As one of the most popular travel destinations in the U.S., Hawaii is a tropical, paradise island to visit, and it's an excellent getaway all year round.
With its stunning beaches, interesting history, and vibrant culture, it’s easy to see why so many visitors come to Hawaii. Needless to say, the day trips around the islands and the festivals each month make Hawai'i even more special and unique.
This is a comprehensive guide about Hawaii - How to get around, the best activities, the foods you should try at least once, the best time to visit, and more...
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Hawaii Travel Guide - Overview
Hawaii consists of 6 major islands, each with its own unique landscape and culture.
Plenty of activities keep you entertained - from driving the road to Hana in Maui or snorkeling in the crystal clear waters of Maui to experiencing the vibrant nightlife in Honolulu or simply relaxing on one of Hawaii’s many beautiful beaches.
The best time to visit Hawaii is from April to September, despite the weather being pleasant the whole year.
Looking for adventure or just a laid-back vacation? Hawaii has something that will make your vacation memorable.
Islands of Hawaii
There are 137 islands in Hawaii, including 6 main ones: Oahu, Maui, Hawaii (also called the Big Island), Kauai, Molokai, and Lanai. Each of the larger islands has its distinct personality, scenery, and one-of-a-kind attractions.
Kauai is great for hiking and eco-tourism activities like kayaking or zip-lining through its deep canyons. The Big Island is renowned for its volcanic activity – you can explore Volcanoes National Park, enjoy some amazing sunsets on Waikoloa Beach, or take a dip in Kaloli Point’s hot springs.
Maui is known for its incredible beaches and diverse marine life – try snorkeling at Molokini Crater or catch some waves at Honolua Bay. Oahu is home to Honolulu which offers an array of activities, including shopping, dining, and nightlife.
In terms of accommodation, there are plenty of options available to suit all budgets around Hawaii.
Choose from luxury resorts or budget-friendly hotels and apartments – no matter the island you pick, you'll find something within your budget.
Learn more about each of the Hawaiian Islands.
Best Time to Visit Hawaii
Your ideal time to visit Hawaii depends on the activities you have planned. The period from May to October, also known as summer, is the busiest time for tourism.
However, winter, which runs from November to April, is usually less crowded and offers cooler temperatures, perfect for those who prefer sightseeing and exploring the islands at a slower pace.
In addition, if you plan to come for whale watching, the peak season is from December to April. This is when you have the best chance of seeing humpback whales swimming in Hawaii’s waters.
For these periods, you can expect more tourists during spring and winter break holidays, including Easter, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve.
How to Get Around Hawaii
Whether you’re looking for adventure or just a laid-back vacation, the best ways to get around are by car, taxi, or ride-sharing services and taking tourist buses.
Of course, if you plan to visit tourist attractions, then your best bet is to join day trips, which make the experience more interesting and definitely more convenient.
Renting a car is the best way to get around and explore at your own pace. Major rental companies like Hertz, Enterprise, Avis, and Dollar have Honolulu branches.
Alternatively, taking the Waikiki Trolley is an excellent option, as it covers the best areas in Oahu, such as Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head, and many more.
Uber and Lyft are available in Hawaii and usually offer cheaper fares than regular taxis. If you're willing to share the ride, then ride-sharing choices allow you to save even more.
Popular Things to Do in Hawaii
Being such an interesting travel destination with endless spots to discover, Hawaii offers a number of activities and experiences that you don’t want to miss
If you have only a limited amount of time, here are some highlights that you must check out on your Hawaii travel:
Needless to say, there are hundreds of things to do in the Aloha state, but these are the attractions you can't miss when visiting Hawaii.
Best Day Tours in Hawaii
Hawaii is home to some of the most stunning sights in the world, and it deserves to be experienced up close and personal. That's where a day tour comes in handy - you won't need to organize the trip, you'll be with an expert, and you'll learn everything about the place.
These are the best day tours in Hawaii:
Hawaiian Luaus are a must-try for any first-time visitor seeking an authentic Hawaiian experience. You can witness traditional dance performances, savor island delicacies, and even learn how to hula dance.
For a romantic getaway, try dinner cruises in Honolulu, where you can enjoy breathtaking views of the sunset while sharing a gourmet meal with your loved one.
If you're an adventure-seeker, then horseback riding across the island's rugged terrain or ATV riding at Kualoa Ranch is sure to please.
Moreover, helicopter tours in Oahu and Maui will give you a bird's eye view of the island, while Pearl Harbor Tours will offer you a history lesson you won't forget.
Day tours in Hawaii are unique and provide an unbeatable experience, and you'll surely want to save some of your budget for these.
Must-Try Food in Hawaii
No visit to Hawaii is complete without trying the local food. Hawaiian cuisine is an eclectic mix of flavors and ingredients that are often native to the islands and sourced from local farmers.
The most popular food item in Hawaii is undoubtedly poke, a raw fish salad served with island flavors like seaweed and ginger. It's usually served over rice or as an appetizer option at many of the restaurants in Hawaii.
Another favorite is lau lau, which is cooked pork wrapped inside taro leaves and steamed until tender. Hawaii also has its own version of hamburgers – they are called loco moco.
These burgers typically include hamburger patties topped with white rice, fried eggs, gravy, and onions for a filling meal that will keep you going all day long. You'll find these burgers on almost every menu throughout the islands.
Of course, no meal in Hawaii is complete without trying some of the famous shaved ice desserts. These sweet treats are made from finely shaved ice and topped with all sorts of flavors like guava, coconut, mango, pineapple, and more.
Finally, when you're in Oahu, don't forget to allocate a few hours to visit Chinatown. Besides offering mouth-watering Asian cuisine, the area also has budget-friendly meal choices.
What to Pack for Hawaii
To ensure a smooth Hawaii trip, it's important to be well-prepared by knowing which essential items to include in your packing list.
Remember that Hawaii is a state composed of islands, and therefore has a unique climate.
The temperatures are usually mild year-round but can become quite steamy during the summer months. Therefore, it’s important to do some research before coming, as you'll have more rainfall during the winter, and temperatures will drop during the night.
It's recommended to pack clothes made of breathable fabrics such as cotton and linen. This will help you feel cool even when it's hot outside.
For colder nights or visiting higher elevations like Haleakala National Park on Maui or Mauna Kea State Park on Big Island, bring warmer layers like sweaters and jackets and hats and gloves if needed.
Swimwear is another must-have item since there are so many lovely beaches and swimming spots in Hawaii. Choose lightweight pieces that don’t take up too much space in your luggage so you can enjoy days at the beach without feeling weighed down.
To complete the look, accessorize with sunglasses, a sunhat or baseball cap, towels, water shoes/flip flops, and UV protection rash guard/swim shirt.
Finally, consider bringing along some smart items, such as a power bank, which are definitely useful on days out.
Hawaii Travel Guide Conclusion...
From breathtaking sunsets to adventure activities and from delicious local cuisine to unique cultural experiences, Hawaii offers an unforgettable vacation experience.
This was your complete Hawaii vacation guide for both first-time visitors and experienced travelers. When visiting the islands, be sure to pack all the essentials, such as breathable clothing items, swimwear, accessories like sunglasses and hats, and smart items like power banks.
Hawaii offers numerous tourist attractions that can make your trip incredible. Make the most of your Hawaii tourism by exploring as many places as possible. The Aloha State is definitely worth a visit!
Before Travelling To Hawaii (Tips & FAQs):
Hawaii offers a variety of activities for every visitor, including:
- Surfing 🏄♀️
- Hiking 🥾
- Snorkeling 🐠
- Whale watching 🐳
- Attending a luau 🌺
- Exploring volcanoes 🌋
Our top beach picks include:
- Lanikai Beach, Oahu 🏖️
- Hanauma Bay, Oahu 🐠
- Wailea Beach, Maui 🌴
- Poipu Beach, Kauai 🌊
Families will love:
- Polynesian Cultural Center, Oahu 👨👩👧👦
- Maui Ocean Center 🐟
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park 🌋
- Dole Plantation, Oahu 🍍
Romantic activities for couples:
- Sunset dinner cruise 🛥️✨
- Couple's massages at a luxury spa 💆♀️
- Scenic helicopter tour 🚁
- Stargazing at Mauna Kea Observatories 🔭
Singles can enjoy:
- Island hopping tours ✈️
- Local food tours 🍽️
- Surf lessons 🏄
- Nightlife in Waikiki or Lahaina 🎉
Shop till you drop at:
- Ala Moana Center, Oahu 🛍️
- Waikiki Beach Walk, Oahu 🏢
- The Shops at Wailea, Maui 👗
- Poipu Shopping Village, Kauai 🛒
Must-visit spots in Hawaii:
- Pearl Harbor, Oahu ⚓
- Road to Hana, Maui 🚗
- Waimea Canyon, Kauai 🌄
- Volcanoes National Park, Big Island 🌋
Popular attractions to visit:
- Waikiki Beach, Oahu 🏖️
- Diamond Head, Oahu 🌄
- Haleakala National Park, Maui 🌋
- Na Pali Coast, Kauai ⛰️
Options for getting around:
- Rental cars 🚗
- Public buses 🚍
- Bicycles 🚲
- Inter-Island flights ✈️