I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that this was one of my favourite family holidays! Two years ago, my parents, my brother Haydn and myself travelled to Hawaii for about two weeks for a family summer holiday and, as you can imagine, it was amazing.
A couple of facts to start us off: Hawaii is one of the 50 states in the USA and consists of a group of islands located in the Pacific Ocean. On our family trip we stayed on the most popular of the Hawaiian Islands, Oahu. Contrary to popular belief, Oahu is not actually the largest Hawaiian Island. That would be the island of Hawai’i. However, Oahu is home to the state’s capital Honolulu and is generally the main holiday island. For so many people this is a dream holiday destination and for good reason! The surroundings are beautiful, the people are lovely and there’s so much to see and do. In this article, I hope to give you an oversight on some of the most important things to consider when planning a Hawaiian holiday and give you an impression of what it’s like once you’re there.
For a comfortable trip to Hawaii, you’ll want to look into your budget before getting there. The prices of even the most basic things in a supermarket are quite high in Hawaii, much like when visiting most islands being as most of the things have to be imported. Depending on the type of holiday you’d like to have, obviously you’ll have to adapt your budget but generally keep in mind that Hawaii is not a low budget destination. You want to be able to enjoy the time you spend in this amazing paradise which means you don’t want to have to be thinking about money all the time. Plan your activities and budget to a level that you’re comfortable with and stick to that. This way you can make the most of your stay without troubling yourself all the time with money worries.
I certainly wouldn’t have been able to go on this trip if I had had to pay for it myself at the time, so I was very fortunate that Hawaii was chosen for a family holiday. Generally though, it’s certainly a destination worth saving up for.
The North Shore
One of the best decisions my Mum made when booking the trip was booking us into an Air BnB on the North Shore rather than a resort in Honolulu which is located on the southern part of the island. This way, we avoided the large crowds of tourists, overcrowded beaches, and typical hotspots and were able to really enjoy our holiday in paradise. Our beautiful Air BnB was located just across the road from Sunset Beach and it certainly lives up to its name. Each sunset was even more stunning than the next with absolutely beautiful colours. The beach was never overrun and the atmosphere was lovely. There were food trucks nearby offering great food and the water was lovely to swim in.
I am only an amateur surfer at best, so I struggled with the Hawaiian waves but it was a great experience (trying to ;)) surf(ing) in the Hawaiian water. We did quite a bit of snorkeling, especially in a place called Sharks Cove and then on a small boat trip. We saw some amazing and colourful fish and a couple of small sharks. Whilst (almost) surfing and swimming off the beach, my brother and I even caught sight of a couple of large sea turtles which was absolutely amazing! The afore mentioned waves are generally quite choppy further out and also near the beach. This rough water caused some funny moments with our Mum scrambling out of waves back to the beach but that also makes it clear that these waters are not to be underestimated. I’d recommend looking into the wave and surf conditions for when you’d like to go. During the high season, there are also lots of surfing competitions that take place on the island. For surfers, the high season is during the winter (November – April), as the waves are much more powerful then.
In comparison to the south shore which includes Honolulu and Waikiki, the North Shore isn’t overrun with people and resorts and has a lovely and calm atmosphere. The coastal road leads around the island in either direction and the locals are lovely!
The closest town to where we stayed on Oahu was Haleiwa. The town isn’t particularly big but absolutely stunning. The main town area is full of shops, small restaurants and boutiques. The harbour area is also very nice to explore and wonder around but I personally preferred the beachy areas. The shop keepers and locals in Haleiwa were lovely and I would certainly recommend exploring the smaller shops in particular for great handmade and original products. You could decorate each room wherever you live from head to toe in the lovely things you can find in Haleiwa but we limited ourselves to some coasters and personal gifts and keepsakes.
There is a very famous ice cream parlour near the town center and there’s also a very helpful information center where you can find all the information you want and need about the local area and the island in general. If you plan on taking a boat trip, there is also a harbour on the edge of town.
I have to say that a must do for anyone visiting Hawaii is at least one hike. The most common and popular hike on Oahu is the walk up to Diamond Head. It is more a walk than a hike and certainly doable by most people. The area is a huge crater or volcanic cone and from the top, you get a fantastic view of Honolulu and the beach front. Most of the walk isn’t particularly steep but there are a lot of stairs. Whenever you go, there will be loads of people there. This is the most common and most popular walk on Oahu but the view is certainly worth it.
The capital of Hawaii is Honolulu which is located on the southern shore of Oahu. I would recommend combining a visit to Honolulu and the way to Diamond Head because Honolulu may be famous but most other areas on the island are worth a longer visit. The city has an interesting history and a couple of nice photo spots but other than that, there’s not too much to do and see there that’s worth doing and seeing if you ask me.
A little further along the shore is the Waikiki beach area. This is basically a massive collection of tourists, resorts and shops. The area is pricy and overrun with people. When we visited the beach, we were literally stepping over people to try and get to the other side. It’s an area worth seeing once but not one where I would recommend spending your whole time on the island.
For anyone visiting Hawaii to surf, Waikiki is certainly not ideal as the large amount of tourists in the water makes it pretty difficult.
Especially on the eastern side of the island there are some stunning beaches that you can visit including Lanikai. Driving along the coast in itself is a wonderful experience but it is definitely a nice idea to stop at a beach or two along the way. The beaches are the one side of the amazing island landscape and then the hills are the other. I would certainly recommend finding some nice walks and/or hikes in the mountain hills to try and explore the island even more and maybe even find some panoramic or even just high up views. Try asking the local tourist information or looking up walks online to find out which walks or hikes could be right for you.
Hawaiian culture is not like a lot of the culture on the American mainland but very much has its own history. Both modern and quite a bit older. In my head, I split it into two main parts: ancient history & culture and modern history of the last century or so.
Regarding modern history, a very famous sight to see and a very popular attraction is of course, Pearl Harbour. I would recommend reading up on general World War II history and Pearl Harbour before you go, to get a feel of what awaits and maybe also so that you read up on the non-American side of things. As with many sights in the US, the information on sight is slightly one-sided but not necessarily wrong…it’s generally just helpful to have your own background information in mind when visiting the museum. There are so many things to learn on sight and you can visit some really interesting and historic sights.
When it comes to the more ancient and cultural history, I absolutely recommend visiting the cultural center. I was able to read up on a lot of the ancient beliefs and traditions in a book that was in our Air BnB and it was great to find out some basic information before exploring various aspects of the culture in the center. The cultural center is full of shows, interactive aspects, informative exhibitions and generally has a fantastic feel to it. You don’t need any information before visiting the center because the sight itself is exceptionally informative and the people on sight are also lovely. Try and explore as much there as possible and plan your visit there according to the shows and interactive parts in each section, as these are definitely the highlights! In general, the center tells you all about the origin and development of the pacific culture, but I don’t want to spoil the exhibits too much, so feel free to visit and experience it in full for yourself!
As an interesting little bonus, we even managed to watch an American football game in the stadium in Honolulu – L.A. Rams vs. Dallas Cowboys. For anyone, who hasn’t been to an American football game, here are a couple of tips: First of all, American football games are a long and expensive experience, so really think about whether this is what you want to spend your time and money on. My family and my brother especially is pretty sport obsessed and we found tickets for a reasonable price which made the experience worthwhile but the price and time is definitely something you should consider before committing. Arguably the most important thing you need to know before you go is that there is barely a place on earth where you will find a more expensive hot dog and water or even beer or anything to eat and drink than in an American football stadium. My recommendation would be to eat before you go, drink plenty before as well and stick to one or a maximum of two drinks per person whilst there. Finally, remember that it’s totally fine to leave before the game ends if that’s what you want to do. These games can be really long, there’s always a massive wait and loads of traffic at the end and if the outcome is already obvious or you’re not too fussed, there is absolutely no shame in doing the practical thing and leaving early.
Overall, I guess it comes as no surprise that I would recommend a holiday to Hawaii to anyone! The only factor you really need to consider is the budget but once that’s sorted, there’s not much that can go wrong. There’s beautiful nature, fascinating culture, amazing experiences and generally a fantastic paradise feeling wherever you go. For a different insight into Oahu and a Maui for my German readers, feel free to check out my good friend Eden’s blog posts on the matter on her Eden’s Stories blog.
If you’re interested in more destinations, packing tips or general travel advice, check out some of the other articles and stay tuned for more! In case your questions aren’t answered here, or you have any comments or personal experiences you’d like to share, don’t be afraid to get in touch and comment below!
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2 Comments Add yours
Wow so ein guter Artikel!! Da kriegt man sofort Fernweh😍😍🌸🌸
Dann wirkt der Artikel immerhin 😉 Danke!