Here are some special tips from a local for your Perfect Hawaiian Vacation.

You will find practical ideas to make your trip more enjoyable, as well as some health and safety concerns.

Finally, there are some great money saving ideas as well.

A little preparation can go a long way towards having that ultimate vacation.

Hawaiian Pronunciation Tips

Although Hawaii is part of the United States, in many ways it seems like a different country. One of the most noticeable differences is the language.

More specifically, Hawaiian words and their correct pronunciation do not come naturally for most people...including me. After doing some research, I discovered that I've been butchering some words my whole life. That was quite eye-opening and humbling.

So instead of trying to give a basic Hawaiian pronunciation lesson, I'm going to refer you to an expert. That way, I'll be doing you, myself, and most importantly, the Hawaiian language, a favor.

Note: The following links will open a new window in your browser. You may have to disable your popup blocker.

Click here if you would like to learn how to pronounce Hawaii Place Names correctly.

Click here if you would like to learn how to pronounce common Hawaiian words.

If you are ambitious and would like an in-depth lesson, check out this site in its entirety. It's really good!

Hawaii Health and Safety Tips

  • Sun Protection--Please do not underestimate the Hawaiian sun. Wear at least an SPF 15...I wear SPF 30 and I'm from there. Nothing will ruin your trip like getting scorched by the sun. Keep in mind that the sun's reflection off the water is just as strong as direct sunlight.

    Get lycra shirts in Hawaii

    It is a great idea to get lycra surf shirts, especially for the kids. They provide UV ray protection and will save you alot of money on sunscreen. They also serve as rash guards if you plan to do any surfing or boogie boarding. You can find them at the local surf shops like Local Motion.

    Here are my boys wearing them. They're kind of cute aren't they? (The shirts too)

    Also, for those of us without much hair, remember to wear a hat. We got these at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet for $4 each.

    Hats from the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet

  • Insects, bugs, etc. - I am including a section on this because I get asked about it all the time. Growing up there, I never even thought about it.

    There are not many animals or creatures in Hawaii that can seriously hurt you. There are no snakes, crocodiles, large cats, or bears.

    Besides bees and wasps, the only venomous insects we do have are centipedes, small scorpions, and the black widow spider. Of the latter three, I have personally only seen centipedes, but have never been bitten by one. In fact, I only know one person that has got bitten.

    Scorpions hang out under rocks, and the black widow lives in the woods, so chances are you will not see them. Once in a while, you may see the stray centipede (pictured below)...our centipedes here are BIG...and their bites hurt so don't try and play with them or let your kids play with them. I don't like bugs so just looking at the picture gives me the willies.

    All of these insects are not considered life-threatening, but they do recommend you do see a doctor if you are bitten or stung.

    Some other critters you might see are cockroaches, geckos, and mongoose. Cockroaches are just a fact of life in the tropics. Hawaiian ones get rather big (1 1/2 inches long), and they fly!

    Geckos are small lizards that are actually desirable because they eat mosquitos.

    Mongoose in Hawaii

    Mongoose (pictured) look like ferrets or muskrats. They were brought into Hawaii during the plantation days to take care of the rats. Remember the famous mongoose, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, from Rudyard Kipling's, The Jungle Book?

    Unfortunately, they did not research this enough. Their population is now out of control because they have no natural predators. Kauai is the only island without mongoose.

    As for mosquitos, they stay near places with vegetation. You won't find them on the beach, and if there's a breeze, which there usually is, they're not a problem unless you're in the woods. If you're planning on doing any hiking in the mountains, it's a good tip to get mosquito repellant.

  • Sharks--The chance of encountering a shark are very slim. The chance of being attacked by one is even less. There are an average of 2-3 shark attacks per year in Hawaii.

    Between 1828-2005, there were only 21 fatalities. To reduce the risk of an attack even further, just use some common sense and follow these tips:

    • Don't swim alone.
    • Swim in guarded areas.
    • Avoid swimming at dusk.
    • Don't swim with bleeding wounds.
    • Avoid murky water.
    • Don't wear bright jewelry or high contrasting colors.
    • Refrain from excessive splashing.
    • Don't swim if sharks are known to be present.
    • Be alert if turtles and fish are fleeing the area.
    • Remove speared fish from the water.

    On the rare chance that you do see a shark, don't panic. They are usually more afraid of you than you are of them. Consider yourself lucky because most people will never see one.

  • Marine animals--Some marine life you should be aware of are sea urchins, morey eels, Portuguese man-of-war, box jellyfish, and a few poisonous fish.

    Sea Urchin in Hawaii

    Sea urchins have sharp, needlelike spines that can puncture your skin if you step on them. Just keep your eyes open, and try not to walk on the reef. If you do get poked by one of these, just pull the spines out. The tips are barbed, so they will not come out immediately. It will take your body a couple of weeks to eventually dissolve them.

    Morey eel in Hawaii

    Morey eels hang out in holes in the reef so avoid sticking your head or hands into these places because they will bite if provoked.

    Portuguese man-of-war (below) are a type of jellyfish. They have a blueish floating bubble and a dangling, stinging tentacle. They cannot swim so they go where the wind takes them.

    That is why they are usually found on the windward or east shores. The predominant tradewinds (east to west) make the presence of the man-of-war quite predictable.

    Don't go in the water if signs say they are present. Otherwise, you can simply check yourself by walking along the beach to see if any have washed ashore. We found this one at Bellows Beach Park on the windward shore of Oahu.

    Portuguese man-of-war

    If you do happen to get stung, remember these tips:

    • Take any remaining tentacles off your skin without touching them. Use a towel, water, etc.
    • Rinse thoroughly with salt or fresh water.
    • Apply ice for pain
    • Do not apply vinegar or urine like widely believed.

    The swelling and welts should go away on their own in about half an hour. In the rare case of a severe reaction (difficulty breathing or dizziness), see a doctor immediately.

    Box jellyfish tend to appear on the leeward (west and south) shores nine to ten days after the full moon. They usually go away in a day or two. Like the Portuguese man-of-war, the presence of these creatures is quite predictable, so the lifeguards are usually on top of posting warning signs.

    If you do happen to get stung, remember these tips:

    • Apply vinegar.
    • Take any remaining tentacles off your skin without touching them. Use a towel, water, etc.
    • Rinse thoroughly with salt or fresh water.
    • Apply ice for pain

    The swelling and welts should go away on their own, but can take up to eight hours. In the rare case of a severe reaction (difficulty breathing or dizziness), see a doctor immediately.

  • Theft--Everything in paradise is not perfect. Generally speaking, Hawaii's crime rate is low compared to the rest of the United States. For instance, violent crimes are pretty rare. I never heard about serial killers and mass-murderers growing up. If you think about it, Hawaii is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Where is a criminal going to go?

    However, there are two things I did learn the hard way and are tips that you should follow. One, don't leave valuables lying around. Two, lock your car, especially at the beach.

    So that is my warning to you...Don't leave valuables lying around. And if you rent a car, don't leave valuables in your car.

  • Ocean Safety Tips

    Hawaii Beach Sign

    Never ever turn your back on the ocean. Remember this tip wherever you are.

    If you decide to explore the rocks along the shore or look in the tidal pools along the coast, be careful not to get washed into the sea. Even if you're on the beach, strong surf can pull you in if you're not paying attention.

    It's happened to experienced watermen, so it can happen to anyone.

    Just remember to obey all posted signs and lifeguard instructions. Even if the surf looks calm, conditions can change very rapidly.

Hawaii Travel Tips

  • Beaches--One of the best things about Hawaii are the beaches. When planning time at the beach, keep in mind that the sun rises in the East and sets in the West.

    Taking into consideration Hawaii's tall, sheer mountains, this is the general rule: Beaches on the East and North shores of the islands may be in the shade by early to mid afternoon. Those on the South and West shores will be sunny late into the afternoon.

    Also, remember that locals like to go to the beach too. You will find that most places will be more crowded on the weekends and holidays. Parking may be hard to find during these times, so go early if you plan to drive.

  • Temperature--If you are planning on visiting Kauai, Maui, or the Big Island, you may want to bring something warm to wear. Temperatures at some of the mountain summits can get down to around 35 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celcius). Or, you can always do what we did...take blankets from the hotel...:)
  • Departure

    Hawaii agriculture inspection point

    When departing from Hawaii to the mainland USA, you must first clear a state agriculture inspection.

    All of your checked luggage needs to be screened before being checked-in. This only applies to luggage being checked-in to the mainland United States. It does not apply to carry-on luggage.

    Ask where the agriculture machine is before proceeding to the check-in counter. Remember that fruits and vegetables that have not been treated cannot be taken out.

Money Saving Tips in Hawaii

  • Rental Car Tip--When renting a car, check the rates frequently, because they change all the time. I usually check them every other day. It can be done on the phone, but online is easiest. Check for last-minute deals and internet specials.

    For example, when I first reserved a car on Oahu for the week of 1/7/06-1/14/06, the best rate I could find was $180 for a 2-door compact. A few days before getting there, I got it down to $140 for a 4-door compact.

    Better yet, have a travel agent who knows a good rate book it for you.

    It is usually cheaper to rent by the week than by the day. Generally speaking, if you rent a car for more than 4 days, you are better off getting it for a week.

    Remember to consider parking fees when calculating the cost of renting a car. Most places in Waikiki charge between $10-$20 per day to park.

  • Hawaii Golf--If you are planning on golfing in Hawaii, I recommend looking into the Golf Hawaii Card. Not every course in Hawaii participates in the program, so be sure to check out the details first if there are certain courses you have your heart set on playing. For example, the course selection on Maui is pretty limited.

    Nevertheless, it is a great deal...the cost of the card is usually recovered after the first round of golf. In fact, it was named by GOLF Magazine as one of the five best golf value cards in the nation! Their website is

  • Hawaii Travel Agents--Using a travel agent does not cost you more than booking your own travel. Click here to read why...In fact, using a good travel agent can save you alot of money on your Hawaii Vacation...not to mention all the time that you will save!

    I highly recommend that you use a knowledgeable Hawaii Travel Agent to plan your Perfect Hawaiian Vacation. Where would you find such an agent? Look no further...Click've found him!

  • Hawaii timeshare tip -- Maybe you'd like to travel to Hawaii more often but find that the annual maintenance fees on your timeshare soak up your excess vacation funds. Do what others in your predicament have done and sell timeshare. Without the fees you'll be free to travel to different parts of Hawaii - try a rental near Iolani Palace or near the various sets from the TV show LOST.

Return from Tips Page to Perfect Hawaiian Vacation home page.