Hawai’i might be the destination you’ve been dreaming about for a while, especially if you’ve been contemplating an escape from long winter blues in the Southern Hemisphere. Direct flights from Auckland to O’ahu make this tropical paradise easily accessible. While exploring O’ahu and Maui Islands, I gathered some definite do’s and don’ts of Hawai’i that I now want to share with you.
DO: Koko head Crater Trail (O’ahu Island)
Best sweat with a view you can get on O’ahu in my opinion. You can never be too fit not to feel the burn when conquering those 1048 steps of the Koko Head Crater. The hike is straightforward, with railroad ties set as stairs. There are the railway bridge tracks with no bottom at about half way up that require a fair amount of caution. You might find it a bit challenging if you’re afraid of heights, especially when descending.
Also, be sure to save some energy for the second part of the hike, when stairs become steeper. You’ll be amazed by the view of the O’ahu’s South Shore, Hanauma Bay and Hawai’i Kai. It is the best possible combination of leg burner workout and vista on the O’ahu Island in my experience.
Bring: water, sunscreen, running shoes
Try it and you’ll be hooked. It happened to me. I love pineapple. I’ve had my share of this beautiful fruit in my life. Hawai’ian pineapple though! It is the juiciest, sweet and refreshing pineapple out there, for sure. It doesn’t matter if you buy it in a supermarket, local market, fast food place,… The taste is always superior. And yes, you can get it in fast food restaurants. They sell it everywhere.
I’m not sure what is the recipe for pineapples developing such sweet and juicy taste. With all Hawai’ian pineapple plantations being so close it could just mean that fruit doesn’t need much transportation to the end users when it ripens. That way it is served the freshest possible way, which would make sense and explain the truly amazing taste. Try pineapple when in Hawai’i and it will be the beginning of your new addiction.
DON’T: Honolulu Freeway (O’ahu Island)
The Honolulu Freeway (H1) is one place you don’t wish to spend much of your time on. It’s busy, crowded, congested and loud – just like any major city intersection in the world. Hawai’i are known for relaxed and easygoing feel. So, if you intend to stay in your Zen state of mind, choose to move on some other roads, especially on those peak hours. Slowing down and taking it easy is part of the Hawai’ian culture and lifestyle. It’s definitely something to live by while traveling and exploring the islands of Hawai’i.
DO: Haleakalā Sunrise (Maui Island)
Haleakalā summit is the highest but most easily accessible mountaintop I’ve reached so far. There was no sweat shed at all to reach this third highest mountain summit of Hawai’i. The Hawai’i highway actually brings you right to the very top of the mountain. To me, it almost felt like cheating. I don’t quite understand how someone would take away the sense of accomplishment from a climber by building a highway right to the top of such a beautiful mountain.
However, do wake up early and visit the mountain to see that beautiful sunrise above the clouds if you’re on Maui. It’s quite magical to witness the new day being born from 3055m altitude. Early mornings here are quite chilly so be sure to bring some warm clothes. If you wish to do some hiking and exploring from here, then just continue on one of the many tracks that the Haleakalā National Park offers.
Bring: warm clothes, camera
DON’T: Forget To Surf/SUP
Surfing in Hawai’i is a must. If you’re an experienced surfer, then O’ahu’s North Shore is an obvious choice for you. The place is known for some of the world’s biggest waves. Waikiki Beach is another popular surfing and stand up paddling spot. Early mornings are truly amazing for hitting the surf here, as the beach gets quite crowded during the hot days. Waves in Waikiki are not as big as on North Shore beaches, so you might also consider trying out stand up paddling for a change.
DO: Snorkeling / Diving
Underwater activities are another must do while in Hawai’i. The ocean here is abundant with exotic coral and marine life. Each island offers amazing spots and chances to see those colorful tropical fish from a very close range.
Hanauma Bay is one of the most popular snorkeling destinations on O’ahu Island. This ocean crater apparently homes more than 400 varieties of beautiful tropical fish, turtles, other sea creatures and some amazing coral formations. Try to visit this place early in the morning as well, as it gets quite crowded through the day.
Bring: underwater camera
DON’T: Try To See And Do It All
Depending on the time you have for your travel, do and see as much as you can. If you have 7-10 days to explore, don’t try to see all the islands in such short time. You’ll be hopping from one place to another and will spend much of the travel time flying between the islands. You’ll burn out and will be left without any time to relax and tune into these beautiful places.
I would say that exploring two islands for such period is just about right. O’ahu and Maui were a perfect choice for my first travel to Hawai’i, considering my time frame. I would love to explore Kaua’i and the Island of Hawai’i (the Big Island) in a similar way if I ever get the chance to travel to those beautiful islands in the future. If you’re lucky to have a month to travel around the islands, then by all means, enjoy seeing and doing it all in one go.
→ Also check: Cruising the South Pacific
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