Hawaii is an incredibly popular tourist destination, and many people strive to not only vacation in the Islands, but make repeat trips back. Because Hawaii is comprised of eight islands, four of which are popular to visit, it takes a few trips back and forth to really gain an overall experience of Hawaii. But this post isn’t for the repeat travelers. It’s for the first timers, the Hawaii newcomers.
Those who have explored a Hawaiian Island in the past probably have a good idea of what they’d like to do on their next trip here, but tourists who have never been to the Islands might have a hard time figuring out the best way to maximize the trip. Here is our guide to Hawaii for the first time traveler, plus some side tips we think you might benefit from.
What to pack, when to go? You really don’t need to pack much for Hawaii, although we do recommend at least two bathing suits. This is so you can have a beach day and still have a dry suit to jump into if you decide to hot tub it by night. Or maybe you want to swim in the hotel pool in the morning but want to enjoy the beach in the evening as well- having a variety of suits helps to ensure you’ll always have a dry one to shimmy into.
Don’t forget comfortable walking shoes, a pair of sandals or slippers, a light cover-up, a hat and sunglasses. One thought that always helps ease my packing anxiety is you can always buy it once you’re there. So true. Don’t panic if you forgot your wide-brimmed hat or sun tan lotion- there is plenty for purchase here in Hawaii!
Hawaii has comfortable weather year-round. Unless you’re coming to the islands specifically for something like surfing or whale watching, then the timing for a vacation to Hawaii really just depends on you. Summer months tend to be drier and warmer, especially along the south sides, and wintertime the temperature can drop to the low 60’s in the evening. Cure this with a light sweater though and you’ll be just fine! Also, please note that rain happens in Hawaii year round. So even if you come in the middle of August, you can expect some precipitation. This is how the islands stay so green!
Which leads me to my next tip about expectations. Don’t travel to Hawaii thinking the weather is going to be perfect for your entire stay. Rain can happen on the daily in some parts of these tropics, and we don’t want you to feel disappointed if you get more than you anticipated. It’s a good idea to keep your expectations low, just in case you encounter heavy clouds or passing storms while you’re here. That being said, Hawaii usually has gorgeous weather all year, and even if it does rain, it’s warm! So regardless of the weather, you’ll still have a beautiful vacation.
Decide early about a rental car. Renting a car highly depends on your location, so it’s a good idea to do some research ahead of time. If you’re traveling to a place like Waikiki, Lahaina or Kailua-Kona and plan to spend majority of your time surrounding the resort or condo, then you won’t need a car. But if you’d like to do some exploration of the island and its diverse landscapes, I recommend getting a rental car. Or, break up your vacation by spending the first half without one and the second half with one. This will give you time for getting to know your immediate town surroundings AND exploring beyond it.
Soak up the outdoor activities (surfing, hiking, beach walks, swimming, waterfalls, etc.) If you’re coming to Hawaii, chances are you enjoy the warm beach weather. So soak it up! Spend all day at the beach, plan a hike to a secluded waterfall, get a couple surf sessions in! Take advantage of Hawaii’s bounty and enjoy the outdoors. It is quite possibly the best characteristic of this Aloha state, so take advantage of warm weather and get outside!
Plan at least one ‘hoorah.’ By hoorah I mean one splurge. Something like a cruise around the Na Pali coast on Kauai, a luau in Waikiki or an all-day exclusive island tour on Oahu. This will give the vacation a bit of structure but also help maximize your time in Hawaii by showing you a unique aspect.
Some vacationers might have a bigger budget to work with, in which case I recommend planning more than just one hoorah. Explore Kualoa Ranch on Oahu and take an ATV ride, go horseback riding along Poipu’s coastline on Kauai, snorkel the clear waters of Honolua Bay on Maui, witness the lava and natural wonders of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island, watch the sunrise over Mt. Haleakala on Maui, the list goes on and on. These activities are what help to give you a fun and unique experience of the island, especially when you book with an intimate and personalized tour company like Secret Hawaii Tours.
Explore the foods. Part of the cultural experience in Hawaii is sampling the flavors of this melting pot. With so many different ethnicities comprising the state, there is a plethora of influences in the food and it’s all ono! Try a plate lunch with fresh island fish, a raw poke bowl, a warm malasada, sweet POG juice (passion orange guava), earthy poi, salty edamame, and so much more! With an exotic blend of dishes from around the world to sample, Hawaii is a great place to push your taste bud limits and step outside the comfort zone. Plus it introduces you to authentic Hawaii!
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