A Hawaii getaway turned very quickly into a 3 week holiday across all four main islands, I think it might be the Australian in me. I am most definitely the type of person that wants to do everything possible on a trip. If I am going to go somewhere I may as well make the most of it right? Since being back, I have had many questions such as, “What was your favourite island?”, “What was the best part?” or “What activities do you recommend?”. So I have put together a list of ‘tips and trick’ when planning a Hawaii trip.
Full disclosure, put together based purely on my personal experience.
Become a member of Hawaiian Airlines
Before you even start to book your trip, login to Hawaiian Airlines and become a member. Opt-in for all the email notifications and when a sale comes through GRAB IT. I am all for booking a holiday by yourself, however if you can’t get a sale go to a travel agent. Booking a holiday 3 months in advance like we did during a peak season (christmas and new years) we struggled to find a good discounted flight. We ended up with Jetstar – jam packed, no entertainment, no food and shitty luggage. If you haven’t heard already you NEED the luggage. Hawaiian Airlines do plenty of deals to include two suitcases at 30kgs each, winner right?
Check skyscanner before you book internal flights
This site will give you a comparison between airlines on the day you want to fly around Hawaii. Once you work out which internal flight is cheaper, go directly to the website and book to avoid fees. Be warned, these flights are not for the faint hearted.
Use Skype to make international and local calls
You will find wifi most places you go and this is the best way to make international and local calls, whether or not its a travel emergency or hotel questions.
Call the hotel to find out what “breakfast” means
Hawaii doesn’t do ‘buffet breakfast’ very often and they do not do it well. I don’t care what you say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If it’s included with your room, call them and ask whats on the menu. In my personal experience, speaking as someone who did not study nutrition in depth but loves food, a continental breakfast full of pastries and sugar sounds exactly like a waste of money right? Eggs, I need eggs. Save your money and get the room without breakfast and head out to get your own.
Take a spare suitcase
You can do this in two ways (in my opinion). If you have 2 suitcases with your airfare, bring an empty one. If you do not or you plan to get on some internal flights between the islands, place a carry on suitcase inside a large suitcase and pack light. This will mean you can fill up both suitcases for the trip home.
Looking at a map of Hawaii, we went to the following islands in order: 1. Oahu, 2. Maui, 3. The Big Island (Kona), and 4. Kauai
Organise car hire early
Troll the internet for discounts, you should only need a car for up to 3 days maximum (in my personal opinion) depending on the island and where you are staying. Get the car you want – it is way more fun. We settled for a Mustang on one island and a Jeep on the other.
Buy that camera you always wanted
Spend the money on a camera or GoPro that you really want before you leave, keep your receipt and pack your good/goods in your carry on bag. Once you are cleared through customs you can take your receipt to the duty free counter, show your item/itmes and have the tax deposited straight back into your account. Check out the rules and regulations before you go crazy: Tourist Refund Scheme.
Save money through Airbnb
Don’t be afraid to look up some places on Airbnb, there are plenty of options ranging from the entire place to yourself or a share house with a room to yourself. Great way to see ‘more’ of Hawaii and if you’re social a great way to meet people, you might even pick up some local tips. Note: check out the ratings and location on google maps before you book.
Don’t go crazy prebooking activities
When you get off at the airport at any island, there are multiple stands with plenty of brochures. Get as many as you can and spend an afternoon deciding what you want to do and when. It’s the best way to find the right tour for you in Hawaii.
Commit to one helicopter ride in Hawaii
It is worth the money. I have heard lots of advice to go either on The Big Island or Kauai. Both have their benefits and you will be mind blown either way. We went on Kauai, I have plenty of photos from the GoPro but just to get a taste, check it out:
Save your shopping until the end
Just remember though, if you see something you really really like buy it, outlets never have new stock. This is not even all of it…
Any questions or further tips from your own Hawaii experiences post below!