Most of the state’s accommodation is on the island of Oahu in Waikïkï, a city with great nightlife and busy beaches. On the island’s North Shore, surfers from around the globe come to ride the huge suicidal looking waves that pound the shoreline.
Beach bums in need of some rest and relaxation should head to Maui (also good for windsurfing and whale watching), while hikers looking for stunning scenery and plenty of clean air will love Kaua‘i.
Meanwhile, the Big Island is home to Kïlauea, the world’s most active volcano which has been spewing out lava since 1983.
Lana‘i is essentially a holiday home for those with big bucks while Moloka‘i, the most traditional and homey of all the Hawaiian islands, is a good choice for travellers on a budget.
The weather varies little year round – slightly hotter in summer (May-October), with a bit more rain in winter (November to April).
Honolulu International Airport (HNL) – 6km from city centre
With the exception of Maui, Moloka‘i and Lana‘i the Hawaiian islands are spread far apart and the only practical way of visiting several is to fly with the local airline Hawaiian (www.hawaiianair.com).
Cars can be hired through any of the main agencies. Mopeds are more suited to island driving, especially beyond the freeways where the roads are narrow and windy. Maui in particular is great for cycling as all the major roads have cycle lanes. Public transport is minimal.
Accommodation in Hawaii is geared towards those with cash to spend: resort hotels are big business. One rung down the chain are the high to mid-range hotels which are worth reserving in advance.
Budget travellers will need to rely on B&Bs (nb - not all of them include breakfast) as American-style motels are virtually non-existent. The larger Hawaiian islands have at least one budget surfer hostel.
Hawaii has all the burger chains, pizza joints and coffee shops of anywhere else in the US, albeit with a little more pineapple thrown in. Local specialities include laulau (pork or fish wrapped in a taro leaf).
The root of the taro plant is also used to make a sweet pudding. Hawaii has wonderful fish (and consequently very good Japanese sushi restaurants). Another simple local favourite is saimin – a clear soup packed with noodles and other goodies. Knocking back a few Mai Tais or Blue Hawai‘s is a must. Vegetarians will have little trouble.
Check with a doctor that your vaccinations are up to date and be sure to take out adequate travel insurance. If you plan to swim or surf, stick to official beaches and keep an eye out for warning flags.
Hawaii has a real problem with thefts from cars, to the point where locals often leave their doors open to avoid paying for broken windows; follow their lead by not leaving anything on display in your car.
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