Hawaii – Tips for travel planning

Last summer, I was lucky enough to take a dream vacation with my family. After the start in Vancouver/Vancouver Island we went to Hawaii and from there via San Francisco back home again. For Hawaii we had barely two and a half weeks, which is not exactly a lot for the island paradise. We had a great vacation, but in retrospect one is smarter. Therefore I would like to give you a few tips for planning your trip.

1. Island selection:

Which islands to visit? With this question we have dealt intensively before our trip. We read several travel guides, internet articles and travel blogs, and even watched a DVD series about Hawaii. There is certainly no universally valid answer to this question. We were mainly helped by tips from some travel blogs to make a choice. Our choice fell on Big Island (Hawaii), Kaua'i and Maui. On the way there, we made a 2-day stopover in Honolulu (O'ahu). Overall, we have been very happy with our choices and can recommend these islands to anyone. Here's some quick info on the islands:

Since we only visited Honolulu here, I can't say too much about it. However, we found Honolulu already very touristy.

Big Island:

Hawaii's main island is the largest of the archipelago. What we were not aware of is the fact that on Big Island there are 11 of the 13 climatic zones found on Earth. Accordingly, the weather conditions and the vegetation are so different that it is worthwhile in any case to spread the stay over 2 locations. For exploring the beautiful vegetation and visiting the volcano park (Hawaii Volcanoes National Park), the east coast around Hilo is the best place to go. But you have to expect daily rain showers here. On the west side of the island there is a dry climate. Here it is less green. Only around the large hotel complexes you will find palm trees and extensive green areas. With an average of one rainy day per month and fine sandy beaches, this coastline is ideal for a beach vacation. However, tourism is much more present here. More tips for activities on the Big Island can be found here ….


Kaua'i, also known as the "green island" or "garden island," is the oldest Hawaiian island. Here the Jurassic Park movies were filmed. Also on Kaua'i at least short rainfalls are the order of the day. The island seems a little more off the beaten path of American tourists. Since it is only about 50 km long and 40 km wide, it does not matter much from where you want to explore it. However, one should keep in mind that there is no road leading around the island. Worth seeing is in any case the Waimea Canyon. Numerous trails lead to breathtaking views and numerous waterfalls. Another highlight is the visit of the Na' Pali Coast. Untouched landscapes and beautiful views are promised here. Unfortunately, at the time we were there the road was closed due to a landslide, so we have another good reason to come back one day.

In contrast to Kaua' i, the island of Maui is known to most people. It is also called the "Island of the Valleys" and is considered the most beautiful island of Hawaii. Maui impresses especially by its diversity. Besides the most beautiful beaches in the world, you can also visit the volcanic crater of Haleakala or the spectacular "Highway to Hana". You can be pampered in the elegant hotels and resorts and make excursions into the lush nature from there. At this point of our trip we were a bit unlucky, because at this time Hurricane Hector was moving south of us over the Pacific Ocean. The result was almost 5 days of storm and rain. But this is also Hawai… Nevertheless we could get an impression of the fascination of this island and would return at any time again.

2. Timing:

A difficult issue before our Hawaii vacation, was the timing of the trip. In any case, keep in mind that due to the change from island to island, one day is always "lost". We have traveled the distances between the islands with Hawaiian Airlines. On the whole this worked out well. As far as I know there are no useful boat connections between the islands. The only alternative are smaller private airlines. The amount of time that should be scheduled per island depends largely on which interests should be served as a priority. If you like hiking, you should plan a longer stay on Kauai. Those who like to swim or spend a few days at the beach will certainly find this on Maui. Generally we made the experience that 5 days stay per island are desirable – if you don't have this time you have to cut back. Under 3 days the visit makes rather less sense.

3. Preplanning:

To be honest, early vacation planning is not really our thing. However, we found out that Hawaii is a very popular destination during the summer months. Mainly tourists from the USA populate the islands during the vacation season. Ca. 2-3 months before the start of our trip we therefore felt forced to book hotels and flights. Since at this time the choice was already considerably limited, I would rather advise this pre-planning already 4-5 months in advance to start. If you have the opportunity to travel outside of vacation times this is certainly freer and more flexible.