Hawaii vacation guide

Our travel experts will show you …

  • Where to eat and what to do
  • Packing tips and travel reminders
  • How to use your phone in Hawaii

 

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hawaii vacation why hawaii

Why choose Hawaii?

Hawaii is a popular choice for a vacation destination for a multitude of reasons. It is the only U.S. state composed entirely of islands, with eight main islands: Hawaii (the Big Island), Maui, Oahu, Kauai, Molokai, Lanai, Niihau, and Kahoolawe. 

 

The islands are known for their stunning natural landscapes, including volcanoes, waterfalls, beaches, and tropical forests. Hawaii is home to some of the world’s most active volcanoes.

 

Hawaiian culture, with its rich history, traditional music, dance, and cuisine, is also a big draw. The weather is warm all year, making it a great spot to escape to any time.

 

Whether you’re looking to chill out on the beach or go on an adventure, Hawaii has it all.

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Planning your Hawaii vacation

• Visa: Hawaii is a state of the United States, so the visa requirements for visiting Hawaii are the same as for any other part of the U.S. Check the latest visa requirements for your nationality.

• Vaccinations: While there are no specific additional vaccination requirements for Hawaii, it’s always a good idea to be up-to-date on routine vaccinations as recommended by health authorities in your home country.

• Flight Booking: Check out our flight booking tips to make sure you get the best value for your money.

• Currency: Hawaii, as part of the United States, uses the U.S. Dollar (USD) as its currency. Major credit and debit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express) are widely accepted across Hawaii. ATMs are readily available throughout the islands for cash withdrawals.

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Phrases that will come in handy during your Hawaii vacation

• Aloha (ah-LOH-hah): The most famous Hawaiian word, used for hello, goodbye, and love.

• Mahalo (mah-HAH-loh): Thank you.

• A Hui Hou (ah HOO-ee ho): Until we meet again. A heartfelt way of saying goodbye.

• Mauka (MOW-kah) and Makai (mah-KYE): Directional terms used commonly in Hawaii. “Mauka” means towards the mountains, and “Makai” means towards the sea.

• Kane (KAH-neh) and Wahine (wah-HEE-neh): Men and Women, respectively. Often seen on restroom doors.

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Can't-miss Hawaii attractions

• Road to Hana (Maui): A scenic drive with waterfalls, beaches, and green rainforests.

• Lahaina Town (Maui): A historic whalers’ village now filled with shops, restaurants, and art galleries.

• Waimea Canyon State Park (Kauai): Often described as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”

• Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park (Kauai): Known for its dramatic sea cliffs, accessible by hiking, helicopter tours, or boat.

• Mauna Kea Summit (The Big Island): The highest point in Hawaii (13,803 feet / 4,207 meters), offering stunning hiking and stargazing opportunities.

• Kalaupapa National Historical Park (Molokai): Accessible by a mule ride, this remote area offers breathtaking views.

hawaii vacation food

Our favorite food in Hawaii

• Loco Moco: A comfort food classic, consisting of white rice topped with a hamburger patty, a fried egg, and gravy.

• Kalua Pig: This is a classic luau dish, where pork is slow-cooked in an underground oven called an imu, giving it a smoky, tender flavor.

• Poi: A staple Hawaiian dish made from taro root, pounded into a paste. It has a unique, slightly sour taste and is often served as a side dish.

• Laulau: A traditional dish where pork, fish, and taro leaves are wrapped together and steamed. The leaves become tender and flavorful, infusing the meat with a rich, earthy taste.

• Haupia: A traditional coconut milk-based dessert. It’s a type of pudding, creamy and lightly sweetened, often found at luaus and local eateries.

hawaii vacation culture

Cultural experiences in Hawaii

• Attend a Luau: Experience traditional Hawaiian food, music, and dance at a luau (a traditional party or feast). This is a quintessential Hawaiian experience, showcasing hula dancing, fire knife performances, and the history and stories of the islands.

• Learn to Hula: Participate in a hula lesson. This traditional Hawaiian dance is not just a form of entertainment but a way of storytelling, deeply rooted in Hawaiian history and spirituality.

• Lei Making: Engage in the art of lei making. Leis (traditional garlands made of flowers, leaves, shells, or nuts) are a symbol of Aloha and are used in various ceremonies and as a form of greeting and farewell.

• Explore Iolani Palace (Oahu): The only royal palace in the United States, Iolani Palace offers insight into the history of the Hawaiian monarchy.

• Visit a Taro Farm: Taro (kalo) is central to Hawaiian culture and diet. Visiting a farm can teach you about its significance and the traditional farming methods.

hawaii vacation customs

Hawaii customs and etiquette

• Lei Etiquette: If you are given a lei, it’s polite to accept it and wear it. Do not remove it in the presence of the person who gave it to you, as this is considered rude. It’s also impolite to refuse a lei.

• Giving and Receiving with Both Hands: When giving or receiving an item, especially something meaningful like a gift or a lei, it’s customary to use both hands. This shows respect and gratitude.

• Pū‘olo (Gift Giving): The tradition of giving gifts wrapped in ti leaves, known as pū‘olo, symbolizes good luck, respect, and the intention of the giver.

• Kava (‘Awa) Ceremonies: ‘Awa, also known as kava, is a traditional Polynesian drink made from the root of the kava plant. Drinking ‘awa in a ceremonial context is a way to connect with ancestors and deities.

• Aloha Spirit: This is the most fundamental aspect of Hawaiian culture. It’s more than a greeting; it’s an attitude of friendliness, respect, and compassion towards others. Embrace this spirit in your interactions.

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How do I avoid Hawaii roaming charges?

Before international travel, you should always make a plan for how you’ll use your phone.

Hawaii roaming charges can add up quickly, and you don’t want to get stuck with a huge phone bill after an amazing vacation.

Carrier travel data packages are often expensive, with limited data and a lot of restrictions.

A budget-friendly way to avoid Hawaii roaming charges is to download a Hawaii eSIM that comes with a prepaid Hawaii data package.

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Need data for your Hawaii vacation?

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Travel tips for your Hawaii vacation

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Best beaches in Hawaii

• Waikiki Beach (Oahu): Famous and lively, great for surfing beginners, with tall hotels and the Diamond Head volcano in the background.

• Wailea Beach (Maui): Offers golden sands and luxury resorts, great for swimming, snorkeling, and spotting sea turtles.

• Hanalei Bay (Kauai): A crescent-shaped beach backed by mountains, ideal for swimming, paddleboarding, and surfing.

• Punalu’u Beach (The Big Island): Famous for its black sand and a frequent spot for lounging sea turtles.

• Hulopoe Bay (Lanai): Known for its crystal-clear water and tide pools, it’s a marine preserve ideal for snorkeling and dolphin spotting.

hawaii vacation shopping

Go on a Hawaii shopping spree!

• Local Products: Look for authentic Hawaiian products like Kona coffee, macadamia nuts, local honey, and sea salt. These make great gifts and are a taste of the islands to take home.

• Hawaiian Crafts: Seek out traditional Hawaiian crafts such as leis, ukuleles, and handcrafted jewelry. Items made from koa wood are particularly sought after for their beauty and uniqueness.

• Art Galleries: Hawaii has a great art scene. Explore local galleries for paintings, sculptures, and photographs by local artists.

• Boutique Shops: Explore boutique shops, especially in areas like Waikiki, Lahaina, and Paia, for unique fashion, jewelry, and gifts.

• Shopping Malls: For a more conventional shopping experience, visit malls like Ala Moana Center in Honolulu, which is one of the largest open-air shopping centers in the world.

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Hawaii itinerary suggestions

Oahu Itinerary (7 Days)

• Day 1: Arrive in Honolulu; relax at Waikiki Beach.

• Day 2: Visit Pearl Harbor; explore downtown Honolulu.

• Day 3: Day trip to the North Shore; enjoy surfing beaches and Haleiwa town.

• Day 4: Visit the Polynesian Cultural Center.

• Day 5: Hike Diamond Head Crater; afternoon snorkeling at Hanauma Bay.

• Day 6: Leisure day; explore local markets, beach relaxation.

• Day 7: Departure; if time allows, visit a museum or local neighborhood.

 

Maui Itinerary (7 Days)

• Day 1: Arrive in Maui; sunset at Ka’anapali Beach.

• Day 2: Explore Lahaina town; evening luau.

• Day 3: Road to Hana; scenic drive with waterfalls and beaches.

• Day 4: Visit Haleakalā National Park; sunset or sunrise viewing.

• Day 5: Snorkeling trip to Molokini Crater.

• Day 6: Relax on Wailea Beach; explore local shops.

• Day 7: Departure; visit Iao Valley State Park if time permits.

hawaii vacation festivals

Famous Hawaii festivals

• Aloha Festivals (Statewide): This is one of Hawaii’s largest and oldest cultural celebrations. Held annually in September, it includes a series of events on each island, featuring Hawaiian music, dance, and history. The highlight is the Floral Parade in Honolulu, showcasing elaborate floats, Hawaiian music, hula, and the Aloha Festivals Royal Court.

• Lei Day (Statewide): Celebrated on May 1st, Lei Day honors Hawaiian culture and the Hawaiian custom of making and wearing lei. Festivities include lei-making competitions, concerts, and hula performances.

• King Kamehameha Day (Statewide): Celebrated on June 11th, this holiday honors King Kamehameha the Great, who famously united the Hawaiian Islands in 1810. The day is marked with floral parades, lei draping of King Kamehameha’s statue, hula, live music, and traditional ceremonies.

• Kona Coffee Cultural Festival (Kona, Big Island): Celebrating the heritage and history of Kona coffee, this festival occurs in November and features farm tours, coffee tastings, and cultural events.

• Makahiki Festival (Statewide): A traditional ancient Hawaiian celebration marking the end of the harvest season. It includes sports competitions, feasts, and religious ceremonies.

Plan the perfect Hawaii vacation

Traveling to Hawaii in January is ideal, offering cooler yet still pleasantly warm weather, with average temperatures ranging from 20°C to 27°C (68°F to 80°F), perfect for a wide range of activities.

In Honolulu and across the islands, expect comfortably warm days around 27°C (80°F) with a moderate chance of rain, making it great for beach outings and sightseeing.

Higher elevations, like in Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island, offer cooler temperatures, typically around 20°C (68°F), ideal for hiking and exploring the natural landscapes.

Since January is part of Hawaii’s peak tourist season, especially around New Year and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it’s wise to plan your trip and book accommodations in advance.

Weather in February remains warm and inviting, with average temperatures typically between 19°C to 26°C (66°F to 79°F).

In popular areas like Waikiki and Maui, you can expect pleasant days around 26°C (79°F) with occasional rain showers, which are perfect for beach activities and exploring the islands’ natural beauty.

The higher regions, such as the uplands of Maui or the Big Island, are slightly cooler, often around 19°C (66°F), making them ideal for hiking.

March in Hawaii marks the transition to spring, offering visitors a delightful mix of warm weather and occasional rain showers. The average temperatures during this month range from 20°C to 27°C (68°F to 81°F).

In coastal areas like Kona and Honolulu, daytime temperatures hover around 27°C (81°F). While the weather is generally sunny, brief rain showers are common.

Inland and at higher elevations, such as the Waimea Canyon on Kauai or Haleakalā on Maui, temperatures are cooler, averaging around 20°C (68°F).

April in Hawaii is a beautiful time to visit, with the islands enjoying lovely spring weather. Temperatures during this month typically range from 21°C to 28°C (70°F to 82°F), providing comfortable conditions for exploring all that Hawaii has to offer.

On the coastal areas of Oahu, Maui, and other islands, you can expect daytime temperatures around 28°C (82°F), ideal for lounging on the beaches and snorkeling.

Inland regions and higher elevations, like the uplands of Kauai or the Big Island’s Volcanoes National Park, offer milder temperatures around 21°C (70°F).

April is slightly less crowded than the winter months, making it a great time to visit for those looking to avoid the peak tourist season.

May is a fantastic time to visit Hawaii, as it’s just before the summer peak season. The islands are less crowded, providing a more relaxed atmosphere for tourists. Temperatures generally range from 22°C to 29°C (72°F to 84°F).

The weather is mostly sunny, with occasional brief showers.

June in Hawaii marks the beginning of summer, bringing warm weather ideal for island exploration. Temperatures during this month typically range from 24°C to 30°C (75°F to 86°F).

Coastal areas become perfect for sunbathing on the beaches, enjoying water sports, or simply relaxing by the ocean.

Inland regions and at higher altitudes, like the slopes of Haleakalā on Maui or the Big Island, experience slightly cooler temperatures, averaging around 24°C (75°F).

July in Hawaii is the heart of summer. During this month, temperatures typically range from 25°C to 31°C (77°F to 88°F).

In popular areas like Waikiki on Oahu or Lahaina on Maui, daytime temperatures often reach around 31°C (88°F), perfect for long days spent at the beach.

July is peak tourist season in Hawaii, coinciding with summer holidays. The islands are vibrant and lively, but also more crowded.

In August, temperatures generally range between 26°C and 31°C (79°F to 88°F). The coastal areas, including destinations like Kona on the Big Island and the beaches of Kauai, usually see daytime temperatures around 31°C (88°F). This warmth is ideal for beach lovers, offering excellent conditions for swimming, snorkeling, and enjoying various water sports.

In the Waimea Canyon or the cooler regions of Maui, temperatures are slightly cooler, averaging around 26°C (79°F). These areas provide a pleasant escape from the coastal heat and are great for hiking, sightseeing, and experiencing the natural diversity of the islands.

September in Hawaii is the onset of the milder fall season, making it a wonderful time for visitors to enjoy the islands. During this month, temperatures typically range from 25°C to 30°C (77°F to 86°F). This period provides a balance of sunny days and a gradually cooling climate, ideal for both beach activities and exploring the islands.

In popular beach destinations like Waikiki on Oahu or Kaanapali on Maui, you can expect daytime temperatures around 30°C (86°F), perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying water-based activities. The weather remains largely sunny, with the occasional rain shower.

October in Hawaii is a pleasant time to visit, as the islands experience the mild and enjoyable conditions of early fall. During this month, temperatures generally range from 24°C to 29°C (75°F to 84°F), providing a comfortable climate for exploring the islands.

On the coasts, places like the North Shore of Oahu and the beaches of Maui, daytime temperatures stay around a warm 29°C (84°F). This weather is perfect for those looking to enjoy the sun and sea, offering ideal conditions for swimming, snorkeling, and other beach activities. The ocean waters remain warm, and the skies are typically clear with sporadic rain showers.

October is a relatively quieter month in terms of tourism, making it a great time for visitors who prefer a less crowded environment.

During November, temperatures in Hawaii typically range from 23°C to 28°C (73°F to 82°F), creating a pleasantly mild climate for visitors.

On the coast, expect daytime temperatures around 28°C (82°F). The weather is generally a mix of sunny spells and occasional rain showers, characteristic of Hawaii’s tropical setting.

November marks the beginning of the holiday season in Hawaii, with a slightly increasing number of visitors towards the end of the month.

December in Hawaii is a delightful month, combining the festive spirit with the islands’ mild winter weather. During this period, temperatures usually range from 22°C to 27°C (72°F to 81°F), offering a comfortable and enjoyable climate for holiday travelers.

On the coast, daytime temperatures are typically around 27°C (81°F). This makes it perfect for beach activities, swimming, and soaking up the Hawaiian sun.

In the interior parts of the islands, such as the higher regions of Kauai or the Big Island, the temperatures are cooler, averaging about 22°C (72°F).

December is a popular time to visit Hawaii due to the holiday season, with Christmas and New Year’s celebrations adding a festive atmosphere.

How do I use my phone in Hawaii?

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Choose a data package

Start by deciding how much data you’ll need. Then choose a prepaid data package for your Thailand vacation. If you need more, it’s easy to buy more Thailand data.

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Install your eSIM

An eSIM is a downloadable SIM card, so you’ll install your eSIM on your phone or tablet. It takes less than two minutes, and then you will have a Thailand eSIM on your phone.

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Activate your package

When you’re ready to start using your Thailand eSIM you’ll activate your data package and make sure your device knows to use your Thailand eSIM for all mobile data.

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