When you think “dream vacation,” what destination comes to mind? If you immediately said Hawaii, you’re not alone. Nearly two million visitors flock to The Aloha State each year for its sun-drenched beaches, vibrant culture, lush landscapes, and world-class dining.
But whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned Hawaii aficionado, there’s a lot to consider when planning the perfect Hawaii getaway. Cost, time of year, and personal preference are all important factors—and that’s just the beginning.
Luckily for you, the travel experts at AAA are here to help. Here are the three essential steps to planning the perfect Hawaii vacation for your unique individual needs, interests, and budget.
STEP 1: DECIDE WHAT YOU HOPE TO GET OUT OF YOUR HAWAII VACATION.
Whether you’re an avid surfer, passionate foodie, marine life conservationist, or certified beach bum, Hawaii has something for everyone. And while it’s not necessary to set your itinerary in stone, you may find it helpful to jot down a few “must haves” for you and your group as you begin planning your once-in-a-lifetime vacation to the Hawaiian Islands.
For example, do you prefer a luxury resort vacation over rustic outdoor adventure? What is your maximum budget? Will you stick to one island or hop around? Are there any school or work obligations that will impact the timing or duration of your trip? Organizing your thoughts this way will make booking and packing decisions easier when the time comes.
Need to do a little Hawaii research before you start planning? Check out these “know before you go” tips from the travel experts at Hawaiian Airlines.
STEP 2: CHOOSE THE BEST HAWAIIAN ISLAND FOR YOUR NEEDS.
Hawaii is home to 137 islands and atolls, but four attract the lion’s share of tourists each year. The simple reason is convenience, but despite being the most developed and accessible by air and sea, these Hawaiian hotspots boast an identity all their own.
- Wide open spaces and towering volcano trails make the Big Island of Hawaii perfect for outdoorsy roamers.
- Affectionately known as the “Garden Island,” Kauai is famous for verdant landscapes and cascading waterfalls.
- Bump elbows with fellow Hawaii lovers at distinctive Oahu hotels and resorts, from iconic Waikiki to the funky North Shore.
- Where breathtaking scenery meets world-class resort living, Maui features a little bit of all things Hawaii.
STEP 3: BOOK AT THE RIGHT TIME FOR OPTIMAL WEATHER AND COST.
There’s no “wrong” time to visit the island paradise of Hawaii, but depending on your budget, tolerance for crowds, and other factors, some seasons are undeniably better than others.
For example, Hawaii’s rainy season stretches from November through March. But less-than-perfect weather won’t keep holiday sunseekers and outdoor enthusiasts at bay, so travelers can expect larger crowds in November and December—especially in the tourist-heavy areas of Oahu and Maui’s most popular surfing and snorkeling spots. As a general rule of thumb, travelers can anticipate lower airfare to Hawaii and thinner crowds throughout January, February, September, and October.
Interested in supporting Maui’s recovery? Donate to organizations like Maui Strong Fund.