Frequently asked questions about Hawaii.
What would a Hawaii focused site be without a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list? So here are the questions we most commonly get asked about Hawaii.
Where Do I Start My Hawaii Trip Planning & Research?
If this is your first time our your fifth, planning a trip to Hawaii can be pretty daunting. In fact, it's more than we can answer in this FAQ so we've written a set of Hawaii Travel Guides to get you started. First up, read our Guide To Hawaii along with Best & Cheapest Time To Book & Travel To Hawaii.
Now you'll want to figure out Which Hawaiian Island Should I Visit? Along with that is finding the answer to How Many Islands Should I Visit? Once you've picked an island destination you'll want to dig into our Hawaii Travel Itineraries. These itineraries cover all of the basic things to see and do on each island.
We also have lists for Hawaii's Best Beaches, Best Things To Do With Kids In Hawaii, and Best Snorkeling Beaches In Hawaii. Combine those itineraries and guides with our free Hawaii Travel Planner software and you'll be sure to see it all.
Do I Need To Rent A Car In Hawaii?
This is a very common question and one that we covered in complete detail if you read Do I Need A Rental Car In Hawaii? But it also has a companion article that answers the question of Do I Need To Rent A Car In Waikiki? If you do rent a car in Waikiki you'll also want to read up on Free & Cheap Waikiki Parking.
In terms of public transportation, the island of Oahu as an excellent bus system simply known as TheBus. It's a great way to get around the island, but not as quick as a rental car. Some of the other islands have bus systems as well, though none are as widespread as Oahu's.
Other options will include taxis and uber-style systems in some areas. Oahu is also developing the Honolulu Rail Transit but that's not running just yet.
Do I Need A Passport To Enter Hawaii?
Hawaii is the 50th state of the United States of America so coming from the Mainland, USA you do not need a passport to enter Hawaii. It's literally no different than crossing state lines on the mainland. If you are coming from another country or traveling on to another country after Hawaii you will need your passport.
Considering how laws are changing, it's probably a good idea to just get a passport so you have it and to travel with it. That way you can keep it stored in your hotel safe and if you lose your driver's license you'll always have that to get back home easily. For more on passports, read How To Get A Passport.
Is Hawaii A Good Place For Kids?
In a one word answer, yes! Hawaii is an amazing place to take kids, or keiki as they're called in Hawaiian. First up, kids love hotels with fun pools so check out the Top 12 Resort Pools In Hawaii. Then, read up on the Best Things To Do With Kids In Hawaii.
Just remember, depending on the age of your child and how active they are you may have to slow things down and take time for resting and slowing down. We also highly recommend you read 12 Things You Should Know Before Traveling With Young Kids to keep everyone happy and calm along the way.
Please remember that Hawaii is full of raw nature that will try and hurt you if you're not watching out, and that really applies to the keiki. Read Hawaii Dangers - Read Before You Go, apply lots of sunscreen to Protect Yourself From Sunburn & Skin Cancer, and always watch children around pools and in the ocean at all times.
Is Hawaii Expensive?
Another question with a one word answer, yes! Hawaii is, or at least can be, expensive which we cover in detail in How Much Does A Hawaii Vacation Cost? But there are ways to enjoy Hawaii for most budgets. Start by reading Hawaii Vacationing On A Budget and Best & Cheapest Time To Book & Travel To Hawaii.
Watch out for Hotel & Resort Fees & Taxes and save some mega-bucks by doing many of the Free Things To Do In Hawaii.
What Time Zone Is Hawaii In?
Hawaii actually has its own time zone called Hawaii Standard Time which is -10 GMT.
We do not observe Daylight Savings Time (DST) either so that means we're normally 2 hours earlier than the west coast of the mainland and 5 hours earlier than the east coast of the mainland. During DST times (March through November), we are 3 hours earlier than the west coast and 6 hours earlier than the east coast.
For more on time in Hawaii, see What Time Is It In Hawaii? as well as Hawaii Living: Island Time and don't overspend on Tipping.
What's The Weather Like?
Awesome. Gorgeous. Amazing. Excellent. Fantastic. Brilliant. The best in every way, usually. Except in those rare occasions where it's not so great, or even downright terrifying as can be the case with Hurricanes (see Hurricane Iniki as well). Tropical environments like we have here in Hawaii can also lead to a Flash Flood (while on the topic of dangers, be sure you read Hawaii Dangers - Read Before You Go).
On any given day, around sea level, the temperature will average 83 degrees Fahrenheit (that's around 28 degrees Celsius). Looking a bit closer, expect warm temperatures between 75-85 degrees. Some areas will be a bit warmer, some a bit cooler (especially as you go up in elevation).
But it's generally warm and lovely here all year long. So, yes, that also means you can swim in the ocean all year long as well. For more information on this please see Hawaii Weather, as well as Hawaii Living: Weather if you're looking to live in Hawaii.
Are All Beaches Public In Hawaii? Are There Any Private Beaches In Hawaii?
One of the best parts about Hawaii are the amazing beaches and the fact that almost every single one of them is open to the public. While there are no private beaches in Hawaii there are a handful that have limited access because of a nearby military base. In those cases the beach might be open only to military personnel or maybe open to the public only at certain days and times of the week.
There are also a few beaches that, while public, don't have any direct access to them from land (often due to the land around them being private property). Locals don't like it when this happens and fortunately only a few fall into this category. These restricted beaches are the exception, not the rule.
Not only are almost all beaches completely open to the public, almost every single one will have a posted public right of way access point. These are often blue colored signs that will read "Beach Access". Looking for a beach? We list all Hawaii Beaches here and we'll pinpoint each one on a map and give information on how to access it when it's not obvious.
Should I Worry About Sharks?
Probably not, but you should be aware that they exist and the ocean is their home. Can I shark attack you in the ocean? Yes! Is it likely to happen? No. Want some fun stats to make you feel better? In the last 150+ years only 10 people have been killed by sharks in Hawaii.
In 1996, a single year, over 43,000 people in the USA were injured by their toilets. In that same year, only 13 were injured (not killed) by sharks in the USA (Florida tends to be a bit more sharky). Learn more about Shark Attacks In Hawaii but know that the real Hawaii Dangers - Read Before You Go are going to be things like a Flash Flood, drowning, or not using enough sunscreen to Protect Yourself From Sunburn & Skin Cancer.
How Can Hawaii Have An Interstate Highway System?
Because that is one of those rare situations where the federal tax system worked out, at least for Hawaii. It's true that on the island of Oahu there are Interstate Highways even though they don't connect to any other states.
Rather than being listed a "I-something" they are all listed as H-something. In our case, we have an H-1 which is the main road on the island and connects the west side to Honolulu. There is an H-2 which connects north to south, and an H-3 which connects the east part of the island to the H-1 (we can thank the military and taxpayers for that one). There is also an H-201 which is sort of a bypass route along the H-1 to give drivers a more direct route across the island while the H-1 dips down for airport access.
What Is The Hawaii Telephone Area Code?
All islands use the 808 area code. The whole 808 thing has become a bit of a star all on its own and is sort of synonymous with the overall relaxed Hawaiian lifestyle. You'll likely see lots of 808 themed shirts, bumper stickers, and so on. Think of "808" as more of a lifestyle than an area code, much like the Aloha Spirit.
Is Hawaii Really Different Than Other Places?
It really is different here. And there are many reasons for that, starting with the Aloha Spirit that the people here have. There is a friendly vibe here that you don't see in other places and that even leads into smaller things like people not honking their horns (a rule you must follow as part of our Top 8 Things Not To Do In Hawaii).
There is a huge variety of Things that are different in Hawaii from the Mainland. We even have Crazy Signs That Can Only Be Found In Hawaii. Of course, we also don't get a lot of stuff that you're used to on the mainland, such as this list of Mainland Restaurants Not In Hawaii.
The best way to enjoy your time in Hawaii is to soak in the aloha, slow yourself down to a crawl (see Hawaii Living: Island Time), ooze a deep respect for the Hawaiian locals and their customs, and have a great time with the mentality of "no worries" at all times.
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