15 Tips for Exploring Hawaii: What We Learned While Island-Hopping
Hawaii has been one of our most favorite destinations so far, and we want everyone to experience all of the beauty and adventures these islands have to offer!
See Related: 40 Things To Do in the Islands of Hawaii
Here are some things we learned during island-hopping Hawaii vacation:
1. Pack long-sleeves. The breezes from the ocean and the high altitudes can get pretty chilly!
2. Always be prepared for random rainstorms. They roll in and out of the mountainous tropical environment. Don’t get caught with no place to protect your camera!
3. If you don’t like the view, wait 5 minutes. Clouds, just like the rain, move in and out very quickly. If your view is obstructed by cloud cover, be patient!
4. Always have a swimsuit handy– in a bag, in your trunk, under your clothes. Hawaii offers tons of opportunities to enjoy the water with numerous beaches and waterfalls.
5. Always, always, always wear swimming shoes when swimming, and be very aware of what is under the water. The coral is super fragile, so you shouldn’t touch it at all, but if you do, it’s brutal. While fighting against a huge wave, I (barefoot) kicked the coral really hard, had to be carried from the water, and will forevermore have a scar. Learn from my mistake.
6. Be aware of all dangers, warnings, and your surroundings. While Hawaii is a beautiful paradise, the dangers include getting lost on unmarked hiking trails, falling over cliffs, falling on rocks, getting cut on coral (see #5), getting pulled out to sea by the waves, breathing toxic air from volcanoes, falling into lava too close to a volcano, and the list goes on and on. This is not to scare you from going to Hawaii. There are signs and warnings for most of these things, so as long as you use common sense and follow the rules, you should be fine.
7. A waterproof camera is a great idea. Not only will you want a camera to capture the glorious views under the sea like native fish and turtles, but they are also super handy when those rainstorms come through (see #2).
8. Sunscreen is a MUST (and not just on the beach!). The weather and surroundings can be so beautiful that you forget about the sun blaring down on you. It seemed to cook me twice as fast as back home in Mississippi, so I invested in a hat as well.
9. Be sure to take your most comfortable walking shoes. Hawaii is an amazing place, and many of the sights can only be seen on foot. Don’t miss the incredible hikes!
10. Be open-minded about your itinerary. Pick and choose the things that you absolutely must see and play the rest by ear. No matter how much or little you see, you will not go home disappointed by Hawaii. You may decide to dedicate an entire afternoon at a waterfall. Whales might be visible from shore, and who wants to walk away from that? What if there is an amazing festival going on or if the locals suggest an amazing restaurant? Sometimes, the unplanned activities can be the best!
11. Talk to the locals! They know some amazing “locals only” spots, tips on where to catch a glimpse of the local wildlife, the best places to eat, and can tell you all about life on the islands. You may leave with wonderful new friends like we did– Hello to Mama and Sheena!
12. Eat local! We ate soooo much food in Hawaii. The seafood is all fresh, and we loved the mixture of different cultures coming together in the foods. Food trucks are great. Why settle for a chain restaurant?
13. Shop local! Locally owned souvenir shops have wonderful service, and the flea markets are great for local, handmade wares. Honestly, I have no interest in shopping at the high-end stores available in most tourist-y areas when I can get handmade leis and hand-carved wooden souvenirs.
14. If at all possible, see more than one Hawaiian island. They are all amazing and beautiful, but also very different. We loved the Big Island of Hawaii and Kauai the most even though it seems most visitors go to Oahu or Maui. We also advise renting a car if you can to see more of each island.
15. Make an effort to learn about the Hawaiian culture! Learn more than just “aloha!” and “luau.” Find out what the Hawaiian equivalent of your name would be (we are Kinipela and Maleko!). Visit the only royal palace on American soil. Learn to make leis. Take every opportunity to learn new things!
See Related: Surviving the Road to Hana: Our Top 5 Maui Moments
Did we miss anything? Or have you had an experience relating to one of these tips? Let us know in the comments below!
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Jennifer is the founder of Just Chasing Rabbits travel blog. She lives in Mississippi with husband/travel companion, Mark, and doggie-daughter, Gizmo. After obtaining a BA degree in studio art and working in the field of photography for years, Jenni has combined her love of travel and photography to form this blog. Mark and Jenni share their experiences in hopes of inspiring others to have wonderful adventures and see the world.
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