Ah, Hawaii. It’s a magical haven on earth, nestled in the far west of USA, lying peacefully along the Pacific Ocean.
When I think of Hawaii, pictures of women dressed in coconut husk bras and skirts made of banana leaves dancing around a bonfire come to mind. I wouldn’t deny my impression may sound old-school – it’s an island I’ve only ever dreamed of visiting!
Home to beautiful natural volcanoes, beaches and waterfalls, there are so many things to see and do here. If you’re lost on how to start your Hawaii holiday plans, this article can shed some light to get you kickstarted on your Hawaii vacation!
Getting to Hawaii
There are two airports that you can go to to get to main island of Hawaii – you can take a flight directly to Kona International Airport (KOA) in Kona located at the west of the island (which is the most preferred option for most travellers), or Hilo International Airport (ITO) in Hilo, located on the in the east of the island.
You can even take a transit flight from Honolulu to KOA or ITO if you can find cheaper flights.
Getting around Hawaii
To get around the city, most people prefer to take public or private tour buses as they are conveniently abundant and affordable.
However, there are plenty of car rental companies, and you’ll notice many the moment you exit the airport that you can rent cars from. I’d recommend you to get your own rented car as it gives you the freedom to explore the island at your own pace and in greater comfort.
Where to stay in Hawaii
When you’re in Hawaii, you want to be sure to enjoy your time to the fullest. Why not live comfortably with one of these rentals in Hawaii facing beautiful beaches and natural sceneries all from your doorstep?
Things to do in Hawaii
There are so many things to see and do here for everyone, regardless of age and where you come from. Here are some of my favourite ways to see the gorgeous utopia of Hawaii:
1. Dive right into the steep culture of the Hawaiians
Learn how to live and breathe the way the Polynesians do. You can do so many different things to immerse yourself in the culture of the Polynesians. To begin, I recommend you to attend a luau (a Hawaiian party or feast), where you can enjoy an evening cocktail and partake in a sumptuous Hawaiian feast that includes grilled mahi mahi and kalua pork (yummy!).
You should also catch a traditional Polynesian show or participate in activities like headband weaving, fire making and spear throwing. Otherwise, you could leave it the professionals and just watch them perform these stunts and tricks that are sure to mesmerize.
2. Explore the amazing outdoors
Home to some of the most wonderful natural sights, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Take a walk along Mt. Kilauea in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where, if you’re lucky, you will get to see red lava (especially at night) flowing.
Catch a spectacular view of the Hawaiian sunset after climbing to Mauna Kea Summit or explore the Thurston Lava Tube at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Every turn is simply breathtaking.
3. Sign up for as many tours as you can!
Among many others, some of the biggest historical landmarks in Hawaii revolve around the Pearl Harbour war back in World War II. There are many monuments and tours that you can join to relive the dark days of 1941. Many people whom I’ve met described the tours and walks as an enriching and emotional tour, whether you’re American or not.
While you’re on the Pearl Harbour tour, don’t miss out on other tours. From half-day island-hopping tours to night tours, make the most of each second that you’re in Hawaii (because honestly, it’s not everyday that you get to go to beautiful Hawaii)!
I personally love the Hawaii Volcanoes National Parks tour in the evening, where you get to travel to the must-see sites in the park more vividly, including venturing down Chain of Craters Road to the coast through massive rainforests, alongside lava flows, and cinder fields, get up close with amazing volcanic formations such as lava tubes, steam vents & craters and for the main highlight, after dark, experience the red hot glow of Pele’s eruption deep inside Halemaumau Crater.
These tours and activities are some of the best ways to get an overview of the beautiful Hawaii Island.
What to eat in Hawaii
Who doesn’t love a good meal? No trip is complete without some good, scrumptious local dishes cooked to perfection.
Sounds familiar? This dish is growing in popularity everywhere I go, even where I stay in sunny Singapore. The poke (pronounced poh-kay) is a raw fish salad served as an appetizer in Hawaiian cuisine, while sometimes it can be classified as a main course. You can choose various toppings and combinations to suit your tastebuds.
Go anywhere on the island and I’m sure you can bump into a restaurant, stall or cart serving delicious bowls of poke. Dig in!
Heavily influenced by the Chinese pork buns, the manapua – a white, steamed bun with meat fillings – have become somewhat a staple side dish for most Hawaiians these days. It’s delicious, easy to prepare and affordable, so it’s no wonder why they’re so popular! If you do see any stores serving manapua, don’t be shy to try one.
Another dish that is growing more and more popular in Hawaii is called the Loco Moco (interesting name, isn’t it?) consisting of white rice topped with a burger patty, fried egg and brown gravy sauce.
If you were to roam around Hawaii Island, you’ll notice plenty of variations to this contemporary dish, which achieves various flavours to suit the different tastes of both locals and visitors. Choose one that suits you and have a bite.
Saimin is a noodle soup dish developed by different immigrant groups in Hawaii. It is similar to cup noodles that are made popular by the Japanese, Koreans and Chinese.
While the term “cup noodles” might not exactly scream “classy local dish”, it is still worth a try! I know I’ll love it! slurp