First-time travelers to Hawaii can become a daunting endeavor. Knowing what to do, when to do it and where to do things are imperative in making the best out of your stay. This is a general travel guide for Hawaii. We will be doing detailed travel guides of each island in the near future, similar to the Kaua’i Travel Guide and Oahu Travel Guide.
HAWAII ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
Contrary to popular belief, Hawaii is like any other continental United States. You DO NOT NEED A PASSPORT if you are an American (you’d be surprised how many times we are asked this by travelers). If you are traveling to another country after Hawaii or an international traveler visiting Hawaii then a passport is required.
Please note the following entry requirements for travel to the United States:
- You must hold a passport valid for at least six months from the date you enter the US. You must be on a short and temporary visit.
- You must agree to leave the US before the expiration of your visa.
- You must hold a valid passport for the intended period of stay.
- You must hold a valid visa issued by the US Embassy or Consulate. You must maintain your identity as a foreigner during your stay.
- You must comply with all requirements on visa issuance.
- For more information, please contact the US Embassy or Consulate in your country.
BEST TIME TO VISIT / WEATHER
As far as temperature goes, the islands sustain a perfect temperature between 75-85 degrees/23-29 celsius year round. It rarely reaches above 90 degrees/32 celsius or below 65 degrees/18 celsius, allowing for a consistent flow of tourism throughout the year. However, here are times to be aware when planning to visit:
Summer – The state of Hawaii basically has two seasons but has very little change in daily temperature. In order to really tell the difference of what ‘season’ we are in, we go by which side of the island has swells (surf). During the summer months, the south of the islands will have more waves; this means along the coastline of Waikiki (Oahu) where many tourists visit.
Tip: during these months, head up north where the ocean is much more placid, like Waimea for example.
Winter -The time to see the big wave surf competitions and witness the best surfers of the world master these monstrous waves. Billabong Banzai Pipeline, Vans Triple Crown, and The Quiksilver Eddie Aikau Invitational all take place during the ‘big wave winter months’ between October – February on Oahu. JAWS beach on Maui also has massive waves. Some competitions are so insane that the minimum height waves have to be 20 feet (6 meters) before the competition can even be considered!No matter what season you visit, trade winds keep things comfortable year-round so temperature is no issue. If you want to see one of the most famous waves in the world, winter time is for you. However, we recommend coming in the summertime when there aren’t many rainy days, the ocean is calm (for the most part), and the long days deliver perfect sunsets.
- Cash – Hawaii’s currency is the US dollar ($USD). Traveler’s checks aren’t necessary.
- Credit Card – Accepts major credit cards at most places and there are many ATM’s throughout the islands.
- Check – Some places still accept checks.
- Flying – Definitely need to fly from other states/countries to get to the islands of Hawaii. To visit any outer island commercially is by plane as well. Island Air is the cheapest way to fly if you want to island hop.
- Driving – To explore the island, it’s best to get a rental car and drive. Although the islands are a “small” drive compared to most commutes elsewhere, location to location is still decently far.
- Uber/Lyft – These services are available and are a great alternative if your hotel or parking place is far apart and you only need to get somewhere close.
- Public Transportation – Taxi and buses are available on the main islands such as Oahu, Big Island, Maui, and Kauai. Although, we still recommend Uber/Lyft or any other form of a social transportation than using public transportation. It is subpar compared to the rest of the world.
WHERE TO STAY
- Hostels – The most affordable place to stay would be any hostel around Hawaii. They offer multiple ones and you’ll meet other travelers, like you. Prices start from $30USD-$300USD, all depending on how you want to live.
- Airbnb – Many locals offer their home to stay in. This is another affordable means. Think of it as you sleeping over a friends house, but for a price (varies by location and housing situation).
- Hotels – Being that it is paradise, hotel prices can be much higher.
- Resorts – Want the full luxurious and pampered experience? Hawaii resorts are the way to go! If you are planning to only visit Hawaii once in your life, this should be your choice!
Hawaii has an incredible palette of food. The variety is endless and although these foods may not have a true ethnic taste (Mexican food for example) it is not terrible in any sense of the word. The Hawaiian islands offer just about any dish imaginable – it is the melting pot of the Pacific after all.
- Restaurants – Lots of restaurants to choose from. Recommend to take make at least one meal a local dish and one meal a Hawaiian dish.
- Food Trucks – Our favorite thing to do is eating at food trucks. Especially shrimp trucks. The food wagons offer just about any type of plate and can be found throughout the islands.
- Supermarkets – Budget friendly, go to the local supermarket/farmer’s Market and whip up your own meal at where you are staying!
Hawaii is known as a paradise and a very popular place for vacations, especially during the summer time. These are great tips and customs to follow enabling a great vacation:
- “Aloha” means Hello or Goodbye
- “Mahalo” means Thank you
- Don’t touch ANY sea creatures – that means no selfies with sea turtles you selfievores!
- Removing shoes when invited to someone’s house is a cultural tradition.
- Don’t bring any fresh flowers, fruits, vegetables, etc to Hawaii as they could be harmful to Hawaii’s nature and the environment. Any plants or animals brought into Hawaii must be declared and inspected upon arrival.
- Do not bring home sand, lava rocks, or any native flora. It’s considered bad luck and can destroy the environment.
- Like most cultures: be respectful of others and their way of life, don’t be loud and obnoxious.
- As a cautionary note that isn’t mentioned a lot is: DO NOT stare at people for too long. Many locals do not like when tourists or other locals stare and watch them – this is known as “v”, so just be aware of how long your gaze is when making eye contact.
We hope this offers a general explanation of how to prepare for your visit to Hawaii! We hope you have the best trip of your life and leave a new person. Have a wonderful and safe visit! Feel free to message us/email us/leave a comment for any more questions you may have that can answer. Thank you!
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Check out other Hawaii related posts:
Oahu Travel Guide
How To Experience Oahu as a Local
10 Foods You Must Try in Hawaii
10 Free Things To Do on Oahu