Tips On Hawaii|
Hawaii is the easiest place on earth for a vacation they literally invented the concept of "laid back"! Bring the wrong clothes, and a few dollars at the nearest beach shop will set you right. Don't speak much English? A smile and a friendly manner will get you anything you need. (Hint: this also works if you speak perfect English!) Still, a few simple tips can help you prepare for paradise:
Year round in the Hawaiian Islands, the weather is wonderful. Because it's located at the edge of the tropical zone there really are only two seasons. In "summer," the average daytime high temperature is 85º F; in "winter", it's 78º F. Ocean temperatures are always warm; trade winds keep the islands cool and the humidity comfortable. If you favor a dry and sunny destination, check out the leeward side of each island. (That's the region sheltered from the prevailing winds generally the west and south.) If you want lush, tropical, and wet, check out an island's windward side (the regions facing the prevailing winds generally the east and north). But even to windward the showers usually last just long enough to create Hawaii's legendary, blazing rainbows. And what would Hawaii be without them?
A word of caution about the sunshine: use sunscreen and re-apply liberally all day long. Protect children with sunblock containing zinc oxide or the latest in "sun suits" that protect from harmful rays. Hats and sunglasses are also a must.
Requirements for entry into the State of Hawaii from a foreign destination vary according to country. Check with the nearest United States embassy or consulate or call us toll-free at 1-800-663-1389 for passport and visa information.
While Hawaii is an exotic destination, it's still the 50th State in the United States and English is the official language. But the rich, multi-ethnic heritage means you'll hear echoes of Asia, Europe, and South America in the delightful local "pidgin".
When to Visit
Unlike other destinations, Hawaii's "high" and "low" seasons aren't dictated by the weather here (it's always great), but rather the weather everywhere else. Expect premium rates during the winter months, mid-December through March. Family travel is most popular during the summer. Spring and Fall, while considered "low" season, offer great travel values and fewer visitors.
What to Pack
Hawaii's casual attitude makes packing a breeze. For daytime, shorts, tee shirts, sandals, and a swimsuit are usually all that's needed. For evening, sundresses for women and slacks and a shirt for men will take you most places in style. And leave space in your luggage for souvenirs, gifts, and some real Aloha wear to take home.
Keeping safe in Hawaii is simple. Just follow the same common sense rules that you would follow anywhere. Lock your car and keep your valuables within sight and reach. Dialing 911 connects you to emergency assistance for police, fire, and ambulance. In Hawaii, ocean safety is very important. If advised not to swim, don't. Heed the international signage at local beaches, which alerts you to rough sea conditions, rip currents, jellyfish, and high surf. When hiking the wilderness, be sure to check in with park rangers first.
The United States has no VAT (value-added tax), but Hawaii does have a state sales tax on all purchases, including groceries. There is also a hotel room tax and a road-use tax on car rentals.
There's no Daylight Savings Time in Hawaii. During the months when it's not in effect on the U.S. mainland, Hawaii is two hours behind the West Coast, four hours behind the Midwest and five hours behind the East. Add an hour to those differentials during DST. Hawaii time is 19 hours behind Japan time.
The telephone code for the State of Hawaii is 808. Local calls on each island are 35 cents from a public phone. Long distance charges vary by location and telephone service provider. Phone cards are available at retail stores throughout the islands.
As soon as you arrive, check with your hotel concierge, peruse the local newspapers, and tourist publications for events taking place during your visit. The Hawaiian Islands are always bursting with color and excitement you shouldn't miss island-style fairs, cultural festivals, ocean activities, concerts, and Hawaiian music and dance. Many of these events are open to the public and free. Check them out, join in the fun, and you'll be thinking local before you know it.