Oahu is one of the most popular islands in Hawaii, also, the one with the largest population. This island is a very attractive destination to people looking to see a piece of paradise, with the option to have all the amenities of a big city such as shopping and a great variety of restaurants and hotels. However, there are other islands like Maui which offer in my opinion, a better option for those in search of a more adventurous experience, and the feel of true island living.
Both places are great for vacationers and travelers looking for water adventures such as surfing, snorkeling, sailing, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, etc. If you are looking to just lay down on the beach and enjoy a great view in and around the beach then perhaps Oahu is a better option. If you are looking to do some exploring, hiking, and have an adventurous road trip, then Maui offers all of that.
Hawaii can be very expensive, especially for families as hotels and restaurants tend to be very expensive when your party is larger than 2. When traveling with the family or a large group, consider getting a vacation rental or a villa. Both of these options will offer enough room for your family and also an opportunity to buy groceries and save some serious money by avoiding dining at restaurants every day.
The first time I visited Hawaii I didn’t have a car for the first few days. And then I rented a car in a hotel instead of the airport which caused it to be much more expensive. It is a good idea to reserve a car before you arrive so you can pick it up at the airport and skip long lines at the car rental place.
All of Hawaii islands offer a variety of places to visit that are only accessible by car. A road trip in Hawaii is a must, if you don’t do it, you’ll be missing out some of the best places to hike, snorkel and witness some incredible views in these islands. While in a road trip, make sure to stop at any of the food trucks to sample some delicious food at accessible prices, the garlic shrimp on the north shore was spectacular!. Also, do not forget to take a map of the island you are visiting with you, most of cool places along the scenic roads don’t have any signs and it is very easy to miss them.
If you are like most travelers, you’ll want to stop at many of the souvenirs shops to buy something for family and friends, this is OK, there are many options everywhere. However, if you are on a budget, places like Wal-Mart have entire sections dedicated to Hawaiian souvenirs and Hawaiian themed clothing and accessories, the variety is good and the cost is much lower than the local shops. Having said that, is not a bad idea to buy from local shops to support the local economy and some of these stores offer truly unique items that you cannot find anywhere else.
When visiting some of the bays that are dedicated to activities such as snorkeling, make sure to buy your snorkels and other accessories before you go. You can also rent them from shops around town. If you don’t, you might be unpleasantly surprised by the cost of renting these items at the beach.
Hawaii is a beautiful place, do not let the price tag of the hotels and restaurants scare you away from a wonderful vacation. If planned with time and with proper research, you can get a very nice and spacious vacation rental home, buy groceries to save some money by not eating at restaurants twice a day and also access some really cool points of Hawaii by renting a car so you can explore the island(s) at your own phase.