Hawaii is often cited as one of those bucket list locations. If you’re still not fully convinced on why you need to visit Hawaii, so you try to find a vlog or top things to do video about Hawaii (exhibit A); you’re halfway there. You then decide to order a book (this is a must-read) to read about the history of the islands, which is when you’ll know, you need to go there soon.

We’ve an upcoming 2-week trip to the Hawaiian islands in late April and I wanted to take the time out and write down our travel plan. Given its remoteness, a trip to Hawaii costs significant $$$; in order to limit our spending, we’re relying on cooking more (AirBNBs with kitchens), cheaper non-luxurious stays and leveraging discounts/points for car rentals and flights.

Travel Restrictions

Hawaii is taking the pandemic seriously. In order to get entry to the islands, you need to show a negative COVID-19 test when you arrive at the airport. This test should be taken within a 72-hour window from your last leg of departure. You’ll need to quarantine for 10-days at pre-approved locations if your result isn’t in the 72-hour time window or your result is positive or your result hasn’t yet arrived. The strict adherence to this policy has meant reduced number of positive cases among the locals.

Both (my SO and I) have received our first dose of vaccine and our plan is to get the booster dose before we leave. Although there have been talks, there’s no consensus right now whether you’ll be waived from the strict testing formalities if you’re vaccinated; so our plan is to get a RAPID test done at Walgreens (approved testing partner) the day before we travel. Rapid tests are quick (duh) and are free (covered by insurance) which works out perfectly for us.

Which Islands to visit?

The state of Hawaii consists of a few islands:

  • Oahu: Home to the city of Honolulu, Oahu is a touristy city with a YouTuber describing it as the NYC of the islands; don’t let that distract you from the fact that still is ludicrously beautiful.
  • Maui: The resort island; crystal clear blue water, humpback whales and the green Yao valley can all be found here.
  • Hawaii: Also known as the Big Island, this island has less city vibes and more nature to explore. You’ll find the Volcanoes National Park and Mauna Kea observatory here.
  • Kauai: More laid-back, nature getaway with the instaworthy Na Pali coast.
  • Lanai: The island owned by Larry Ellison.
  • and a few more small islands

Our plan is to spend the first week of our trip on the Big island. Since we can only take a week’s vacation at most, we’ll need to work 8 hours/day as part of the second leg of our trip. As such, Oahu works great since it’s more urban + many areas have good internet speeds.

Week 1

  • Fly to Kailua-Kona reaching there around 10 PM. Get a rental car and drive to our AirBNB (< 15 minutes drive from the airport). Rest and recharge.
  • Stargaze at Mauna Kea through this AirBNB experience
  • Night Manta-Ray snorkeling adventure
  • Attend Farmers Market and buy local produce
  • Try the famous Kona Coffee
  • Hike in the Hawaii Volcano National Park
  • Waterfalls and beaches of-course.

Week 2

  • Wakiki Beaches
  • Flytography

Tips

  • You’ll need a 4x4 AWD if you’d to go to Mauna Kea and off-road beaches
  • You can find a cute dog-companion for a day through the Field Trip program run by the amazing Hawaii Island Humane Society (two branches on the Big island)
  • Carry rain-jackets and umbrellas because the weather in Hawaii is unpredictable