A couple of months before we left for Hawaii, I got a call from BFF. No hi. No hello. Just “do you want to get laid when we land in Honolulu.” Silence. Is this a trick question? I mean, who doesn’t?!?! But I’m taking this trip with BFF, her hubby, and April, so I wasn’t quite sure what she was proposing here…
A big sigh from the Florida end of the phone “L-E-I, as in do you want a traditional Hawaiian greeting with a garland of flowers?”
Ohhhhhhhhh riiiiiiight…..I totally knew that.
Of course, we opted to get lei’d because a) very Hawaiian and b) it’s just fun to go around saying “I got lei’d in Hawaii.” Although, I was a bit disappointed it was something that we had to plan, however, not as disappointed as I would have been to arrive in Hawaii and not be lei’d. Of course there was an additional/upgrade fee to get lei’d, which then prompted a lot of “I paid to get lei’d in Hawaii” comments.
But I digress (as I often do).
Planning. We all know how vital it is when traveling somewhere like Hawaii (or anywhere that your activities include something more than lounging on the beach drinking beer). Except, not by me. I don’t plan. I throw out grandiose ideas here and there and offer a lot of opinions, but the real planning is usually done by someone else (and for that, I am exceptionally grateful!). I’m quite capable of planning, but my planning tends to be the last-minute-fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type of planning, which apparently stresses out real planners and they take away your planning duties. So unless we are in New York City or the Texas Hill Country or I am traveling alone, the planning job is almost never handed to me.
But back to Hawaii. If you’re going to Hawaii, you definitely want to plan out a good portion of your trip. Not all of it–leave yourself time to get stuck in a beach bar while a hurricane-is-passing-nearby-but-not-hitting-the-island-afternoon-rainstorm. At the very least pick out and schedule everything you want to see because if not, then it’s not going to happen. I see it all the time when people visit New York City–they think “oh let’s just see where the day takes us” and then leave without seeing half of the things on their list.
In addition to all the amazing stuff there is to see, the main reason a well devised Hawaiian vacation plan is so important is because–in case you weren’t aware–the State of Hawaii is actually an archipelago of volcanic islands
in the middle of nowhere smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. And by middle, I mean there is no other land around it for miles. Thousands of miles. Just over two thousand to the mainland, to be exact.
I think the hardest thing to decide about Hawaii is how many and which islands you want to visit.
HINT: unless you have no time or money constraints, I would highly recommend against trying to see them all in one trip.
If you’re the type who likes to just set up shop in your hotel and use it as a base of operations, then just pick one island–there are no wrong options. If you’re the type of person who likes to see more and has no problem packing up and moving hotels every few days, I would recommend that you spend a minimum of 2-3 days per island. If you are in this group, the thing to remember is that flying is pretty much your only option for island hopping (unless you want to rent a kayak and end up missing and on the news). Actual flying time is not long, but it does come with all of the standard rigmarole of airports and security checkpoints and arriving at the airport at least an hour before your flight. Basically, you have to block out a large chunk of time every time you want to island hop. If you’re going the kayak/missing/news route, you might want to block out a larger chunk of time.
How and what did we pick? Well, thank you for asking. Since we were thinking that the trip would be 10-12 days, we decided to go to 2 islands, leaving the option open perhaps for a third. A bit full-on, but we were all committed. Since there were 4 of us, we each selected 2 islands and haggled from there. Pretty much everyone agreed on Oahu. It was the easiest choice since it has the capital and Pearl Harbor. Plus it is where the majority of the flights from the mainland land–so it seemed ridiculous to leave the island without a bit of exploring and a trip to Pearl Harbor.
Then the haggling started. Someone (ahem, I’m not sure who…) was very adamant about going to the Big Island to visit the coffee plantations in Kona. Everyone else was split between going to Kauai or Maui or not really caring. We finally haggled our way to visiting 3 islands and the negotiations quickly concluded. Poor Maui was out (don’t worry, we’ll be back!) and our final island selections were:
Oahu, Hawaii (aka the Big Island), and Kauai
Let the adventure begin!