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Planning a visit to Hawaii is one thing many individuals dream of. With its beautiful seashores, dramatic volcanic landscapes, and luxurious inexperienced hills, it’s some of the stunning locations we’ve visited but in addition the costliest.
Whereas we do assume the islands are definitely worth the excessive worth, to profit from your keep, it’s important to plan prematurely.
On this put up, we share our prime Hawaii journey tricks to present you the best way to plan a visit to Hawaii that’s excellent for you.
We’ll cowl what number of days you want in Hawaii, which island to go to, the place to remain, the highest actions, what it’s essential to guide prematurely, and all the pieces else you should know.
No, since March 2022, the Protected Travels program has ended and there are actually no necessities for coming into Hawaii.
Home US guests to Hawaii not have to fill out a web based kind or present proof of vaccination or a unfavorable take a look at.
Masks are actually optionally available, however some companies might require them. Please be respectful.
I like to recommend making reservations for inns, automobile rent, eating places, and excursions as far prematurely as doable attributable to excessive demand. Be sure to enable loads of time at airports as safety strains are lengthy.
Worldwide Guests to Hawaii
All non-US residents should nonetheless present proof of vaccination to enter the US.
Since June 2022, most worldwide guests not have to take a Covid take a look at to enter the nation.
The exception as of January 2023 is guests over 2 years outdated travelling to the US from China, Hong Kong, and Macau—a unfavorable take a look at taken inside two days of departure is required.
Journey insurance coverage is all the time very important for visiting the US, the place healthcare is so costly, nevertheless it’s much more vital proper now.
An excellent finances coverage that we’ve used is SafetyWing. It’s out there worldwide, covers COVID-19, and is great worth for households as two kids beneath 10 are free.
Should you want cancellation cowl, Heymondo is one other nice possibility that insured our final US journey.
How Lengthy to Keep in Hawaii
The typical keep in Hawaii is about 7 days. I feel it is a good minimal time for a visit, though 10-14 days is healthier if you wish to go to a number of islands.
Some guests do go to Hawaii for 4-5 days, nevertheless it’s a good distance from the US mainland (or wherever!) for a brief journey, and also you’ll spend the primary few days adjusting to the time zone change. That stated, if it’s all you possibly can handle, it’s higher than no time in Hawaii!
If in case you have per week on your Hawaii trip, I like to recommend selecting only one island to go to. See under to seek out the most effective Hawaiian island for you.
If in case you have 10 days in Hawaii, I like to recommend beginning with 3 days in Oahu after which visiting Maui or Kauai for per week.
Finest Island to Go to in Hawaii
Selecting the most effective island to go to is without doubt one of the most difficult elements of planning a visit to Hawaii. They’re all various with tons to supply, so it simply relies upon what you’re on the lookout for.
Most guests to Hawaii go to one in every of these 4 islands:
Oahu is by far probably the most visited and developed Hawaiian island. It’s house to the massive metropolis of Honolulu, which incorporates the well-known and really crowded Waikiki Seashore (the place most customer lodging is positioned).
Oahu provides probably the most selection of procuring, eating, and nightlife, so if you wish to mix metropolis and seashore life, that is the most effective island for you.
It’s additionally by far the best place to handle with out renting a automobile (though I nonetheless suggest it). Should you keep in Waikiki, you possibly can stroll to the seashore and lots of retailers, eating places, and actions.
You can even take excursions, Ubers, or the Trolley Bus to close by sights together with the Pearl Harbour memorial.
Oahu’s North Shore provides a way more relaxed vibe with stunning seashores and large waves for browsing within the winter.
Oahu is simple to suit into Hawaii holidays as Honolulu Worldwide Airport provides probably the most flights from the mainland US and worldwide locations.
Our favorite actions in Oahu are:
- Taking a helicopter journey across the island for beautiful views. We suggest the one hour doorways off tour with Rainbow Helicopters from Honolulu.
- Snorkelling at Hanauma Bay.
- Enjoyable on the Windward Coast seashores particularly Waimānalo and Kailua.
See our 7 Day Oahu itinerary for a lot of extra suggestions.
The place to remain in Oahu: Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore is our favorite place we’ve stayed in all of Hawaii! It’s severely dreamy with unbelievable ocean views, remoted seashores (with turtles!), trendy rooms, and many to do. It feels a world away from Waikiki.
Maui is the second most visited island and is a well-liked honeymoon vacation spot.
It has attractive seashores, world-class whale watching, and the Highway to Hana drive the place you possibly can see waterfalls, bamboo forest, and black sand seashores.
You can even watch the solar rise above a volcanic crater and go to wineries and lavender farms in Upcountry.
There’s a variety of resorts, eating, procuring, and actions in addition to pure sights.
Our favorite actions in Maui are:
- Staying in a single day in Hana (we love Hana Kai Condos) to discover well-liked sights like Waianapanapa with out the crowds.
- Whale watching from Lahaina. We noticed an unbelievable quantity of humpbacks on our small group boat journey with Makai Adventures.
- Enjoyable on the seashores of West Maui (with turtle sightings!).
See our Maui itinerary for extra suggestions.
The place to remain in Maui: Kahana Reef has reasonably priced, oceanfront condos on the west coast. We noticed whales, turtles, and unbelievable sunsets from our lanai.
The Large Island (formally referred to as Hawaii) is the youngest Hawaiian island, so it’s not as inexperienced as the opposite islands and has extra lava landscapes.
If you wish to see an energetic volcano, that is the island to go to.
It’s the most important island with various landscapes from white sand seashores to snow-capped volcanoes.
Our favorite actions on the Large Island are:
- Night time snorkel with manta rays. We bought extremely shut to those magnificent and large creatures on our manta journey with Sea Quest.
- Snorkelling at Kealakekua Bay and Two Step.
- Kilauea Iki Path – Mountaineering right into a volcanic caldera in Hawaii Volcanoes Nationwide Park.
See our information to the finest issues to do on the Large Island for extra suggestions.
The place to Keep on the Large Island: You’ll need to divide your time between the west and east on this huge island. Our favorite space was Volcano, the place we adored this peaceable cabin within the rainforest. It’s very completely different from the remainder of Hawaii.
Referred to as The Backyard Isle, Kauai is probably the most lush and inexperienced of the islands.
Kauai has change into extra well-liked, nevertheless it isn’t as developed as Maui or Oahu.
The jagged inexperienced cliffs of the beautiful Napali Coast are the large draw, however there are additionally pretty seashores, waterfalls, mountaineering trails, and multi-coloured canyons.
Our favorite actions in Kauai are:
- Admiring Kauai from above – Our Kauai doorways off helicopter journey was spectacular.
- Crusing the Napali Coast – The large sea cliffs are beautiful and we noticed whales, dolphins and turtles on the way in which.
- Seeing turtles and seals on Poipu Seashore.
See our put up on the finest issues to do on Kauai for a lot of extra.
The place to remain in Kauai: We beloved our rental at Kiahuna Plantation on a phenomenal seashore in Poipu.
Much less Visited Hawaiian Islands
In case you are seeking to get off the overwhelmed observe, you can take into account visiting one in every of these smaller, a lot much less visited islands:
- Molokai – Referred to as The Pleasant Isle, on Molokai you’ll discover a gradual tempo of life and extra native Hawaiians, however much less selection of lodging and actions. It’s additionally house to the leper colony of Kalaupapa, which I grew to become fascinated with after studying a few these Hawaii books.
- Lanai – For a few years Lanai was a pineapple plantation and it’s now house to some luxurious resorts. If you wish to benefit from the secluded seashores with out the excessive price ticket, the ferry from Lahaina on Maui solely takes an hour, so you can go to on a day journey.
Which Facet of the Island?
The character of every island additionally is determined by which half you go to.
All of the islands have a wet facet the place the surroundings is lush and inexperienced and a dry facet the place you’ll normally get extra solar.
They’re each price visiting, which is why we break up our island stays between two or three places.
The place We Visited in Hawaii
We had 3.5 weeks on our first Hawaiian trip and divided our time between Kauai and Maui, with one evening in Honolulu earlier than our onward flight.
There’s a lot to do on every island that we’re glad we didn’t attempt to add in an additional island.
On our second 3 week Hawaii journey, we spent per week on Oahu (however may have stayed longer) and two weeks on the Large Island.
We love all 4 of the key Hawaii islands, however our private favorite is Kauai.
Planning a Journey to Hawaii: Earlier than You Arrive
- Save up – Hawaii is dear and also you’ll get pleasure from it extra in case you aren’t worrying about each penny. We spent $267 per individual per day (travelling as a pair), together with all the pieces besides flights from the mainland US. You may spend much less by travelling within the low season, selecting non-beachfront lodging, and skipping dear excursions. You may additionally spend much more by staying in luxurious resorts and consuming out for each meal.
- Go to within the winter to see humpback whales – We have been astounded by what number of we noticed in Maui in February. January to March are the most effective months, however you would possibly see a number of from November to Might. Winter climate will be cooler and rainier, however we nonetheless had largely sunny days and the ocean is swimmable yr spherical.
- Go to within the low season to economize – Within the spring (April and Might) and autumn (September to mid-November), the islands are much less crowded, costs are decrease, and the climate is usually good. It may be very wet on Kauai in April, although. We discovered snorkelling higher in October than in February, because the water was clearer and hotter.
- E book your lodging far prematurely – Particularly if you’re travelling within the excessive season, need an ocean view, or are travelling to locations like Hana or Upcountry on Maui the place lodging is restricted. You’ll be able to seek for resorts and inns on Reserving and trip leases on Vrbo.
- Think about a rental reasonably than a resort – For households, stays of per week or extra, and for these on a finances, renting a rental with a kitchen is a good way to economize. There are a lot of to select from and a few have resort amenities like swimming pools and beachfront places. We largely keep in condos and Kiahuna Plantation on Poipu Seashore in Kauai is one in every of our favourites. Vrbo is a good way to seek out condos.
- Break up your keep – If you need the basic Hawaiian resort expertise however can’t afford it on your complete journey, divide your time between a rental and a resort. We did this in Oahu—staying in a rental in Waikiki for 4 nights whereas we explored the south, then stress-free at attractive Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore for the final 3 nights.
- Camp if you’re on a decent finances – It’s not for everybody, however in case you don’t thoughts roughing it, tenting is the most affordable method to expertise Hawaii. There are some stunning campsites at seashores and state parks, though you normally have to get permits prematurely. See this information to tenting in Hawaii for extra suggestions.
- Search on Kiwi or Skyscanner for the most effective flight offers – You could get on a aircraft to achieve Hawaii. The most affordable charges might be from Los Angeles or different West Coast USA cities. Southwest now flies to Hawaii at low charges. You can even get reasonably priced flights from Canada and Japan to Honolulu.
- Fly out and in of various islands – Maximise your time on the islands by flying into one island (akin to Kauai) and out of one other (akin to Maui). I used to be stunned by what number of reasonably priced direct flights there are from the US mainland to locations aside from Honolulu.
- Lease a automobile – It’s the easiest way to see Hawaii and infrequently there’s no different method to attain elements of the islands. At busy occasions rental automobiles can run out, so guide far prematurely. We use Rental Automobiles to seek out the most effective deal and simply guide the most affordable financial system automobile.
- Journey between islands by aircraft – There aren’t any ferries between islands (besides from Maui to Lanai) so that you’ll have to hop on an interisland flight. Most are operated by Hawaiian Airways and are reasonably priced and quick (20 to 50 minutes).
- Think about splitting your time between two or three places on every island – If you wish to do numerous exploring, this can assist keep away from lengthy drives to sights. We’ve finished this on all 4 major islands and it labored out properly.
- E book Haleakala dawn prematurely – If you wish to see Maui’s hottest dawn, it’s essential to guide as much as 60 days prematurely. Should you miss out, strive once more two days earlier than when extra tickets are launched.
- Make reservations for some state parks – Non-Hawaii residents have to guide prematurely for sure parks and pay an entrance and parking payment. These embody Haena State Park in Kauai, Waianapanapa State Park on the Highway to Hana in Maui, and Diamond Head in Oahu. Time slots are launched 30 days prematurely. E book as quickly as doable as they do promote out.
- Pack a sweater – Whereas more often than not you’ll solely want summer time garments, it might get chilly on morning boat journeys or in case you go to increased elevations (like Upcountry in Maui or Waimea Canyon on Kauai) particularly within the winter. Dawn at Haleakala, Maui and sundown at Mauna Kea on the Large Island are freezing and also you’ll recognize as many layers as doable. See the tip of this put up for extra recommendations on what to pack for Hawaii.
- Be taught a number of Hawaiian phrases – Even when it’s simply Aloha (howdy and goodbye but in addition love and compassion) and Mahalo (thanks). I picked up vocabulary by studying the astounding novel Shark Dialogues by Kiana Davenport (which I extremely suggest each customer reads).
- E book eating places prematurely – Upscale eating places do refill, so make reservations for wherever you undoubtedly need to eat (together with at resorts). A couple of weeks prematurely needs to be wonderful however locations like Duke’s on Waikiki Seashore guide up months forward. Individuals are likely to eat early in Hawaii (round 6pm) so it’s simpler to get later reservations.
- Carry money for tipping – When you can add a tip to your bank card in eating places, it’s vital to have money for tour guides, valets, and resort workers. Should you’re not American, familiarise your self with tipping etiquette. We tipped 20% in eating places and sit down bars, $10-20 per individual for excursions (together with for helicopter pilots), $5 for valet attendants (when the automobile was returned), and round $2-3 a day for lodge housekeeping.
- Plan to go to a couple of island per week – You’ll spend an excessive amount of of your valuable Hawaii trip time travelling and there’s a lot to do on every island. Whereas interisland flight occasions are quick, airport safety queues will be lengthy (particularly out of Honolulu) or flights delayed.
- Neglect hidden charges – The listed worth for inns and resorts is never what you’ll truly pay. You’ll have so as to add tax and infrequently a resort payment, cleansing payment (for condos), and parking cost. Verify the ultimate complete worth when evaluating lodging choices.
- Go to throughout holidays – Attempt to keep away from the busiest occasions of yr, particularly Christmas and New Yr when crowds and costs soar. Thanksgiving week is one other busy interval. Keep away from particular occasions like Iron Man on the Large Island in October. Should you should go to then, guide far prematurely.
- Keep on the seashore (possibly) – In case you are on a decent finances, you’ll save by staying a brief stroll or drive from the seashore. That stated, we frequently splurge on beachfront lodging and adore it.
When You Are In Hawaii
- Learn novels set in Hawaii – Be taught extra about Hawaii’s fascinating tradition and turbulent historical past by studying one in every of these books about Hawaii when you calm down on the seashore.
- Schedule your most vital actions early – Climate can change and cancel actions like boat journeys and helicopter rides, so ensure you’ll have time to reschedule.
- E book Hanauma Bay Nature Protect on Oahu two days prematurely – If you wish to snorkel at this well-liked seashore, it’s essential to make a reservation right here at precisely 7am Hawaii Customary Time two days earlier than your go to. Slots promote out in minutes. Tickets are $25. It’s closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
- Use reef-safe sunscreen – Hawaii has banned the sale of sunscreen that makes use of coral-harming chemical substances (oxybenzone and octinoxate). You want a product that makes use of zinc oxide as a substitute, like this Moral Zinc sunscreen. Truthfully, it’s a ache to use, nevertheless it’s surprisingly water-resistant, and it’s price it to guard the reefs. Longs Medication and ABC Shops are good locations to choose up all of your seashore provides.
- Put on a rashguard – Even higher than sunscreen is to guard your pores and skin by sporting a rashguard within the water, particularly when snorkelling.
- Signal as much as the Snorkel Report on Maui – You’ll get an e-mail each morning with recommendations on the most effective seashores to go to that day. Additionally they hire cheap snorkelling and seashore gear.
- Verify the Hawaii Seashore Security web site – To seek out out which seashores are secure for swimming or finest for browsing.
- Go whale watching – It was one in every of our favorite experiences in Hawaii. We selected a small boat journey with Makai Adventures from Lahaina in Maui and beloved it a lot we went twice. You’ll be able to see whales on many of the islands—seek for whale watching journeys in Hawaii right here.
- Hike – All of the islands have stunning trails from straightforward coastal walks to difficult multi-day treks. It’s an excellent free method to get pleasure from the great thing about the islands.
- Lease a Tommy Bahama seashore chair and umbrella – Our condos got here with these, however you possibly can hire them on the islands inexpensively. They’ve backpack straps for simple carrying and make seashore hopping far more comfy.
- Carry or hire snorkel gear – If in case you have area in your baggage, convey your individual snorkel and masks. If not, hire it for the size of your keep from a service like Snorkel Bob’s (as we did on the Large Island). I appreciated having the ability to check out the reef at any time when we went to the seashore.
- Go to a farmer’s market – The contemporary produce is normally cheaper and higher high quality than the supermarkets and there are many tasty treats and foodie souvenirs to get pleasure from.
- Cool off with shave ice – This scrumptious icy deal with is so significantly better than we anticipated. Add a scoop of macadamia ice cream on the underside for max tastiness. Our favourites are Waikomo Shave Ice on Kauai and Unique Large Island Shave Ice Co on the Large Island.
- Take pleasure in a Mai Tai on the seashore – Touristy sure, nevertheless it’s a basic Hawaii expertise and these tasty rum cocktails are available in cool Tiki glasses.
- Strive Li Hing Mui – This dried plum is nice, salty, and bitter. It’s very talked-about in Hawaii (originating from China), and you will discover them complete for snacking (a bit a lot for me) or as a flavour for a lot of treats. It’s my new favorite shave ice flavour (particularly mixed with lilikoi/passionfruit and pineapple).
- Drive the Highway to Hana on Maui – Most individuals do that in at some point, however we beloved spending a number of nights in Hana to discover with out the crowds.
- Eat in eating places for each meal – Eating places are costly and by self-catering in our rental we saved an enormous sum of money. Even in case you don’t have a kitchen, you possibly can decide up a pre-made picnic lunch from a grocery store and luxuriate in it on the seashore. A few of our tastiest meals have been from meals vans that are far cheaper than eating places. Hana in Maui and Hanalei in Kauai had the most effective choice of vans.
- Underestimate the ocean – Situations will be harmful and alter rapidly and drownings do occur. Should you’re unsure it’s secure, don’t swim.
- Flip your again on the ocean – Enormous waves can come out of nowhere when you find yourself swimming and even strolling alongside the shore.
- Battle a rip present – Should you get caught in a present, preserve calm, float, and wave for assist. Go together with the present and preserve your power.
- Contact sea turtles or monk seals – You might be prone to come throughout wildlife on the seashores, nevertheless it’s unlawful to get too shut or contact them.
- Feed fish or different wild animals.
- Trespass – Please respect non-public property. Whereas all seashores are open to the general public, they don’t all have public entry routes.
- Litter – Don’t go away something behind on seashores or mountaineering trails.
- Park illegally – Respect “no parking” indicators and don’t cease on the facet of the street. This has change into an actual downside on the Highway to Hana in Maui particularly.
- Steal any rocks or sand.
- Contact or step on coral – Be conscious of the place your fins are when snorkelling.
- Depart valuables in your automobile – And preserve any baggage hidden out of sight within the trunk. Lease a mid-size automobile reasonably than a compact one (we discovered these didn’t have an enclosed trunk).
- Chortle on the hula – It’s not only a dance for vacationers, however a critical a part of native tradition.
- Refuse a lei (flower garland) – It’s a logo of affection and Aloha so put on it with gratitude and don’t take it off in entrance of the one who gave it to you.
- Put on footwear into somebody’s home.
- Rush – Don’t really feel the stress to do all the pieces. Be sure to enable time simply to calm down by the pool or on the seashore. Decelerate and luxuriate in these stunning islands.
The climate is heat year-round in Hawaii so pack light-weight summer time garments—shorts, t-shirts, attire, a few bathing fits, and a seashore cover-up.
I’m a giant fan of PrAna for summer time attire and swimwear.
There’s no have to pack formal garments as Hawaii could be very informal.
I do suggest packing one set of hotter garments for visiting locations at increased elevations or boat journeys in winter. A pair of denims or leggings plus a light-weight fleece or sweater needs to be wonderful.
In case you are planning on dawn at Haleakala in Maui or stargazing at Mauna Kea on the Large Island, it may be freezing, so add extra layers and maybe a packable down jacket when you’ve got one.
We spend most of our time in Hawaii sporting mountaineering sandals—they’re excellent for seashores and hikes. Many seashores have tough entry trails so that you’ll recognize one thing greater than flip-flops.
We each love Teva sandals that are very comfy for mountaineering and most fashions are waterproof so are nice for kayaking. Simon likes the Teva Fi Lite sandals and I’ve the Teva Verra sandals.
I additionally had a pair of ballet flats for a dressier possibility for the evenings. My present favourites are the tremendous comfortable Allbirds Tree Breezers—see my Allbirds flats assessment for particulars.
For operating, I put on the sunshine, breathable Allbirds Tree Dashers.
Different Helpful Objects
- Reef-safe sunscreen – Keep away from sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate which have been banned in Hawaii.
- Reusable procuring luggage – Plastic luggage are banned on the islands.
- Spices – In case you are self-catering, you’ll lower your expenses by bringing a small quantity of spices with you. We purchased some on the bulk-buy part of a grocery store on the mainland.
- Water bottle – Keep away from creating plastic waste by packing a reusable water bottle. We just like the Vapur water bottle because it’s mild and packs flat when empty.
- Packable daypack – These backpacks slot in your baggage on the journey over and are helpful for hikes and exploring.
- Packing cubes – We swear by these as they preserve your garments organised and simple to seek out in your baggage.
- Fast-dry seashore towel – These light-weight towels dry quicker than conventional towels and sand shakes off them extra simply.
- Compact binoculars – There’s a lot wildlife to see in Hawaii together with whales, dolphins, seals, turtles, and birds. The tiny Olympus 8 x 21 RCII waterproof binoculars have been best for getting a more in-depth look.
Is Hawaii Price it?
Sure, I feel Hawaii is properly price visiting! Whereas it’s costly and will be crowded, there’s one thing about that beautiful surroundings and stress-free vibe that entices many people to go to repeatedly.
I hope this weblog put up helps you with the best way to plan a visit to Hawaii. Let me know when you’ve got any questions and share your Hawaii journey suggestions within the feedback under.
We share extra of our Hawaii suggestions in these posts:
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