What kind of vacation planner are you? Do you plan out trips months or even a year ahead of schedule? Or are you the type to look for last minute deals a week or several days before you leave? Today I’m sharing five tips for planning your next vacation in Hawaii with some advice on places to visit and how to find the best deals on luxury accommodations and Hawaii beach rentals.
I was just 20 years old the first time I visited Hawaii. It was also my first long airplane ride which departed from Lexington, Kentucky and arrived in Honolulu, Hawaii after layovers in Dallas, Texas and San Diego, California. I was dating a Navy sailor who was stationed in Hawaii, so I didn’t have much planning to do. We stayed at the bay view rental house that he shared with 6 other sailors, and it reminded me more of a frat house than a luxury rental in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. I did very little planning for the trip and I feel like I missed most of what the beautiful island had to offer. We visited a beach, downtown Honolulu, Pearl Harbor, a pineapple plantation, and drove around the island a little. My two week vacation there is a prime example of the worst way to spend two weeks in Hawaii. You can read more about some of my travel adventures here.
5 Tips For Planning Your Next Vacation In Hawaii
The first thing you should do is decide what time of year you’d like to visit Hawaii. Hawaii’s year-round tropical climate makes it an ideal destination any time of year. Keeping that in mind, you might decide it’s best to go when the weather is less favorable where you live. Certain times of year bring an increase in tourists, along with an increase in airfare and vacation rental prices. If you’re planning lots of outdoor adventures, like hiking and exploring the islands’ mountainous terrain, you may want to avoid the hotter and more humid summer months that make strenuous activities more difficult. Then again, there is never really a bad time to visit the Aloha state. If you’re looking to make the most of your vacation dollars try to avoid peak seasons. The best off-season rates can be found in late spring and fall, from April to June and again from September to mid-December. Late December brings holiday travelers and large crowds.
My husband used to take an annual flight to Hawaii to maintain his airline status. He likes to remind people that if they’re traveling to Oahu, be sure check the date for the Honolulu marathon and major conferences. On one trip his return flight had mechanical issues and forced him to spend an additional night on the island–only there were no hotel rooms available, forcing the airline to put them up in a five star resort. On another occasion, a major trade conference had shut off traffic to the hotel in advance of a presidential visit and resulted in him being upgraded to a two-story, four bedroom penthouse suite. Since then, he has opted for the tranquility of Kauai.
Once you’ve decided on the best time to travel, it’s time to secure an airline ticket. Did you know that 54 days before takeoff is when airlines have their lowest prices on a flight? Services such as Google Flights can help you track the price of an airline ticket and help you decide when is the best time to buy, and from which airline. Be sure to keep in mind the price of those checked bags and other features such as advance seat assignments when comparing prices. If you’re traveling with your family, airfare can easily be your biggest expense.
With the plane tickets purchased, you now know exactly what days you’ll be staying in your island paradise. It’s time to secure your lodging for the trip. Trying to save on lodging is a sure way to ruin an otherwise lovely vacation. A great resource I’ve found for securing Hawaii beach rentals is a website called Luxury Retreats. They feature luxury homes and vacation rentals, from nightly rentals in small two bedroom villas all the way up to extended stays in large private homes that are perfect for an extended family getaway. Many include amenities such as private pools, gyms, game rooms, and with your choice of oceanfront seascapes or sweeping mountain views. A warning: stay on the beautiful island at your own peril as you may decide that you don’t want to leave! So many vacationers ultimately come to the conclusion that they simply must up sticks and Live on the big island of Hawaii.
Now, you’re set! Be sure you go ahead and plan out your activities in advance–don’t wait until you are on the island to figure out where to go and what to see. Hawaii has a little bit of something for everyone. In particular, I like to make restaurant reservations well in advance to make sure I get to experience the very best the islands have to offer. There are also lots of tourist activities to consider. Hawaii has a rich agricultural heritage, and you can experience it by visiting pineapple plantations and macadamia groves; be sure not to miss the world-famous Kona coffee. If you’re more into outdoor activities, your options include birdwatching, floral gardens, scenic drives, hiking, water sports, and just enjoying a hot beach with a cold beverage. Captain Na Pali Adventures provides Napali coast snorkeling tours for small groups or families of 6 or less. Every inch of the island is beautiful so whatever activity you decide to do, it’ll be done in the best setting. Don’t underestimate the value of a printed guidebook to help you find out what the best options are. There are several available from notable travel professionals that will help make planning your trip easier. The real advantage is that a print guide is always handy even if you’re in a place where internet access is not readily available.
Don’t wait until last minute to decide where to eat. Eating local cuisine prepared by someone other than me is one of my favorite aspects of travel. Use travel resources to find a mixture of small boutique restaurants owned by locals and large restaurants. It’s always fun to ask someone native to the area about their favorite restaurant and menu item. I enjoy trying new things and you might even discover a new favorite food during your next vacation in Hawaii.
Don’t forget–you will not get to experience all that Hawaii has to offer on any single island. Your journey will be more memorable if you take the very affordable flights from island to island to experience some of the most fascinating things on the planet. From active volcanoes to sea turtles making land on beautiful black sand beaches, there are things you will want to be sure not to miss on your next family adventure and vacation in Hawaii.
I’d love to hear some of your favorite tips and tricks for having a wonderful vacation in Hawaii. If you think I missed something, just send me an email or leave a comment and I’d love to include it (with credit to you, of course).