Waves, incessantly crashing on the warm sandy shoreline, palm trees swaying with the light breeze, tourists laying on beach chairs with a fruity blend in one hand and an easy read in the other. Hawaii is the ideal getaway for anyone—regardless of age, interests or lifestyle. Depending on what island you visit, it can seem as though you’ve hopped into a post card and are living the dream.
Though some may think a trip to Hawaii is far out reach when trying to juggle the expenses of school and home, the entire experience may easily outweigh the monetary concerns and with a little strategy, it can be done in an affordable manner.
There’s something refreshing about traveling and experiencing a culture different from your own. Though Hawaii isn’t far from the mountains of the Northwest, it provides just enough of a culture change to give insight on another way of living. The lifestyle in Hawaii is peaceful and relaxed compared to the busy and hurried regimen of the Northwest.
Hawaii has an aura of abundant friendliness and laid back excitement. There is always more to see, locations to visit, excursions to venture on. The people are absolutely wonderful. As a worldwide hub for tourism, the people that live in Hawaii are used to and quite willing to answer any questions you may have. In a way, you’re treated like royalty. The people can easily peg a tourist and usually help them find exactly what they’re looking for in a timely manner. One of my favorite things to do whenever I got into an elevator was ask the people in the elevator with me where they were from—I got a fascinating answer every time.
In my personal experience, I have been to Maui and Oahu—two very different islands, but both lovely in their own way.
Maui is very much a relaxed, get-away-from-everything, spread out island where things are not necessarily instantaneous, but rather you are able to explore the entirety of the island as a whole. Maui has a greater variety of beaches—beaches with black rocks, coarse-grained sand, white sand, big and small waves. The typical, picturesque Hawaiian surf and sand photographs that are commonly shown are well represented on Maui.
Oahu offers literally everything in Honolulu, which is seen as a city on a beach. Everything is right there, a central hub for tourism. In Oahu, there’s a tremendous amount of shopping. Little markets, strip malls, familiar stores, super malls, streets lined with shops and vendors. The best souvenirs are in Oahu. Don’t get me wrong though, Oahu has beautiful beaches and places to explore as well. The increased population of Oahu and great amount of hotels and condos lining the beach just contributes to a busier version of Hawaii.
Whichever island a person chooses to go to, there are a few excursions everyone must do while in Hawaii. Give these activities a try, even if it’s just once.
Parasailing: There’s nothing quite like it. The feeling is indescribable. There’s something about the thrill of soaring 100-300 feet above the water and seeing the beautiful landscape of the Hawaiian Islands. The parasailing adventure starts off in the open ocean, on the back of the boat. Attendants harness you into the parachute and then as the boat moves faster, you get higher and higher until you are well above 100 feet above the water, with your feet dangling and the wind blowing through your hair. Without a doubt, parasailing is sure to provide a memorable experience.
Luau: Seeing a Luau in Hawaii is a must. Luau’s paint such a vivid and encapsulating picture of Hawaii and truly show the difference in culture—from what locals wear, to their music and dancing, to their love for each other and passion for the place they live in. Depending on what luau you go to, the experiences will range but there are a few things that are at every authentic luau. There’s always an abundance of incredible food and drinks—a roasted pig is usually included in this. There’s often a show, with Hawaiian dancers and musicians, sometimes they even ask for volunteers from the audience. People often leave the luau with a token to remember the evening, whether it’s a flower, shell, lei or a family picture.
Hiking: It’s a must to go on a hike while in Hawaii. The rugged landscape with the mountains and volcanoes as well as tropical trails lined with palm trees both provide for scenic routes. There are a few places I’ve found that even have the Tarzan vines to swing on in the midst of your hike.
Snorkeling: Snorkel gear is fairly reasonable and can be used multiple times throughout your trip to Hawaii. Snorkeling in Hawaii is like jumping into “Finding Nemo” and swimming along with Marlin and Dory. There are so many beautiful creatures and vivid colors to see on the bed of the ocean. A snorkeling trip is a blast, however, just renting equipment and finding your own beach can provide a similar, still enjoyable experience.
Surfing: Surfing is such an integral part of the Hawaiian culture. Though surfing can be expensive if it’s a one-time thing, rentals are well worth the price of the experience. However, I would recommend going through a standard, two-hour surfing course offered through local surf-schools. By doing this, you’ll have the knowledge it requires to surf without getting injured and be able to enjoy yourself.
Know ahead of time what your budget is and spend accordingly. If you are staying in a condo, go to the nearest Costco or local market and buy a weeks supply of food so you can prepare your own meals instead of eating out every day.
Start saving now. If plans for a Hawaiian vacation are in the future, start setting aside small portions to begin saving for the trip.
However, what everything really comes down to is who you’re going on vacation with. For me, my two-week vacation in Maui and Oahu had countless moments with loved ones that I’ll remember for a lifetime. But beyond the random adventures on the island and limitless hours on the beach, the family time together is what made the trip so special. It was uninterrupted, quality time with one another. So ultimately, it’s the people you surround yourself with that make a vacation unforgettable.
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