Use Jet Lag For Your Benefit In Hawaii

Sunrise at Haleakala

Hawaii is literally thousands of miles east or west from just about anywhere. So, when you fly to this remote island chain, you are pretty much guaranteed to experience some degree of jet lag at the start of your vacation.

No matter how tired I am from my 12 to 15-hour journey to Hawaii, I never sleep through the first night. I always wake up early. How early? I’m typically wide awake somewhere between 2 and 5am. If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to doze off into 10 minute segments, but not much more significant sleep.

Since I have visited Hawaii a number of times now, I know what to expect to expect. Rather than growl about jet lag, now I plan to use it to my advantage. I’d like to encourage you to take advantage of your jet lag, too.

Here are some ideas to help you make the most of your first full day in paradise:

Hawaii’s lack of heavy light pollution combined with the cleaner air, make it a world class spot to see stars. Whether you are a budding astronomer or a complete night-sky novice, you will appreciate vast amount of stars you’ll see in Hawaii.

See sunrise
Watching the sun rise can be a very moving and spiritual experience. Seeing it in Hawaii is even sweeter. Maui’s Mount Haleakala is one of the more well known places in Hawaii to watch sunrise. (See my tips for Haleakala sunrise.) Recently a company has started offering tours to stargaze and watch sunrise from Mauna Kea on the Big Island. Of course, any east-facing shore provides great sunrise view. Just find a beach and plop yourself down to watch the sun slowly edge above the horizon.

Get an early start on hikes
Some hikes are best done earlier in the day before while the temperatures are colder and less people are on the trail. Those hikes are:

  • Le’ahi (Diamond Head) on Oahu
  • Makapu’u Lighthouse on the leeward southeastern side of Oahu. Incidentally, this hike is great for sunrise and humpback whale watching in season (January -March).
  • In general, any hike on the windward (wetter) side of any Hawaiian island is best hiked in the morning as the chance of rain increases in the afternoon.

Take a morning walk or jog
Some of the resort areas have nice shoreline walking/jogging paths which make exercising in the beautiful scenery an enjoyable experience.

Plan your early tours and activities for the first day or two of your stay.
Many tours and activities start fairly early in the morning. Some snorkeling and diving tours are best earlier in the morning while the ocean tends to be calmer. For example a snorkel tour to Molokini is best done first thing in the morning.


Since most resort restaurants don’t open until 6 or 7am, you may want to bring your own breakfast for the first  couple of nights. See our suggestions for snack and food to bring to Hawaii.

Well, these are my suggestions for using your jet lag for your benefit. What other creative ideas do you have to make your jet lag work for you?

  1. Go to Honaunau Bay before it opens, get a great parking space and have the ocean to yourself for the first hour. You also beat the morning traffic.

  2. When we went, we couldn’t sleep all the way through the night either and just went to bed a little early and got up early for hikes. It’s so much cooler in the morning!

  3. One of my favorite things to do in Hawaii is to watch the sunrise on that first morning as I am so awake from jetlag. I try to do it the first couple of mornings.

    My favorite is still over diamondhead on Waikiki Beach. It is amazing to see! Especially with a bustling city just starting to wake up!

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