It’s no secret that The Aloha State is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. The Hawaiian archipelago is comprised of 8 islands and over 100 smaller islands, atolls, and islets found in the Pacific Ocean.
From the historical sites, to the out-of-this-world volcanic landscape, Hawaii is home to treasures unlike any other on earth. Hawaii boasts some of the best weather, surf and beaches you’ll ever see. What makes Hawaii truly unique is the Hawaiian culture. When you visit, you’ll see that the people there are incredibly friendly and welcoming. Here is what you need know before your Hawaii vacation.
Overview of Major Islands
It won’t be easy choosing which island to visit on your Hawaii vacation, but you’ll find there are no wrong answers.
Home to the state capitol of Honolulu and is home to the majority of Hawaii’s population. Learn to surf and catch a wave at Waikiki Beach and visit the memorials and museums at Pearl Harbor.
Properly named, this island is larger than all the other Hawaiian islands combined. You can see waterfalls, rain forests, and snow-capped mountains, all without leaving the Big Island. Visit the home of the world’s most active volcanoes at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and stop by Ka Lae, the southernmost point in the United States.
Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world are found on this second largest Hawaiian island. Lahaina is the perfect place to shop, eat and stroll while soaking up the sun. Maui also is one of the best places for whale watching in the winter months.
Full of natural beauty, the Garden Isle, is the northern most island in the Hawaiian archipelago. Explore the ”Grand Canyon of the Pacific” at Waimea Canyon or visit one of the numerous gardens such as Limahuli Garden.
Culture Of Hawaii
Hawaiian culture is filled with fascinating values, music, legends and traditions. When visiting Hawaii, make sure to look past the beauty of the sunsets and beaches, and take time to appreciate the culture that makes Hawaii special.
Luaus are a traditional Hawaiian feast and no trip to Hawaii is complete without attending one. As a welcoming gift, hula dancers will adorn you with a lei (necklace made of local flowers) and a kiss on the cheek. Make sure you leave it on all night, because it is seen as disrespectful to remove the lei in public. Hula dancers tell beautiful stories and provide entertainment by swaying their hips while gracefully moving their hands and wearing colorful costumes. Most luaus feature Samoan fire dancers, graceful Tahitian dancers and talented drummers. Feast on Kalua pig slow-cooked in a pit, lau lau (meat wrapped in taro leaves), and poi (baked taro root). Don’t worry about eating too much, the dancers usually invite guests up on stage to learn the hula, which is great exercise!
Language and Values
The Hawaiian language is a Polynesian language that is comprised of only five vowels and eight consonants. With one of the shortest alphabets in the world, it is hard for most to master. Luckily, most people in Hawaii and all street signs are in English. Locals appreciate travelers learning a few basic words when in Hawaii, as a sign of respect. Aloha is the most popular word and it can mean an array of things including, hello, goodbye, love, and essences of life. Akahai is a huge part of Hawaii’s values and it means a gentle and modest demeanor. Lokahi, meaning unity and blending opposites, is a perfect way to describe the sentiment of Hawaiians. Especially when it comes to driving on busy roads or walking in crowded areas- everyone is on island time so don’t rush nor honk your horn!
Ancient Hawaiians were storytellers and legends were passed down from generation to generation as a way to document history and beliefs. The Hawaiian culture has a lot of facets that include superstitions and omens. A common one is rain and rainbows being blessings, especially during weddings. A few things to know before your Hawaii vacation that you should never do in Hawaii are take lava rocks from a volcano (some even dump the dust out of their shoes after hiking), bring bananas on a boat, step over a baby lying on the floor or wear a lei if you are pregnant.
What Clothes To Pack
Most of the coastal regions of Hawaii have amazing weather and the average temperature doesn’t get much lower than 74 degrees F. Swimsuits, sunscreen, a hat and a pair of sunglasses are a must. You can wear flip flops pretty much anywhere, except inside someone’s home so there is no need to pack fancier shoes. If you are planning on hiking, bring warmer clothes and boots. Aloha shirts are considered pretty normal in Hawaii, so pick up one as a great souvenir.
Other Things to Know Before Your Hawaii Vacation
- U.S. citizens do not need to bring a passport since Hawaii is a part of the United States.
- Hawaii’s time zone is 6 hours ahead of the United States Eastern time zone. Hawaii also doesn’t observe daylight savings time.
- The higher cost to import goods leads to most items costing more than they are on the ‘mainland’, so plan to carry a little emergency cash (US Dollars) if you accidentally go over your budget.
- There are strict customs regulations on what agricultural products you can bring to and back from Hawaii to preserve the safety and well-being on the landscape on the islands.
- “Kapu” is a warning that the place you are entering is forbidden or sacred. Usually found near beaches, temples or outdoor areas, warning you that the ocean or a trail is dangerous. Make sure to keep away when you see this word.
Hawaii has something for everyone in your family, whether you are looking for a romantic escape or a family fun adventure. Explore off-the-beaten-path destinations, from hidden beaches to small towns that you won’t find on a postcard. Learn to surf, snorkel or kayak and earn your Hawaii suntan. It’s true what they say, one trip to Hawaii doesn’t satisfy your Hawaiian travel bug, it just makes you want to go back!