Occasionally on our Facebook page, we post little “Helpful Hawaii Hints.” These are typically in response to questions that we’re frequently asked by guests. We’ve decided that once we’ve posted 10, we’ll compile them all into one blog post here to share with you. Sort of like a multi-part Hawaii FAQ. If you have any questions, please comment with them so we can incorporate their answers into a future “Helpful Hawaii Hint!”
- Contrary to popular belief, you cannot travel between the Hawaiian islands by ferry. There are two ferry services in all of Hawaii – one goes between Maui and Molokai, and the other goes between Maui and Lanai. Unless you are participating in a cruise of the islands, your only option for traveling between them is to fly.
- When planning your Hawaiian vacation, be sure to look up hours of operation for the attractions that are on your “must-see” list. For example, did you know that on Tuesdays, Hanauma Bay and Bishop Museum are closed? Or that on Sundays, the Polynesian Cultural Center and Iolani Palace are closed? It’s always better to be prepared!
- Before you leave for Hawaii, you should have a plan for how to get from the airport to your hotel. If you’re flying into Honolulu International Airport (HNL), you can rent a car or take a shuttle, taxi or limo. For any of those choices, an advance reservation is recommended – especially for groups. Considering it’s the only airport on the island of Oahu, you can imagine how many people fly in and out every day. If you don’t have a plan in advance, you could be in for a very frustrating wait. And who wants to start off their vacation in paradise feeling stressed?
- If you’re going to be booking a circle island tour, it’s best to do it on one of the first days of your trip. They’re perfect for getting an overall sense of the island and showing you some of the main attractions, and during the tour you can note any locations you may want to revisit at a later date. You can also take advantage of the fact that you’ve got a super knowledgeable guide at your disposal who can make recommendations about other places to see.
- Make restaurant reservations well in advance for holidays and special occasions. We know it’s so tempting to wait because you want to get a feel for the restaurant scene here before making any decisions, but remember that you’re competing for limited seats with a lot of other guests in a relatively small area. Christmas, in particular, is a holiday you’ll want to book at least a couple weeks prior, unless you’re ok with eating before 4 PM or after 9 PM. Same with Valentine’s Day.
- USE SUNSCREEN!!!! We don’t care that we sound like your mom right now – our Hawaiian sun is no joke. The sun’s rays here may be more intense than what you’re used to. While everyone should be using at least SPF30 or higher, if you’re fair-skinned to begin with or are flying in during a time of year when it’s cold or cloudy back in your hometown, your skin is even more susceptible to burning. Nothing will ruin your vacation faster than a sunburn. Be smart, be safe and stop by one of the ABC stores nearby – there are 56 in Hawaii, 37 of which are within a one-mile radius in Waikiki alone so really you have no excuse!
- Visitors often wonder if they need to rent a car when staying here. Short answer: on Oahu, no. On any other island, yes. Extended answer: Oahu has a lot of other transportation options that you could use besides renting a car. Most tours and activities include transportation or are able to provide it for a modest fee. However, you may still want one to explore the island at your leisure for a day or two. To avoid parking fees, guests will often just rent for one day and return the car in the evening. On any other island, public transportation is not as convenient and a majority of the activity companies expect you to find your own way to their location.
- The heart of humpback whale season in Hawaii is from December through April, but you can sometimes see them as early as October and as late as June. If you’re hoping to catch a whale watching cruise during your stay, make sure you’re here sometime between mid-December and mid-April. A lot of the boat companies who offer whale tours also include a “whale guarantee,” where if you don’t see whales during your first tour, you have the option to go out on another tour for free.
- Take advantage of happy hours!! You will quickly learn that drinks on the islands are NOT cheap (although they are quite tasty). Save yourself some money and find out about the options available in or near your hotel. You may be surprised by how many restaurants and bars offer happy hours that aren’t just at your typical 4pm-6pm times – a lot of places have both early and late night drink and appetizer specials.
- The Aloha Stadium Swap Meet is open Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. It features over 400 local merchants selling everything from hand crafted items to tasty local snacks (perfect place to buy souvenirs!) Wednesdays and Saturdays, it’s open from 8 AM – 3 PM. Sundays it’s open from 6:30 AM – 3 PM. Admission is $1 per buyer, free for children under 12. Easiest way to get out there is by shuttle, but you could also take the public bus if you don’t mind an hour-long ride in either direction from Waikiki.
Need advice on planning your Hawaiian vacation? Contact Elite Concierge at 808-971-1943 or firstname.lastname@example.org