What To Avoid On Your Hawaii Vacation

Sunset from Kaanapali HyattGo Visit Hawaii is full of advice on what to do to plan and enjoy your Hawaii vacation. So you might be wondering if there’s anything that you should not do? The answer is yes, there are several things you should avoid on your vacation. Here’s your handy dandy list of what to to avoid in Hawaii.

1. Avoid getting sunburned. Hawaii is very close to the equator where the sun’s rays are very strong. You should always wear a high SPF sunscreen when you are outdoors in Hawaii. See more tips on how to prevent a sunburn in Hawaii and a discussion on favorite sunscreens.

2. Avoid being impatient. Hawaii moves on island time which might be a little more slow paced than what you are accustomed to on the mainland. You might encounter island time in a restaurant, on a tour or on the roads. (See my tips for driving with Aloha.) Rather than get uptight that things aren’t moving as quickly as you’d like, take a deep breath, relax and immerse yourself into this slower pace. Your blood pressure will thank you.

3. Avoid over packing. Even though I almost always packing light and travel with carry-on luggage only, somehow, I always over pack. Now on the surface that may sound like it’s no big deal. The problem is because I over packed, I have limited the amount of toffee covered macadamia nuts and Kona coffee that I can bring home. See what I mean? As a seasoned Hawaii traveler, I have lots of tips for packing light, so do yourself a favor and read these articles:

4. Avoid spending too much time looking at your camera screen. Now, Hawaii is beautiful and you will definitely want to take a ton of photos. There’s certainly no problem in that, however, if you spend too much time looking at the small camera screen, you’re limiting your view. I’ve observed tourists spending endless time looking at those tiny screens at sunset or at picturesque views. Sometimes I wonder if they are going to finally admire the view when they upload their photos or have them printed. Another key place where you need to make sure you’re not spending too much time behind the camera is when you take a helicopter tour. It will be tempting to want to take photos and you should, but try to be conscious that you are on this amazing ride and savor the moment and view through your own two eyes.

5. Avoid timeshare presentations, unless, of course. you are interested in them. The nice person who approaches you on the street asking where you’re from and how long you’re there is most likely not really interested in your answer. They’re probably trying to get you interested in sitting through a timeshare presentation in exchange for a free luau, vouchers or snorkeling tour. Unless you are sincerely interested in the offer, politely decline the conversation and move on. A smile along with a “no, thank you” should be enough to keep you from wasting time in a conversation you’d rather not have. See this post from ages ago: Man attacked by land-shark loses wallet.

So, these are my tips for what to avoid in Hawaii. What other advice would you add?

  1. Sheila-really good points. Friends of mine just returned from their first visit to Hawaii. They now feel they “scheduled” too much into the trip and should have left more free time to just explore and be more spontaneous. I think your point of everything moving on Hawaii time is something for everyone to consider when planning a trip, especially on Oahu where traffic can contribute to delays.

  2. Hi Janice – Thanks for your comment. That’s a very good idea to resist planning too much, especially on Oahu. I don’t think I’ve ever been on the H1 without a traffic jam.

  3. Avoid the temptation to eat everything in sight. ;^)

    Avoid your email.

  4. Hi Dave – very good suggestion, but I must confess that I failed on avoiding that temptation on each trip to Hawaii. The food is so ono!

  5. I was reading your blog last year before heading off to the islands, so along with the SPF30, I also brought a bottle of SPF50 that I managed to find here in PA. Well, I burn quicker than bacon,and even the SPF 50 left me looking for any shade possible. On one of my trips to the Kahului Walmart I found SPF 70 and got it. It helped much better than the others. So anyone who has fair skin be warned: use the highest SPF you can find. Sporting a nice tan is great, but getting sun poison isn’t.

  6. Joanne – Thank you for sharing your experience with sunscreens in Hawaii. It’s hard to find a one size fits all, so to speak. What I’ve tried to convey, is that the sun in Hawaii is strong and that you should always choose a SPF higher than what you would at home. Perhaps I’ve failed at properly explaining that. I’ll have to give some thought as to a way to better explain that.

  7. Hi All
    Can anyone tell me if you can travel into Hawaii with only one month left on your passport

  8. Hi Tammy – I think the answer to your question depends on your country of residence. If you are a US citizen, you aren’t required to present a passport to visit Hawaii.

    If you are visiting Hawaii from outside the US, the answer depends on your country of citizenship. To best answer your question, contact the US Embassy location nearest you. Here’s a link to find your nearest location: http://www.usembassy.gov/

  9. Hi Shiela.. this one maybe off-topic. I am a Filipino citizen and i will be visiting hawaii 3-weeks from now. My question is, can i drive a rent-a-car using my Philippines driver’s license?


    1. gene – To be honest, I have a guess, but I’m not entirely sure. I’m under the impression that as long as you have a valid drivers license and a major credit card, you probably won’t have any problems. My advice is to verify with one of the local car rental experts that I regularly use to get the best car rental rates in Hawaii — Discount Hawaii Car Rental – they have FAQs here: http://www.discounthawaiicarrental.com/faq.shtml with a contact form at the bottom of the list of FAQs.

  10. The best advice I can give you is get out of town (or your resort). Go, see, do–one of the best meals I had on O’ahu was out of the back of a shrimp truck. Take your time and don’t try to see everything in three days. (It gives you a reason to go back, right?)

  11. If you’re on O’ahu, avoid RENTING A CAR.

    The Bus is inexpensive, dependable and goes pretty much anywhere on the island. You get off when you see somewhere you want to stop, then get on another one when you want to go more or go back.

    If you rent a car, you have to pay for the rental, pay for the gas, pay for the insurance, and most places you pay to park it (assuming you can FIND parking near where you want to go). It takes an hour to pick up the car when you arrive, and you may walk a mile or more to get from the parking lot to where you’re heading. On that walk, you are likely to pass a couple of bus stops.

    Also, riding The Bus (aka “Fasi’s Limo”) you will meet a lot of locals. Most of them are FRIENDLY locals, who want to know as much about where you come from as you want to know about where you are. These are a great resource for finding good food, hearing about interesting events or destinations, just listening to them talk is part of the allure of the Islands.

    But the best part is that The Bus has huge windows, and someone else is driving, so you can sit there and watch the scenery without having to dodge all of the tourists in their rental cars, who don’t realize that they’re doing a kamikaze drift across the center line as they look at the scenery, juggle the map, try to navigate (it’s nothing short of amazing how many 20-letter words start with “K,” end with “A,” and are on local street signs) and look with the Significant Other points and squeals in delight.

    Yes, on O’ahu you drive on the right side of the yellow line — unless you’re in a rental car. Watching tourists driving in Mililani makes vets flash back to Saigon, until they realize that Saigon drivers were better. If you’re on The Bus, they’re someone else’s problem, and the view is all you have to worry about!

    1. Sheila Beal says:

      Certainly TheBus is a good option to consider for public if you’re staying in Waikiki.

      From our many trips to Oahu, renting a car is super easy,fast and relatively cheap– we’ve paid MUCH more on the mainland. A car gives much greater flexibility, privacy and the opportunity to get to places that the bus does not get near.

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