Hawaii travel - Destination Guide
What To Know Before You Go To Hawaii
In this Hawaii travel guide, we will take you on the most catchy, thrilling, amusing and memorable trip you have ever taken before! Hawaii, with long days of sunshine, picture-perfect weather and the hottest vibe is eager to have you dive into the world of its tropical atmosphere. Enjoy the best white-sand beaches, the finest restaurants, the exquisite shopping, lush, green cliffs, the most awesome canyons, waterfalls, the best water and land activities, one-of-kind attractions and landmarks, and you will never want to leave this fabulous state of Hawaii! Dare to see how the fresh lava is being formed? Hawaii's National Parks are all about showing the tourists the volcanos and how they erupt...from a distance of course. But the view is indescribable! The boarding has already started, so pack your suitcases and let Hawaii welcome you into its mesmerizing paradise! Read below our tips on what to know before going to Hawaii.
Why travel to Hawaii?
Here are the top reasons that attract tourists to Hawaii:
Hawaii is such a popular travel destination. According to statistics, tourists spend more time traveling in Hawaii than on any other tropical island. The most popular islands for Hawaii travel are Oahu, Maui, Big Island and Kauai.
There are many reasons why tourists choose Hawaii as their next travel getaway paradise. Unlike other tropical places, Hawaiian weather is consistent throughout the year with a minimal change in temperature. This allows tourists to visit the islands any time during the year.
With over 1,207 km (750 miles) of shoreline and over 400 named beaches, you will definitely find the perfect beach that suits you and your family the most. All of these beaches are public, meaning they are free of charge and are accessible by both the tourists and locals. You will also discover marvellous beaches with different colours of sand. There are white sand beaches, yellow, black, red as well as a green sand beach that you can explore during your Hawaii travel.
First time visitors to Hawaii's island Oahu must experience the hiking trails of Diamond Head! Once you overcome the long way ahead of you, check out the Diamond Head State Monument and Park. Panoramas from the 760-foot extinct volcanic peak will open up a totally different world to you from up above. You will be blown away by the volcanic landscapes, the looping mountain trails, the monster waves that break in on the famous North Shore where green sea-turtles make their way to the shore. Oahu is the most kid-friendly island for Hawaii travel offering families the most thrilling experiences such as Waikiki Aquarium, Hanauma Bay, Honolulu Zoo or Sea Life Park. For the most inquisitive, you may visit the aircraft carrier at Pearl Harbour or a Wold War II Submarine. Beaches in Oahu are beyond beautiful and very safe allowing families to fully soak up the sun, enjoy the salty waters and dig their feet in the white-powder sand of the island's flawless beaches.Oahu
The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a must-see attraction on Big Island. Here you will be able to witness the famous active Kilauea Volcano that occasionally spouts lava.
Maui is a popular destination for whale-watching, and if you do decide to come here for Hawaii travel here we strongly suggest to visit the island during the whale-watching season between November and April. A breathtaking experience that will leave you speechless as you watch the whales flip and flop in the waters of the ocean. The island is packed with many marine attractions such as a Whale National Marine Sanctuary, Maui Ocean Center, the Whalers Village Museum and much more. If you want to get away from the water, visit the Sugar Cain Train-an lovely experience for the entire family.Maui
Kauai is famous for its lush green gardens, the most beautiful vegetation, the stunning Napali Coast and the amazing Waimea Canyon. Local waterfalls are a must-see while staying on the island. And if you are up for hiking along sheer sea cliffs-you have got the best deal for Hawaii travel! For nature lovers, bird watching can be done at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge.Kauai Island
A variety of water sports attracts active visitors as the waters of Hawaii are perfect to engage in some of the most exciting water activities. Snorkeling, kayaking, ziplining, ATV, 4WD adventures, biking tours and fishing trips are among some of the most booked tours on all islands in Hawaii.
The beauty of Hawaii is truly amazing and is perfect for contemplating, enjoying and getting the best out of. From gorgeous botanical gardens, to hand-carved churches, cathedrals and temples, to some of the most mouthwatering ethnic cuisines, to an impressive variety of historical landmarks and attractions, Hawaii has something no other place does. Now you know where your next Hawaii travel will take place and it sure will be one of the six distinctive Hawaiian islands!
Best time to go to Hawaii
All year-long sunshine and mild temperatures throughout all seasons make Hawaii an all-season vacation destination. Temperatures vary during the winter, spring, summer and fall months but by only a few degrees. Most travellers choose to visit Hawaii during the peak season that starts in December and stretches all the way through April. If you decide to travel here during the winter months, be prepared not only to see sun-splashed beaches, the never-ending sun rays and pleasantly warm trade winds but jacked up prices in everything like lodging, restaurants, attractions and car hires. There are no bargain deals, no discounts, in fact all of the prices are 10%-15% higher during the peak season compared to the rest of the year. Although with the gorgeous weather permitting, this is the busiest time of the year, so if your Hawaii travel is booked for one of these months, be prepared to see large crowds of people, long line-ups and restaurant reservations that are hard to get.
End of April to middle of August is still a good time to enjoy the Hawaiian sun. The weather is nice and hot, without any humidity, days are filled with sun and the light tropical breezes and crowds of tourists are long gone. Although summers can get pricey in Hawaii, the most expensive seasons is when kids are out of school. So if you would like to save a little bit on lodging, try to book your Hawaii travel during school time.
Summer months are the warmest on the islands with temperatures rising as high as 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit). This forecast might not be pleasant to some travellers as humidity levels reach the top; however, during this time you might score a few deals on accommodations and car rentals. Unlike other tropical places where most tourists gather during high seasons, travellers that come to Hawaii frequent the islands during summer months as well. So if prices are not a problem, the best time to visit Hawaii would be during the peak season from December to April. During this period you may enjoy on your Hawaii travel moderately warm weather, low humidity levels and a lot of water sports that are too hot to engage in the summer months.
Where is Hawaii on the map?
Hawaii consists of 8 islands: Big Island, Maui, Oahu, Kahoolawe, Lanai, Molokai, Kauai and Niihau. 6 of them are fairly large inhabited islands, with 4 islands - Big Island, Oahu, Maui, and Kauai serving as major tourist destinations for Hawaii travel. The islands are located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Hawaii is the 50th state of the United States. Its land area is 28,311 km2 (10,931 sq. mi) Hawaiian islands are located about 3,900 km (2,400 miles) west of California coast and about 8,516 km (5,300 miles) east of the Philippines.
The Big Island is the largest out of all islands in the Hawaiian chain being at 10,437 square km (4,030 square miles). It is located southeast of its sister island Maui and is home to the most active volcano on the planet, Kilauea.
Maui, the second-largest island is at 1,888 square km (729 square miles) and is located northeast of the Big Island.
Kauai, an island located northwest of Oahu is smaller in size than Maui and Big Island at just 1,610 square km (622 square miles).
Oahu, at just 1,546 square km (597 square miles) is the most popular island for Hawaii travel as it's the center of all the happenings and entertainment in Hawaii. Although this island is not as big, it has the most concentrated amount of population living here, the majority situated in or around Honolulu, the state's capital city.
Capital city of Hawaii - Honolulu
Honolulu, the capital city of Hawaii, is located on the island of Oahu, the center of all the entertainment and colourful, rich and vibrant life. Being the biggest city in Hawaii, Honolulu is located on Oahu's south shore and its estimated population is nearly 404,194. Asian Americans make the majority of the population in the capital, comprised of such ethnic groups are Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, Filipino and Vietnamese. There are also some native Hawaiian residents, but their percentage dropped down to almost 3%!Honolulu, Hawaii
If you choose Honolulu for your Hawaii travel you will fall head over heels for this cosmopolitan capital. Here you will find everything from historic landmarks, world-class shopping, the finest and the most exquisite dining establishments, the most thrilling outdoor adventures, and the city's racing pulse in vibrant night life and entertainment.
Visit the Bishop Museum, Hawaii's largest history museum that possesses the most rare artifacts in history and that serves as a premier natural and cultural history institution in the Pacific. Discover the best art you have ever seen by visiting Honolulu's Museum of Art, where paintings and drawings were collected from the most talented artists in Hawaii. Iolani Palace is the only official state residency of royalty in the US and is now open to the public.
Surfing enthusiasts from around the world cannot resist Honolulu's amazing surfing opportunities. With some of the best waves in the region, the capital provides the perfect platform to enjoy other water sports and water activities such as scuba diving and paddleboarding.
Exploring Pearl Harbor is a real eye-opening experience that takes you back to one of the most tragic events in the world's history. You will have a chance to piece the events together by taking the tours and visiting the museums and memorials.
Diamond Head, located just above Waikiki is a perfect hiking destination where you will have a truly indulgent experience. Plan this outing ahead and pack some really comfortable footwear for your Hawaii travel in Honolulu.
Honolulu caters to anyone and everyone. Here you will also discover many diverse cuisine options. If you are feeling like having pasta, you will never be able to resist the succulent Italian cuisine. Japanese, Hawaiian, Indian and Greek mouthwatering dishes are also available practically on every corner in the city. Every restaurant you can think of, Honolulu has it. A perfect opportunity to try a variety of dishes of different nationalities.
Honolulu Zoo covers a massive area of 42 acres. It is home to many unique species including the Komodo dragon and is a must-visit attraction once you land here.
There are more reasons to visit Honolulu than you can think of. Visit the capital of Hawaii and find a perfect reason or two to be back to this paradise.
Population in Hawaii
Based on the most recent population estimates released by US Census, the population of Hawaii in 2017 is 1,454,295.
Oahu, the center of Hawaii's economy is also the most populated island with the population close to 976,000 residents that make up 71% of the entire state's population. Oahu is the central hub for all of the entertainment. Bars, exclusive restaurants, Pearl Harbor, Waikiki Beach parties, and surfing contests, it all happens in Oahu.
The Big Island has the second-largest population numbers at 190,000 after the iconic Oahu. Significantly large in size it feels cozy and has incredible natural scenery.
Maui, the second largest island in the chain is home to almost 150,000 residents. Although not a lot of people inhabit this island, almost 2 million tourists come to enjoy their Hawaii travel on Maui every year! Maui blasts with fun entertainment and a vibrant nightlife almost like Oahu, but aside from providing the most extravagant leisure time to the tourists, Maui's personal charm lies in local towns that truly feel like villages, quiet, with unspoiled deserted beaches that have the serenity and the seclusion of paradise.
The most northern island in the Hawaiian chain Kauai is the forth-largest island and the least populated at just 68,000 people. Kauai differs from other islands in Hawaii by being peaceful, quiet and serving as a perfect romantic Hawaii travel getaway for honeymooners. With its lush botanical gardens and stunning canyons, Kauai is the perfect escape from the modern world.
There is no dominant religion in Hawaii but nearly half of the state's population practices Christianity, whether it is Catholic, Christian, Protestant or other. Some people practice Judaism, Islam or Buddhism, while others do not refer themselves to any religious group. Churches are located all around the islands, and there is even a large Mormon University in Oahu - Brigham Young University - with many students attending.
People in Hawaii are the happiest and the most satisfied folks you will ever meet on your Hawaii travel. They worship their land and truly believe that their soil is the paradise on earth. They are hospitable, welcoming, and the friendliest people around. They will always give you a helping hand, provide directions or simply make friends with anybody that strikes a conversation with them.
Local Languages in Hawaii
English and Hawaiian are the two official languages of the state. Hawaiian, a Polynesian language has longer sounding vowels and is closely related to other Polynesian dialects including Tahitian and Maori.
Although everyone on the islands speaks, understands and writes English, many people study the Hawaiian Creole language and other aspects of the Hawaiian culture in a special Hawaiian immersion school that is part of the public statewide Department of Education.
Hawaiian Pidgin, that has been spoken in Hawaii for many decades is now also an official language of the state. Pidgin is based on English, with words and phrases recognizable only to those who speak it. To non-pidgin speakers the language might sound like slang. Hawaiian Pidgin is mostly used in casual everyday conversations between the residents who speak the language as well as sometimes used in advertising campaigns targeted at Hawaiian locals only.
How to get to Hawaii
Honolulu's International Airport is the main stopover hub for both domestic and international flights; however, all of Hawaii's major islands have their own airports. Honolulu International Airport is located just 20 minutes from Waikiki, so getting here is not a problem if you hire a car or a taxicab. Flights to the neighbouring islands leave Honolulu multiple times per day, so getting there will never be an issue. Different airlines provide their services to those who want to go island-hopping during their Hawaii travel. Some airlines offer cheaper rates, but their flights are not as enjoyable and rather bumpy.
If you are travelling to Maui, you will be landing in Kahului Airport located in Central Maui. From there you may also take a small domestic flight should you choose to travel to other islands at a later date as well.
The Big Island has two airports, namely, Kona International Airport and Hilo International Airport, located directly across the island from one another. All commercial flights that come to Kauai, use Lihue Airport.
You can get to Hawaii by direct flights from the US mainland, and although most flights land in Honolulu International Airport, you can access Maui and Kauai directly from the US for Hawaii travel. Those flights are a seldom occurrence, so for the most part you would need to make a connection in Oahu and take another flight to the other islands thereafter.
Non stop service to Hawaii is available from cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta to Oahu. Travellers coming from Europe must take a connecting flight to the US mainland and from there hop on a plane that will take them directly to Hawaii. You may fly non stop to Hawaii from Vancouver, but if you fly from Toronto or Calgary, you must change planes during your trip.
Flying is the predominant way of doing your Hawaii travel between the islands. A few domestic airline companies offer daily flights between all the major islands. If you need to travel from one island to the other, simply book your ticket and the plane will take you to your destination in no time. Flight time can last anywhere between 15 minutes to 1 hour depending on the location of the island you are travelling to. This convenient service is provided regularly, most times there are even a few flights per day.
There are only two passenger ferries that provide inter-island Hawaii travel. These boats run between Maui and Lanai and Maui and Molokai. The service is provided a few times a day and the travel time can be as long as 90 minutes. As of 2010, there are no more high-speed ferry service available in Hawaii, so if you are doing your island hopping by a boat, plan your trip accordingly with extra leeway time.
Hawaii travel options
Oahu, the Hawaiian island with the most vibrant nightlife, hot restaurants and mountain ranges also offers the tourists an endless choice of the best hotels no matter how much you have set aside for accommodations during your Hawaii travel. Most of the Oahu hotels are situated in Waikiki. Families, couples or just a group of friends seeking a fun experience with great customer service, suitable amenities and a boutique feel without a high price tag, can choose from the best wallet-friendly lodging available in Oahu. These properties have glorious beaches and staff that is always at your service. For travellers that are not on a budget, an array of luxury hotels and resorts is offered in Oahu's Waikiki, Oahu's primary resort area. These properties are more on a posh side and offer water slides, large pools, water activities, exclusive dining choices, and cozy rooms for their guests. For guests looking for a more local feel, a variety of travel rentals, condos, inns and smaller hotels is available for reservations in Oahu.
Maui is known for its lovely resorts many with a luxurious feel and not-so-affordable prices that cater to families as well; however, you can still find convenient apartments and condos for rent that are more budget-friendly. Travellers may also consider renting homes and cottages, B&B and small cozy, comfortable and well taken-care for inns. They might be situated further away from the core of Maui, but their prices are moderate.
From the moment you land on Kauai, the enchanting scenery and the warm Hawaiian spirit will welcome you to enjoy the best Hawaii travel of your life. Condo rentals, B & B lodging and 5-star family-friendly resorts offer more than just luxury, comfort and top-notch service. The mesmerizing beaches that surround these gorgeous accommodation properties and the marvellous nature will be the hardest to leave behind when it will be time to go back home. Waterfalls, verdant valleys, lush jungles, tropical flowers and white-sand beaches are all part of the laid-back Hawaiian communities.
Big Island offers a variety of great accommodations suitable for any budget and preference for Hawaii travel. Family-friendly hotels packed with the most exclusive amenities are available for booking whether you are coming there with kids, friends or just as a couple. Here, on the Big Island you will find the most luxury yet still affordable places to stay in. Whether you choose a secluded-beach bungalow or a 5-star resort, your travel is sure to be memorable. Hawaii vacation rentals and B & B tucked away inns are scattered around the island. They are available to those who want to enjoy the extravagant lodging without it breaking their bank.
No matter what island you stay on for your Hawaii travel, you will always find exactly what you are looking for when it comes to comfortable luxurious accommodations with the costs you are willing to spend.
Weather in Hawaii
Hawaii weather is warm all year around so no matter what time of the year you go on Hawaii travel, you can always expect blooming flowers and warm sun rays.
Generally, December, January and February are the coolest months here with the temperatures ranging from 23-25 degrees Celsius (73-77 degrees Fahrenheit). Rainfall does occur but days are mostly sunny.
March, April and May have the same weather forecast at 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit); however, evening and nighttime temperatures drop down to 16 degrees Celsius (60 degrees Fahrenheit) so bringing a light jacket or a sweater to wear when the sun goes down on your Hawaii travel might be a good idea.
July, August and September are considered the warmest months out of the year at temperatures being 27-32 degrees Celsius (80-90 degrees Fahrenheit) with little to no rainfall. This is a very enjoyable time of the year, so those that like the heat will definitely get the time of their lives in the summer.
November is the wettest month, with average high temperatures typically ranging in the mid to low 20 degrees Celsius (80 degrees Fahrenheit). The best part of travelling to Hawaii in November is that rainfall occurs mostly during night time hours, but if you happen to catch some precipitation during the day on your Hawaii travel it usually lasts a few minutes only.
While the temperatures are quite consistent throughout all of the Hawaiian islands, the rainfall isn't. The island of Kauai receives the most of rainfall during its rainy season while the Big Island gets a fairly small amount of precipitation during the fall months. Oahu and Maui's rainfall numbers are very close but are lower than Kauai and higher than the Big Island.
Public Transportation in Hawaii
There are many ways of getting around the islands during Hawaii travel, from trolleys, taxicabs to a super efficient and affordable bus system. Each major island in Hawaii has its own public bus system and aside from exploring the islands by car, a lot of visitors prefer to use the readily available public transportation system.
Some resorts also provide their guests with their own resort shuttles. Inquire about such a service and their routes at the front desk of the hotel you are staying in. The concierge there will provide you with all of the information and the shuttle bus' schedule.
A lot of visitors love to see all the Hawaiian islands during their Hawaii travel so island hopping is popular here. Inter-island travel is done through inter-island airlines that provide exceptional customer service, will get you to where you want to be quick and are cost-effective. Smaller airline companies offer regular flights to other islands in Hawaii as well. They are much cheaper, but their planes are smaller and the rides can get really bumpy.
Oahu prides itself for having one of the top bus systems around. In 2001, "TheBus" was rated "America's Best Transit System" that is quick, consistent and will get you to places instantly. Currently, TheBus offers a whopping number of 93 routes all throughout the Oahu island. Fares are attractive and the over-the-top service will make your bus ride fully enjoyable.
The Handi-Van in Oahu is a bus system designed specifically for handicapped passengers or people with disabilities. It is available to everyone who meets the requirements and are in need of ride on this bus.
Waikiki Trolleys are also at your service when it comes to visiting many of the local attractions, museums or for taking a tour during your Hawaii travel on Oahu. These open-air busses sell daily and multi-day passes for your convenience, so you may go on the exploration tour at any time.
The Maui Bus Public Transit System provides bus service all through Maui and has several different routes that will get you from one place to another in no time. This bus operates 7 days a week including holidays but does not run at night or during very early morning and late evening hours. Early morning and late night commuters may take a Maui Bus Commuter Service. Check their schedules to see the exact time these buses run at. Maui Bus ADA Paratransit Program is also designed for handicapped people or passengers with limited abilities. It has all the latest equipment to make the rides nice and smooth.
At just 25 miles long, Kauai is relatively easy to explore during Hawaii travel. Kauai Bus service also runs on a frequent schedule and its bus fares are quite affordable. Discounts are available for children, students and seniors. Inquire about them as well as well as the bus' schedule at the bus terminal in Kauai. Kauai Bus will take you to most of the island's major sites and tourist attractions, but some routes are not accessible by this bus. If you really want to save money and still explore the islands, take a bus to all the places it is scheduled to go and for the rest rent a car.
The public transport system on the Big Island is called "The Hele-On Bus". This bus system is not optimized for sightseeing but if you decide to take it during your Hawaii travel on the Big Island, remember, it might be time-consuming but cheap. All the local residents know that the Hele-On buses are the coldest places on the Big Island thanks to its air conditioning working non-stop at full power, so you might want to pack a few long sleeve shirts or even a hoodie to keep yourself warm during the trip. This bus travels through more populated areas, so if you are out for exploring and seeing the surrounding nature, this method of transportation might not be suitable for you. Although low in price, the only thing you will experience by riding on it is the colourful local flavour of Hawaiian residents. It is still a wonderful experience as you get to closely meet the most welcoming, hospitable and chatty folks!
You may also hire a taxicab to take you from where you are to a destination of your choice. Hailing a cab is not a general practice in Hawaii, so it is better to either call to book one or find one at the airport, major shopping centers and business districts. Taxi fares can be shared if you have a group of several people. All taxi rates are meter regulated and the prices are posted inside the cars.
Oahu's taxi service is readily available whenever you need a car to take you to your destination without the worry of renting your own vehicle or driving. The fares aren't cheap but not over-the-top either, so if you need to get somewhere in a reasonable amount of time, call the taxi and they will be on their way to you shortly after.
The best time to call a taxi in Maui is when you are planning on travelling for short distances like to a restaurant or the beach as their fares are quite expensive and will add up substantially if you go on a long trip. You will not find any curb side taxis in Maui, even in its busiest neighbourhoods, so it is advised to always call ahead and make your reservations before you plan to depart.
Kauai's taxi service is not so affordable either but it is a great method of Hawaii travel on Kauai if you want to go short distances without waiting for a bus or getting to your destination by foot. Call the taxi company ahead of time and book your cab prior to leaving.
Taking a taxi on Big Island can get super expensive as well, so choose this method of moving around the island only if you plan to go somewhere nearby on your Hawaii travel on Big Island. Taxis here also offer guided tours but if you book with them be prepared to spend a large sum of money.
Rent a car in Hawaii
Renting a car while enjoying your Hawaii travel is one of the best ways to explore the state. If you plan to travel to Hawaii during the high season, you may want to consider making all of your car reservations far ahead as the spots get filled up quickly and prices jump high if you plan to rent closer to your arrival dates.
Renting a vehicle while visiting Hawaii is one of the best things you can do to make your Hawaii travel a blast. The surrounding local beauty can be explored by public transport but it is more time efficient and convenient to rent a car instead.
The legal age to rent a car in Hawaii is 21 years. Some companies raise that minimum to 25 years old, just check with the car rental company of your choice to avoid confusion and misunderstanding at the time of pick up. Some tourists shared that they even found companies that rent out to customers who are 18 years or older; however, their fees are significantly higher and the rented cars are of older models.
In order to rent a vehicle during your Hawaii travel you will require to possess a valid International driver's licence or a foreign driver's licence written in English as well as the legitimate credit card that is expected at the time of booking. Credit cards are collected for the deposit to secure a vehicle upon your arrival in the country. Once you close the rental agreement at the end of your stay, you may also pay the balance by cash, but double check this information with the rental company in advance, because some do not offer this service and accept credit cards only.
Just like in the rest of the United States, Hawaiians drive on the right-side of the road and the speed limits are expressed in miles per hour. Roads in the state are in very good condition, but Oahu's streets are the busiest, so if you are planning on travelling in a car, prepare for some road congestions.
You are allowed to turn right at the red light in Hawaii but you must come to a complete stop before doing so. Traffic rules are strictly enforced in Hawaii, so it is important to always pay attention on the road.
Hawaii uses National Driver's Registry Service which concludes that if your driver's licence is revoked or suspended in one of the other states in US, Hawaii Ministry of Transportation will not issue you a new licence.
The maximum speed limit in Hawaii for rural freeways and interstates is 97 kph (60 mph) and drivers are not to exceed that limit. You are allowed to drive a maximum of 80 kph (50 mph)on urban freeways. Urban freeways are sections of large highways that are located within the city or highly populated areas. You are allowed to speed up to 40 kph (25 mph) in residential areas and 72 kph (45 mph) on divided roads, which are roads that have a concrete buffer zone diving lanes going in different directions.
If you are staying in Waikiki chances that you will need to rent a car are slim. Everything is conveniently located within the walking distance, so you may go on a sightseeing adventure by foot.
Use your horn only in case of emergency. Honking the horn for any other reason is considered extreme rudeness in Hawaii and only shows that you are not from the islands.
Renting a moped is another option if you are considering touring the island during your Hawaii travel. Mopeds are cheaper than rented cars and are more compact, meaning more places are reachable to explore. Although riding a moped is not suggested for tourists, it is a good alternative to a car, but only if you do not go for long distances. Local drivers cringe when they see tourists riding on mopeds as a lot of visitors are unexperienced with Hawaiian roads and may drive slowly well below the speed limit. But if you are still tempted to get your own set of wheels and travel through the nearby streets, rent a moped for a day and enjoy the surrounding views.
Hitchhiking is illegal in Hawaii, that is why you may spot people just standing on the side of the road without their thumbs up. Locals know that they need a ride by just standing there so they stop to give them a ride.
Almost all hotels and resorts have free parking for their guests or parking fees included in their resort fees so you may park your vehicle there any time. But if you are renting any other type of accommodation where free parking is not available, street parking is always there to use. Some beaches have free parking as well, but some have parking meters installed, so check whether you will be charged for parking or must pay in advance before leaving your vehicle to avoid parking infractions or any other fees incurred during your stay. Always watch for street signs when you can and cannot park your car at that specific spot.
As a guest to Hawaii, observe all the road rules and local driving customs carefully. Hawaiians are laid-back people and as such they are calm on the roads as well. Drive with caution and vigilance and always stay alert. Driving in Hawaii should be a pleasant experience for everyone, so buckle up and enjoy the beautiful nature the islands have to offer.
Money in Hawaii
Hawaii's currency is the United States dollar, so US tourists will not have a need to exchange money during their Hawaii travel if they arrive with US bank notes. The local Hawaiian exchange rates are good, so if you did not get a chance to exchange your money for US dollars back home, local banks or currency exchange booths will gladly offer that service to you.
ATM machines are plentiful in Hawaii, so if you need to withdraw a little bit of cash, you will find an ATM practically anywhere including local banks, malls, airports, gas stations and convenience stores. A surcharge for withdrawing funds off the ATM machine may apply, so keep that in mind.
Major credit cards are also widely acceptable across the state. You may pay your way by using them at the dining establishments, attractions, tours, retail stores and hotels.
Tipping in Hawaii
If you are planning a Hawaii travel, it is very important to know a few tipping rules in order to make your travel experience seamless. When it comes to gratuity, be generous and always consider the high cost of living in Hawaii. Many locals depend not on the salary but on the tips they receive and that is how they make their living. If you are satisfied with the service received, always leave a good amount for the service staff.
If you are dining at one of the Hawaiian restaurants, remember that tipping is customary even for poor service. You will be surprised, but even at times of unsatisfactory service from your server or wait staff, 12% from the total price of the bill is the minimum a patron should tip. If you were satisfied with the good-quality service, always leave a 15% tip. If you feel you have received an over-the-top service and the server made your dining experience unforgettable, leave a 20% gratuity, it will be very appreciated.
If you are visiting a local bar on your Hawaii travel, leave $1 per drink for the bartender. Most cafes have tip jars beside their cash registers, so leaving a few coins there is considered a nice gesture.
Room service requires to tip 15%-20% of the total bill amount, and again, depending on the service received. Giving the room service attendant a 15% tip is standard, but if your order arrives quickly and special requests were considered, a higher tip is customary.
You are not required to tip the concierge at the hotel if he gives you directions or advice about local attractions or places to see. In cases, when concierge assists you in getting hard-to-get concert tickets or makes restaurant reservations, a tip of $5-$10 is welcomed.
Housekeeping staff receive $1-$3 per day per room, so exchange the large bills for some change at the beginning of your Hawaii travel to avoid frequent trips to the bank. Bellhops and porters usually get $1 per every bag they help you carry and outside service such as food deliveries or flower service get tipped at least 10% from the total purchase price.
For taxi and limo drivers a tip of 15% is customary. There is no specific tipping guidelines for tour guides as the tour costs vary as well as the duration of these trips. But if you are taking a 1-2 hour trip, a $5 in tips per person is always welcomed. For trips that last 2-4 hours $10 per person in tips will make your tour guide happy. For longer trips $20 in tips per person is appropriate for the services rendered.
Solicitation in Hawaii
It is considered an actual business if you decide to sell anything on Hawaiian beaches and streets. Paintings, souvenirs, braid service, guided tours, hot dogs, refreshments or surf lessons are all considered as part of business and the government is closely monitoring everyone who works in this industry. In order to be able to sell any merchandise or provide a service to the Hawaiian tourists, you will be required to obtain a seller's permit or a food licence.
Those vendors that weave baskets or draw portraits in front of the stores all have a licence and pay monthly rent for the space they use. All of them are government-regulated and are required to pay taxes according to their profits.
Hawaiian beach vendors are never annoying or aggressive. They depend on the money they make, so they try their best to make your "shopping on the beach" experience on your Hawaii travel enjoyable. Prices are more or less the same, as the rules are strict for those that try to beat other vendors by decreasing their prices to attract more customers. If you are not interested in an item, simply decline the offer politely and move on. Some vendors are chatter boxes, so if you are in the mood, exchange a few words with them. After all, they spend all of their days in the sun and would appreciate a friendly conversation.
Safety during Hawaii travel
Although generally it is quite safe in Hawaii, it is always important to follow a few simple rules when it comes to safety and your well-being during your Hawaii travel. Vacations are meant to be relaxing, so sometimes tourists get carried away by the light local breeze, the laid-back atmosphere and the tropical aura. However, if you follow a few easy steps, your travel will be a one to remember.
Just like anywhere in the world, Hawaii has areas that should be avoided, and most of these spots are not frequented by tourists anyways. So if you are up to an adventure, it is better to stay in the local resort/hotel bar or somewhere nearby where there is a lot of people and open establishments.
Do not carry expensive valuables with you or high-quality electronic equipment. If you are walking close to the road, make sure your bag or purse is on the shoulder away from the street. Sometimes pickpocketers are on the lookout for high-priced belongings, so always stay alert if you are out in the city shopping or exploring.
Avoid going anywhere alone at night. If you are planning on a night out, it is best to gather a group of people or a friend, but do not travel to unknown places all by yourself, take preventative measures to be able to enjoy your Hawaii travel to the fullest.
A few of the larger hotels are opened to the public as well, so the security might not be able to screen everyone who comes into the property. Always lock your hotel room and if you brought expensive things on your trip, lock them in the hotel safety box.
Try not to be too flashy when leaving your hotel. Tourists with expensive jewellery, clothing and electronics may attract unnecessary attention and become a victim of crime, so leave all of your sentimental things at home.
There are a couple of things to remember when renting a vehicle during Hawaii travel. Always try to park in the well-lit areas and spots with people around. When leaving the vehicle make sure all the windows and doors are securely locked. Cameras, money or anything else of value to you should be in your carry-on bag and not left in the car.
Nudity is illegal in Hawaii and if you are found nude or even topless on the beach or anywhere else in the city you will be arrested. There are no legal nude beaches either, so if you really want to sunbathe topless it is better to save that for a country where nudity is allowed.
When it comes to animals, insects or alive water organisms , Hawaii has a few things for a tourist to remember. A Sand Dollar, a flattened species of sea urchins is of a big value in Hawaii and it is illegal to take or keep an alive Sand Dollar, even if you are very tempted. If you do come across one, place it back into the water, with the hair side down against the sand.
A number of snakes are native residents of Hawaii but most of them do not pose any threat to the tourists or local citizens anyways. Yellow-bellied sea snake is among the most dangerous snake species around that is considered to be a marine reptile. Sightings of such a snake are rare as well as its bites; however, these snakes are highly poisonous. Brown-tree snakes are not native to Hawaii and were brought here via aircraft from Guam. These snakes are mildly venomous but extremely aggressive and pose a serious threat to Hawaii's ecosystem. There were only a few brown-tree snakes found in Hawaii, but the local officials carefully screen all of the incoming aircraft in order to protect their native species. Visitors going on Hawaii travel as well as local residents are not allowed to keep any species of snakes as pets.
Spiders frequent Hawaii as well, and can be found practically anywhere. Brown Violin Spider is one of the spider species that lives in Hawaii. Its bites are poisonous but rarely fatal. A Cane Spider although significantly large in size does not have enough venom to be poisonous, but can be scary because of its appearance. Crab Spiders mostly live in shrubs and wooded areas, but remember, these type of spiders aggressively protect their webs. Their bites are not poisonous but very painful, so it is better to avoid coming in contact with one. Garden Spiders are the most harmless spider species in Hawaii. These are mostly found in gardens and are famous for their circular webs with distinctive designs. Garden Spiders come in variety of colours and are totally safe to the humans. Widow Spider is another spider specie to watch out for when visiting Hawaii. It does not come around humans, but if it is caught off guard they can be very defensive. Venom from these spiders is not deadly, but will cause a great amount of pain and discomfort.
There are many edible vegetables and fruits in Hawaii that can create a hazard. Many plants here are poisonous as well, so unless you are absolutely sure what you are trying, avoid eating anything if you are not in a restaurant or a resort area.
Do not cross any National Park boundaries as they are put there for everyone's safety. The park personnel are quite liberal about how close visitors can get to the lava flows from the volcano, but crossing the boundary ropes is extremely dangerous and must be avoided at all times.
Lastly, please remember not to take any lava rocks or sand home with you after your Hawaii travel. It is illegal to sell black sand in Hawaii and the fines are hefty. Airport officials closely screen everyone's luggage and if something of this nature is found it will be confiscated and a large fine imposed.
Water in Hawaii
Hawaii has the most delicious tap water you will find anywhere else in United States. It is absolutely safe to drink, lacks the chlorine taste that you can taste in tap water in other regions of the country and the rainwater that is collected is filtered naturally through underground porous volcanic rock.
Those visitors that experience problems with their stomach, digestive tract or have a weak immune system are advised to purchase bottled water to avoid any health issues during their Hawaii travel. After conducting a thorough research, it was concluded that the water that is in the bottles is of the same taste, purity and safety as the water you drink from the tap while staying in Hawaii. There is almost no bacteria in the local Hawaiian water, that is why chlorine is barely used to clean out the drinking water.
If you are planning a Hawaii travel, rest assured, whether it will be tap or bottled water you may drink it without any doubts.
Electricity in Hawaii
Electricity in Hawaii is at 120/140 volts with the frequency of 60 cycles. North American travellers do not require a power plug adapter if they travel to Hawaii; however, if you are coming from Europe, where power sockets are at 240 volts, you will need a reliable transformer/adapter or a converter in order to plug and charge your appliances and devices safely when you go on Hawaii travel.