25 Must-Read Hawaii Travel Tips

Are you planning a trip to Hawaii and want some Hawaii travel tips? In this post, I’ll share my top Hawaii tips so you can plan your perfect Hawaii vacation.
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Hawaii is a dream spot for many travelers. With its amazing beaches, fun activities, and rich culture, it’s easy to see why!

But like any trip, going to Hawaii is best when you’re ready.

Preparing in advance means you’ll get to enjoy all the cool things Hawaii offers without any stress.

In this blog post, we’ll give you the best tips so your Hawaiian trip is as awesome as you imagine.

Ready to learn how to make the most of your Hawaii visit? Let’s dive in!

25 Helpful Hawaii Travel Tips to Plan Your Perfect Vacation

So, you’ve made up your mind to visit the stunning islands of Hawaii. Great choice! But before you pack your bags and hop on a plane, there are a few things you need to plan.

Let’s go through them step by step.

Best Times to Visit Hawaii

You might be wondering, when is the best time to go to Hawaii? Well, it depends on what you want to do. If you’re dreaming of sunny beach days, consider visiting between April and October.

However, if you’re a fan of surfing, the biggest waves come around from November to February. But remember, this also means more tourists. So, if you want fewer crowds, consider visiting in the spring or fall.

How Long Should You Stay?

Hawaii has so much to offer, from its gorgeous beaches to its vibrant festivals. It’s tempting to want to stay forever!

However, a good rule of thumb is to plan for at least one week. This gives you time to relax, explore, and maybe even visit more than one island.

If you can stay longer, that’s even better. But even if you only have a few days, Hawaii will still be worth it!

Image of the view of Rabbit Island and Makapuu Beach from Makapuu Point
There are so many gorgeous places to explore in Hawaii!

Setting a Hawaii Budget

Now, let’s talk money. Hawaii is a bit on the pricey side, so setting a budget is crucial. Think about how much you want to spend on hotels, food, activities, and souvenirs. It’s also a good idea to set aside a little extra cash for unexpected expenses.

Remember, you can save money by booking things in advance or looking for deals online. Don’t forget to account for transportation costs too, like flights and car rentals.

Researching Events and Festivals

One of the best things about Hawaii is its rich culture. Throughout the year, there are many festivals and events that celebrate Hawaiian traditions.

Before you go, do a quick search to see if there’s anything happening during your visit. Maybe there’s a hula competition, a music festival, or a local parade. Participating in these events can make your trip even more memorable.

How to Choose the Best Hawaiian Island


Oahu is a popular island in Hawaii and often the first place many visitors go. In Oahu, there’s a big city called Honolulu, where lots of people live and work.

One of the coolest places to visit in Honolulu is Waikiki Beach. It’s famous for its beautiful sand and waves.

If you’re into history, you can also visit Pearl Harbor, a very important place from the past. And guess what? Honolulu is also great for shopping and eating!

There are so many stores to explore and restaurants where you can try delicious food. It’s a fun mix of beach vibes and city life!


Maui is often called the “Valley Isle” because of its beautiful valleys. When people visit Maui, they fall in love with its amazing beaches where the sand feels soft and the water is clear.

But that’s not all! There’s this road called the Hana Highway that’s famous for its breathtaking views. As you drive, you’ll see waterfalls, lush greenery, and maybe even a rainbow!

And if you’re into big adventures, there’s the Haleakala volcano. It’s massive and really impressive to see. Standing at its peak during sunrise is a magical experience. In Maui, every day feels like a new discovery.

Big Island (Hawaii)

The Big Island is BIG on adventures. One of the coolest spots is the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where you can actually see active volcanoes. Imagine watching lava flow and steam rise – it’s like a scene from a movie!

Plus, there are stunning waterfalls scattered all over the island. The water crashes down from tall cliffs, creating pools below where you can sometimes take a dip.

Everywhere you turn, there’s something amazing to see, making every moment on this island unforgettable.


Kauai is often referred to as the “Garden Isle,” and it’s easy to see why. This island is like a giant garden bursting with nature’s beauty.

If you’re someone who loves the great outdoors, Kauai is your dream spot. Imagine valleys so green, they look like they’re straight out of a fairy tale.

Then there are the tall, majestic cliffs that stand tall against the ocean waves. And don’t even get me started on the Na Pali Coast! The views there are just breathtaking.

With every turn, you’re greeted with another stunning sight, making Kauai a paradise for everyone who visits.

Lanai & Molokai

Lanai and Molokai are like Hawaii’s hidden treasures. They’re smaller than some of the other islands, but don’t let that fool you!

Because they’re less crowded with tourists, they offer a kind of peace and quiet that’s hard to find elsewhere. It’s like taking a step back in time, where you can truly relax and just enjoy the natural beauty around you.

Imagine beaches where you might be the only one around, with soft sand beneath your feet. And forests that look like they’ve never been touched by humans.

If you’re dreaming of a quiet and beautiful escape, Lanai and Molokai are perfect.

Tips for Island Hopping in Hawaii

If you’re thinking, “I want to visit more than one island,” then island hopping is for you! Here are some tips:

Plan Ahead

Decide which islands you want to visit and for how long. This helps in booking flights and accommodations.

Pack Light

Traveling between islands is easier with less luggage. Pack essentials and maybe leave some room for souvenirs.

Stay Connected

Each island has its vibe. Check local guides and apps to know what’s happening around you.

Hotel vs. Hawaii Vacation Rentals: Pros and Cons

Hawaii Hotels

Pros: Hotels often offer amenities like pools, daily housekeeping, and on-site restaurants. Plus, many are located near popular attractions or beaches.

Cons: Hotels can be pricier and might not offer the “feel at home” vibe that some travelers seek.

Hawaii Vacation Rentals (like Airbnb or Vrbo)

Pros: These can give you a more local experience. You get a house or apartment with a kitchen, living area, and sometimes even a backyard! It’s great for families or longer stays.

Cons: You might need to handle your own cleaning, and there’s no room service or hotel amenities.

Image of Waikiki Beach and hotels
There are tons of places to stay in Hawaii for all budgets.

Where to Stay in Hawaii on a Budget

Traveling to Hawaii doesn’t mean breaking the bank. There are hostels where you can share a room with other travelers.

Another option is looking for hotels or rentals slightly away from the main tourist spots. These can be cheaper and give you a glimpse of local life. Always check reviews and book in advance for the best deals.

Unique or Off-The-Beaten-Path Stays

Ready for something different? Hawaii has it!


Imagine waking up among the trees with bird songs greeting you. There are treehouses available to rent, giving you a nature-immersive experience.


These are for the environmentally conscious traveler. Stay in a place that values sustainability and often sits in more secluded, scenic spots.

Local Bed & Breakfasts

Here’s a chance to experience genuine Hawaiian hospitality. You’ll get a cozy room and maybe even a homemade breakfast!

Comparing Island Transportation Options

Hawaii Rental Cars

Having a car gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace. It’s perfect for those who want to visit hidden beaches or drive up mountains without waiting on schedules.


The public bus system is available on most of the major islands like Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island. It’s a budget-friendly choice and can take you to many popular spots.


Many tours include transportation. This is a good option if you’re going to specific tourist places and don’t want the hassle of driving.


Especially in places like Waikiki, you can rent a bike or scooter for the day. It’s fun, eco-friendly, and lets you move at a relaxed pace.

Image of someone with shoes out a car window in Hawaii
I highly suggest renting a car in Hawaii!

Renting a Car vs. Public Transportation

Renting a Car in Hawaii

If you want the freedom to make spontaneous stops and explore less touristy areas, renting a car is a great choice. Plus, if you’re traveling with a family or group, it might even save you money versus buying bus tickets for everyone.

Public Transportation

It’s perfect if you’re staying in a city area and mainly visiting popular spots. Plus, you won’t have to worry about parking or navigating unfamiliar roads.

Tips for Driving in Hawaii

Stay Alert on Curvy Roads

Hawaii has many winding roads, especially when you’re driving up mountains or along the coast. Drive slowly and enjoy the views!

Respect the ‘Aloha’ Driving Style

Locals drive with the ‘Aloha spirit,’ which means they’re generally relaxed and courteous. So, give a friendly wave if someone lets you merge and remember, you’re not in a rush.

Watch Out for Pedestrians

Especially in busy areas like Waikiki, always check for people crossing the street.


In tourist spots, parking can be a challenge. It’s good to check your hotel or rental for parking details. Sometimes, it’s worth paying a little for a secured parking spot.

Hawaii woman showing flower lei garland of pink orchids. Beautiful smiling mixed race woman in bikini on beach giving a welcoming Lei on the hawaiian island Big Island.
It’s customary for someone to put a lei on you (vs you putting it on yourself)

Understanding and Respecting Hawaiian Customs and Traditions

The ‘Aloha Spirit’

This is a way of life in Hawaii. ‘Aloha’ means hello, goodbye, and love. But it also stands for kindness, unity, and understanding. Always be respectful and show gratitude.

Take Off Your Shoes

If you’re visiting someone’s home in Hawaii, it’s polite to take off your shoes before entering.

Sacred Sites

Some places, like Heiaus (ancient temples), are sacred. Always be respectful, stay on marked paths, and avoid touching or moving anything.

Emblem showing indigenous people and insignia of Hawaii at the gate of Iolani Palace in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
Iolani Palace on Oahu is fascinating.

Must-Visit Cultural Sites and Events

Polynesian Cultural Center

Located on Oahu, this is a top place to learn about Polynesian cultures. Watch dance performances, join workshops, and enjoy traditional foods.

Merrie Monarch Festival

If you visit during Easter, you might catch this famous hula competition. It’s a vibrant display of Hawaiian dance and music.

Iolani Palace

In Honolulu, this palace is the only royal palace in the U.S. Take a tour and step back in time to the days of the Hawaiian monarchy.

We always order a poke bowl (or two) in Hawaii.

Local Hawaiian Foods and Dishes to Try

Poke Bowls

Fresh cubes of fish (like tuna) mixed with seaweed, rice, and other tasty toppings. It’s a must-try!

Luau Feast

Attend a Luau (a Hawaiian party) and enjoy traditional foods like Kalua pork (cooked in an underground oven) and poi (a taro root dish).

Hawaiian Shave Ice

Perfect for a sunny day, this is not your ordinary snow cone. The ice is super fine and comes with tropical syrup flavors.

Loco Moco

A delicious and filling dish! It’s rice topped with a hamburger patty, gravy, and an egg.

Try not to overpack for your trip to Hawaii!

What to Bring Based on the Hawaiian Islands You’re Visiting

For City Vibes (like Honolulu on Oahu)

Think casual but stylish. A mix of beachwear and city outfits will do. And don’t forget comfortable walking shoes for exploring!

For Nature Retreats (like Kauai or parts of Maui)

Pack light layers. It can get cool in the mountains, even if it’s sunny at the beach. A light rain jacket can also be handy because showers can come and go quickly.

Packing for Various Activities

Beach Days

Swimsuits are a must! Bring a couple so you always have a dry one ready. A hat, beach towel, and flip-flops will also come in handy. And for those sandy walks, a good beach bag can be a lifesaver.

Hiking Adventures

If you plan to explore Hawaii’s forests and trails, sturdy walking or hiking shoes are essential. Also, pack lightweight, breathable clothes, and maybe even a backpack for snacks and water.

Dining Out

Hawaii is relaxed, but if you’re hitting a nice restaurant, a casual dress or a collared shirt and khakis are a good idea. But remember, Hawaiian shirts are always in style here!

The Importance of Reef-Safe Sunscreen in Hawaii

Here’s a biggie! Hawaii’s marine life, especially its beautiful coral reefs, are delicate. Regular sunscreens can have chemicals that harm them. That’s where reef-safe sunscreen comes in. It protects your skin AND the environment.

When you’re shopping for sunscreen:

Check the Label

Look for terms like “reef-friendly” or “biodegradable.”

Avoid Harmful Ingredients

Oxybenzone and octinoxate are two big no-nos. They can bleach and damage the coral.

Find out the best tourist attractions in Hawaii recommended by top Hawaii blog Hawaii Travel Guides. Image of Diamond Head - volcanic cone on Oahu, Hawaii
Waikiki Beach is one of the most famous beaches in Hawaii.

Recommendations for Top Beaches in Hawaii

Waikiki Beach (Oahu)

Perfect for first-timers! This famous beach is great for surfing lessons and golden sunsets.

Napili Bay (Maui)

Picture turquoise water and soft sand! It’s a dreamy spot for a relaxing day by the Pacific ocean.

Hapuna Beach (Big Island)

With its wide stretch of white sand and clear waters, it’s a beachgoer’s paradise!

Safety Tips for Hiking and Water Activities

Stay on the Trail

Hawaii’s trails are beautiful but can be tricky. Stay on marked paths to protect both you and the environment.

Know the Waves

If you’re going to hit the water, always check surf reports. Some waves can get really big, especially in winter.

Stay Hydrated

Hawaii can be hot and humid. Whether you’re hiking or just lying on the beach, drink plenty of water.

Image of a Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle swimming
Keep your eyes out for Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles!

Wildlife Encounters: What to Expect and How to Act

Sea Turtles (Honu)

It’s super exciting to spot one of these in the water or on the beach! But remember, always keep a safe distance. No touching or chasing – let’s respect their space.

Monk Seals

Occasionally, these rare creatures like to sunbathe on the beach. If you see one, stay at least 150 feet away. They might look lazy, but they can move quickly!

Wild Pigs and Chickens

Especially on islands like Kauai, you might come across wild pigs or chickens. They’re usually harmless, but it’s best not to feed or approach them. Let them do their thing, and you do yours.

Booking Hawaii Tours and Activities in Advance

Ever heard of the saying, “The early bird catches the worm”? Well, in Hawaii, the early planner catches the best deals and avoids sold-out activities!

If there’s a particular tour or activity you really want to do, like a volcano hike or a luau, book it ahead. That way, you’re sure of a spot and can sometimes even snag early-bird prices.

Must-Try Water Activities


Hawaii is the birthplace of surfing! Grab a board, take a lesson, and ride the waves.


The underwater world here is colorful and vibrant. Places like Hanauma Bay in Oahu or Molokini Crater off Maui are snorkeling heavens.

Stand-up Paddleboarding

A fun way to explore the coast and get a little workout at the same time.

Tips for Finding Less Touristy Spots

Chat with locals

They often know the best-secluded beaches, trails, or quiet spots to chill.

Wake up early

Many popular places are less crowded in the early morning. Plus, you’ll catch some awesome sunrises!

Making the Most of Your Budget in Hawaii

Eat Local

Skip the fancy touristy restaurants and hit up local food joints or food trucks. You’ll save money and get to taste real Hawaiian grub!

Free Activities

Many of Hawaii’s best experiences don’t cost a dime. Think beaches, hiking trails, and some cultural events. Do your research and make a list.

Hawaii Travel Deals

Keep an eye out for special deals or packages for activities or accommodation, especially if you’re flexible with your dates.

Hawaii Travel Tips FAQs

How can I save money on my rental car?

Book your car rental in advance and compare prices from multiple providers, and consider traveling during off-peak seasons.

What’s the most visited Hawaiian Island?

Oahu, home to Honolulu and Waikiki Beach, is the most visited Hawaiian Island.

What do I need to plan a Hawaiian vacation?

To plan a Hawaiian vacation, research the islands, book accommodations and flights, plan activities, and understand local customs and weather.

Where can I spot Hawaiian green sea turtles?

You can often spot Hawaiian green sea turtles at beaches like Laniakea Beach on Oahu and Punalu’u Black Sand Beach on the Big Island.

Where can I find Hawaiian monk seals?

Hawaiian monk seals are often seen on remote beaches throughout the islands, including Poipu Beach in Kauai and Ka’ena Point on Oahu.

What are some helpful Hawaiian words to know?

Some helpful Hawaiian words include “Aloha” (hello/goodbye/love), “Mahalo” (thank you), and “Ohana” (family).

What’s there to do on Kauai’s North Shore?

Kauai’s North Shore offers beautiful beaches (including Hanalei Bay), the Na Pali Coast for hiking and boat tours, and the quaint town of Hanalei for shopping and dining.

Is it free to visit the Pearl Harbor National Memorial?

Yes, entrance to the Pearl Harbor National Memorial is free, though some specific attractions within do have fees.

How long should I plan for a trip to Hawaii?

A Hawaii trip typically lasts between 7 to 10 days, allowing time to explore multiple islands and enjoy various activities.

Do I need a reservation to hike Diamond Head?

Yes, you do need a reservation to hike Diamond Head and it’s advised to arrive early to avoid crowds.

How can I avoid booking illegal vacation rentals?

Research and book through reputable websites, check for required licenses or permits in listings, and consult county websites or local regulations for legitimacy.

What’s the number one Hawaii travel tip tourists need to know?

The top tip for Hawaii tourists is to respect local Hawaiian culture, traditions, and the environment, ensuring a positive experience for both visitors and residents.

Hawaii Travel Tips Wrap-Up

Alright, explorers! We’ve gone through a lot of tips, but the big takeaway? Preparation is key.

Planning ahead will help make your Hawaiian trip smooth and memorable. Remember, Hawaii is more than just a vacation spot; it’s a place with deep culture and stunning nature.

Dive in with open arms, respect the beautiful islands, and let Hawaii’s magic wrap around you. Happy travels, and let the aloha spirit guide you!

Looking for more Hawaii travel resources? Find out how many days in Hawaii first-timer visitors need, tips for visiting Hawaii on a budget, the best areas to stay on Oahu, and how to plan a solo trip to Hawaii!

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