Oahu visitor arrivals are just a couple of ticks down from what they were in 2019, nudging back up to nearly 30,000 souls every day. The tourism vacuum of the Covid pandemic has filled quickly since its ebb. That means Oahu is busy. We’ll offer here some Oahu vacation pro tips as Hawaii tourism enters the high winter season.
Oahu vacation pro tips – parking
Rental car parking fees are a full-on budget buster. On Oahu, you can expect to pay about as much to park your economy rental car per room night for about as much as you pay to rent the car. For most Oahu visitors, it makes a lot more sense to rent a car for just a day’s adventures, especially if you are staying at a Waikiki hotel or resort.
As an example, the parking fee per room night at the Hilton Hawaiian Village is currently $68. An economy rental car from a national agency is $73. Take an Uber or cab around town. Rent a car for day trips. That’s an Oahu vacation pro tip that can save you a significant chunk of change.
Traffic congestion tips can save time
Vehicle traffic on Oahu is…a lot. Avoid the roads during morning and afternoon rush hours. Get an early start or have a fine, leisurely breakfast before you head out on the day’s mission. Some traffic is unavoidable, like the kind you’ll encounter on Oahu’s North Shore when winter big waves wash out Kamehameha Highway and surfers and spectators throng the “Seven Mile Miracle”. Assume Honolulu’s urban corridor and much of the H-1 Freeway are jammed for the evening commute, always.
This one’s personal. Many of our friends are small business owners. I’m a small business owner myself, technically. Local restaurants and the residents they employ, artists and crafts galleries, and retail stores rely not just upon the people who live here, but on the people who visit, too. Those businesses embody real Hawaii. You can find chain stores and restaurants anywhere. Support local business. It matters.
Be prudent, not cheap – tips for tipping
An Oahu vacation is not cheap. Certainly, there are deals to be had for accommodations and dining. The best way to get those deals is to work with local travel companies like Hawaii Aloha Travel. But for every Oahu vacation, there will be incidental costs incurred that might not make it into your budgeting plans. Hawaii’s statewide sales tax, for example. The high cost of gasoline. Tipping restaurant servers and service industry workers (it’s important, and should be at least 20% at restaurants and bars, and more if you enjoy the food/drink/server).
The cost of living in Hawaii is the highest among all US states. Keep that in mind not just when budgeting your Oahu vacation, but while you’re here. If you find yourself worrying about your vacation dollars dwindling while on Oahu, you’ve probably not done a very good job of researching and budgeting. (That’s why you should work with Hawaii Aloha Travel.) I promise that when a visitor proclaims loudly that “Everything is so expensive here!”, we who live here roll our eyes. Brilliant observation, genius! Now pony up. Nothing screams “clueless tourist” like a visitor complaining about the realities of Hawaii’s economy. We see you, and yes, we’re judging you.
Perhaps the most important of Oahu vacation pro tips is not really a tip at all: don’t micromanage. Leave room on your itinerary for genuine leisure and the ability to be flexible enough to enjoy the kind of magical moment you can’t plan. It might be drinks with a fellow hotel/resort guest you’ve just met, or a unique dining experience that didn’t turn up in your research but was recommended by a friendly resident you met after arriving. Maybe you’ll be spontaneously invited to a family gathering.
Being ready for those kinds of unpredictable moments of wonder and delight is how they find you The Oahu sunset photos, sparkling waters, and gorgeous hiking are hallmarks of a wonderfully planned Oahu vacation. Just make sure you’re ready for unscheduled delight, too.