunrise. When more tickets are released two days before the event, try again if you don’t get in.
– Make reservations for some state parks. Visitors from outside Hawaii must make reservations in advance and pay an entrance and parking fee. They are Diamond Head in Oahu, Waianapanapa State Park on the Road to Hana in Maui, and Haena State Park in Kauai. A month in advance, time slots are made available. Immediately make a reservation because they do sell out.
– Although you’ll typically only need summer clothing, pack a sweater because, particularly in the winter, it can get chilly on early boat trips or if you visit higher elevations (such as Upcountry in Maui or Waimea Canyon on Kauai). You’ll appreciate wearing as many layers as you can because sunrise at Haleakala, Maui, and sunset at Mauna Kea, on the Big Island, are both freezing. For more advice on what to bring to Hawaii, see the post’s conclusion.
– Learn a few Hawaiian words – Even if it’s just Aloha (hello and goodbye, but also love and compassion) and Mahalo (thank you). Reading the amazing book Shark Dialogues by Kiana Davenport helped me expand my vocabulary (which I highly recommend every visitor reads).
– Make reservations for any upscale restaurants you know you’ll want to eat at in advance because they do tend to get busy (including at resorts). It should be fine to book a few weeks in advance, but popular spots like Duke’s on Waikiki Beach fill up months in advance. Since people in Hawaii typically eat dinner before six o’clock, getting later reservations is simpler.
– To tip tour guides, valets, and resort staff, you should have cash on hand even though you can add a tip to your credit card charge in restaurants. Learn the proper way to tip if you are not an American. We left tips in restaurants and seated bars of 20%, for tours ($10–$20 per person, including for helicopter pilots), for valet attendants ($5 when the car was returned), and for hotel housekeeping ($2–$3 per day).
– Make it a point to visit multiple islands each week. There is so much to do on each island that you won’t have time for anything else during your precious Hawaii vacation. While airport security lines can be long (especially if you are flying out of Honolulu), interisland flight times can be short.
– Don’t worry about hidden costs; hotels and resorts rarely charge what is listed. Tax, a resort fee, a cleaning fee (for condos), and sometimes a parking fee must also be added. When contrasting different lodging options, look at the final total cost.
– Holiday travel is best avoided because of the high season’s crowds and prices, especially around Christmas and New Year’s. The week of Thanksgiving is also very busy. Avoid going to the Big Island for special events like Iron Man in October. Plan your trip well in advance if you must go then.
– Stay near the beach (possibly) – If money is tight, staying close to the beach will save you money. Having said that, we frequently splurge on beachfront lodging and adore it.
When You Are In Hawaii
– Read books with Hawaii settings. Read one of these books about Hawaii while you unwind on the beach to learn more about the state’s fascinating culture and turbulent past.
– Plan out your most crucial tasks first. Make sure you’ll have enough time to reschedule your plans because weather changes can cause events like boat trips and helicopter tours to be canceled.
– If you want to snorkel at this well-known beach, you must make a reservation at precisely 7am Hawaii Standard Time two days before your visit. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is located on the island of Oahu. Slots quickly run out of space. A $25 ticket costs. On Mondays and Tuesdays, it is closed.
– Use sunscreen that won’t harm coral reefs – Hawaii has outlawed the sale of such products (oxybenzone and octinoxate). Instead, you need something like this Ethical Zinc sunscreen that uses zinc oxide. Although it takes a lot of work to apply, it is well worth it to protect the reefs because it is surprisingly water resistant. You can get all of your beach supplies at ABC Stores and Longs Drugs.
– Wear a rashguard in the water to protect your skin, which is even more effective than sunscreen, particularly when snorkeling.
– Subscribe to the Maui Snorkel Report – Every morning, you’ll receive an email with advice on which beaches are the best to visit that day. They also offer affordable snorkeling and beach equipment rentals.
– To learn which beaches are best for surfing or safe for swimming, visit the Hawaii Beach Safety website.
– Go whale watching – it was among our favorite Hawaii experiences. We went on two occasions with Makai Adventures’ small boat trip from Lahaina, Maui, because we loved it so much. Most of the islands have whale sightings; find Hawaii whale watching trips here.
– Hike – Every island has lovely trails, ranging from short, scenic walks along the coast to strenuous, multi-day treks. It’s a fantastic, cost-free way to take in the splendor of the islands.
– Our condos came with a Tommy Bahama beach chair and umbrella, but you can also rent them for a reasonable price on the islands. They make beach hopping much more comfortable and have backpack straps for simple carrying.
– Bring your own snorkel and mask if there is room in your luggage, or consider renting some. If not, rent it from a company like Snorkel Bob’s for the duration of your trip (as we did on the Big Island). Every time we went to the beach, I liked being able to see the reef.
– Visit a farmer’s market – There are lots of tasty treats and foodie souvenirs to enjoy, and the fresh produce is frequently cheaper and better quality than what you can find in supermarkets.
– Shave ice is a delicious icy treat that is much better than we had anticipated. For added flavor, place a scoop of macadamia ice cream on the bottom. Our favorite places to get shave ice are Original Big Island Shave Ice Co. and Waikomo Shave Ice on Kauai.
– Enjoy a Mai Tai while lounging on the beach. It may seem touristy, but it’s a classic Hawaii experience, and the rum-based drinks come in stylish Tiki glasses.
– Try the sweet, salty, and sour Li Hing Mui dried plum. It’s from China and is very popular in Hawaii. You can buy them whole for snacking (a bit much for me) or as a flavoring for many sweets. It’s now my favorite shave ice flavor, especially when combined with pineapple, lilikoi, and passionfruit.
– Driving the Road to Hana on Maui is something that most people do in a single day, but we loved staying in Hana for a few nights to explore the area away from the crowds.
– Eat as much banana bread as you can – it’s especially delicious in the Hana region where it’s sold at farm stands.
– Macadamia nuts covered in chocolate are delicious – We became dependent on Moana Loa’s.
– Allow local drivers to pass you – they are more familiar with the winding roads than you are and drive more quickly.
– View Kauai from the air – We had an incredible doors-off helicopter ride on Kauai, which is the best island for a scenic flight. Our helicopter tour of Oahu was also incredible. Visit this page to look up scenic helicopter flights to other Hawaiian islands.
– Eat every meal out – Restaurants are expensive, so by cooking for ourselves in our condo, we significantly reduced our costs. You can purchase a prepared picnic lunch from a supermarket and eat it on the beach even if you don’t have a kitchen. Food trucks, which are much more affordable than restaurants, provided some of our tastiest meals. The best truck selections were in Hana, Maui, and Hanalei, Kauai.
– Underestimate the ocean – Drownings do occur and conditions can be dangerous and change quickly. Don’t swim if you’re unsure whether it’s safe.
– Turn your back on the ocean – When you are swimming or even just strolling along the shore, huge waves can appear out of nowhere.
– Fight a rip current by remaining calm, floating, and calling out for assistance if you find yourself in one. Follow the flow and be energy efficient.
– You might encounter wildlife on the beaches, but it’s forbidden to approach or even touch sea turtles or monk seals.
– Give food to wild animals or fish.
– Trespassing – Treat private property with respect. Although all beaches are accessible to the general public, not all of them do.
– Don’t litter the beaches or hiking trails by leaving anything behind.
– Respect “no parking” signs and avoid stopping on the side of the road when parking illegally. Particularly on Maui’s Road to Hana, this has turned into a significant issue.
– Steal any sand or rocks.
– Step on or touch the coral. When snorkeling, be aware of where your fins are.
– Keep valuables in your vehicle and any luggage concealed in the trunk. Rent a mid-size vehicle as opposed to a compact vehicle (we discovered that these lacked an enclosed trunk).
– Laugh at the hula – it’s not just a tourist dance; it’s an important aspect of the community’s culture.
– Refuse a lei (flower garland) – Wear it with gratitude and don’t take it off in front of the person who gave it to you. A lei is a symbol of affection and Aloha.
– Enter someone’s home in shoes.
– Rush – Don’t feel obligated to complete everything. Make sure you set aside time to unwind by the beach or pool. Take your time and savor these stunning islands.
Topic: Do’s and Don’ts in Hawaii – Planning A Trip to Hawaii 2023
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By: Travel Pixy