I recently visited Hawaii for the first time in my life. It was pretty amazing in lots of ways, and I strongly recommend that everyone visit there. Here are some tips I picked up during my visit.
1) Eat all the fruit!- Hawaii has the best tasting pineapple, guava, papaya and melon you’ve ever had. They may have to import a vast majority of their apples or pears, but who wants a mealy old pear when you can eat the best tasting dragon fruit you’ve ever had in your life!
2) Rent a convertible- Yes, it’s totally tourist cliché (especially if you get the Ford Mustang convertible), but it is also very worth it. The weather is so great and the views are amazing everywhere you might happen to find yourself. If you have a rental car guy, I would suggest asking him if he has an extra sitting around for you to take. We went with National and got switched to a convertible when we asked. No extra charge.
3) Don’t eat Poi- It’s fermented taro root regurgitated and buried in a hole and then a donkey pees on the hole and then you dig it up and eat it like pudding…or something like that. This will ruin your already piña colada cleansed pallet. Stay away.
4) Drink the fruity drinks- As per #1, they have the best fruit. In turn, this makes for the BEST alcoholic beverages that contain fruit and their juices. I recommend the Mai Tai, the Piña Colada, the Daiquiri, something called a Sneaky Tiki or just mix booze with pineapple juice. You will not be disappointed.
5) Accept the prices- I’m all about travelling on the cheap and getting the most for your money. Fact is, Hawaii is expensive. Go into the experience knowing this and budget accordingly. You don’t want your trip to be miserable because you are fretting over the $30 breakfast or the $300 hotel room. Certainly, do what you can to negotiate prices on your planned activities, check out Airbnb, local groupons, etc, but don’t agonize over money. If you save appropriately and expect things are not going to be the prices you are used to on the mainland, you’ll be just fine. You are in paradise; enjoy it to the fullest you are financially able to but do not go without money. It really is expensive.
6) Appreciate the infrastructure- When you go to Costa Rica, Jamaica, the Bahamas and the like, you might find yourself wondering where the road went, where the electricity went, why they seem to have no police or hospitals AND you have to go through passport control. Hawaii is in the good ol’ US of A. Roads, electricity, running water and medical care are all excellent and available to you. Don’t be afraid to take that drive around the island or up the mountain. There are actual paved roads to make your trip more enjoyable. Try driving to the rain forest in Costa Rica, and you’ll truly appreciate our states.
7) Go Hiking!– You’ll need some exercise to burn off all those empty calories from rum drinks. There are plenty of hiking trails on all of the islands, and most hotel and visitor locations have maps and tips on hiking. Be aware of the skill level and the length of the trail. Read the map before you set out! If you are from the Midwest or other such flat areas of the country, “strenuous” most likely means uphill both ways, high elevation, no water, heat, humidity, and a rugged trail. It also probably means “most beautiful view that is really hard to get to but totally worth it”.
8) Eat the Macadamia nuts- Like tiny gifts from paradise, you must eat macadamia nuts in all flavors and chocolate coatings available to you. They are the one thing that is actually cheaper than the mainland, and although high in calories, are also a good source of deliciousness. You can even take them with you on your strenuous hike to give you extra energy!
9) Take lots of pictures- Everything is so beautiful in Hawaii. Every picture you take will look just like a postcard. You can also rub it in to your friends who are suffering through crappy weather by posting your beautiful pics on Facebook.
10) Beware of chickens- Especially on Kauai, where a tsunami hit and freed all the caged chickens; there are chickens and roosters everywhere. They mostly get out of the roads but watch where you drive. They also don’t seem to be terribly afraid of humans. There’s a possibility a rooster or hen might chase you if provoked or bored. They tend to start crowing around 5:30 AM, so take earplugs.
If you visit the Iao Needle on Maui, be sure to stop off and see the “John F. Kennedy rock.” You’ll get kick out of it once you see it!