Best Time to Go
April, May, September and October
Citizens of Australia and the U.K. need a passport and proof of onward passage but in most cases will not need a visa (contact a U.S. Embassy or Consulate for details).
All U.S. citizens must have a passport when traveling by air to or from Bermuda, Canada, the Caribbean, Central and South America and Mexico. Citizens of Canada, Mexico and the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda also must have a passport or other designated secure document to enter the U.S.
Passports are required for land crossings at the Canadian and Mexican borders with the U.S. and for cruise passengers returning to the U.S. from Mexico, the Caribbean, Canada or Bermuda.
US dollar. Foreign currency can be exchanged at the Honolulu International Airport, as well as at major hotels and banks (most are open 9 am-4 or 5 pm Monday-Friday) throughout the islands. ATMs are widely available on the major islands.
Credit cards are accepted at nearly every hotel and most restaurants and stores; however, merchants often pay a higher fee on transactions involving foreign credit cards, so cash (U.S. currency only) or traveler’s checks are preferred.
Don’t use the expression “back in the States.” Hawaii is part of the U.S., so say “on the mainland.” Local residents who are of native descent are referred to as Hawaiians. Residents who have lived in Hawaii a while are considered kamaaina. Foreigners (generally Caucasians) are known as haole.
Do pay attention to the civil defense warning sirens affixed to poles in coastal, business and residential areas throughout the islands. Be aware: The sirens are tested at 11:45 am on the first working day of each month.
Don’t leave the islands without sampling Hawaiian shave ice (ice shavings packed into a paper cup and topped with flavored syrup). Stores that are serious about their shave ice offer more than two dozen flavors, including unusual ones such as green tea, root beer, cotton candy, bubble gum and salty li hing mui. Perk yours up with ice cream, azuki (sweet red) beans and/or condensed milk.
Don’t underestimate the power of the surf and the ocean currents. Newcomers to Hawaiian beaches should be exceedingly careful to follow all posted guidelines and warnings. Never turn your back on the ocean. In general, don’t swim alone and never swim where others aren’t swimming. If you’re caught in a riptide, don’t fight the current—swim parallel to the beach until you escape the current, and then swim to shore.
Do limit your time in the sun and use plenty of sunscreen whenever you’re outdoors. Excessive exposure to the sun’s rays can cause nausea, dehydration and permanent damage to your skin.
Do take off your shoes when entering homes in Hawaii; this is a Japanese custom that kamaaina have adopted.