Hawaii it’s a piece of heaven so unaccessible for most of the people due to its remote location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a dream that rarely comes true. Making the effort to reach Hawaii and commit some silly errors will definitely ruin your experience and will leave you quite broke for the rest of the year. I have visited Hawaii few months ago and I am still struggling to cover my credit card expenses.
Hawaii it’s anything but cheap and take it from a person who has lived in Dubai for the past 9 years.
For you not to repeat the same mistakes as me and make the best of your holiday I have created a traveler guide that should be taken into consideration in order to ensure a smooth and less costy experience.
DOProper home preparation is the key
Flying to the other side of the world without a proper plan it’s the biggest mistake that I have made. You are just few clicks away to discover the best kept secrets of the archipelago including active volcanos, canyons, pristine beaches and helicopters tours. Don’t be lazy, do your research!
If there is something I wish I would have known before visiting the island is that Hawaii doesn’t means Honolulu only. Hawaii represent the Heaven divided in 8 main islands, each of them different from the other and accesible through domestic flights.
Due to my poor home preparation I ended up allocating only 4 days for my visit, time in which I had the opportunity of exploring just the island of Oahu. To travel all the way to Hawaii and not being able to experience active vulcano by nights it’s a total waste and my biggest travel regret of all times.
DONTWasting money on hotels it’s the ultimate mistake
This is a huge mistake that I seem never to learn from. Yes, staying in Waikiki, the most famous street of the island it’s an experience but not a must. Instead of paying 400$ per night at Alohilani resort like me, you may want to look for a decent but less costy accommodation, a bit further from the agitation of the main street. Paying almost 2000$ (including taxes) for 4 nights stay caught me a bit off guard and kind of empty our pockets from the moment we stepped on the island.
I don’t know about you but while I am in holiday I rather spend my time exploring the surroundings and not watching Netflix on a luxurious hotel room.
DORent a car
This is the best travel advice I can offer you, regarding of the destination. Yes, renting a car in Hawaii was extremely expensive but it came with lot of fun and adventure.
Beside that, it’s the easiest and the most convenient way to get around the island without being rushed or forced to follow an itinerary set by a tour operator.
Keep in mind that cars are not really affordable but driving on the island it is extremely easy and pleasant. Personally I have paid 400$ plus 600$ the security deposit for a convertible car(the cheapest one that the renting company had available at that time) but undoubtedly the most expensive car I have ever rented. In this way I was able to explore the most important landmarks of the island in just one day, at my own peace and comfort. Priceless!
DON’TBook a group tour of the island
If you think renting a car it’s expensive then wait until you check the tours prices. For me Hawaii means nature, wild beaches and plenty of opportunity for pictures, and I find it annoying to be stuck with a group of people that may not share the same interests as me. At the end of the day you want to explore Hawaii and not observe few landmarks through the window of a bus.
If you are a total disaster driver or just find group tours more enjoyable then I can recommend you the company “1epic tour“ led by Captain Vince. We have taken the island tour on our first day in Hawaii when we were still trying to figure out the island and it proved to be the most fun guided tour I have ever experienced. Unlike other tour operators, Captain Vince “forces” us to engage with each other, playing games along the way and even gifting each of us a natural Iei (hawaiian traditional flower necklace) at the end of the tour. You can find Captain Vince on Instagram by typing 1epictour or through Google.
DOSnorkel with the turtles
This is by far the most impressive thing I have ever experienced in my entire life. Being able to swim alongside the giant sea creatures it’s an indescribable feeling. You can find snorkeling places almost everywhere in Oahu but keep in mind that touching, kissing or any other contact with the turtles it’s strictly prohibited for their own safety. All the turtles spicies in the United States are considered endangered therefore protected by federal law and the fines for breaking the rules can go up to 10000$ or even jail time.
In order to see the turtles in their normal habitat we chose to book a snorkeling tour, totally recommend since you won’t be able to reach by yourself the Turtle Canyon unless you have a boat. Our guides were professional divers, very confident in their abilities, helping even the most fearful swimers (including myself) to snorkel around the canion and enjoy an unique experience. Even though I brought with me all the underwater photo equipment I wasn’t able to use. I guess the best moments are to be kept in memory only.
The trip was booked through Viator with Living Ocean Tours and has cost us 170$ including snorkeling equipment and refreshments.
DOTravel with a generous budget
If you feel you are a bit tight on a budget right now then you might want to reconsider your decision of traveling to Hawaii. Hawaii it’s a life time experience therefore a life time of saving it’s not mandatory but would definitely help.
4 days in Hawaii cost me more than a whole month trip to other countries so be prepared to empty your pockets on basic things such as food and drinks.
A regular dinner for two won’t go below 100$ (including tips) and when you have to eat three times per day…well, you do the math. In order to save some money for the remaining 3 weeks of our honeymoon we chose to have only one dinner outside while breakfast and lunch would consist of fruits and snacks from the grocery store. Don’t underestimate the supermarkets prices though…there were only few occasions when the final check won’t reach 100$ for basic survival items.
DON’TVisit Hawaii if you are allergic to pineapple
Just kidding with this one, however the truth is Hawaiians cook almost everything with pineapple and if you are allergic to this fruit you should be really paying attention to what you eat.
If you are interested in an authentic hawaiian experience I can recommend Aloha Table, a restaurant which shares traditional recipes and where you can try few house speciality such as Pineapple beer and Spicy pickled pineapple. In my opinion Hawaii doesn’t own a rich culinary culture as their food is really similar with any other North American dish, however you can try the local Loco Moco that Aloha Table is renowned for.
Loco Moco it’s different kind of burger, 2 beef patties and fried eggs on a bed of rice and soaked in delicious souce. Without a doubt Hawaii has the best burgers I ever tried.
You are not allowed to leave the island before trying the famous Mai Tai cocktail and without buying a huge amount of Hawaiian cookies. You wont find it anywhere else in the world and believe you won’t be able to live without it anymore.
DOGreat the people with ALOHA
ALOHA it is very similar with the Ciao used in italian (Hello/Bye) but much more meaningful as Polynesians are using this word to express love, compassion, sympathy and kindness. Aloha vibes only!
DON’TForget to say MAHALO
Leaving a place without saying Mahalo (Thank you) it can be considered rude by the locals. Hawaiians are very peaceful and respectful and they expect the same from people who are coming to explore their paradise. Show your gratitude by making this word part of your daily vocabulary.
Hiking in a dreamlike landscape it’s the highlight of any visit in Hawaii and you must do it. Block your fear and your negative thoughts and push your limits to the maximum in one of the trekking routes. In Oahu, the most famous hikes are the Coco head and Diamond head, both of them inactive volcanos which offers surreal view over the city.
The best time to start your hike it’s either early in the morning (5-6am) or during sunset when the temperature it’s a bit more bearable. The hike to Coco head took us approximately 30-40 minutes but it all depends on your fitness. Locals would reach the top in just 15 minutes while a less active person would probably have to hike for around 90 minutes to the last step.
DON’TRisk your life with unauthorized hikes
Probably the first image that comes to your mind when you think about Hawaii it’s the famous Stairway to heaven: epic, dangerous and ilegal. The infamous stairs were built by the US army in 1947 and they are closed to public being considered really dangerous. If the fine or the charge of trespassing doesn’t scare you then the fact that someone actually died on this trail might. Think twice before putting your life in danger, here and anywhere else in the world.
I hope you enjoyed my article so far and I would like to end it with a MUST DO while in Hawaii.
MUST DOGet involve in a Polynesian ritual/activity
Polynesian culture is so rich and flavored and it would be such a waste not to participate in one of their ancient rituals such as Hula dance, HI’UWAI (cleansing ceremony on the beach) or learning how to make your own IEI (the famous flower necklace).
One of the best thing about staying in an expensive resort was being able to practice all those activities free of charge. However you can experience those and much more at the Polynesian cultural center in Oahu.
Mahalo Nui Loa (thank you very much) for reading!