As a holiday destination, Hawaii had never really been on my travel radar as a place I wanted to go and visit.
And, as far as tropical destinations go, there are other places like Bora Bora or the Coco Islands; which are placed much higher on my list of travel destinations to go to, compared to where Hawaii is listed.
That’s not a criticism on Hawaii of course – as the photos and stories I hear from many travellers visiting the Hawaiian Islands are beautiful to be sure. I suppose, I just prefer to personally visit more unique locations, where the culture of a place is still living and breathing strongly.
But, when friends and family came back from Hawaii and had nothing but amazing things to say about the place, including some incredible photos to back their stories. My partner and I decided to give Hawaii a go. So, we booked a ticket and within the year; after the family came back from their Hawaii adventure, we were boarding a plane to begin our own Hawaiian adventure.
I don’t want this blog to be negative in anyway – as there were some great moments spent on our holiday in Hawaii. However, there was also a lot that went wrong also. So, here are five things, I learned from my stay in Hawaii, and I’d like to share with you:
Tip One: Accommodation on arrival
Depending where you are travelling from, a flight to Hawaii may be a simple walk in the park for most. However, for us Aussies it’s a 10-hr flight (thereabouts). This means, most of the time you arrive into Hawaii in the early hours of the morning. Unfortunately, this also means you can’t check into your hotel room, as it won’t be available until the standard check in time of 2pm. A hard thing to deal with after a 10-hr flight. If you have the extra dollars to spend, book yourself into the hotel for the night before your arrival (making sure you let the hotel know you are arriving the next day of course). This way, you can at least check in, have a shower and change (sleep if you need to) and face your holiday adventure a little fresher.
Tip Two: Don’t stay in Honolulu
Now, this of course is dependent on the type of holiday you wish to have. My partner and I like to experience the culture of a country when we travel. And Honolulu lacks everything in culture, so don’t expect anything tropical (except for the heat) about the city, as there is nothing unique about it. It’s just a city sitting by the beach. Like I said, this is of course dependent on the type of holiday you like. If you prefer to stay in the hustle and bustle of a city, so you can eat, play and drink, whilst shopping and sunbaking, then Honolulu is perfect for you. However, if you prefer to stay away from the city scene, but close enough where you can still visit if you want to, then definitely stay a little out of the city. We booked ourselves into The Kahala Hotel & Resort for the last 3 nights of stay in Hawaii, which was the best idea ever. The resort oozes Hawaiian culture and is far enough from the city to unwind, but close enough if you feel like shopping.
Tip Three: Do rent a car
Don’t be scared if you are from a country (like Australia) that doesn’t drive on the right-hand side. It’s not as scary as it seems and renting a car is the best way to go out and explore, without having to rely on heavily booked out tour groups. We initially had no intention of renting a car, however, when speaking with the tourist booking office in the hotel about some activities we would like to do, we found the wait times and travel times for the activities was just ridiculous. An example of this, was when we wanted to book ourselves into a Quad Bike tour. The tour bus picks you up from your hotel at around 9am, however you don’t arrive to the Quad Bike location until nearly midday, yet the travel time to get to the location is only an hr & a half away. You basically spend most of your morning sitting on the bus going from hotel to hotel picking up a collection of tourists. Umm, no thanks. And the best part of renting a car, you get to stop when you want to stop. On a bus, they only stop at designated locations, which means, you miss a lot of amazing places along the way.
Tip Four: Do go Quad Biking
This was probably the highlight of the holiday (I have photos below of the Quad Biking). Because we self-drove ourselves to the location where the Quad biking adventure takes place, we beat all the bus loads of tourists who were booked in for around lunch time. This means, there were only 5 of us on the tour (including the guide), which made the whole experience far more intimate and enjoyable. If you want to experience the suburb Hawaiian scenery of lush green forest, rocky volcanic mountains and secret Hawaiian villages, this is the way to do it. The Quad bikes are programmed not to go over a 50km speed limit. But, with so much to see along the way, you wouldn’t want to go any faster anyway.
Tip Five: Eat outside of general eating times
Of course, if you have children this may be more difficult, unless your accommodation includes the buffet breakfast every morning. But, if you’re staying in Honolulu, you will learn quickly that most of the restaurants there (the good ones anyway) have a very long wait time to eat. So, when you arrive to go get dinner say at 7pm, when most people are, you will no doubt be waiting nearly an hour for a table. We opted for random eating times to beat the masses. Some mornings we ate breakfast at 7am, other times we ate at 10am. This meant we ate lunch at either 11am or 2-3pm and then dinner at sometimes 5pm or even later at 9pm. All dependent on when we ate breakfast of course. The most we waited for a table when eating at these random times was 30 min max.
I was going to add a 6th tip regarding Acai Bowls, as I must admit Hawaii has some of the best Acai Bowls in town. However, seeing as it was nearly 2 years ago, now, since we went to Hawaii and Acai Bowls have been around for a while, I will only say, that if you have been living under a rock and not yet tried one. Hawaii is the place to be introduced to them – they are probably the best I have ever eaten.