Best Ways to See Hawaii

By Jeanette Foster

There really is just one cardinal rule to enjoying a Hawaiian vacation: relax -- you are in Hawaii. Don't focus on seeing everything, but take the time to actually experience the island. If you are so busy rushing to do everything, you won't feel the magic of the island through your senses.

Tip #1. Go in the off season. Not only will you save a bundle of money, but there will be fewer people, you'll get better service and more attention, the beaches will be less crowded, and you'll be able to get into your favorite restaurants. Luckily, the so-called "off season" (Sept. to mid-Dec. and April to June) is when the weather is at its best.

Tip #2. To get the best deals, do some research. Get online and check out airfares, hotels, and package deals. Find out what prices everyone is offering before you book.

Tip #3. Think about how you want to spend your vacation. Is this a beach vacation or an adventure-every-day vacation? Or a combination? If you are traveling with your sweetie, be sure you have a plan that makes both parties happy (perhaps plenty of golfing plus lots of shopping). If you are bringing your family, make sure that everyone gets in on the planning -- it makes for a vacation that everyone can enjoy.

Tip #4. Remember you are on vacation. Don't jam-pack your days from the time you get up until you drop off to sleep at night -- allow time to just relax. And don't forget that you most likely will arrive jet-lagged, so ease into your vacation, and allow time on your first day to just lounge around the beach or the hotel swimming pool.

Tip #5. Allow plenty of time to get around the island. If you look at the map the islands look small, but it can take half a day to get from one side of some of the islands to the other. Don't forget to allow for rush-hour traffic from 6-9am and 3-6pm. Hawaii's roads are not as user-friendly as those on the mainland; 50 miles of road does not necessarily mean an hour of driving. In the case of the Hana Highway, it can mean several hours.

Tip #6. Rent a car. Only the island of Oahu (where Honolulu and Waikiki are located) has a public bus service, TheBus. So rent a car, but plan to get out of it as much as possible.

Tip #7. If your visit is short, stay in one place. Don't waste your precious vacation checking in and out of several hotels. Pick a resort area that appeals to you, or if you will be zipping all over the island, choose a central location.

Tip #8. Pick the key activity of the day and plan accordingly. To maximize your time, decide what you really want to do that day, then plan all other activities in the same geographical area. For example, if you really want to go golfing at one end of the island, pick a beach in the same area for the afternoon or other activities in the area and plan dinner nearby.

Tip #9. Remember you are on the island of aloha. Honolulu is not the U.S. mainland. The islander's way of life is very different. Smile and say, "Aloha." It's what the local residents do. Ask them, "Howzit?" and when they ask you, say, "Couldn't be better -- I'm in Hawaii!"

Tip #10. One Island per week, please! Visitors who have traveled to places like the Caribbean think they should pack their vacation with as many Hawaiian Islands as they can. With the exception of the islands that make up Maui County (Maui, Molokai, and Lanai), the islands are not located close to each other and jumping from one island to another will eat up a day of your valuable time. A good rule of thumb is one island per week.

Tip #11. Fly direct. If possible, fly nonstop and direct to the island of your choice. Not only is it easier, but it will save you time.