Everytime we talk about Hawaii, we think of a tropical heaven that seems impossible to reach. From Italy, it takes around 20 hours by plane to reach Hawaii, not exactly behind the corner! Is this the reason why these islands are still unknown by Italian tourists?
The answer is probably yes, but I’m sure that another reason that makes these islands an unknown destination for us is that we don’t know them enough; in the last couple of years we have been hearing about Hawaii more frequently and we see them in movies but we still don’t have a clear idea of what they really are.
This happened also to me: I left for Hawaii without knowing exactly what to expect and what I saw there was beyond my imagination. With this post my goal is, at least, to try to explain something more about these islands and give you some little tips to organize your trip. Let’s start!
Hawaii is an archipelago of volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean, they are part of United States and Honolulu, the capital, is situated in Oahu island. The most famous and biggest Islands are: Hawaii (Big Island), Maui, Oahu, Kauai, Lanai and Molokai. These islands have a tropical climate with high temperatures and heavy rains all the year around: this weather allows the vegetation to grow lush and wild; summer lasts from May to October, winter from December to March. The trade winds influence the climate of this archipelago, creating many different microclimates.
What You Need to Know Before Your Trip to Hawaii
Are the Hawaii expensive?
Yes, that’s a fact. If you want to book a flight from Italy, that will probably costs you at least 1000€, hotels/apartments/resorts are probably the most expensive things… and you also have to add taxes to the price! The food is as expensive as in the USA, there are no public services (except in Oahu island) therefore you’ll need to rent a car which is not cheap. Don’t forget the medical insurance as well as the countless tours and activities that Hawaii has to offer! Some are free while other definitely not! In conclusion, be aware that this will be a pretty expensive trip.
Which Hawaiian island to choose?
Every Island is beautiful and each one of them has its own characteristics. Thus, it depends on what you are looking for on your holiday, if it’s adventure or relax, and how many days you have to spend traveling.
Below you can find the key features of the main islands:
OAHU with its main town Honolulu and the stunning Waikiki beach, is the most famous and populated island and its beautiful landscape hosts every year numerous movie shoot. It has also the best beaches of Hawaii.
BIG ISLAND is the biggest island and continues to extend itself thanks to the alive volcano Kilauea in the middle of a National Park you can actually visit if you want.
MAUI is famous for its legendary Road to Hana, one of the best scenic roads in the World. Maui is also a resort paradise where Americans love spending their holidays.
KAUAI is a lush island, famous to all Jurassic Park movies’ fans for its Na Pali Coast, probably the most beautiful rocky coastline.
Can I book for Hawaii by myself or is a travel agency necessary?
If you use to travel, I suggest you to be patient and book this trip without a travel agency, in this way your holiday will be custom-made for you and you will probably save a lot of money. Hawaii are safe and easy to visit! Obviously I recommend the agency if you are not very practical and if you like to travel having already planned everything. I booked my trip to Hawaii by myself about 6 months before departure and without any problems. I bought the airline tickets directly on the official airline’s websites (In my case were Lufthansa and Hawaiian airlines), selected the accommodations on Booking.com, I signed online the medical insurance with Columbus Insurance and rented all the cars with Avis. I also booked some excursions in advance.
How big are the Hawaiian Islands?
Hawaii are really BIG islands and by that I mean you’ll need hours and hours by car to travel from one side of the Island to the other. This is fundamental to determine how distant you are willing to go to explore the islands main attractions, how many days is better to stay in one place and what to see there. When I made my itinerary, I used Google Maps to figure out the distances between one location to the following one, but what I didn’t know then was that, even if the majority of roads are paved, there are still some of them tight and dangerous, so you’ll probably run slowly.
How long to stay in each Island?
Based on my experience, not less than 5 days for each Island! For example, if you are in California and you want to spend a week in Hawaii, you should choose only one Island; these Islands are wide, you don’t even imagine how much! What if you have two weeks? Then you can opt for a two-islands’ trip. I had three weeks so I chose (in this order) Kauai, Oahu and Maui, excluding Big Island only because of its extension (5 days there would not have been enough). Kauai is the wildest and greener Island; if you love the nature, you should definitely visit this Island at the end of you trip because it’s also the most uncontaminated: by doing so, the other Islands will not lose their charm in your eyes!
How to dress in Hawaii during the summer?
Essentially, no one there wears fancy dresses, not even in the evening. People dress simply and half of them wear those classics hawaiian clothes with the characteristic flowers that you can find in ABC Store (American shops that sell everything, from foods to clothes, souvenirs, bath shampoos and much more stuff..). My advise: bring comfortables clothes, few elegant things, sweaters for the evening because it gets a little bit cold even during summer. You will also need a waterproof jacket for the unexpected rains, at least 2 pairs of sneackers (which will probably be the only shoes you’ll use there) because when it starts raining and you are in the jungle, you can get mad. Bring a good backpack for your beach stuff and excursions.
Is it necessary to book everything from home?
Yes, I suggest you to book everything because Hawaii has a lot of tourism all year long and you may find out that most things are already booked. So, here are the reservations I suggest you to make in advance: accommodation – car rent – excursions. Booking early is really important, let me give you an example why: I’ve always wanted to try the Shark Cage (I’m a huge sharks lover) and I went to Oahu without making any reservation because I thought it wasn’t necessary. When I arrived there, the shark cage company offered me the only available date that coincided with my last day in Oahu. Unfortunately, that day, my reservation was cancelled due to the bad weather! The company asked me if I could move the reservation to the day after but it was impossible since I had a flight already scheduled. At the end I was refunded but I still regret having missed this incredible experience. My advise: don’t book the excursion on the lasts days of you holidays, book always on the first days so you can move the reservation if something happens.
Are the Hawaii Sefe?
Absolutely! The Hawaiian Islands are safe, even at night I’ve never felt like I was in danger. Besides, there are no natural predators so the jungle grows without dangerous animals and insects.
However, there have been some shark attack over the years, especially from tiger sharks, so you’d better not swim too far from the shore and especially alone. Hawaii do not require specific vaccinations for travel, just make sure your routine vaccinations are updated.
- “Aloha State” is the second name of Hawaii; Aloha is a way to say Hi that means “love” and “peace” but it has also a deeper meaning not easy to explain. You have to see it with your eyes: Hawaiian people are kind, smiling and lovely, they convey happiness because they believe that “ you’ll have what you give’’, they share with others their joy and sorrow and they want to pass on this philosophy from generation to generation.
- Hawaiians are great dancers, musicians and painters. Their dance is called “Hula“ and is native to the Polynesian peoples who once inhabited Hawaii; you can enjoy the many Hawaiian dance shows and even take classes, if you want, at the Ala Moana Center in Honolulu. The classic Hawaiian instrument is the Ukulele, invented in 1879, to which several annual festivals are dedicated. As for painting, the beautiful landscapes of Hawaii have definitely inspired the locals who like to exhibit their works in different art galleries located in alle the major cities.
- One of the main attraction in Hawaii is the whale watching on winter season (from November to April), when in fact whales come in these waters to reproduce.
- In the summer, many types of flowers bloom in Hawaii. In fact, it is not rare to travel along tree-lined roads whose trees are covered with colorful flowers. One of the symbols of Hawaii is the Hibiscus; however, much more frequently, you will see the Plumeria, a wonderful flower which grows in many different color variations, from white and yellow to pink and orange.. but my favorite is definitely the fuchsia type!
- Did you ever heard about hawaiian rainbows? Well, frequently, when the rain is followed by a bright sun, that will give you the chance to see the magic Hawaiian rainbows. During the summer, however, this phenomenon is less frequent.
- When I landed in Hawaii, I thought I was welcomed by hoteliers, greeting me with the classic Hawaiian flowers necklace (they call it “LEI” and it’s a symbol used to say Hi) or to have the opportunity to buy them on the street or in a store. I was totally disappointed when I received one of it made by shells and plastic.
At the end of my trip, when I was going back home, while I was waiting for my flight at the airport, I noticed that some vending machines were selling the same colored flowers necklaces, wrapped in trasparent paper: it’s so sad lose the tradition!
- One of the things that shock me most in Hawaii were the waves. There are beaches where the ocean never calms down and in some of them I didn’t have the courage to swim. In each one of them there are signs of danger that warn you to pay attention to strong currents and large waves. I really admire the fearless surfers who face the power of the ocean! Hawaiians learn to ride the waves from an early age, they have it in their DNA! Stories narrate that surfing was born in these islands and then it spread all over the world.
- You will surely find a sign saying “Shave Ice” on the street: try it! It’s a grenadine made of ice and different flavours; for example, you can mix different tastes like vanilla, strawberry, pineapple, guava, coconut, cherries and many others; the final result will be a multicolored grenadine, good and typical of Hawaii!
It was awesome for me to write this post, it reminds me how much I loved these islands but especially the way a trip like this can feel yourself full of emotions and change your life.
Now, when I think of Hawaii, I am aware to have visited a heaven on earth and I dream to wake up there every morning, look out the window and see those beautiful view.. Hawaiian people are really lucky to live there!
So guys! Tell me what you think about these islands, have you ever been there? or would you like to go? I’m here to answer to all your questions!
A hug ♥