Quick, what’s one word that comes to mind when you hear the words “summer” and “vacation?” If you guessed Hawai’i, then we feel this is the perfect moment to tell you that a vacation to a place as charming as Hawai’i needs all the planning in advance.
There’s something to be said about Hawaii’s relaxed and meditative way of life, but you don’t have to give up the freedom when you plan your trip–, if you do it right and get the logistics in order, it gives you room to enjoy the Aloha spirit. You don’t want to end up in the islands with no idea about how much everything costs, where the best places to eat are, or how expensive resorts or Hawaii oceanfront vacation condos will be.
No matter where you’re going for the summer, it’s essential to plan. Here are some tips to help you plan the best summer of your life in Hawaii.
Set a budget
This is the golden rule of planning any trip. Setting a budget means looking up all the activities and places you want to go to, charting them out in your schedule, and computing the expenses for the whole trip. You’ll first want to go from the big things to the little things: from the destination, the travel and lodging fees, to the daily meals, gear, public transportations, entertainment, and souvenirs.
It helps to set a maximum budget before planning the details to narrow down your options immediately. You can base this either on your monthly budget or on your annual income. Decide how much you’re willing to carve out of your monthly or yearly budget for your trip, but make sure to remember that you’re not spending it all on just one trip. Planning for a vacation is equal parts saving months in advance and being financially responsible.
Book flights and transportation
Planning a summer vacation has to happen months in advance, primarily because of flight schedules. Hawaii is such a popular summer destination that you’ll never have a chance even to set foot in the islands if you don’t book a flight in advance. Ideally, you should look at flights 4-5 months before your set vacation week and monitor the fluctuating prices until you find the best one. Make sure to get the best deal to cover a roundtrip flight. You can take advantage of the 24-hour cancellation window if you happen to find a better deal after booking a previous one.
If you’re worried about baggage fees for a roundtrip, you may want to look up the baggage policies for different airlines. Some will have you pay the standard fees two times, while some have more cost-friendly policies.
Next, you have to factor in renting a car, driving to your hotel or condo, and doing the same when you return to the airport. Make sure to allow plenty of time for these so it doesn’t interfere with your activity planning.
Choose an island
Hawaii is known for the diversity of its islands, so choosing an island will depend on what sort of entertainment you want. If you’re visiting for just a week, island hopping may seem tempting. However, each island has lots to offer that it’s better off to spend all seven days in just one. The four main islands that tourists visit the most are Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and Big Island.
Oahu is the most visited and most populated island because it’s home to Honolulu, the largest city in Hawaii. It’s also popular among surfers and beach enthusiasts because of the big waves in Waikiki Beach and North Shore. Pearl Harbor has some historically important and interesting memorials and museums if you’re looking to put a little more culture in between the shopping and dining.
Maui is the second most visited island, primarily because of its more diverse natural attractions: waterfalls, white, red, and black sand beaches, the Road to Hana, Haleakala Crater, bamboo forests, and amazing activities to take advantage of. Plus all the top amenities, hiking, golf, restaurants, breweries and wineries, and beaches in the world.
If you’re into the lava landscapes and wide-open spaces, the Big Island of Hawaii is perfect for you. Although more populated than Maui it’s also the largest Hawaiian island, and while it’s not as green as the other islands, its landscape is diverse, ranging from active volcanoes, snow-capped mountains, and white sand beaches.
Kauai, in contrast, is the greenest and the oldest out of all the islands, having plenty of hiking trails and waterfalls. It also has a much lower population giving you that more off-the-beaten-path feel.
The four islands are the most developed in Hawaii, but you can also go the less-traveled path and visit the other islands. They may not be as well-developed and have fewer choices of accommodation and tourist activities, but you’ll enjoy the peace, quiet, and slower pace of life in islands such as Molokai and Lanai.
Consider how many people are coming on your trip. If you’re going by yourself or with a small group of friends and you can all cover your expenses, then a resort is fine. For large groups and families, however, consider other less expensive options such as vacation rentals over hotels. After all, it’s possible to get a unit with a spectacular view without splurging too much.
If you’re staying for a week or more, or if you’re strict about staying within the budget, then a great way to save money is to rent a condo with a kitchen, and if you want to add a little more, you can choose the ones with standard facilities such as pools, grills, and beachfront locations.
This is where a vacation planner comes in. Once you’ve picked your island, look up the best activities during the summer. Hawaii is an absolute paradise with so much outdoor beauty to offer that you’ll want to try all sorts of things like hiking to see the waterfalls, skydiving, snorkeling, surfing, and wakeboarding. However, there are also plenty of activities for the vacationer that’s just looking to relax.
Before scheduling anything, make a list first of the things you want to do. This part of the planning will go hand in hand with picking your accommodations because the tours and beaches you can go to will depend on your hotel or condo’s location. You’ll either want to change one or the other. If you know your way around public transportation, you can simply pick your accommodation in a central location and schedule activities scattered around the island.
It’s best to schedule your vacation days by having a mix of active days and rest days. The first days can be the active part of the vacation, and you can challenge yourself by taking a hike or going snorkeling. Then you can start slowing down with less taxing activities like taking a guided tour, and eventually, you can schedule a rest day by lounging at the beach, by the pool, or taking a relaxing massage at the spa. Your last day can be dedicated to shopping for souvenirs and dining in the most expensive restaurants.
If you want to have an unforgettable Hawaii vacation, you can allot one day and a certain part of the budget for spontaneous activities. You never know what local events or luaus may surprise you, and it’s the perfect way to flesh out your trip.
Going on a vacation means you’re investing your time and money, which makes it imperative to plan months in advance. Taking a spur-of-the-moment trip may sound fun, but not when it ends up costing you thousands of dollars more than what you could have saved when you plan your activities properly.