What is the Best Way to Visit Hawaii?

hawaiin setset

If you’re planning on visiting Hawaii, you might be overwhelmed with information about what each island offers and which might be the best choice for you. Hawaii is a true tropical paradise, and regardless of which island you choose, your visit is sure to be filled with sunshine, beaches, culture, and delicious cuisine! We’re here to break down the best way to visit Hawaii, depending on what you are looking for so you can plan your next trip hassle-free.

The best way to visit Hawaii is with an open mind and heart so you can go with the flow of island life. While many of the islands have great infrastructure to support tourism, the islanders are generally very laid back and you’ll need to switch onto ‘Island Time’ when you arrive to ensure you don’t get stressed if things don’t run exactly to schedule. Once you’re in this mode, you’re ready to have the experience on a lifetime!

Planning Your Trip To Hawaii

Planning your visit to Hawaii depends on your budget, your vacation style, the pace you want to set for your trip and what time of year you are hoping to travel. These answers will be different for every traveller, but working your way through the following prompts will help you make the right choices for your own trip to ensure you see Hawaii in the best way possible.

Decide On Your Budget

Hawaii offers something for everyone, from basic shacks on the beach to swanky five-star resorts and everything in between. This is ideal, as all types of travellers are catered for, and figuring out your budget will help you choose an island and more specifically a beach, town or resort that is right for you.

Thankfully, airfare to and from Hawaii, and around the islands, has become much more competitive in the past few years, meaning that a trip to paradise doesn’t have to break the bank.

The larger islands of O’ahu and Big Island are thought to be the cheapest options as they have a diverse range of accommodation as well as larger airports which can offer more affordable national/international flights. The more remote you get, the higher the prices, so Maui, Kauai, and Lanai tend to be more expensive options.

If you’re trying to save, you might want to consider travelling in the shoulder seasons, flying on a weekday and booking hostels well in advance. You’ll also want to think about eating cheap while you’re in Hawaii as well as making the most of free outdoor activities such as hiking and beach time.

Sticking to one island instead of jetting around a number of different spots will inevitably save you money, as will choosing smaller hotels or Airbnbs as opposed to large resorts or chain hotels.

If the sky is the limit with your budget, then you can choose to visit as many islands as you wish. Perhaps you might find the next few prompts more helpful in deciding on the best way to visit Hawaii.

Decide On Your Budget

Hawaii offers something for everyone, from basic shacks on the beach to swanky five-star resorts and everything in between. This is ideal, as all types of travellers are catered for, and figuring out your budget will help you choose an island and more specifically a beach, town or resort that is right for you.

Thankfully, airfare to and from Hawaii, and around the islands, has become much more competitive in the past few years, meaning that a trip to paradise doesn’t have to break the bank.

The larger islands of O’ahu and Big Island are thought to be the cheapest options as they have a diverse range of accommodation as well as larger airports which can offer more affordable national/international flights. The more remote you get, the higher the prices, so Maui, Kauai, and Lanai tend to be more expensive options.

If you’re trying to save, you might want to consider travelling in the shoulder seasons, flying on a weekday and booking hostels well in advance. You’ll also want to think about eating cheap while you’re in Hawaii as well as making the most of free outdoor activities such as hiking and beach time.

Sticking to one island instead of jetting around a number of different spots will inevitably save you money, as will choosing smaller hotels or Airbnbs as opposed to large resorts or chain hotels.

If the sky is the limit with your budget, then you can choose to visit as many islands as you wish. Perhaps you might find the next few prompts more helpful in deciding on the best way to visit Hawaii.

Decide On Your Travel Style

Choosing your travel style for your trip to Hawaii will help you decide which island(s) you want to visit and what activities you might want to get involved in.

Hiking on Hawaii, Waihee ridge trail, Maui, USA.

Nature

If you’re a nature lover and you want to spend much of your time outdoors, you may want to choose one of the smaller, unspoilt islands Kauai or Lanai whose landscapes are breath-taking. Alternatively, you could stay on the island of Hawaii (nicknamed Big Island) but explore some of the more off-the-beaten-track destinations. Even Big Island which has well-developed infrastructure and large hotels has some incredible beaches and National Parks that will make you appreciate the sheer beauty of Hawaii’s natural landscape.

Nightlife

If a bustling scene is more your thing, O’ahu or Maui’s main towns might be a better fit. With lively nightlife, a great choice of water sports, decent shopping and a range of spectacular hotels, these popular islands have everything you need for a fun first-time visit to Hawaii. These islands are also great for families as you can enjoy all of Hawaii’s highlights without having to travel between the islands.

hawaiin fire dance

Culture

For traditional Hawaiian culture, you’ll want to head to the remote island of Molokai. This stunning islet features epic landscapes and has more locals than tourists so you can enjoy a truly authentic way of life. The Polynesian Cultural Center in O’ahu is also an excellent place to soak up some traditional culture, food, and performances, especially if you don’t have time to explore multiple islands.

Choose How Many Islands You Want To Visit

Another thing to consider when planning your trip to Hawaii is how much time you have available. If you have between one and two weeks, you’ll probably want to stick to just a couple of islands so you can really make the most of each destination. Any more than two and you’ll feel as though you are rushing and that you don’t have a chance to truly explore, or get a feel for the island.

If you have longer, you can think about island hopping your way around the archipelago to compare and contrast the state’s incredible islands, choosing which one is your favourite along the way! Ideally, you’ll spend a few days (at least) on each island, so you have the opportunity to relax on the beaches as well as discovering every island’s best bits. You should also be prepared to fall in love with an island, which may make you want to change your plans entirely to stay in one place!

Once you’ve decided on the island(s) you want to visit, you’ll need to think about how you want to travel between them. Daily flights connect the six main islands to each other, with most flight times taking just half an hour to reach your destination. Some of the smaller islands are also connected by air, but these flights will be more infrequent and higher in price. There are also ferry services that connect Maui and Lanai and Maui with Molokai. Whether you’re visiting Lanai or Molokai for just a day trip or are planning on staying there, taking the ferry can be a good budget option as one-way tickets cost between $30-40.

Decide When To Visit Hawaii

Last but by no means least you’ll need to decide what time of year you want to visit Hawaii. This can be determined in two ways: planning your visit around your vacation time, or planning your trip around seeing or experiencing certain things during your stay.

Hawaii has pretty decent weather year-round, so there’s hardly ever a wrong time to visit. Yes, there are seasons (generally the dry season runs from April to October and the wet season from November to March) but as Hawaii is a tropical destination there can be downpours at any time, but these rarely last long so shouldn’t affect your trip too much!

Popular holidays in the US such as Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas are all peak periods for Hawaii, as is Japan’s Golden Week which falls at the beginning of May. These periods will be busy and expensive, so they are best avoided if possible.

You might want to consider the shoulder season months of May and September if you want to choose a quieter time of year to visit, as these months receive great weather yet have less crowds and lower prices.

If you want to try to spot whales during your time in Hawaii, you’ll want to visit between November to May when humpback whales make their way into Hawaiian waters. The peak months fall from January to March so plan your trip at the start of the year for the best chances!

Finally, if festivals are your thing, you might want to check out the Honolulu Festival in March, the World Fireknife Championships in May, the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival in June or Aloha Festivals in September!

More Questions You May Ask

Do I Need To Rent A Car When Visiting Hawaii?

Deciding on whether you need to rent a car during your trip to Hawaii depends on which island(s) you are visiting. O’ahu has fairly good shuttles, tours, and public transport so renting a car isn’t a must (particularly if you’re staying around Waikiki). However, it is advisable to rent a car if you are staying on Kauai, Maui, Molokai, and Big Island.

Hawaii’s islands each have so much to offer so even if you decide to stick to one spot it can be useful to hire a car for at least one day to get out and explore.

When Is The Best Time To Surf In Hawaii?

Choosing the best time to surf in Hawaii depends on your experience. If you are a beginner surfer, you can find small waves year-round on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and Big Island. Honolulu’s Waikiki Beach is considered one of the best for beginners so head here or find a quieter rounded shoreline to get your surf on. If you’re more advanced, the best time of year to visit is winter (mid-November-February) as this is when the larger waves are most prevalent.

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