Recently, Kyle Brown, a fabulous Jaunted contributor, wrote me to tell me that he had returned from his first Hawaii vacation and that the articles at Go Visit Hawaii had helped him plan his visit. I’m always keenly interested in what impressions Hawaii makes on a first time visitor. (I know the Aloha State captured my heart on the first visit and I became hopelessly addicted.) So Kyle and I struck up a conversation which led to this Q&A. I think you’ll enjoy getting Kyle’s fresh insight from his experiences on Oahu and Hawaii’s Big Island.
Go Visit Hawaii: From reading your Hawaii articles on Jaunted, it sounds like you enjoyed Oahu and the Big Island. Did you fall in love with Hawaii?
Kyle: In one word, yes. I’ve always wanted to visit Hawaii, and had huge expectations for the islands. All expectations were more than met, and honestly, there wasn’t a time where I felt that things were disappointing, not what I imagined, etc.
Go Visit Hawaii: Did anything about Hawaii surprise you?
Kyle: How one island can contain so many different thriving ecosystems. Especially the contrast on the Big Island between the Kona and Hilo sides of the islands. Near Hilo and Volcano things are certainly more lush, and on the Kona side thing are much more barren and dry. Both sides have their beauty, but it was a surprise to see so many different climates in such a contained area.
Go Visit Hawaii: What do you think is the one thing visitors shouldn’t miss on Oahu?
Kyle: Everything outside of Waikiki. I’m sure there are a lot of people who save up to take a trip to Hawaii, and then just park themselves right on the beach in front of their hotel and wait for the umbrella drinks to arrive. That’s a great thing to do (for a day), but Oahu has so much more to offer. You need to drive around the island and see the different areas, as there are many unique towns and beaches.
Go Visit Hawaii: What would you say is a must see on the Big Island?
Kyle: Even though we were only on the Big Island for 5 nights, we did spend one night on the Volcano side of the island to enjoy the national park. Although lava wasn’t flowing as much as it had been during our visit, witnessing what the lava can and has done was amazing. There’s a lot to do and see in the park even without an active flow. The Kilauea Iki trail was a lot of fun, especially when you consider that only a generation before the whole thing was a lava lake.
Go Visit Hawaii: Any tips you’d like to pass along to first time visitors?
Kyle: Take your trip day-by-day. We used the Internet, guide books, and whatever else available to try to plan things out. Once you start researching and planning, you quickly start to feel like there’s just too much to do. We decided on our “must-sees,” and made sure that at some point we were able to accomplish those. Each night we’d spend some time going over potential itineraries for the next day, and that seemed like the best way to tackle things without becoming overwhelmed (or not enjoying things by sticking to a schedule). It’s always good to miss some things too—then you have another reason to go back.
Go Visit Hawaii: What would you say to the person who is on the fence about visiting Hawaii for the first time?
Kyle: It’s definitely worth it, but there is a cost, both time and money, that is more substantial than a quick jaunt from the east coast to the Caribbean. I think you summarized the difference between Hawaii and other islands in one of your posts, when you describe that “Aloha” feeling and attitude that’s present in Hawaii. Overall, if you’re thinking about going, just do it—you won’t be disappointed.
Many thanks to Kyle for taking the time to answer these questions and share his insight. Here are the Hawaii articles Kyle wrote at Jaunted with some useful recommendations.