5 things you should know before your first trip to the Hawaiian Islands

Considering heading out on a Hawaiian adventure? The U.S.’s only island state has plenty of fun and exciting things to offer travelers of all ages and styles. Whenever you’re traveling to a new place, however, you’re likely to find some unexpected details. While that’s often half the fun, if you’re going in too blind, you can miss some important details. Here are a few things you should know before your first trip to Hawaii:

1. Plan ahead for popular vacation stops

Hoping to tour Pearl Harbor or lounge on Waikiki’s beach? Be sure to do plenty of research ahead of time because these super-popular destinations can get pretty packed. For example, it’s likely going to be impossible to avoid crowds entirely on the beach, but try to get a feel for the best times to head out from your Hawaii vacation home and to the beach (usually early in the morning). That way you can be sure to find a place to lay your towel.  When it comes to ticketed activities like Pearl Harbor or aquariums, see if you can order tickets ahead of time and skip the line when you arrive.

2. Dedicate time to your destination

“Let yourself vacation at a slower pace.”

It may be tempting to try a fast-paced tour of the entire Hawaiian island chain, but you’ll have a better time if you pick one or two destinations and really dive in. Hawaii has a lot to offer, and you might not be able to enjoy it if you run yourself ragged trying to hit everything in a short amount of time. Instead, take your vacation at a slower pace. Not only will this give you more opportunity to really get to know Hawaii, but it will also allow you to embrace a large part of Hawaiian culture: Island Time. This is the principle that time moves a little bit easier in Hawaii – bring this philosophy into your vacation, and you’re sure to be glad you did.

3. Hawaiian shirts aren’t just tourist clothes

Many people outside of the Hawaiian Islands think of the big, flowery button-up shirts as the ultimate tourist signifier. Though it may scream “out-of-towner” on the mainland, it’s actually a common piece of most people’s wardrobes in Hawaii. However, they don’t call them Hawaiian shirts there – after all, any shirt bought in Hawaii would technically fit that moniker. No, there they call them “Aloha shirts,” and they’re not just something people wear once in a while – they’re standard business wear! Walk around an office district on the islands, and you’re sure to see plenty of people brightly decked out. It’s also a common outfit for semi-formal or dressy-casual events.

4. Don’t skip culture stops

Yes, the beach is calling you, but try not to spend all of your time floating on the waves. Hawaii has a long and interesting history, and it would be a shame to miss out on all that culture during your trip. Make an effort to visit at least one museum that goes into the history of your region. Moreover, consider heading to a cultural event like a luau. Hawaiians are very welcoming and are happy that so many people are interested in their culture.

Culture is one of the things that makes Hawaii so special - don't miss it!Culture is one of the things that makes Hawaii so special – don’t miss it!

5. Come prepared for adventure

Even if you’re not usually the hiking or outdoorsy type, bring along a good pair of athletic shoes and some clothes designed for movement. Hawaii’s incredible landscapes have a tendency of bringing out the adventurer in people. Moreover, you may spot things like zipline tours or kayak trips once you’re there that you hadn’t planned for back home. It’d be a shame to have to pick up a pair of sneakers or shorts on your trip – or worse, miss out on a fun opportunity – because you didn’t make room for an extra item or two.