When your friends tell you they’re moving, congratulate them and let them GO. You will see them eventually. And if the friendship is strong, you will see them soon. My best friend’s fiance is in the Navy which has allowed her to move around the United States. Around this time last year, they moved to Oahu. I’d never been to Hawaii before, so I knew I’d find some way to visit. *Keep reading for my Hawaii travel tips!*
In my family, we try not to celebrate holidays. Instead, we take trips together since we don’t all live near one another. Luckily, this year worked out in my favor; my college graduation and my birthday happened in the same month. I combined Christmas, graduation and my birthday into one and asked members of my family to contribute to a plane ticket. Before I knew it, I was at Newark (EWR) airport.
Now, I would separate this into days, but not every day was spend exploring. My friend was working some days, I was sick most of the trip, and some days we were too hungover to do anything! So, I’m compiling my trip into two categories:
- Take pictures of every piece of greenery, every flower and every rooster you see. You won’t regret it.
2. Try new fruit. Starfruit, passionfruit, all the fruit. (see DON’Ts #2)
3. Fly to different islands! The flights are inexpensive, and to be honest, you’re better off exploring islands that aren’t Oahu. All of the islands are beautiful in their own ways, but if you want the true island experience, limit your stay in Oahu and give love to the other islands. We went to Kauai and we wished we’d had stayed longer. Shoutout to Kauai Shores Hotel for being so affordable and checking all of our boxes!
4. Go to Kona Brewery! Yes it’s a tourist spot, but the beer is great. For every food choice, there is a corresponding beer to go with it. It does get fairly busy, so if you want a table on the water either make a reservation or get there before peak dinner hours.
5. Visit botanical gardens! Not only will you see exotic plants, flowers and some critters, but they’re most likely located on or around mountains, so you’ll have some nice photo ops. We went to Koko Crater Botanical Garden in Oahu, and I HIGHLY recommend it!
6. Be prepared to spend a lot of money on food. Most of their food is imported, hence the expensive prices. I was fortunate enough to not have to pay for lodging, and even though I was saving money, shopping for groceries still weighed heavy on my wallet. A loaf of Dave’s bread was $10. It was definitely a hard pill to swallow.
7. Eat at the North Shore Food Trucks. It’s a huge tourist attraction, but it’s busy for a reason. You won’t be disappointed! There are so many trucks to choose some; you’re bound to find something you like. I went to a Thai truck (as pictured below in blue,) and got crispy pork belly! I still think about it often.
- 1. Underestimate Google Maps reviews. Before checking out of our hotel in Kauai, we wanted to kill some time and looked up some places to explore that were close by. We came across a small beach that was known for its sea glass, and although the reviews said it was sketchy and hard to find, we persisted anyway. No regrets.
2. Go uneducated. Learn the culture. Wear reef-safe sunscreen. Read up! I got ripped off at the swap meet in Oahu because I wasn’t sure what a passion fruit looked like and I made an ass out of myself. Yes, I could have declined the price and walked away, but I got nervous. So I guess it’s on me…but regardless, be smart.
3. Visit The Shops at Kukuiula on its off-season. We’re not sure if it was their off-season or not, but it was barren when we got there. They have a lot to offer in terms of shopping and food, but there were only a couple of places open, of which were all out of our price range. Thankfully, we drove around and came across China Young Village. Compared to The Shops at Kukuiula, China young Village was more quaint. The food was inexpensive (and still delicious), and there were a ton of cute local shops to roam.
4. Spend money on the tours at Dole Plantation. Maybe I’m saying this because we went on a rainy day and it was its off-season, but it just wasn’t worth it in my opinion. I did manage to get some nice pictures though. What you should definitely do is visit the gift shop. THE. TOASTED. ALMONDS. Get them and savor them. There is so much to choose from; I would go back solely for the gift shop.
5. Drive fast. In Kauai at least, there were so many overlooks that we passed and had to quickly pull over to see. Remember, you’re on island time. I’m also speaking from a New Jersey perspective where people drive an average of 80 mph, but you understand my point. You could potentially miss out on some gems. So relax, you’re on vacation.
6. Leave any belongings behind… I left my phone on the island of Kauai, had to fly home without it and didn’t get it back until eight days later. Maybe it was just at the Lihue airport, but they only had one person who could process shipments. I also had to get it shipped to the mainland since I was leaving, so that’s probably why it took so long. Moral of the story: Be responsible and learn from my mistakes.