Hawaii is a bucket-list destination for most people from around the world. However, with long flight times and Hawaii being a more costly destination to visit, you’ll want to make the most of your time on these beautiful islands. Before visiting, take the time to read carefully these Hawaii travel tips to make the most of your visit. Whether you are choosing to visit just one of the most popular islands, such as Maui or Oahu, or do a tour of a few of the islands, you are bound to have an incredible time. With year-round tropical temperatures and plenty to do for visitors of all ages, after your first time in Hawaii, you’ll certainly want to return over and over again. After my trip to Hawaii, I decided to create this list of must-know information when visiting Hawaii, and today I’m here to share with you my travel guide and Hawaii essential travel tips to help you make the most of your next visit.
When is the best time to visit Hawaii?
Before we dive deeper into my top tips, one of the most important considerations when booking a trip to Hawaii is choosing the best time of year to plan your visit. While we are all restricted by work and our personal lives, by having a little flexibility, you can make the most of your trip and potentially save some money on travel costs in the meantime.
While I believe Hawaii is a fantastic destination year-round, the best time of the year to visit the islands is generally in the spring or fall, between March and May or September to November. During this period, you’ll see lower rainfall and get higher temperatures. So, it’s the perfect time to visit if you are hoping to spend time on the beaches or taking part in water sports. At any point in the year, you’ll experience great temperatures in the range of 73F°/23°C to 86°F/30°C.
Between October and February, you’ll find it a little cooler and rainier in Hawaii.
During the summer months, Hawaii gets more storms but it’s the best time for water activities.
Last word: Particularly in October and November (excluding Thanksgiving), the islands receive fewer visitors, which makes it a great time to visit if you are traveling on a budget, as there are often some good deals on hotels around this time.
Top Hawaii Travel Tips for your next trip
Whether it’s your first visit to Hawaii, or you’ve visited many times before, I believe that following these tips below, will help you have a stress-free and relaxing time on whichever Hawaiian islands you are planning to visit.
1. Wear a reef-safe sunscreen
I will probably start on the most important advice that a lot of people still forget about – wear a reef-safe sunscreen.
Starting 2020 when you visit Hawaii, you might be surprised to see that you won’t find any of your regular sunscreen bottles and brands on offer. Throughout the islands, they will only sell reef-safe sunscreen, and this is what you should wear throughout your visit. With plenty of options available, you’ll be able to find a cream that has a nice consistency and texture to fit your needs.
We all should be more conscious about the environment and the creatures that call their oceans home, and be more protective of the marine life. If you are spending time in the sea, don’t even think about using your regular sunscreen because of all the negative impacts it can have.
Also don’t forget to always apply reef-safe sunscreen before heading outside for the day, even if you’re not planning on spending time at the beach, as the sun is very strong in Hawaii.
2. Don’t touch the turtles
I’m sure that during your time in Hawaii you will most likely want to enjoy a snorkeling or a diving adventure. One of the most important things to remember while doing it is that you must not touch a turtle if you see one. These majestic creatures appear often at many sites around the Hawaii islands.
If you are lucky enough to see them, remember that it’s their habitat and just admire them from afar. Snorkeling, swimming, or diving in the turquoise ocean waters are some of the best activities to do on the islands, and the marine life in Hawaii is just incredible.
3. There’s more to Hawaii than just Honolulu and Waikiki beach
While many first time visitors base themselves on Oahu, usually staying in Honolulu or Waikiki, don’t spend all of your holiday time there. I know there are a lot of things that you can do even only there but there’s so much more to Hawaii than those popular places.
While I’d certainly recommend you to check out the famous Waikiki Beach and have some fun there especially during the evening time, I highly encourage you to visit other gems of Oahu. The list includes places like Dole Plantation, Kaiwa Ridge Trail, Lanikai Beach, and a lot more.
For a full list of Best things to do on Oahu and amazing places to eat the most delicious food, MAKE SURE to click here
Also, consider visiting one of the other islands, especially if it’s not your first time in Hawaii.
4. Go beyond Oahu and visit several islands if you can
Following on from my previous point, if time allows you on your trip, I’d highly recommend visiting two or three islands in one vacation. There are so many different ecosystems in Hawaii, and each island has something unique to offer to visitors. If you can’t decide on which island of Hawaii to visit, check out my other post which will help you pick the right one for you depending on your interests. There, I explain in detail what each Hawaiian island has to offer.
If I have to be very short, Kauai was my personal favorite. I felt that it gave me a much better sense of what Hawaii used to be like before all the shopping centers and highways were built on Oahu.
If you have time on your trip, spending five days to a week on each island will give you enough time to explore everything it has to offer, and you’ll be able to immerse yourself in the Hawaiian culture way better. With Hawaii being such a long journey from so many parts of the world, it’s worth saving up for a longer vacation time to enjoy a longer stay here.
5. Learn about Hawaiian culture
While Hawaii is known for its stunning beaches and attractions, I’d highly recommend learning more about Hawaiian culture both before and during your visit.
There’s so much to learn about it, and you’ll appreciate the locations you visit and the people you meet even more during your trip. With its rich culture and history, you’ll find so many more attractions to visit than just the beaches.
Consider visiting the Kilohana Plantation in Kauai, where you can enjoy a luau dinner (which I believe is the only Kauai’s theatrical luau) and hop on a vintage train ride around the gardens.
You also should consider a trip to the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu. It takes you back in time and helps you learn more about Hawaii’s history in a fun way. The park is actually divided into six different island nations: Tonga, Tahiti, Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, Aotearoa. Also make sure to not miss the evening show “Ha: Breath of Life” as it was incredible.
The Bishop Museum in Honolulu showcases the largest collection in the world of Polynesian art, and you’ll learn more about the Hawaiian Royal Family and Polynesian culture there.
6. Try local cuisine
While places like Waikiki are now home to all your typical American chains, try to eat locally and enjoy the delicious Hawaiian cuisine.
You should definitely visit a traditional luau at least on one of your nights in Hawaii. It’s basically a feast of traditional food accompanied by Hawaiian entertainment. There are a lot of places offering this, so you will easily be able to find one that suits your budget with a quick search online.
No trip to Hawaii is complete without trying refreshing Hawaiian shave ice. It is the perfect way to cool down after a day in the sun.
Poke bowls are incredibly popular throughout Hawaii and aren’t just reserved for trendy restaurants. You’ll find them served in small residential areas and this raw-fish salad is an ideal healthy lunch when you are out and about exploring for the day.
But not to waste any more of your time on this post, if you want to find about the places to visit in Hawaii (including Oahu, Maui, and Kauai) click here:
7. Rent a car
Unfortunately, there are no extensive public transportation systems on the islands, so it can be very difficult to rely on buses to get you to some of the best destinations and attractions.
A lot of must-visit sites are spread throughout the islands as a whole, so it’s easier if you just rent a car and move around on your own.
The one exception to this might be Oahu because it is the most developed island. However, even there you will be limited to places which you can reach by bus.
While the islands offer extensive lists of tours, these become extremely cost prohibitive after a few days, especially if you are traveling in a large family group.
The app that we used to rent our car was Turo. The process was very fast, easy, and not expensive at all.
If you can’t drive, consider staying somewhere very central, such as Waikiki, where you’ll have more options for bus transportation links. Uber and taxis are available, but these are not cheap, so you’ll want to limit the amount you use them during your vacation.
8. Be prepared to wait in traffic
Even though you are visiting a “tropical jungle paradise”, be prepared to wait in traffic during certain times of the day. On Oahu, you’ll find that when people are traveling to and from work, the island gets particularly busy and you can easily be in a standstill of cars for up to an hour.
If you are planning a long day out, such as an island tour of Oahu, set out as early as you can to avoid any traffic and get ahead of the crowds for the day. You’ll find that as a visitor to Hawaii, especially if you’ve traveled from far away, you’ll naturally wake up early in the morning. With most visitors spending their time here exploring and relaxing, it’s the type of place where it’s quite normal to get up early each morning to make the most of your time. As a bonus, you will enjoy some of the most stunning sunrises in the world.
9. Be careful on the beaches in Hawaii
While the beaches in Hawaii are picture-perfect and exactly the way you would imagine them, be very careful while enjoying your time there.
If you are planning to walk around and explore multiple beaches on your trip, consider a good pair of water shoes to avoid cuts on your feet, as some of them are quite rocky on the ground.
Also, the waves and underwater currents can be extremely strong in Hawaii, hence its popularity with surfers.
If you are not a very good swimmer, stay close to the shore and never go in the water alone. Parents traveling with young children need to keep an eye on them at all times on the beach, as it’s so easy for small ones to get distracted.
For a safe beach experience, pay attention to the signage as you approach the beach, as you’ll see warnings if the beach is closed or the water is not suitable for swimming that day.
10. Go on as many hikes as you can
Hawaii isn’t just about the beach and the ocean. Nature here is absolutely incredible and truly one of a kind. Throughout the Hawaiian islands, you’ll find so many hiking opportunities, and regardless of your fitness level, you’ll find a route that you’ll enjoy.
That’s exactly why you should take a pair of hiking shoes with you when packing for Hawaii.
For all the essentials items that you will want to bring with you, click here.
In Hawaii, no matter the island, you could literally find a different trail for every day of your trip. You’ll for sure enjoy immersing yourself in nature, seeing waterfalls and incredible scenery on your hikes.
To find some of the best hiking routes, download the All Trails app before your trip, where you’ll find many routes and hiking suggestions to fit any length of time that you’re looking to fill.
Another great thing about hiking is the feeling of being away from the tourists that can gather in some of the busier places. The islands can be incredibly busy in the main resort areas, but just a short drive away you’ll find secluded spots that are everything you’ve ever dreamed Hawaii would be.
Fun Fact: The last fact that I would like to mention is in regards to the animal residents on the islands – don’t be surprised to see chickens walking freely everywhere on Kauai! I’ve never seen so many chickens just walking freely. It made quite a funny sight the first time I saw a group of them, but they are just an entertaining addition to the Hawaiian scenery!
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Hawaii is one of my favorite destinations to visit in the world. Regardless of which island you choose to visit, I promise you won’t be disappointed. On my first visit, I thought it would be a once in a lifetime trip, but I can’t wait to get to this part of the world again. Follow these top Hawaii tips listed above, and you’ll set yourself up for success on your next trip. I’d recommend trying to plan as long of a vacation as you can afford, as there’s so much to see between all the islands of Hawaii.