Aloha! Did you know that this word not only means Hello and Bye but “Love” as well? And so everyone will fall in love with the beautiful nature full of waterfalls, rainforest, volcanoes, black, green and red beaches. I have never seen the beach to be so close to the high mountains. Some of the original Hawaiian culture is still seen like in the schools where the kids learn the Hawaiian language or in cultural events. But because of the US occupation in the end of the 19th century Hawaii is influenced by Americans and the original Hawaii culture is getting replaced. Anyway, the history and development of this island state is impressive because everything what is growing there is imported by birds with seeds or from the main land.
- When to go: all year around good weather, thunderstorms and cyclones are possible all the time, more rain from November to February – this is also the best time for the big waves on Maui and the northern beaches of Hawaii, whale watching is the best from January to April
- Getting there: Hawaii has four international airports in Honolulu, Kahului (Maui), Hilo and Kona (Big Island) with flights from Vancouver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Sydney, Brisbane, Hong Kong or Japan. To check cheap flights, skyscanner.com is recommendable. From island to island almost the only way is to fly with Hawaiian airlines.
- How much time needed: I spent around 4 to 5 days on each island I visited, a week is always better but Hawaii is very expensive in accommodation.
- Money & budget: For a bed in a hostel dorm I paid $40-45. If you can share an Airbnb or a big room with friends it might be cheaper. Food is expensive as well, no snack under $6 even in the supermarkets but the fruits and veggies on the markets are cheap (avocado for $1). That’s why I recommend a daily budget of $80-$100.
WHERE TO GO
Hawaii is divided in four islands: the main island Oahu with the capital Honolulu. South-east from Oahu is Maui known for its big waves and surfer beaches. The biggest and most southern island is as easy as the name says the Big Island/ Island of Hawaii. The most northern island is Kauai with lots of nature to explore.
- Oahu: Famous for Waikiki beach in Honolulu, Oahu is very popular for tourists and therefore quite crowded. Near Waikiki there is a great hike to Diamonds head which gives you a magnificent view over the island. It is recommended to rent a car or take the public bus (only $2,50) around the island for example to the North shore (Waimea valley, Laniakea Bay with turtles, Haleiwa) or the east with the most beautiful beach in Kailua Bay, great coastlines and a lighthouse. Besides there is the historic memorial of Pearl Harbour to visit which should remind of the attack from Japan on the US battleships in the Second World War 1942. The tickets for the free tour to the Arizona memorial are quickly sold each morning from 7 to 9a.m.
- Maui: The most famous trip on Maui is the road to Hana because it goes along the north-eastern coastal line with the Twin Falls and other waterfalls, beautiful views over rocky bays and with the Black and Red Sand Beach. Another great trip is to the extinct volcano “Haleakala” also in the east of the island but be careful – it can get really cold up there. The fisher village Lahaina is good for watersports like diving or surfing. There are not too many accommodations on Maui, only five hostels and not many couchsurfing hosts. I recommend the “Aloha Surf Hostel” because it is very clean, has free tours everyday (worth $50) and free pancakes in the morning: $48 per night. It is located in the hippie yoga village of Paia reachable in 30 min from the Kahului airport by public bus. Alternatively the “Banana Bungalow Maui Hostel” is recommendable although it is THE party hostel it includes daily free tours and free pancakes as well and even offers a free airport shuttle.
- Big Island: So many attractions need more time to explore. Jumping red lava can be seen at the volcano of the Kileau crater or flowing out in the ocean, there are even tours by boat to see the lava flow (from $200) or helicopter flights but they are allowed to fly directly over the crater. In the Volcano National Parks there are many different hikes and attractions to visit. Secondly, the Big Island has fantastic waterfalls (Akaka and Rainbow Falls) as well as beautiful beaches to offer (green and black sand beach with turtles). Last but not least the most southern point of the US can be found with a rough and marvelous coast line full of volcanic rocks.
- Where to stay? I found a very good hostel, the cheapest on my whole Hawaii trip, Hilo: Hilo Shaka Shaka for $34/night, breakfast included, with very clean and calm rooms
- Kauai: This is the most natural island with a lot of hidden spots, hiking trails and waterfalls to explore. It is not as crowded by tourists as the other islands but has less accomadations and tours to offer as well. It is more knows to discover the “real” Hawaiian culture and nature and recommendable for naturelovers and campers.
GOOD TO KNOW
- To rent a car it is better to book beforehand online on cheap websites. If you just ask at the rental companies the day of rental it can be up to $120 for the cheapest car.
- Public buses start from $2 and are easy to use especially on Oahu
- The only airline for inter-island transfers is “Hawaiian Airline”