Hawaii is a place gloriously unlike any other on the planet, so a little preparation makes all the difference. Some people, upon visiting, are surprised at what they find, whether in terms of weather or pace of life. To help you manage expectations and learn a little about the islands, here are eight things to know before you visit Hawaii.
Given the excitement and size of the surf, visiting the North Shore of Oahu in winter can be a bit overwhelming. To help you on your quest to visit surfing’s most heralded ground, here are some tips for visiting the North Shore in winter that every first-timer should know.
Every year, more people visit the island of Oahu than Maui, Kauai, the Big Island, Lanai and Molokai combined. On average, Oahu welcomes five million visitors to its shores each year — many of whom are first-timers. If you find yourself in this category, here is our list of 10 things to know before you visit Oahu.
Hula is a staple of the Hawaiian Islands, but there’s more history and depth of culture to the enchanting form of dance than many visitors realize. When European explorers arrived in Hawaii in the late 1700s, they found a people with no alphabet or written form of language. All of the Polynesian islands instead relied on oral histories and stories, told in forms including chants, songs, poetry, music and dance. When you watch a hula performance, then, you’re witnessing these tales as told through steps and the purposeful movements of hands — a people passing down their ancestors’ stories as they have for hundreds of years.
Choosing where to stay on the Big Island can sometimes be overwhelming. After all, the island is over 4,000 square miles — larger than the state of Rhode Island — and many of the best things to do are completely spread apart. No matter how hard you try to base yourself in the middle of all the attractions, there will always be somewhere you want to visit at least a couple of hours away. So a good way to go is to determine your priorities, then base yourself in the area that best serves them. Or, if you simply can’t choose a single place to base your Big Island adventure, a practical choice is to split your time between different parts of the island, maybe flying into Hilo and departing from Kona. For added guidance, here are some considerations for where to stay on the Big Island, broken down by priorities.
When it comes to nightlife in Hawaii, nowhere can even remotely compare to Waikiki. Many will claim it’s the only nightlife Hawaii has — since bars and clubs on the outer islands are virtually non-existent. Here in Hawaii’s capital and tourist hotspot, however, bars and even places to dance abound. With nearly a million people in the Honolulu vicinity, there’s also a supply of people ready to party.
Lahaina’s history is more enchanting than anywhere else in Hawaii. After all, this town was once the ancient capital of the original Kingdom of Hawaii, and a place where missionaries battled with whalers for Hawaiians’ attention and souls. Whaling eventually gave way to sugar for 125 years — which is an era now remembered today at the Plantation Days festival.
In many ways the island of Kauai is removed from the rest of Hawaii. Geographically, it’s more isolated than any other of Hawaii’s four main islands, and locals take pride in the historical fact the island has never been conquered. It’s population is half that of Maui and nearly three times smaller than the Big Island’s, and there’s a fiercely independent edge to people you meet around town. Add to the fact it’s heavily eroded and the wettest place on Earth, and Kauai becomes the type of place you go to seek out adventure—a lonely, verdant, stream-riddled utopia of ridgelines, beaches, and green. For thrill-seekers looking to experience some of the best the island can offer, the following are seven adventures on Kauai that every traveler must do.
In this guide, we’ve handpicked the very best of what makes this chain of islands so special — both on and off the beaten path — so you can travel like an insider in Hawaii!