Center up the United States on a globe and then spin it to the Pacific side. You'll get a really good idea of just how far Hawaii sits in the middle of the ocean. This tropical paradise, made up of eight major islands, four of which are touristed, is the most isolated archipelago (island group) in the world. It's a six-hour flight from the west coast. Hawaii is something you have to earn.
It behooves you to squeeze the most out of your vacation when you commit to such a long trek. First, it's important to spend at least a week on your favorite island. Fight the urge to island-hop unless you have more than seven days. Secondly, you'll want to mix up your activities and explorations to make for an unforgettable experience.
Yes, Hawaii has some of the most stunning beaches on earth. Yes, you'll want to spend plenty of time laying out in the sun, body surfing the waves and ogling at sea turtles. But Hawaii has much more to offer than white sand beaches, crystal clear water and perfect year-round beach weather.
Each island has its own unique flavor, but you're sure to find mountainous hikes, waterfalls and beautiful vistas no matter what island you choose. Be sure to take advantage of the local farmer's markets. Most of the overpriced food you see in the chain grocery stores have to be shipped in from the mainland, but locally grown produce is delicious, cheap and your purchase feeds the local economy. And perusing the longans , rambutans and star fruits of a local farmers market is quite a unique experience.
Driving around the islands is easy. Take Kauai, for example. The Garden Isle has just one main road that makes a backward "C." The road isn't a perfect circle because it's blocked by the towering Na Pali Coast. Most everything you'd want to see on the island is off this main road, and the speed limit never gets above 50 mph. Just make sure to watch out for slower-moving scooters.
A car is the only way that you'll be able to experience the Road to Hanaon Maui with its myriad of viewpoints, hidden swimming holes, waterfalls, and rainforests. A rental car may cost a little bit upfront, but it can take you to plenty of free attractions like different beaches, trailheads, waterfalls, and viewpoints. And we always recommend that you spend at least a week on each island. A car will allow you to see as much as possible before you have to reluctantly board that plane. And speaking of planes, a rental car will get you to and from the airport which saves you money on airport transfers. It’s a win, win, win situation.
But don't go too fast just because you have a car. Slow down. Get on island time. Leave the ambition behind each little road trip. Allow yourself some time to sit on beautiful beaches, peruse local boutiques, savor Hawaiian treats like shave ice and malasadas, and to take little detours. It's the only way to get the true flavor of the island.
Aloha is actually a state law in Hawaii. Although, the law is a pretty harsh term for such a lovely word. You probably already know that Aloha means hello and goodbye, but locals also use it to express love. And it goes so much deeper than that.
Aloha is being one with the world around you. If someone else suffers then you suffer. If the land hurts then you hurt. And, in turn, you are always ready to help Mother Earth or your fellow human. It's a calm, laid-back and caring way of life, and it's something you can dive right into during your trip to Hawaii.
You can assimilate intoAloha by taking care of your Ohana. Ohana means family, friends, and home. The island and all of its people are your new Ohana. Take care of it by packing out what you pack in on your hikes, recycling, treating marine and wildlife with respect, sharing a warm smile and talking to your neighbors.
You can also enjoy the cultural experiences that radiate Aloha. Luaus and hula dances welcome all travelers where you'll experience the Aloha spirit expressed through food and dance. But the truly best way to experience Aloha is to talk with the locals. Ask them their favorite hikes, restaurants, and experiences, and be taken in by the Aloha spirit.
You'll need to do some research to get the most out of your Hawaiian vacation. The first thing is first -- you need to pick an island. Each island has its own character, climate, features, and points of interest and the differences are too many to list here. But your destination island will dictate your research.
We recommend at least a week on each island, so a good way to plan out your trip goes like this. Take your first day to get settled, adjust to the weather and time, shop, and to get your bearings. Then do two, three-day cycles.
Day 1 - Physical activity. This could be a hike, surfing or an epic snorkel. Just get the blood flowing.
Day 2 - A guided tour, or take a road trip to explore the island with a little Aloha spirit mixed in.
Day 3 - Lounge on your favorite beach.
Repeat the cycle and you've spent a week on the island. Day 1 is active, Day 2 is semi-active and Day 3 is for relaxation. It's a great cadence that will allow you to get some exercise while mixing in some well-earned rest and relaxation. Remember that you can always mix in luaus and hula shows in the evenings.
Just make sure to do the research in order to pick the right adventures, tours, road trips and beaches in order to maximize your vacation to Hawaii.