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Most people on vacation in Hawaii are content to let their days slip by while enjoying the simple pleasure of relaxing on the beach, or sipping tropical drinks at a poolside bar. But there is also the type of vacationer that is driven to fill every minute of every day with predetermined activities. If you are that type of vacationer, here are a few tips on not wasting a minute of your time in Hawaii.
Perhaps most importantly, it is important to know that traffic in Hawaii, particularly on Oahu, can be brutal. Each island has its share of regular traffic jams on certain roads, to be certain. But when traffic gets bad on Oahu, what is a simple 20-minute drive during off-peak hours can turn into a maddening 90-minute slog during rush hour. Avoid driving during peak hours, or the morning and evening rush hours.
On Oahu, it’s best to avoid H-1 Freeway in both directions during the evening rush hour. It can be a parking lot on some days. Try to be where you want to be before or after rush hour, especially if you have reservations for a tour or for dining.
Kamehameha Highway on Oahu’s North Shore can become a parking lot during the day, especially during big wave season. North Shore residents are all too familiar with traffic that can turn a two-mile drive into an hour-long journey of frustration. Failing to plan for possible traffic congestion could cost you a life-changing experience. Visit http://www1.honolulu.gov/cameras/fastcheck.htm for current traffic conditions on Oahu.
It’s also important to remember to do your homework. If your plans include guided tours, be sure to be aware of any restrictions. A common problem for tourists at the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor is that they arrive unaware that tours fill up fast, and are unable to get a berth on the ferry that chugs out to the memorial. The visitor center is modern and insightful, but it’s kind of a waste to go to Pearl Harbor and not get to the memorial. Reservations are available at www.nps.gov/usar/planyourvisit.
The USS Missouri, USS Utah, and US Oklahoma memorials are also at Pearl Harbor. Currently, the USS Utah memorial is available only to those with military base access.
It’s important to know these kinds of details to avoid disappointment, and that goes for any planned activity. Ask about age restrictions, physical requirements, and inclusions. You don’t want to find out too late that a 4-hour hiking tour doesn’t provide food or water. Know going in what you can expect.
If your plans include a long drive (relatively speaking, Oahu is only 37 miles long), look for things to do on the way. For example, if you plan to drive to Oahu’s North Shore from Waikiki, plan a stop at the Dole Plantation in Wahiawa. While it may not warrant the drive from Waikiki, it is on the way to the North Shore and worth the stop. Doing a circle-the-island drive? Pick places to eat along the way before you set out, and avoid driving around aimlessly looking for a bite.
The basic point is this: Be Prepared. People spend their entire lifetimes in Hawaii and never experience all that it has to offer. Even an extended vacation cannot unlock all of Hawaii’s possibilities. Know your vacation priorities, and schedule your activities accordingly.
But if your idea of making the most of a day in Hawaii means sinking your toes in the sand and little else, well, that’s okay, too.