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We absolutely love Hawaii. It’s honestly one of the most perfect places on the planet if you want to relax in the sun, soak in natural beauty and enjoy sandy beaches with warm water. If you love all these things, and who doesn’t, but you haven’t been to Hawaii yet then you’re really missing out. Hawaii is so special and so isolated. Paradise like this comes with higher price tag. I’d love to share my Hawaii travel tips with you to help you plan the very best vacation to Hawaii. There are ways to make your trip to Hawaii more cost effective and more enjoyable.  If you’re visiting Hawaii soon, here are a 10 Hawaii vacation tips that will help you plan a better, cheaper and easier vacation.


10 Hawaii Travel Tips for First Time Visitors


Lee at Kilauea, Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii

Lee at Kilauea, Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii

If you’re from outside the US, don’t forget that you’ll need a US visa to enter Hawaii. It’s easy to forget that Hawaii is part of the US. It doesn’t look or feel like America and isn’t anywhere near it. When booking flights to Hawaii, remember to do your ESTA application online at least 72 hours before you travel. If you fail to do so you probably won’t be allowed to board your flight.

Pick the right island. If you want Hawaiian history, shopping and white sandy beaches then pick Oahu. If you want volcanoes, lava, black sand and wildlife then the Big Island is best. If you’re after a peace & quiet, stunning landscapes and lovely beaches then pick Kauai. And if you’re after something a little bit in between the other three then Maui is a top choice for golden beaches, gorgeous landscapes and cute beach towns.


Kauai Island Helicopter Tour with Kids and Babies, Hawaii 4

Kauai’s Magnificent Napali Coast from the Air

Allow one week per island. Don’t try to squeeze too many islands into a short Hawaii vacation. Give yourself a good week to explore one island. Every island has it’s own unique personality and offers something different. On our first trip to Hawaii we did 6 days in Oahu, 8 days in Kauai and 7 days in Maui which was a perfect intro to Hawaii. On our second trip to Hawaii we did 7 days on the Big Island and 2 days in Oahu which worked out great too.

Look for accommodation on Airbnb. Hawaii has some of the most amazing hotels and resorts in the world…. but in most parts of Hawaii you’ll find them very expensive. Airbnb is a great alternative to spending your Hawaii trip in a large resort. There are lots of great value vacation condos in Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island. We paid anything from $100 to $280 for condos in Hawaii. Renting a condo for a week is often the same as you’d spend for just a few nights in a hotel so it’s well worth it. Read more about our accommodation in Hawaii here including specific links to the condos we booked. Want to try out Airbnb? Click here to get a $25 off coupon.


Hazel on Punaluu Black Sand Beach, Big Island, Hawaii

Hazel on Punaluu Black Sand Beach, Big Island, Hawaii

Rent a car. There is so much to explore on each of Hawaii’s islands that you’ll need a car to make the most of your trip. If you’re staying in Waikiki you probably won’t need a car the entire time so consider renting for 48 hours so you can spend a day driving around Oahu and doing a few other trips like Pearl Harbour For all the other islands, I would definitely recommend getting a rental car for the entire time. We find give the best rates on car rentals in Hawaii and the prices included taxes and insurance which is useful for foreigners.

Plan your packing wisely and don’t forget anything. Getting “stuff” in Hawaii is expensive due to Hawaii’s remote location in the middle of the Pacific. Make a packing list for Hawaii (click here for a PDF printable!) before you visit so you know everything you need to bring in advance and pack well. Buying things you’ve forgotten once you’re in Hawaii, like sunscreen or bathing suits or even diapers, is expensive.


Sunset at Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii

Sunset at Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii

Don’t forget a portable charging device. Would you believe my camera battery went flat just as the sun was about to set over Haleakala? When you’ve driven to 10,000 feet just to watch the sun go down from the top of a volcano you really want to capture the moment! A portable charging device like thissaved my butt on this occasion.

Hawaii has a two bathing suit minimum. Whether you’re at the pool or in the ocean, you’ll be swimming a lot in Hawaii. Bring at least two bathing suits for your trip to Hawaii. There’s nothing worse than getting back into soggy bathers for your second swim of the day. I would suggest bringing three pair for the kids.


Hazel and Bethaney on the Beach in Hawaii, Ergo Baby Carrier

The sun is strong and there is little shade. Cover up!

Sun protection is a must. And I’m not just talking about sunscreen. Make sure you pack hats and sunglasses too. Kids should swim in UV swim suits that cover them up. UV rash vests work great for adults too. It saves you having to completely cover yourself in sunscreen every time you hit the beach.


Hazel receiving a Lei at the Luau Hilton Waikoloa Village Big Island Hawaii

Hazel receiving a Lei at the Luau Hilton Waikoloa Village Big Island Hawaii

Treat local customs with respect. Hawaii is a sacred place and the Hawaiian people have many important customs. Show some respect and try not to break any cultural taboos. Read signage and observe what local people do. If you’re unsure, just ask.


Big Island, Hawaii swim with turtles

Swimming with turtles in Hawaii



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10 Hawaii Travel Tips for First Time Visitors


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  • Jessica

    Awesome tips! Thank you!

  • noel


    Well I’m glad you love Hawaii and the Big Island where I come from. I just had my sister visit with her kids and we had a great time – it is a great place to visit with children

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