Hawaii Vacation Planning Tips to Save Time, Money & Peace of Mind

10 Recommendations to Maximize
your Hawaii Vacation Investment

        1. First and foremost book your air, room and car at least 5 months in advance for best pricing and selection. Book direct with the airlines, hotel/B&B and rental car company for lowest prices.  For timing on booking the “Things to Do” see item #3 below.
        2. Before you make reservations decide which island(s) to visit. Hawaii has six islands open to visitors. These are grouped into four Counties. If you decide to visit more than one County, stay at least 4-5 days within each, here is a quick summary of each county, going from North to South:
          • Kauai – nicknamed the Garden Isle. Kauai receives 25% of the number of visitors that Oahu receives. It is best known for its lush landscape, romantic & natural scenery.
            Waimea Canyon
            Waimea Canyon

            Most noted unique features are Waimea Canyon and the only navigable River in Hawaii.  This island has a slower laid back vibe. Perfect for honeymooners or mixed family group. The island is spread out so you should rent a car.  To learn more about Kauai, go to the official Kauai Visitor Bureau’s website.

          • Oahu – nicknamed the Gathering Place. Oahu is home to the state’s capitol & bustling metropolis, Honolulu.
            Pearl Harbor Sites - USS Missouri & USS Arizona Memorial
            Pearl Harbor Sites – USS Missouri & USS Arizona Memorial

            Oahu receives the majority of the state’s visitors. This island is best known for the beach resort region of Waikiki and major Military attraction, Pearl Harbor. Waikiki and Ko’olina resort areas have beach, sun, warm ocean & breezes with a modern feel.  It is not necessary to rent a car unless you are looking to explore the less touristy locations like visiting the North Shore’s famous Pipeline & Sunset beaches. To learn more about Oahu, go to the official Oahu Visitor Bureau’s website.

          • Maui – nicknamed the Valley Isle. This county receives about half the number of visitors as Oahu and is made up of three islands: Maui, Molokai and Lanai.  The main and most popular island is Maui.
            Whale Watching
            Whale Watching

            Planning a day trip to Molokai or Lanai makes great island hopping sense. There are ferries and smaller airplane flights direct from Maui to Molokai and Lanai. Maui has it all city, beautiful beaches, and lush tropical forest. The shallow waters between the islands are the Humpback whales’ favorite. Each year these gentle giants visit Maui county to breed and give birth ( December – May). There is so much to do; it can be overwhelming and all the more reason to plan in advance! Best to rent a car. To learn more about Maui, go to the official Maui Visitor Bureau’s website.

          • Hawaii Island – nicknamed the Big Island. Hawaii Island receives about the same number of visitors as Kauai but is nearly large enough to fit the main four islands.
            Volcano Boat Tour
            Volcano Boat Tour

            The active volcano, Kilauea resides here. Rent a car if you visit as the name suggests, this is a Big Island.  It makes sense to split your time on this island between Hilo, Kona, and the Kahala resort areas. Each region is unique and offers once in a lifetime experiences. To learn more about the Big Island, go to the official Hawaii Island Visitor Bureau’s website.

 3. The most popular “things to do” often sell out. Preserve your precious vacation time for “doing” not “planning”. Book direct with suppliers for your best possible prices and selection. Purchasing tickets directly and in advance is easy at the industry’s one-stop-shop website: Hawaiifun.org.  Check out  the video below to see how easy it is. Like with air, room and car book directly with suppliers for best prices and selection.


4. Three ways to save money on your activities:
  • Advance reservation discounts. Most companies offer advance booking discounts on their websites.  For a directory of activities by Island: Kauai, Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island, aka the Big Island.
  • Purchasing the Shaka Gold Card (A3H’s only funding source).
    • One card costs $30
    • Covers up to 4 people
    • Savings vary from 10 – 50%
    • The card is good for a year from the date of purchase.
      Visit ShakaGoldCard.com for more information on participating activities.
  • Booking in Bulk. There is no upfront cost, savings increases on all items increase as you add more to your shopping card. The more you book, the more you save, visit HawaiiBestPrices.com for more information. All bookings are direct with Suppliers.

5. Add  www.hawaiibeachsafety.org website to the internet devices you’ll be taking with you. Read the safety tips for the island(s) you plan to visit. Sign up for the real-time beach updates.  One careless day at the beach could ruin more than just your vacation.

6. Explore reviewer sites’ feedback as well as travel books. Frommer’s provides high integrity advice with no hidden monetary agendas.  Many radio show podcasts are also available with genuine information on the best things to do and sites to see as well as tips.

7.  Sunscreen, lotions, motion sickness pills, insect repellent, first aid kit and other costly sundries are two to three times more expensive in Hawaii. Pack & bring with these small but pricey items.

8. Bring a hard copy of your itinerary. Create a printed version for all in your party to see when and what is planned. Include business phone numbers, confirmation numbers, check in time, directions, drive time, what to bring and what to wear.

9. Leave time open on your itinerary for some spontaneity, self-guide touring, beach time or simply to doing nothing at all.

10.  Visit Michael Kaye’s Huffington Post article on 25 Things to Do before leaving for vacation regardless of your destination.