Hawaii Travel Guide For First Timers - 3 Things You Must Know

Author: Saumya Khanduja on Feb 21,2022

We are bombarded with questions from our readers about Hawaii, our favorite paradise island! Most of these questions come from people who are going to be visiting Hawaii for the very first time. This Hawaii Travel Guide is dedicated to you all! 


Visiting the Hawaiian islands is definitely not something you should be stressed about. Yes, planning a vacation is pretty difficult. It does give you a headache, but it is totally worth it. Especially for those coming from the East Coast, Hawaii is something you shouldn't miss, no matter how far-fetched the dream looks! We've been doing that too for a pretty long time now. 


This article is your perfect go-to Hawaii travel guide, telling you three important things you should know before visiting the islands, especially when you are a first-timer! 


Things To Know


There are so many important things you should know before traveling to Hawaii! But no matter what we tell you, the most important thing to know here is "Remember to have fun!"


The First Island



It is definitely a massive question - What island should you be visiting first? To be really honest, no matter what island you choose, Hawaii is the kind of place where you could never make the wrong decision. However, we still got you covered! 


The best island to visit is completely based on your taste and personality. It is based on the experiences you are looking forward to, the adventures you are looking for, and so many other factors. You can choose your own path, experience, and adventure with any of these magical Hawaiian islands. 




Let's take Oahu, for instance. In Oahu, you will get a town/country experience all simultaneously. It is best for those who want to spend their vacation time sipping wine, relaxing all throughout! 


Visit Waikiki and Honolulu if you prefer your vacations to be vibrant and lively, filled with live music, bars, and restaurants. In fact, you can also go to the north shore to get a better experience of Hawaii's lush, tropical landscape. The landscape is one of the biggest reasons why people visit Hawaii. Another big reason? The Luaus. Everyone can pick the Luaus of their liking! 


There is so much you can do in Oahu, as a solo traveler, as a couple, or even as a family. The vibe of this island is pretty cosmopolitan but at the same time relaxing and fun. No wonder it is one of the most visited islands in Hawaii. It truly offers a little bit of everything! 




Who doesn't love Maui? We love this island the most, and in our opinion, it is one of the safest picks for first-timers going to Hawaii. Maui is the second most visited island. Therefore, you are going to find crowds here. However, the density of these crowds is going to be lesser than Oahu. 


Again, Maui is also blessed in terms of beautiful beaches, so you can say yes to snorkeling! The resorts on this island are known for their luxury and opulence, making it one of the most expensive islands in Hawaii. You can check out Leisure travel deals to save up on your overall vacation if you plan to visit Maui. 


Experiences for Maui include visiting the Bamboo forests, hiking, waterfall swims, and of course, our favorite - whale watching. In fact, you can do whale watching right from the shores! 




We believe that Kauai is best for adventure seekers, outdoor enthusiasts, and beach bums! There is just so much you can do in Kauai - from visiting the Waimea Canyon, the grand canyon of the Pacific, hiking the remote valleys, to sunset cruises. You will definitely not regret a trip to Kauai. In fact, this island is the perfect choice for honeymooners and couples celebrating monumental events in their lives. 


Kauai, along with Maui, makes for the perfect vacation islands, promising to give you the most wonderful experiences. 


The Big Island - Hawaii 



The fourth best island you can visit first on your first trip to Hawaii is definitely going to be The Big Island! The island is huge, really huge! 


It feels much less crowded when compared to other islands, and there are so many outdoor adventures you can relish, especially for those who are Die Hard fanatics! 


We truly love this island for so many reasons that we can see ourselves retiring there. The island is perfect for coffee connoisseurs, whale watchers, astronomers, snorkelers, volcanologists, and adventure-seeking travelers who love white sand beaches. This is the perfect place for everyone who wants to ditch the crowds of other islands and have fun all throughout the year, especially during Christmas. 


Bucket List 


The second major ground you all should be covering is defining your perfect bucket list before you visit any of these wonderful islands. 


Majority of people who visit Hawaiian islands for the first time have a definite activity they look forward to doing. It could be as simple as visiting Pearl Harbor or as adventurous as hiking a volcano. So, just like the island you should visit is based on your preferences and personality, your bucket list must also be a true reflection of your personality. 


But another important part of figuring out here is your bucket list is dependent on the island you want to visit. So, if you want to swim with Manta Rays in Maui, sorry, it's not going to happen! For this, you would have to visit the Big Island. So, you should really be thinking about what kind of adventures you want to fill your bucket list with before you actually go about planning your vacation. 


One of the most common bucket list items is visiting the Pearl Harbor National Memorial or going to the USS Arizona memorial. In order to accomplish this, you need to pick Oahu as your first choice of your island. 


To cover more ground and get the best out of your entire vacation experience in Hawaii, you can opt for inner island trips and tours. Various organizations plan a day trip for you to other locations near the island you are currently on. So, if you are in Maui, you can check out Honolulu for a day as well. 


Another bucket list adventure for people is whale watching. The season for whale watching runs from mid-December through mid-April. Thousands of people fly in to see whales during their migration period. So if this experience is on your mind, you should visit Maui first. Maui is the best island to go about whale watching. 


The third bucket list item for Hawaii is the Volcano National Park. You would just want to go hiking here, around this devastated, rugged yet beautiful trail made of a lava tube. It is really one of the best adventures in Hawaii. You can also visit some active volcanoes here in Hawaii. For this, you should be heading to the Big Island. 


Book Early 


Okay, so we really cannot stress this enough - if you have bucket list experiences or an activity you are looking forward to, even if it is just a restaurant booking, just book early! Booking after flying is something you should avoid. Trust us; it will not be a beautiful experience. Things can quickly turn around here in Hawaii; they can be extremely crowded in a matter of a few minutes, so make sure you are chalking everything out before you visit the islands. 


You can book some things that look interesting, of course, after you are on the islands. But, you need to make sure you are booking extremely important things beforehand. Whether it's a car rental service, hotels, dinner reservations, special requests, snorkeling activity, anything, just book them. 


While you are at it, check out the best Leisure travel guides and deals to get the best discounts on your bookings! 


Final Words 

First-timers in Hawaii can be overwhelmed with all the new experiences and landscapes. Hawaii is really hard to crack in just one go, which is exactly why you need this Hawaii travel guide! Take your time, be patient, and be gentle with these beautiful islands. Once you get the hang of things, you will do great the next time. 


Follow the Leisure blog for more such tips, travel deals, itineraries, reservation help, and getting help booking that perfect vacation post-covid! 


Happy vacationing to you!

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