Hawaii, the place for honeymoon, romantic getaway, nature lovers and more. Hawaii is the last state that became part of USA, and it is culturally very different from mainland USA. Here is all the things you need to know before going to Hawaii, broken into various categories.
Hawaii is truly a melting pot of diversity. Everyone is mixed with all sorts of heritage that calls Hawaii home. Please be respectful to everyone you meet, and when you are enjoying the wonders of Mother Nature. Hawaii is a beautiful place, don’t be an asshole and destroy it.
BIG TIP: avoid taking off/arriving in the airport between 4PM and 7PM. Massive rush hour traffic!
Categories to Read
- 8 Islands and What To See
- Getting To Hawaii Islands
- Getting Around Individual Islands
- Hawaii is expensive. So, hello DISCOUNTS
- Things to bring
- Useful websites in Hawaii
- Prep-time: Movies/Documentaries to watch
8 Islands and What To See
There are 8 main islands to visit, and a bunch of tiny baby ones. From West to East, you have Ni’ihau, Kaua’i, O’ahu, Moloka’i, Lana’i, Maui, Kahoʻolawe, Hawai’i.
Islands to Note
- Ni’ihau: known as the forbidden island. They opened up recently, and it’s difficult to get there.
- Kahoʻolawe: US military base for target practice. Heartbreaking history. (Check out movies to watch segment)
- One of the wettest place on earth. (Take that, UK!) Also, Mark Zuckerberg wanted to buy this island.
- Famous for: Napali Coast cliffs (& hikes), abundance of lush rich lands, tropical rainforests, stunning beaches
- Also visit: Mounta Waialeale, Hanalei Bay, Haena, Waimea Canyon
- Most populated island.
- Famous for: Stairway to Heaven (hike), Honolulu (capital of Hawaii), Waikiki beach, Hanauma Bay (snorkelling)
- Also Visit: Pearl Harbour, Polynesian Cultural Center
- Accommodations: Villa Launa, Maluhai
- Other Attractions
- Largest population of native Hawaiian residents living on this island.
- Famous for: no traffic lights or fast-food restaurants
- Also Visit: Kahiwa Falls (highest sea cliff in the world), Molokai (longest white sand beach in Hawaii)
- Smallest island. Also owned by Oracle CEO, Larry Ellision.
- Famous for: Munro Trail, Shipwreck Beach
- Also Visit: Kanuolu Village, fishing village of Lopa & Naha & Keomuku
- Being a valley island between 2 volcanos. Known as best island.
- Famous for: whaling town of Lahaina, high-end resort, Hana
- Also Visit: Kahului city, underwater crescent-shaped lava rock (Molokini)
- Other Attractions
The Big Island (Hawai’i)
- Largest island in the island cluster. Only island with active volcanic activity.
- Famous for: 12 distinct climate zones exists on the island,
- Also Visit: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
- Accommodations: Traditional Hawaiian Cabin, Million Dollar View in local Community
- Other Attractions
Getting To Hawaii Islands
It is expensive to fly between Hawaiian islands. Even the locals have to pay those ridiculous fees because it is a monopoly. Plan your trip well, if you want to explore many islands.
There are plenty of flights to Hawaii from all around the world, via Canada, USA, Japan, etc. Keep a lookout for flight deals and avoid peak periods.
Hawaii Travel Tips
- Get direct flights to your islands of destination (e.g. Kaua’i, O’ahu) instead of going through Honolulu Airport and catching another plane to the island of destination.
- To Lana’i and Moloka’i, local airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines: Your best bet
- Mokulele: all islands except Kaua’i
- Island Air: O’ahu, Maui & Kaua’i
- Ohana: Oʻahu, Maui, Big Island, Molokaʻi, and Lānaʻi
- Book your flights straight to the final destination with 1 carrier.
Getting Around Individual Islands
Cycling is a popular option to get around for short distance. Bike-sharing services exist on O’ahu island.
For longer distances, drive, bus or get a cab.
This is the ultimate hack to get around Hawaii. If you are on a budget, use the car as a home. Sleep in it. Save on accommodations! With a car, you can get to anywhere you want and explore as much as possible without restrictions.
Everyone I know rents a car when visiting Hawaii.
Hawaii Travel Tips
- Book your car rental as early as possible
- Rent cars from larger companies. Smaller local companies have poorer vehicles and service.
- Gas is expensive!
- Always wear seat belts (drivers AND passengers)
- Be wary of speed limits. Police regularly check and ticket tourists. (Just like every other touristy cities. E.g. Southern Cape in South Africa)
- If you want to see something, pull to the side of the road to admire it. Don’t slow down can create traffic.
- O’ahu has terrible traffic congestion.
- Use Google Maps instead of Apple Map
If you can’t drive, take the bus instead.
Big note: buses do NOT allow you to bring large bags onboard. Aka, from airport to hotel, rent a car or get shuttle service by your hotel.
- O’ahu: take The Bus. Good service and on-time. Use 4-day visitor passes if it suits your itinerary. Search for your buses at thebus.org.
- Kaua’i: Not dependable.
- Maui: Maui Bus provides day passes.
- Big Island: Hele On Bus
Big note: Uber & Lyft cannot go to Honolulu airport!
- Reserve your ride. They do not pick up passengers on the street.
- Uber & Lyft exists on Oahu and big cities.
Discounts in Hawaii
Hawaii is expensive. And we can all use some discounts. Here are some sites with discounts. If you know more discount sites, please share them and I will add to this list!
Things to Bring to Hawaii
- Reef friendly sunscreens
- Waterproof case for phone or waterproof camera (I recommend a GoPro. You can use it for hikes, snorkeling, scuba diving and more. It’s definitely worth it in Hawaii!)
- Floatation Strap, in case you lose your thing in the sea
- Water shoes, better than slippers and keep you safe when you’re snorkeling
- Waterproof Dry Bag
- Sand resistant beach towel, it changes your life. Trust me!
Useful Websites in Hawaii
Always be prepared for natural disasters like volcano eruption.
- Map of Current Volcano Eruption/Lava
- Hawaii Red Cross disaster preparation page
- General information on disaster preparation
- State of Hawaii Emergency Management Agency
- Maui Country Emergency Management Agency
- [Park Information] Hawaiʻi State Parks
- [Driving Information] Roadworks & Traffic
Movies & Documentaries to Watch
The best way to get hyped up about your trip to Hawaii is to watch films, documentaries, short videos and movies to watch!
- [Documentaries] Reefs at Risk: Harmful effects some sunscreen chemicals have on coral reefs and marine life.
- [Documentaries] Anthony Bourdain “Parts Unknown”: Available on Netflix; Anthony goes to Hawaii and learn about the culture and heritage
- [Movies] Moana: In Ancient Polynesia, when a terrible curse incurred by the Demigod Maui reaches Moana’s island, she answers the Ocean’s call to seek out the Demigod to set things right. (More polynesia culture than Hawaii specifically, but beautiful nonetheless!)
- [Movies] Lilo and Stitch: Set on the North Shore of Kauai, Lilo and Stitch learn the meaning of loyalty, friendship and the Hawaiian meaning of ‘ohana (family).
- [Movies] Pearl Harbour: History of Pearl Harbour
- [Short Videos] Polynesian Culture: Youtube channel with amazing short videos of how people live in Hawaii
Trevellers is my way to change the world. Through my stories, tips and lessons learnt, I truly hope to inspire you to get out of your comfort zone, see the world and see who you truly are. Travel is more than just taking a selfie at beautiful destinations. Travel is an adventure, where you can truly become who you are, give you the time to reflect and grow to become the person you’ve always dreamt of.