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8 Steps for Planning a Trip to Hawaii: A Comprehensive Guide Packed With Cost-Saving Tips

From The

Updated: June 1, 2024

Plenty of fabulous Hawaiian vacations have happened in a moment of inspiration and need. But if you want to save money, experience the best the islands have to offer, and have a worry-free vacation, start by planning your trip to Hawaii with our step-by-step guide.

In this guide, we help you plan your trip to Hawaii, and we include plenty of Hawaii travel tips that can save you money.

You could wing your Hawaii trip, but we don’t recommend doing that. In fact, preparation is the Hawaiian way.

Hoʻomākaukau: Get Ready

The Hawaiian culture revolves around living in harmony with the land and community. The caressing waves that embrace each island underscore a rhythm of calm—a rhythm that resonates with the Hawaiian spirit

That doesn’t mean that Hawaiians don’t prepare; in fact, preparation is an important part of their approach to the world.

If you want to eat poi, the kalo (taro) can’t pound itself. You have to harvest, cook, peel, and then pound kalo before you get that delicious purple paste that makes your bite of kālua pig and rice a mouthful of perfection. But before you even start, set up your cooking materials.

Preparation gets you to the good stuff.

Hoʻomākaukau  (pronounced hoh-oh-mah-KOW-kow) means making ready or being prepared in Hawaiian.

To get to the good stuff on your vacation, start with a little preparation.

Quick Guide: 8 Steps to the Perfect Hawaiian Vacation

We will delve deeper into each of these steps for planning a trip to Hawaii, but here are the eight steps to take before you visit Hawaii:

  1. Calendar
  2. Budget
  3. Set an Itinerary
  4. Make Travel Arrangements
  5. Learn About Hawaii
  6. Pack Your Bags
  7. Make “On Vacation” Plans
  8. Enjoy the “Good Stuff”

What Questions Should You Ask Yourself Before Your Hawaii Trip?

We will delve into each of these topics in more detail below. To gain clarity for your Hawaii vacation planning, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How many vacation hours do I have to spend? Do I want to use this all on a Hawaii vacation?
  • When is the best time for me to get away from work? What do I need to do to ensure I won’t need to work while I’m on vacation?
  • How many days will I lose to traveling or jet lag? How many “vacation” days does that leave me for fun and relaxing activities?
  • What are the “must dos” while I’m in Hawaii and what can I book in advance?
  • Do I want luxury and a resort experience or would I rather spend my time and money on adventures? Would I rather spend the day poolside or hike through a volcanic crater? Or would I like to do both?
  • Does one of the islands really call to me? Do I want to go to one or visit multiple islands?
  • How much money will I have to spend on my vacation? Can I set a daily budget? Or will this be a ‘no expense spared’ sort of experience?
  • Do I have travel reward points that can help offset costs? Can I use this vacation to build rewards for my next vacation?
  • Do I have someone who can mind my home (or pets) while I am away?
  • What documents do I need for planning a trip to Hawaii?
  • Do I need to go shopping or do I have all I need for the Hawaiian Islands?

Now that you have some inkling of how you want to spend your vacation, you can nail down more details for your Hawaii trip.

Step 1: Calendar Your Hawaiian Island Vacation

Decide when to go to Hawaii and how long you will spend there. Decide which days you want to spend doing nothing but relaxing.

🔲 Travel days

🔲 Take-it-easy days

🔲 Activities and adventures

How Many Days Do You Need in Hawaii?

Before you spend those precious vacation days you have been accruing, decide how long you want to spend in Hawaii.

We recommend 10-14 days to really hit your vacation sweet spot. That is about the right amount of time to visit more than one island, have several big adventures, see a few historical sites, and get some concentrated relaxation time at the beach or poolside.

Try Island Hopping

For example, you could spend five days on O’ahu and visit the Bishop Museum, learn to surf on the famous Waikiki Beach, and then head over to the North Shore and watch the professionals tame the big waves.

After the big city of Honolulu, you can head over to the Big Island, the largest island, and experience a live volcano and open landscapes. Pick up your car rental at the airport and head into Hawaii Volcanoes National Park for an experience you won’t soon forget. The Big Island has some of the best hiking trails, so don’t forget to bring some sturdy walking shoes!

If you are really ambitious, you may want to grab one of the many inter-island flights to Kauai and enjoy the breathtaking vistas of the Na Pali Coast or munch shave ice as you pose for a photo in front of Hanalei Bay.

There are a million ways to enjoy the Hawaiian Islands and spend your time. Planning a trip to Hawaii is really about figuring out what you want to do and how much time you have to do it.

If you don’t have that many vacation hours to spend, you can still get a lot done with less, as long you put in a few hours of planning in advance.

Determine Your Vacation Hours

How many you have and whether you want to split them up during the year may impact your holiday. Research has shown that taking time off from work is important for both your mental and physical well-being

Whether you’re seeking an adrenaline rush from scuba diving or finding tranquility on a white sand beach, vacations allow you to recharge. You’ll return to work refreshed and better equipped to handle challenges. It’s essential to embrace these moments that offer a respite, allowing you to reflect and breathe. Think of a vacation as a rejuvenating remedy – you deserve it!

Consider Travel Time and Jet Lag When Planning a Trip to Hawaii

A few of your vacation days might be taken up by travel or recovering from its effects. If you anticipate needing some lighter days with more downtime, be sure to plan accordingly.

What is Hawaii Time?

There is a bit of a joke on the islands when people say they are on “Hawaii time,” which really means that you are not in a hurry. Hawaii time is the relaxed and unhurried pace of island life.

But if you are traveling from afar, you may want to know that all the islands are on Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time, which is 10 hours behind Universal Standard Time (UTC).

Traveling from the West Coast means that your normal breakfast time will be three hours later than you are accustomed to having it—six hours if you are traveling from the East Coast. Travelers from Japan will gain a day on the way to Hawaii but lose one going home.

Dealing with Jet Lag

If the time change is significant, consider building in some downtime on your first day to adjust.

If you’re feeling particularly tired, activities like visiting the Bishop Museum or Pearl Harbor might be overwhelming; jet lag can affect your ability to process and retain new information. It’s a good idea to save those attractions for a day when you’re more alert. Instead, a leisurely walk on the beach or exploring one of the islands’ gentle hiking trails might be a better way to acclimate to the new time zone.

Getting There and Back

Depending on where you are traveling from, you may have two full days of travel to get from your door to your Hawaiian accommodation and back. Cheaper airline tickets often include more legs and longer travel times. You’ll want to determine if the cost savings is worth your time.

If you are traveling with children, bringing an iPad or some travel games can reduce the stress of hearing “I’m bored” over and over again. Like everything else, preparation is key.

The Best Time to Visit the Hawaiian Islands

We have said it before but it bears repeating: There is no bad time to visit Hawaii (see our other article on the best time to visit Hawaii).

Tropical breezes cooled by Pacific trade winds mean that island temperatures are comfortable year-round. Summer temperatures (May to October) average around 85 degrees Fahrenheit. In winter (November to April) the average is 78 degrees.

If you are budget-conscious, consider peak and shoulder seasons. Airline fares and the cost of accommodations can be cheaper from April to early June or September to mid-December. However, it’s important to note that the holidays in the Hawaiian Islands can be very busy.

Mark Your Calendar

As you narrow down your Hawaii vacation dates, mark these days on your calendar. As you begin to plan your budget and itinerary, you can adjust your schedule to make the most of every day on the Hawaiian islands.

Step 2: Set Your Hawaii Vacation Budget

Determine how much money will you spend. Research cost savings and travel reward programs you can use in planning a trip to Hawaii.

🔲 Transportation budget

🔲 Accommodation budget

🔲 Daily expenditures for food and fun

The Cost of Airfare and Tips to Save Money

Airfare prices fluctuate throughout the year, and costs can be unpredictable depending on your departure location. To get an idea of potential fares, use the explore option on Google Flights and compare prices at different times.

Watch for sales from your favorite airlines by signing up for their emails. Otherwise, you want to book at least a month in advance to find the best prices.

Mileage Programs

Hawaiian Airlines offers nonstop flights from North America and Asia, as well as between every major Hawaiian island. You can join their mileage program for free, and the accumulated miles never expire. These miles can also be used on Hawaiian Airlines’ partners.

Other major airlines, including Southwest and Alaska, also serve the islands. A cost-saving tip is to compare airfare to one of Hawaii’s main airports and then consider an inter-island flight if it offers significant savings. While inter-island flights average between $50-$100 and add to your travel time, the potential savings might make it a worthwhile option.

International Airports

The five international airports on the islands are:

  • Honolulu International Airport, Oʻahu (HNL)
  • Kahului Airport, Maui (OGG)
  • Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii (the Big Island) (KOA)
  • Hilo International Airport, Hawaii (the Big Island) (ITO)
  • Lihue Airport, Kauai (LIH)

Whatever airline you take, be sure to sign up for their mileage program so you can start building points for your next trip to Hawaii.

Pay for Your Hawaiian Islands Trip with Rewards

One of the not-so-secret secrets successful travelers use is reward points. The internet is saturated with advice blogs on how wise travelers leverage credit card points to support their travel.

Credit card reward points offer the opportunity to redeem accumulated points for travel-related expenses, such as flights, hotel stays, and car rentals.

Examine your credit cards to check for any reward points you might have accumulated. You could have miles or hotel points you weren’t aware of, which can help offset travel costs.

Use Your Hawaii Trip to Earn Points for Your Next One

Since you know you will be spending money and using a credit card, consider this trip as an opportunity to start building rewards for your next one. Find a credit card with a generous reward bonus and a low yearly fee. The key is to always pay the card off each month and avoid high-interest rates.

Other Ways to Save on Your Hawaiian Island Vacation

Some resorts and hotels have package deals that can save you money. Research their web pages to see if there are any special offers before you book.

Coupons are often a way to entice customers into a store or book an activity. If there is something special on your Hawaii itinerary, you might do a quick Google search and see if there are coupons that will reduce the cost. Collections of Waikiki offers several coupons.

Travelers From Outside the U.S.

Hawaii is a U.S. state, so the currency used is U.S. dollars. If you’re traveling from abroad, you might need to exchange money. While Honolulu airport offers currency exchange services, be aware that such exchanges, as well as local banks, charge a commission.

Almost everywhere in Hawaii accepts credit cards. If you’re visiting from outside the U.S., it’s a good idea to check with your bank about ATM withdrawal fees before your trip. Ensure you use a card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.

An Average Daily Budget for a Trip to Hawaii

Hawaii can be expensive so it is wise to plan ahead by setting a budget.

The combined costs of accommodations, food, and tickets can accumulate rapidly. On an average budget, anticipate spending between $250-$500 per person per day ($3,000-$4000 a week). Actual expenses can be lower or higher based on your travel style and the season.

O’ahu is often the most affordable island, offering numerous free activities, convenient transportation, and a variety of accommodation options.

For those seeking luxury and pampering, many island resorts cater to every desire but be prepared for a higher price tag.

Breakdown of Costs Per Day

Here is a quick breakdown with average price ranges:

  • Accommodations: $150-$500 (average $350 per night).
  • Food: $50-$150 per person per day.
  • Transportation: Car rentals average $50-$150 a day; public transportation is $5-$10.
  • Activities: Tours $20-$100 on average; entrance Fees $10-$25.
  • Miscellaneous: $20-$50 a day for souvenirs and miscellaneous.

The Cost of Accommodations in Hawaii

For a midrange hotel, expect to pay between $250-$350 per night, while luxury resorts start at $500 and go up from there. Honolulu offers a wide range of budget motels and vacation rentals for those on a tighter budget. As mentioned earlier, you might find discounts during the shoulder season.

Use Hotel Rewards

Use hotel reward points if you have them and if you don’t, sign up for a reward program where you stay and start earning for your next trip to Hawaii.

For example, if you plan to stay in one of our 4 signature hotels on O’ahu—Sheraton Waikiki, Royal Hawaiian, Moana Surfrider, or the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani—sign up for the Bonvoy awards program and enjoy membership rewards like special rates and offers.

A Hawaii Island Food Budget

One local phrase you will likely pick up on the islands is “broke da mout.” That is what you experience when you have tasted the freshest fish cooked to perfection.

Hawaii offers a multitude of tasty treats you must try: the Spam musubi from the local ABC store, fresh papaya at your hotel’s breakfast bar, and the succulent shrimp from food trucks on O’ahu’s North Shore. Don’t skimp on food in Hawaii; it’s simply too ono (delicious).

Average Cost of Meals

On the low end, meals and snacks will run you at least $50 a day. If you are eating at nicer restaurants, expect to spend at least $120 per person per day. And you may want to include a blow-the-budget day for a fine dining experience.

The Luau Experience

You will probably want to attend a luau while you are on the islands. Luaus offer more than just a meal; they provide an opportunity to learn about Hawaiian culture and traditions while sampling traditional Hawaiian food. Budget between $100-$200 per person for this experience.

Farmers’ Markets

If you book a vacation rental, you may be able to save money by cooking some of your meals at home—it all depends on what kind of vacation you are looking for. There are plenty of grocery stores on the islands, including Costco. For fresh produce, stop by one of the many farmers’ markets and support local agriculture.

The Cost of Activities and Attractions

In Hawaii, there are numerous free or low-cost activities to enjoy: strolling by shop windows, hiking through a bamboo forest, or walking on black sand beaches typically cost little to nothing. If there are any fees, they’re usually for park entrances and range from $5-$20. On the other hand, certain activities, like helicopter tours, can run into the hundreds.

Before you travel, it’s wise to determine your activity budget. Start by listing the activities you are interested in and then research their prices online. This approach will give you a clearer idea of your budget before you proceed with any bookings.

Research is Key to Planning a Trip to Hawaii

A lesson or tour in Hawaii can range from $50-$200, depending on the location and duration. If you’re considering activities like surfing lessons, scuba diving, or swimming with manta rays, it’s smart to research costs beforehand. You will also benefit from reading online reviews as you compare offers. In Hawaii, popular activities fill up fast, so book in advance.

If you’re already familiar with snorkeling, consider renting gear or bringing your own to explore Hawaii’s vibrant marine life. Some hotels offer gear rentals at discounted rates for their guests.

Big Ticket Adventures

There is no better way to see Kauai’s Na Pali Coast that from the sky. Helicopter rides offer a unique perspective to view the natural beauty of the islands. For such a breathtaking view, anticipate spending at least $400.

Another activity that many visitors indulge in is a private boat charter or luxury catamaran cruise. These excursions often come with amenities like gourmet meals, snorkeling, dolphin watching, and sunset views. Depending on the duration and exclusivity of the trip, they can be quite pricey but provide a luxurious way to experience Hawaii’s marine beauty and coastline.

Getting Around: The Cost of Transportation

Getting around O’ahu, the most visited island, is a breeze. Public transportation in Honolulu is easy and affordable if you take the bus or the Skyline. Uber is also available in Honolulu.

For the other islands, we recommend renting a car if you wish to explore beyond your hotel or resort’s grounds—and there’s so much to discover on the islands. Car rentals are widely available in Hawaii, allowing you to maximize your sightseeing during your trip.

If you’re in search of a secluded beach or want to hike through a lush rainforest, a rental car will be invaluable. While guided tours are an option, renting a car offers the freedom to explore at your own leisure.

For instance, you can navigate Maui’s winding Road to Hana at your own pace. With a rental car, you have the flexibility to stop and savor its many delights, pack a picnic, and enjoy one of the stunning waterfalls without the pressure of returning to a tour bus on a tight schedule.

To and From the Airport

Don’t forget to account for transportation to and from the airport. If you don’t have someone to drive you, you might need to order a taxi, use a car service, or opt for long-term parking. Be sure to include these costs in your budget.

Going Between Islands

We mentioned island hopping earlier because it’s so easy to travel between the islands in under an hour. If there’s an activity or site you want to see on another island, but you don’t want to change your accommodation, you can simply fly over for the day.

For instance, you could depart from O’ahu in the morning for a day trip to Maui to enjoy the best views of migrating humpback whales. By evening, you can return in time for the Aha’aina Luau and watch the sunset on Waikiki Beach.

Tickets for flights between the islands are more affordable when booked in advance, so it’s wise to plan ahead. Both Hawaiian and Southwest Airlines, along with some local carriers, offer multiple daily flights with fares ranging from $50-$100. Sometimes you can even catch a sale and save even more.

Take Home a Reminder of Paradise

Leave a little room in your budget and your suitcase to take home a reminder of your Hawaii vacation.

There is nothing like sitting down to a fresh cup of Kona coffee to take you back to the bliss and relaxation you felt on your trip to Hawaii. Bring home some of the tastes of Hawaii or aloha attire for yourself or a friend and spread the aloha spirit.

Step 3: Plan Your Hawaii Itinerary

Determine how and where you want to spend your vacation days. Decide which activities you really want to do on your Hawaii trip.

🔲 Island(s) chosen

🔲 Top five “must do” activities

🔲 Top five “like to do” activities

Which Island(s) Should You Visit in Hawaii?

Of the Hawaiian Islands, six main islands cater to tourists, each with a particular personality and unique features. If this is your first trip to Hawaii, we recommend spending most of your time on O’ahu, the most visited Hawaiian island.

In addition to O’ahu, Kauai, Maui, and Hawaii (the Big Island) are the most popular Hawaiian islands. Molokai and Lãnai have tourist infrastructure but are generally more laid back and offer fewer accommodations.

The six main islands are:

  1. Kauai (The Garden Isle)
  2. Oahu (The Gathering Place)
  3. Molokai (The Friendly Isle)
  4. Lānai (The Pineapple Isle)
  5. Maui (The Valley Isle)
  6. Hawaii (The Big Island)

If you are unsure of which island or islands combined you want to visit, read our earlier post outlining the unique features of each island to help you decide the best island to visit in Hawaii.

All the islands have stunning beaches and views of the magnificent Pacific Ocean, but each one has its unique attractions. For instance, you might consider the Big Island if you’re interested in seeing volcanoes like Mauna Kea, the highest point in Hawaii, or witnessing the lava flow from Kīlauea.

If eco-tourism and nature are calling you, spending time in the lush rainforests of Kauai and exploring Waimea Canyon could be the perfect choice.

And if you’re looking for a mix of everything and easy access to the energy and nightlife of a city, then Honolulu might be the ideal home base for your exploration of the Hawaiian Islands.

Activities to Fill Your Island Days

There is so much to do on the islands that it can be challenging to choose, and many popular activities require advance booking. Some activities are also seasonal, so be sure to do a little research for the ones that are high on your list.

Here are some popular activities:

  • Water Activities: Surfing, snorkeling, swimming, or paddleboarding.
  • Underwater Adventures: Enjoy submarine tours, glass-bottom boat rides for unique marine views, or a relaxing sunset cruise. Swim with sharks, Manta-rays, or dolphins.
  • Hiking Experiences: Trek through lush rainforests, explore rugged volcanic landscapes, and visit stunning waterfalls.
  • Experiencing Wildlife: Go whale watching, bird watching, or take a swim with the green sea turtles.
  • Relaxation: Unwind and meditate on one of the beautiful beaches or poolside, or simply take a peaceful nap.
  • Learning New Things: Take Hawaiian cooking or hula lessons, or even learn to play the ukulele.
  • Music and Shows: Listen to Hawaiian music and attend a live performance.
  • Adventurous Activities: Try ziplining or go on a horseback ride amid the natural beauty of the islands.
  • Golfing: Enjoy golf on world-class courses with the ocean as your backdrop.
  • Pineapple Plantation Tour: Explore a pineapple plantation for a unique agricultural experience.
  • Cultural Experiences: Immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture by visiting cultural centers, and museums, and attending local events.
  • Volcano Viewing: Witness volcanic activity on the Big Island—a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
  • Luaus: Attend a traditional Hawaiian luau for a cultural experience and taste Hawaiian food.
  • Spa and Wellness: Indulge in spa treatments or join rejuvenating yoga retreats.
  • Art and Craft Markets: Discover local art and crafts at markets and galleries.
  • Food Tours: Delight your taste buds with local specialties and flavors through food tours.
  • Stargazing: Experience excellent stargazing with observatories and guided astronomy tours.
  • Off-Roading Adventures: Get your adrenaline pumping with off-roading tours into the rugged interior of some islands.

Explore Activity Calendars

Many hotels, like the Sheraton Waikiki, have activities and a calendar of events to help you with ideas and costs. Your hotel’s concierge is a great resource when planning a trip to Hawaii.

Go Hawaii also hosts event calendars for each island to help you plan ahead.

Special Events and Festivals

Find out what local festival or event is happening while you are in Hawaii. These are a few signature events that happen each year:

  • The Merrie Monarch Festival, Hawaii’s premier hula competition, usually falls in April and takes place in Hilo on the Big Island.
  • In November, enjoy the Kona Island Cultural Festival on the Big Island. There is more than coffee at this island celebration: an artisan market, a half marathon, parades, performances and so much more.
  • If you visit the islands in October or November, you won’t want to miss the Hawaiʻi Food & Wine Festival. Check the website for specific dates for Hawaii Island, Maui, and O’ahu.
  • October also brings the Ironman competition to the Big Island.

Step 4: Make Your Hawaii Islands Travel Arrangements

Book your tickets, activities, and accommodations in advance.

Mark Your Checklist

Once you have ensured that your calendar and budget align and you know what you are doing, start booking.

🔲 Airline ticket

🔲 Hotel/Resort accommodations

🔲 Inter-island flights

🔲 Rental cars

🔲 Tours/Events/Activities

🔲 Admission tickets

🔲 Dinner reservations

🔲 Travel documents and requirements

Know Before You Go: Book Ahead

Once you have prepared where you will be and what you will do, start booking tickets.

Whether it is your hotel or the whale-watching tour you have your eye on, book early, especially if it is peak season. Not only will you ensure you get what you want, you might save money.

You might be surprised about what you need to book in advance so don’t take chances. For example, Pearl Harbor Memorial is free but you still need to book a ticket in advance. At the time of this writing, they do not allow same day tickets.

Do you want to hike up Diamond Head on O’ahu for the amazing view? You’ll need to reserve your entry ticket first.

If you want to eat dinner at Mama’s Fish House in Maui, you’ll need to book at least a month ahead (and it will be worth it… talk about broke da mout!).

Travel Documents

If you are traveling from overseas, make sure your passport is up to date and will not expire while you are on vacation.

U.S. residents need valid identification to board an airplane. After May 2025, all U.S. travelers must have a REAL ID. You will also need a valid driver’s license for your car rental.

Check with Hawaii’s Department of Health to see if there are any required documents, such as proof of vaccination, that you may need to show upon arrival. Be aware that if you are traveling from outside the U.S., you may have additional requirements.

Step 5: Learn About the Hawaiian Islands

Learn about Hawaii’s culture, customs, and a few useful Hawaiian words before your Hawaii trip.

🔲 Learn five Hawaiian words

🔲 Learn five Pidgin words

🔲 Read a book about Hawaii

Hawaii’s Polynesian Past

Hawaii is a U.S. state, but it has an ancient and rich Polynesian past that is still reflected in the islands today. Until 1893, Hawaii was a sovereign nation with a unified monarchy. There is still pain and tension in the islands as a result of the Hawaiian government’s overthrow and the subsequent suppression of the native Hawaiian language and traditions.

The last few decades have witnessed a renaissance of Hawaiian culture. The kamaʻāina (Hawaiian people) are reclaiming their heritage with passion and pride. Native Hawaiian is once again an official language, and the Aloha Spirit is enshrined in island law.

Learning about Hawaiian culture not only shows respect for the locals but also enriches your experience of Hawaii.

Read Your Way to Understanding

To learn more about Hawaii’s ancient past and about the first Hawaiian’s to populate the islands, Feathered God’s and Fishhooks is an excellent overview.

There are a number of nonfiction books that offer insight into both ancient and modern Hawaii—and many are island-specific. The Lost Kingdom: Hawaii’s Last Queen, the Sugar Kings, and America’s First Imperial Adventure by Julia Flynn Siler will provide a deeper historical understanding of the islands.

If fiction is more your speed, we recommend Shark Dialogues and Song of Exile, both by Kiana Davenport, as a way to glimpse inside Hawaiian culture.

Respect the ‘Aina

Showing respect for Hawaii means showing respect for the land.

Hawaii is known for its natural beauty, which spans its stunning beaches to tropical rainforests. Hawaiians have a deep respect for the ‘aina (land) and treat it like a family member. You should too.

Reuse and recycle when you can. Don’t leave trash on the beaches, always use reef-safe sunscreen when you are in the water, and respect the wildlife by staying on designated trails. These are a few ways you can help keep Hawaii beautiful.

Learn Hawaiian Words and Phrases Before You Visit

We might be a little biased, but Hawaiian is the most beautiful language in the world! There is a lyrical quality that is as melodic and sweet as the sound of a ukulele.

If you want to understand the Hawaiian spirit and fully experience island life, learn Hawaiian—even if it is only a few words. Every word in Hawaii, starting with aloha, is full of history, meaning, and lessons on how to live.

Hawaiian Pidgin

In addition to native Hawaiian (Ōlelo Hawaiʻi), you will probably hear locals frequently speak in Hawaiian Pidgin. It’s spoken everywhere on the islands.

In addition to the sing-song sound that is so enjoyable to listen to, Pidgin tells the modern history of Hawaii as a melting pot of cultures. Originating in the early 1800s on sugar plantations, it is influenced by several languages, including Portuguese, Hawaiian, English, and Chinese.

We have published a list of common words, but if you have been reading this, you already know one Pidgin phrase. When something tastes delicious, you can say that it ‘broke da mout!’

Step 6: Pack Your Bags for Your Hawaiian Vacation

Decide what you will take in your suitcase for your trip to the Hawaiian Islands.

Quick Packing Checklist

For the full packing list, check out our post on packing for your Hawaii vacation. Don’t worry if you forget anything. There are plenty of stores (including Costco) throughout the islands.

🔲 Travel documents

🔲 Clothes (summer, warm, and dress up)

🔲 Beach gear

🔲 Comfortable shoes

🔲 Toiletries

🔲 Rain gear

🔲 Sun protection (buy approved reef-safe sunscreen in Hawaii)

🔲 Backpacks

🔲 Electronics (and charging cords)

🔲 Vacation reading

🔲 Vacation journal

🔲 Games

🔲 Camera

🔲 Reusable containers

Step 7: Make Your “On Vacation” Arrangements

Determine what steps you need to take to ensure you don’t take work and worry with you on your vacation.

Shut down your work computer, lock your front door, and focus on relaxation for your trip to Hawaii.

🔲 “Out of Office” notice set on your computer

🔲 Ride to and from the airport

🔲 Pet and/or house sitter arranged

🔲 Mail pickup arranged

In Case of Emergency

The last thing you want to do when you go on vacation is worry if you left the iron on. Part of planning a trip to Hawaii includes dealing with home while you are away.

If you don’t have a house sitter, find someone who you can leave a house key with and will check on things in case of emergency.

Stop Mail and Paper Delivery

Unless you have someone who can pick up your mail and paper, let the post office and newspaper know you are away.

The U.S. Post Office will hold your mail until you return as long as you fill out a simple form.

Leave Fido at Home

One of the biggest worries people have when they go on vacation is pet care. Finding someone who can mind your animals while you are away takes some advance planning.

Don’t forget to put together clear instructions for your pet sitter. Leave plenty of food and any medicine, and it’s a good idea to leave your pet sitter’s name with the veterinarian and what to do in case of emergency (most vets require it).

If you don’t have a go-to pet sitter, your veterinarian may be able to recommend someone locally.

Arrange Airport Transportation

You should already have the costs of this budgeted for if you are planning on parking your car in the airport’s long-term lot.

If you are taking a taxi, Uber, or arranging a ride with a friend, make sure you have done so. It’s one less thing to worry about.

Leave Work at Work

Don’t just set your “out of office” notice on your computer, make sure you stay out of the office. Make a plan to either not check emails are check them infrequently so you can focus on relaxing and having fun. In fact, leave your computer at home if you can.

Do whatever you need to do to make sure projects are covered without you. If a project can’t be covered, then change the project timeline. If you are always ‘on,’ you increase your chances of burnout. That’s not good for you, your boss, or your company.

Working on vacation pulls you away from spending quality time with your family, and friends, or even just recharging yourself.


The Hawaiian word to embrace is Hoʻomaha. It means to rest, find comfort, and even let go of anger. Remember, you don’t just deserve this time —you need it. So make a plan to take it!

Step 8: Visit Hawaii and Enjoy the Good Stuff

Relax and know that you are going to have a wonderful time in the Hawaiian Islands.

If you have made it to this step, pat yourself on the back because you did it! You have your budget set, your itinerary sorted, you have booked tickets, and made your travel arrangements.

ʻAi nō i kalo moʻa. You can eat the cooked kalo (taro) because the work is done.

You took the time to hoʻomākaukau. Everything is set in place so that all you need to do is go and enjoy the good stuff.

Imagine the sweet taste of pineapple with your morning coffee as you gaze out at the Pacific Ocean; a soft breeze catches the fragrance of a nearby gardenia and transports you into a moment of perfect bliss. You know today is going to be a good day full of aloha, fun, and relaxation. You are almost there.

E Komo Mai (Welcome to Hawaii). We can’t wait to welcome you with aloha!