Hello and Happy New Year! I was reviewing some of my older posts and you guys seemed to love Little Secrets on Italy. I wrote it over 5 years ago after travelling Cinque Terre, Positano and Rome.
I travelled to Hawaii a couple months ago in Oct/Nov with Arden and my parents and we had such a great trip. That was my 3rd trip to Hawaii can you believe it. The first was in 2011 to Oahu, the second in 2014 to Maui, the Big Island and Oahu and this time just to Oahu. If you haven’t been to Hawaii before I cannot recommend Oahu enough. This island really has it all – from adventure, to shopping, bars, surf, hikes, great food, nature, the city life… Even if you don’t like the beach you’ll have a great time.
See below for a list of my little secrets & tips on Hawaii and some snaps from our beautiful one week trip.
Here are my thoughts and little secrets on travelling and visiting Hawaii:
We booked spontaneous and cheap flights through Jetstar
One of my favourite things about travelling is the spontaneity of it all. When we arrived back from Europe in July last year I was a little bit sad about not having any trips to look forward to. I had my eyes peeled and found some amazing flights to Honolulu for under $500 return per person! I’ve paid more travelling in Australia. Keep an eye on Jetstar specials to snag a deal like we did.
We travelled to Oahu in “low season” and it was still quite busy
Of course when I saw how cheap the flights were I assumed it would be in the low season. Even though some may consider the low season as quiet or bad weather, to be honest I don’t think Hawaii really has a low season. It was still quite busy and the weather was beautiful! It was probably a better time to travel as the hotel rates were great and it was easy to get into restaurants and bars at night.
Staying for 6 nights was perfect
Of course it would have been nice to stay longer, but we actually found 6 nights to be an ideal amount of time to see what we wanted around Oahu. If you plan it well and don’t try jam in too much, one week can be a great amount of time to discover the island.
Staying outside of Waikiki for part of the trip was ideal
We chose to stay for half our trip at The Modern which is outside of Waikiki, and half the time at Alohilani, in the centre of Waikiki. It was an ideal way to get a taste of both the buzz and atmosphere of the big W, but also enjoy a bit of relaxation time by not being right in the city centre. We actually enjoyed the short 15 min stroll in for food and the beach.
It was nice to have a car but also to not
There were some places we wanted to see that required a car such as the North Shore and Pipeline. We hired a car for half the trip and the other half just hung out in Waikiki. Don’t feel like you need a car as there are ways to get around the island like Uber, Trolleys and tours. Sometimes having a car on a trip can be stressful.
The food in Hawaii is actually really good these days
Last time I went to Hawaii it wasn’t so good. I’m talking typical American greasy food. But Hawaii is becoming a lot more health conscious these days and offering a lot of variety. We found some great healthy options e.g. salad bars, fresh produce, acai bowls, as well as generally yummy places offering a range of cuisines.
The best Happy Hour specials are outside of the main town
I don’t think we found any really good Happy Hour specials in Waikiki. It was all a bit expensive for drinks. The best we found was the Harbor Pub opposite The Modern. We were getting Mai Tai’s for like $4 USD. Crazy stuff!
There are some beautiful hikes you can do
Despite being the main tourist walk, the walk up to Diamond Head is really incredible. Make sure to pack your walking shoes as there’s a whole list of walks you can do around the island, from beginner to expert.
Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore is overrated
The locals sure don’t love it, and we don’t really either. It’s very commercial and feels a bit clinical. I wouldn’t opt to stay here. It just feels out of place amongst the more untouched side of the North Shore.
The shopping is and isn’t that good
Depends on where you go but Hawaii shopping deals depend on particular brands. We visited Waikele Outlets and found some really good deals at shops like Kate Spade and Calvin Klein, but then some places were very average like shopping for Ray Ban’s. It depends on the brand you’re looking for I think.
Don’t pay more than $300 p/n for a hotel unless it’s incredible
Don’t be tricked thinking you have to pay a lot just because it’s Hawaii. In fact the prices I found were so competitive because there is a lot of choice now on places to stay. I think we paid between $200-$330 for our hotel rooms per night. Alohilani is a newly renovated hotel in the heart of Waikiki and I did get a great deal for it. The Modern was also a superb stay.
You can do an amazing catamaran snorkelling trip with turtles for roughly $80 pp
Make sure you look/ask around and don’t just book the first place you see. My dad knows the different tour companies well and was able to book a snorkelling trip for us for about $80 per person. It’s amazing how close you get to the turtles. Check out my turtle selfie!
You cannot leave Hawaii without trying a Mai Tai
Mai Tai’s are classic Hawaiian cocktails mixed with rum, Curacao liqueur, orgeat syrup and lime juice. So tropical and so delicious. We had them daily.
Some hotels do free Lei-making classes
I really wanted to make my own Flower Lei and luckily Alohilani Resort did a free class every morning. It was only my mum and I the morning we did it, so it was practically a free private class!
The weather can change in an instant
Hello island living! It’s classic tropical weather where it can be a bright sunny day and then within an hour turn into cloud and rain. When we first arrived it was torrentially raining but by midday the sun was back out again.
Every Friday night there are fireworks at the Hilton Lagoon
I think they begin at about 8pm but make sure to get there early as it packs out in the area. I wouldn’t bother trying to have dinner beforehand as all restaurants nearby were packed with a 1.5hr wait.
Waikiki Beach is actually really beautiful, despite being touristy
Even though I had been to Waikiki before I forgot how beautiful the main beach is! I think I associate tourist beaches with what I’ve seen in Europe and Bali… sometimes polluted, not the clearest water and no marine life. Waikiki Beach is totally different – there are literally turtles everywhere, the water is so blue and there’s no trash on the beach.
Have you visited Hawaii before?