Aloha – it means hello and goodbye, but it’s also a way of life. So, Aloha from Hawaii, six beautiful, unique islands surrounded by the captivating waters of the Pacific Ocean. Adventure through cliffs and waterfalls in Kauai or swim in the dolphin waters of Lanai. View the Molokai eastern volcanoes or view the largest dormant volcano crater in the world in Maui.
Visit a festival or luau and learn to hula. Learn to surf or scuba. Regardless of your reasons for visiting, here are a few tips to make that trip across the Pacific a little more attainable and a lot more Aloha.
When to Go
Flight and accommodation prices generally rise between December and April with many events occurring during these months. Hawaii is host to quite a few sporting events during this time. The NFL Pro Bowl is held in February after the Super Bowl is over, though for the 2017 year it will move to Orlando. The Ironman Triathlon World Championship is in Kona in October. The Xterra Trail Run World Championship is held in Oahu in December. The USTA Fed Cup is held in Maui in February, and the Honolulu Marathon is in December. Many people attend these events and make a vacation out of their time in Hawaii.
A lot of people also like to escape cold winters in the mainland and head out to the islands for some sun. In addition, the summer months are a busier time when kids are out of school and families go on summer vacations. You can generally snag the best deals around April, May, September and October. As far as the weather goes, it’s typically great year-round.
Airfare to Hawaii can get pricey. If you’re on the West Coast, expect prices to come in around $300 for lower airfare. If you’re in the Midwest or on the East Coast, expect to pay a bit more.
Buy your tickets in advance and shop around on Google Flights or Kayak.com. Analysts at CheapAir.com studied 1.3 billion itineraries and found that 54 days out was the average number for finding the cheapest fare on any given flight. While it’s not a guaranteed number, check around 54 days out and see what you find. Try to be flexible with your schedule and opt for fares departing on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday as prices generally drop these days.
Package deals can save you money. If you’re not going that route, bargain. After you’re done bargaining, bargain some more. Most rental places have a free cancellation so after you’ve booked one, don’t neglect checking again for a better rate. You could score a super low deal right before your flight even departs. Keep in mind that Uber and taxi rates can be pretty high. Opt for the bus line, a rental or a shuttle from the airport.
Book early if you want the cheapest room. Shop online and compare rates. Expedia.com and Priceline.com are great for this. If you don’t have a reservation and opt not to stay in a larger chain hotel, consider bargaining for a lower rate at a smaller independent hotel.
Keep parking and other hospitality fees charged at hotels in mind. Get your rental car for only the days you need it, that way you won’t have to pay extra for parking you won’t need.
If you don’t mind a walk or a drive, consider staying inland. Hotels along the oceanside can rack up the price even if you’re not choosing a room with an ocean view. If you’re planning on staying for a longer time, a condo or vacation home rental might be a more cost effective option. VRBO.com has a great list of options for you – and the best part is you can cook your own meals, adding up to significant savings on your trip.
What to Do
- Mount Haleakala (Maui): Otherwise known as the East Maui Volcano, Haleakala is a large volcano that forms 75% of the island of Maui. Wrapping up its Centennial year, Haleakala boasts activities for the whole family, from sky watching to hiking and biking to camping and bird watching. A tourist favorite is to arrive at the summit early in the morning and watch the sunrise – the views alone will be well worth the early morning wake up call. Once the sunrise has warmed you a bit, hop on a bike and enjoy a 23-mile downhill bike ride to really experience the diverse beauty of this part of the world.
- Hike & Swim Waterfalls (Kauai): Known as the “Garden Isle,” Kauai is perhaps best-known for its beautiful waterfalls that dot its breathtaking tropical rainforests, several of which are only accessible by air or sea. Check out this list of must-see waterfalls for the inside scoop on which ones should be at the top of your list and how to get there.
- Whale Watching (various): From November to May (peak season: January to March) visitors can enjoy watching the humpback whales return from Alaska to the warm shallow waters of Hawaii to breed, calve and nurse their young. It’s estimated that two-thirds of the North Pacific humpback whale population makes the 3,000-mile trek from the Gulf of Alaska. Apparently humans aren’t the only species who enjoy a mid-winter tropical vacation. Depending on your preference, tourists can enjoy seeing the whales up close with boat options that range in size from rafts to catamarans to larger ships with observation decks.
If you realize that you’re all about the island life, and don’t want to pry yourself from your surfboard or the smell of Plumeria in the breeze of perfect every day beach weather, consider staying permanently. Go and live the Aloha life! Hawaii’s life expectancy rate is the highest at 81.3 years old, which is somewhat surprising as Hawaiians also consume the most Spam. The islands could definitely do you some good. Aloha!