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Hawaii Travel Guide

Looking for an in-depth Hawaii travel guide?

Then you’re in the right place!

From its stunning beaches to its tropical forests to its majestic volcanoes, there is so much to love in the Aloha State. So much, in fact, that in your quest to learn about Hawaii, you might get a little lost. No worries – we’ve got you covered!

In this guide, we’ll help you choose the best island to visit (Maui or Kauai?), determine the ideal Hawaii vacation guide itinerary for you, and help you save a little money. Whether this is your first time in Hawaii or your fiftieth, this guide will help you plan your best trip yet!

Hawaii is a true paradise for outdoor adventurers.

The state’s national and state parks are so special that, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, they are actually home to nearly 900 unique species!

There’s a perfect park for whatever activity you have in mind; climb the hills of ‘Iao Valley State Park, hit the beach at Makena State Park, or learn more about Hawaiian culture at Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park.

The best part is that most of these parks are open daily, making it easy to plan your adventures. Get out there and soak up some sun!

Speaking of sun, you can’t go to Hawaii without spending some time at the beach!

Whether you’re a seasoned surfer or just want to work on your tan, Hawaii has the perfect oasis for you. Of course, no two beaches are exactly the same and each one has its own vibe.

As you plan your Hawaiian adventure, think about whether you want to hang out on an action-packed city beach like Waikiki Beach in Honolulu or a more secluded spot where you can get some quality R&R.

This guide will take you through some of the different sandy paradises the Hawaiian Islands have to offer.

Keep reading to dive into resources that will help you with planning a trip to Hawaii in the United States.

Note: This ultimate Hawaii guide contains affiliate links to trusted partners!

Hawaii Map

Use this Hawaii tourism map to begin planning your trip to this incredible country!

Hawaii map

Click here for an interactive Google Map version of the above graphic.

Big Island Travel Guide

Explore the best of Big Island tourism through these epic guides!

Oahu Travel Guide

Experience the best of Oahu Hawaii travel with these unforgettable guides!

Hawaii Travel Tips

The following Hawaii travel advice can help you plan the perfect trip!

Best Hawaii Tours

Explore local culture with a Hawaii tour guide through these unique excursions:

  • Paradise Cove Luau from Kapolei
  • Oahu Submarine Scooter Adventure
  • Big Island in a Day: Volcanoes, Waterfalls, Sightseeing, History from Kailua-Kona
  • Maui Morning Snorkeling Tour to Molokini Crater & Turtle Town (Ma’alaea Harbor) from Wailuku
  • Ultimate Circle Island Adventure with Waimea Waterfall from Honolulu

Renting A Car In Hawaii

Need a rental car for your Hawaii trip?

Use Discover Cars to quickly compare your car rental options.

Their comparison tool does the homework for you, so there’s no need to have up 10+ tabs trying to figure out which company is the most affordable. Actually, you can save up to 70% using their tool!

Public Transportation In Hawaii

Getting around Hawaii by train, bus, or ferry?

Omio is a must! You can use this tool for all of your public transportation needs when traveling around Hawaii.

The site is straightforward and user-friendly — and you can pre-book your tickets in advance at a discount.

They even offer flight and car deals!

Hawaii Hotels

Click here to browse the best Hawaii travel hotels!

Prefer self-contained stays?

Click here to check out unique local rentals!

You can also use this map to search for local properties:

Hawaii Travel Insurance

It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling solo or with a group on a Hawaii tour. When visiting Hawaii — or any other country in the world — make sure to get travel insurance to protect your health and safety.

In my opinion, the best travel medical insurance for travelers is SafetyWing as they’ve got a large network and offer both short-term and long-term coverage — including coverage if you’re traveling for months as well as limited coverage in your home country).

Additionally, SafetyWing is budget-friendly and offers $250,000 worth of coverage with just one low overall deductible of $250.

With coverage, you’ll have peace of mind as you embark on your Hawaii travel itinerary.

Click my referral link here to price out travel insurance for your trip in just a few clicks.

Hawaii Travel Guide FAQ

Below, find answers to frequently asked questions about traveling in Hawaii.

Q: What are the top Hawaiian islands to visit?

There are actually 136 Hawaiian islands, though only 7 (Oahu, Hawaii, Maui, Kaua’i, Molokai, Lanai and Niihau) are inhabited. While each island is beautiful, some are more traveler-friendly than others.

If you want a more laidback, relaxing retreat, head to Kaua’i, also known as the Garden Isle.

While there are plenty of resorts on the island’s south side, it’s not quite as developed as more popular islands like Oahu and Maui.

Here you can lounge on some of the most gorgeous beaches in the world, do a bit of kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding on the Wailua River, hike up to a waterfall, or just enjoy the local flora and fauna.

You’ll definitely want to visit the Na Pali coast, a breathtaking mountain region that you can explore on foot or by boat.

And take some time to stop into some of the island’s small towns like Hanapepe and Waimea for authentic Hawaiian eats and cool boutiques.

If you’re looking to see some of Hawaii’s top attractions, head to Oahu.

Here you’ll find the state capital of Honolulu as well as the world-famous Waikiki Beach. Sprawl out on the sand at Waikiki and watch the surfers try and catch some waves, then take a walk along the strip to check out the beach’s shops, restaurants and nightlife.

A few miles from the beach you can visit Pearl Harbor and pay your respects to those lost on that fateful day. Hikers will definitely want to visit Diamond Head State Monument, a volcanic crater just a few miles from Waikiki Beach that offers incredible views of the island.

And if you want to catch some serious waves, head to the island’s North Shore, where some of the best surfers in the world ride some of the Pacific’s biggest swells (note: if you’ve never surfed before, this is not the place to learn!).

Of course, there are also lots of local things to do in Oahu like swimming at Kapena Falls and doing a farm tour.

Looking for a different kind of Hawaiian experience? Check out the Big Island of Hawaii.

This island is perfect for a Big Island road trip and is best known for its unique natural wonders that are perfect for outdoor adventurers.

Take a day trip to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, home to the Kilauea and Manua Loa active volcanoes which regularly erupt with fiery lava. The trails around the volcanoes give you an opportunity to view the eruptions from a safe distance while exploring the area.

The coral reefs around the island also offer great opportunities for snorkeling and swimming with some of the local marine life.

To learn more about Hawaiian history and culture, head to Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park where you can see cultural demonstrations of traditional Hawaiian crafts and explore historic sites like the Royal Grounds and Pu’uhonua refuge.

Q: What is the best month to go to Hawaii?

There’s really no bad time to visit Hawaii, as the weather is mild for most of the year.

The state’s dry season runs from March through September, so you’re less likely to have your hike rained out if you visit then.

If you’re looking to avoid crowds, though, consider visiting in October or November, when there are generally fewer visitors.

Q: How much money do you need for a trip to Hawaii?

You’ll want to budget a bit more for a trip to Hawaii than you normally would; the average traveler spends about $269 per day on the islands on food, transportation, accommodations, activities, and other expenses.

There are certainly ways to save, though.

Do lots of research when booking accommodations, as some parts of an island will be less expensive than others and there are plenty of accommodation options outside of hotels, including AirBnBs, hostels, and camping.

And there are plenty of options for cheap eats — like delicious food trucks!

Q: How many days do you need in Hawaii?

Most experts recommend planning for seven to 10 days in Hawaii, particularly if you’re planning on island-hopping.

This will also give you a few days to adjust to the time change, as you’re pretty much guaranteed to experience jet lag due to Hawaii’s isolated location.

Q: What are the best things to do in Hawaii?

No U.S. travel guide would be complete without mentioning Hawaii, and here’s why:

Aside from some of the marquee attractions mentioned above, there is plenty to see in Hawaii.

At some point in your trip, you’ll definitely want to experience a classic Hawaiian luau. You can find these traditional dinners at most Hawaiian resorts but there are plenty of authentic experiences beyond the big hotels.

For instance, the Smith Family Garden Luau on Kauai incorporates the cultures of many South Pacific islands and offers an incredible feast of traditional Hawaiian foods. You’ll also start off the evening with a tour of a 30-acre garden featuring tons of gorgeous local plants.

Other luau favorites include the Old Lahaina Luau on Maui and the Polynesian Cultural Center’s Ali’i Luau on Oahu.

If you’re visiting the Big Island, take some time to go stargazing at Mauna Kea, a 14,000 foot high volcano that is one of the few places in Hawaii that experiences snow.

Head to the Visitor Information Station at the summit on most weeknights for incredibly clear night sky views and a chance to chat with local volunteer astronomers.

Alternatively, you can book a stargazing tour to guarantee your views. Just be sure to dress warm; temperatures can drop to 30 degrees Fahrenheit up on the summit!

Farm tours are also a great way to learn more about Hawaii’s agriculture and famous exports. The city of Kona on the Big Island is famous for its coffee and there are plenty of coffee farms to visit — like Greenwell Farms — if you want to see how your daily java gets made.

Pineapple farms are also a big draw for agriculture tourism. The Dole Plantation on Oahu is probably the most famous of the bunch and home to the world’s largest maze.

And chocoholics will definitely want to visit Hamakua Chocolate Farm on the Big Island to taste one of the island’s most delicious exports.

Q: Where is Hawaii?

Hawaii is an island state located in the western United States. It’s located in the Pacific Ocean about 2,000 miles from the U.S. mainland.

Q: Are credit cards accepted in Hawaii?

Credit cards — mainly Visa and Mastercard — are widely accepted around Hawaii, particularly in touristy areas. That being said, it is always wise to carry some cash for smaller establishments and in case of emergency.

Q: Can you drink the tap water in Hawaii?

Tap water is safe to drink in most places in Hawaii, though it is smart to check with your hotel to be sure. In some more remote parts of Hawaii you shouldn’t drink the tap water.

Q: What is the local currency in Hawaii?

The local currency in Hawaii is the US Dollar (USD).

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