Hawaii Vacation Tips
by Lottie Tagupa
As everyone knows, vacation time is very precious.
Getting the most out of the time and money you spend
while vacationing can be the difference between a
good vacation and a great vacation. Consider these
tips when planning your trip to Hawaii.
1. Decide on a realistic itinerary.
I have seen many tourists try to shove a four-island
itinerary into a 14-day stay, only to lose steam,
patience and enjoyment after the first five. Plan
on no less than two or three days per island for a
comfortable pace. This is especially true for Oahu
and the Big Island of Hawaii. For the first-time visitor,
Oahu has more activities, museums, attractions and
shopping than the rest of the islands put together.
Hawaii, or the Big Island, is the largest of the major
islands in the Hawaiian chain and one of the least
populated. Expect to spend more time driving on this
island than on any other. Kauai is the quieter of
the largest four islands and the easiest to navigate
by car. Maui is second to Oahu in terms of visitors
and activities. Driving the road to Hana or up to
the summit of Haleakala is most rewarding, but consider
the trips as all-day affairs, especially if you are
starting from the West Maui area.
2. Plan a day trip.
If you have decided which islands to visit and are
still interested in yet another island, plan a day
trip to that last island instead of squeezing a hotel
stay into an already full itinerary. This works especially
well with Kauai and the Big Island, especially if
your Big Island interest lies solely in visiting The
Volcanoes National Park. Inter-island flights operate
daily at 20-30-minute intervals from 5:30 a.m. until
8:30 p.m. Flying time between islands is surprisingly
short. Oahu to/from Kauai or Maui is scheduled for
35 minutes while flights to/from the Big Island are
scheduled for 50 minutes.
Book a flight that will get you to your destination
mid-morning and book a return that will allow you
to enjoy an early dinner and sunset before boarding
your return flight. Making car reservations at the
same time you make your inter-island air reservations
saves time and money since the inter-island airlines
have great deals on car rates. One of the best features
of "day-hopping" is the great amount of
flexibiity allowed. If you decide to return earlier
or later than you originally planned, the inter-island
air tickets are flexible enough to allow you to call
and make any changes you need without any additional
3. Plan your vacation itinerary to arrive and
depart the islands in the late morning or early afternoon.
This type of scheduling allows for many options for
those planning any inter-island connections. In most
cases, it allows passengers to proceed to inter-island
flights with a minimum of disruption even in the event
of a delayed flight. It is also the most efficient
since check-in time at Hawaii hotels generally is
3:00 p.m. and checkout time is 12:00 noon. This schedule
also works well in avoiding additional "overtime"
charges with car rental companies. It is also important
to realize that although Oahu's streets are generally
well lighted many of the highways on the neighboring
islands are not. Driving on narrow winding coastal
highways can be unsettling to some, specifically at
night in new surroundings.
4. Take advantage of the many free or almost free
activities on the islands.
Hiking, performances and some attractions and services
are free or almost free. These activities are available
all year around that can make an otherwise budget-busting
vacation affordable without feeling destitute.
Fresh Flower leis! They are quite inexpensive - ranging
from $3.00 upward - and can come in a range of colors
and fragrances that will amaze you. You can buy them
in Chinatown on Oahu or at any florist in the islands.
Buy one for your new bride or simply to make your
wife's Hawaii vacation more special. Take one home
for that special someone or show a client your appreciation.
Most people will opt for the airport lei greeting.
This is a long-standing Hawaii tradition that provides
for an official lei greeter to meet you as you step
off your flight in Hawaii. The lei greeter drapes
you with a fresh floral lei and then you are escorted
to the baggage claim area and left to claim your bags.
This is a great way to get through the airport and
have an opportunity to have someone to assist you
with your questions as you arrive. Costing about $10
per person, it's a perfectly unique and inexpensive
way in which to be welcomed to the islands.
Hiking trails are available on all islands and most
are free. There are many types of trails, from flat
coastal area trails to inland waterfall and strenuous
mountain ridge trails. By far the most popular and
widely used trail on Oahu is the Diamond Head Crater
Summit trail. This hike begins on the crater floor
and continues up along the inside of the crater rim
toward the summit. Once at the top you are rewarded
with a sweeping view of the entire south shore of
Oahu from the remnants of an old World War II bunker.
Near Hilo on the Big Island is Akaka Falls. What used
to be a muddy hike is now a short, safe paved loop
from the parking lot through a canopy of tropical
trees and flowers which culminates in spectacular
views of one of Hawaii's largest waterfalls.
The Honolulu Zoo is a very popular spot that is enjoyed
by many. Situated across Kuhio Beach in Waikiki, it
is Hawaii's largest and most comprehensive zoo. During
the summer, concerts are held on the zoo's grounds
in the late afternoons. Zoo admission is $6.00 for
those 13 years and older, $1.00 for ages six to 12
and free for those five and under. Admission for the
1999 concert series is only $1.00.
The Waikiki Aquarium is located in Kapiolani Park
- just steps from Waikiki Beach. It showcases over
240 species of Hawaiian Islands and South Pacific
marine life. You can also get a closer look at Hawaii's
state fish (the Humuhumunukunukua'pua'a). Admission
for adults is $7.00 and free for those six-12 years
The Arizona Memorial also is a free attraction; however,
tickets are not given in advance so it is recommended
that you arrive early and secure a ticket before browsing
through the visitor's center. Ticket distribution
begins daily at 7:30 a.m. The most efficient method
of getting to or from the Memorial is via the Arizona
Memorial shuttle. Round-trip transportation is available
for under $10 per person.
The Royal Hawaiian Band has weekly scheduled performances
at the Kapiolani Park Bandstand in Waikiki every Sunday
between 2 and 3:15 p.m., and on the grounds of the
Iolani Palace in Downtown Honolulu every Friday between
12:15 and 1:15 p.m. Also on Fridays in Downtown Honolulu
is the Mayor's Aloha Friday Lunch Time Music Break
at Tamarind Park on the corner of Bishop and South
King Streets between noon and 1 p.m. Bring a sandwich
along and make it a picnic!
On Friday nights, take the time to enjoy the "Strolling
Hula Dancers" on Kaläkaua Avenue. This is
a unique strolling hula show held between 8 and 10
p.m. Join Clyde Lono, Auntie Pudgie Young and their
hula dancers as they stroll along Kalakaua Avenue
performing at various points along the way in Waikiki
(including the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center and
King Kalakaua Plaza).
Molehu I Waikiki (Twilight in Waikïkï),
where you'll find a torch lighting pageant, Hawaiian
music and hula dancing, is held every Saturday and
Sunday night at 6:30 p.m. at Kuhio Beach Banyan near
the Duke Kahanamoku statue.
Most of all, remember that the best of Hawaii's sunsets,
sunrises, rainbows, beaches, sand, marine life, scenic
vistas, ocean views and waterfalls are ALL free!
5. Use your common sense.
Hawaii has been rated the most safe of the largest
200 cities in the United States. Nevertheless, it
is still good practice to use your common sense wherever
and whenever you are on vacation. More specifically,
this means never, NEVER leave ANYTHING of value UNATTENDED
in your rental car - not even in the trunk, glove
box, suitcase or under the seat.
Also be aware that taxi drivers are not allowed to
stop for anyone hailing a cab or to cruise or solicit
for fares at bus stops or shopping centers. Timeshare
salespeople are not allowed to solicit anyone on the
street. If you see this occurring, or witness other
activities that concern you, TELL SOMEONE! Report
it to your local tour representative, or your hotel
security or even a police officer.
6. Research, research, research and plan, plan,
This is the most important aspect of a successful
vacation. Learn about where you will be staying and
what you will be interested in doing well before you
arrive. Many begin to plan their activities the minute
they arrive, which wastes time and enjoyment of your
limited and hard-earned vacation time.
7. Lastly, remember to be flexible and open-minded
to the unforeseen, unavoidable or unexpected.
Since anything can go wrong, it's best to know that
remaining cool, calm and proactive in such situations
will make for fonder dream vacation memories.